Friday, November 19, 2010

his heart had resumed its normal frenzied pattern

God help me, I'm finally editing the novel.

As we all know, I wrote a novel last year and have been avoiding it ever since. I just didn't have the time or energy to fix everything that was wrong with it, and I had no idea where I wanted it to go. Well, now I do. Sort of. I'm chopping out all the dead wood and focusing on the three most interesting characters (according to reader feedback). I'm also simplifying the plot as best I can, and I might cut out some of the interludes until I have a chance to actually lay them out properly. It's a bit like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, only I had to throw half of it away and make new pieces myself.

What inspired me is the fact that local Baltimore writer/flash fiction genius Joseph Young wrote a vampire novel, titled NAME, in a month to pay his rent - I plan on getting a copy pretty soon, and it reminded me that I have what could turn out to be a decent novel if I got off my duff and put some time in. So I am. Once it's worth showing to people beyond the small core of advance readers I assembled, I'll shop it around to see if anyone wants to publish it. And if absolutely no one does, I'll do it myself.

Speaking of, I'm also assembling the new poetry/short fiction chapbook, which will probably make landfall in January. The extensive winter holiday will interfere with me getting to readings and such. But since I'm reading at Last Rites in January, that'll time itself rather well. Projects, ahoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hodges had lost all comportment

Just (quite literally, just) finished Larry Doyle's Go Mutants! and enjoyed it immensely. I'll get into more specifics of plot and so on in the next paragraph, but the key to this book is what a progression it was from I Love You, Beth Cooper in terms of language, content, and risk. From what I understand, there's a movie in the works for this book too, but I hope they don't change too much of what's here for the screen adaptation. It's too good for that.

I don't want to bore people with exhaustive details about a book they have or haven't read, but Go Mutants! exists in a world where B-grade horror and sci-fi movies are actual history, the aliens/mutants/monsters they brought to the horny and stoned elements of our parents' generation really do exist, and their children are old enough to attend high school. Doyle plays fast and loose with the conventions of genre fiction; his focus is on justifying the weird and improbable setting enough to give his characters a heartbeat. Or beats, depending on how many hearts they have. In this way, Doyle forced himself to take much greater risks with language, both pseudo-scientific and conventional, and the result is a sharper, funnier, and strangely denser read than I Love You, Beth Cooper, which was a sharp and funny read in and of itself.

Humor is hard to do in writing. It's an art of the immediate, and most literary humor isn't dry so much as parched. Still more of it is toothless and absurd, which gets tiring in the wrong hands. Doyle is skilled enough with wordplay to keep his exposition interesting, and much of his humor has an angry-nerd bite to it that I really like. Being an angry nerd myself, I suppose that's natural. But disregarding all that, this book is funny and observant, and takes a scattering of pop-cultural musings to their logical extreme.

Still to read: The Wraith, Do Travel Writers Go to Hell, Cold Snap (short fiction collection), The Intuitionist (second, more attentive reading), and about 100 other things. Egad. I'd better get back into my garret, then.