Picking through The Passionate, Accurate Story by Carol Bly, which interested me because it sounded like a good book about adding depth to characters. I’m finding it a disappointing period piece (1990) with all the worst aspects of ‘90s political correctness.
Fiction, in her view, is only accurate emotionally if it follows a set of prescribed values: anti-corporate, anti-violence, etc. She wants writers to raise their consciences to produce propagandistic art.
She also attacks SF as shallow, producing, ironically, the sort of fiction she is prescribing, simply a literature of ideas.
She has a section on encouraging imagination in children, which I’m all for. At the same time, those moments when my imagination was discouraged pushed me to write to explore it.
SF writers–check this out: http://clarionwriteathon.org/index.php . Also, sponsor me. I will write for money.
Welcome to One Word Writing Prompts. This, I hope, may be another irregular feature for this blog, and was suggested by writer Amy Sprague. Basically, your instructions, dear Reader, should you wish to participate, are to simply use the word below as a prompt to write something from it. And, if you would like, please feel free to post your creative output in the comments, and with your permission, I might share them in a later post. Have fun. Be creative.
Killing Johnny Fry: A Sexistential Novel by Walter Mosley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Combine Henry Miller with Camus and Sartre and you have Walter Mosley’s sexistentialist novel Killing Johnny Fry.
When Cordell Carmel discovers his longtime lover Joelle is having an affair with a casual acquaintance Johnny Fry, Cordell descends into a long day’s journey into night. Cordell immediately quits his job and proceeds to have affairs with multiple women and plots Fry’s murder.
Cordell’s psyche is sent deeper into an existential abyss through his obsession with a high-end porn movie, the Myth of Sisypha.
What follows is a sexual odyssey–and sexually explicit that leads Cordell, bent on revenge, into a hallucinatory adventure with Sisypha herself at an underground combination orgy/Fight Club in which Cordell’s very being is at stake.
In many way’s reminiscent of Camus’ The Stranger and perhaps even Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” the novel’s climax—spoiler alert—ends with Johnny Fry shot down, although it becomes murder by proxy, as Cordell himself cannot go through with the act.
It’s dark exploration of Eros, worth the read. But, don’t expect a story of redemption. Cordell is an existentialist anti-hero at the same level as Camus’ Meursalt.
A good little piece on Zinsser’s classic book. In the beginning I was a Zinsser fundamentalist, but as I keep writing professionally, I am a bit more open, understanding the necessity, say, of jargon sometimes. At the same time, the book is an excellent and clear guide to writing clear prose. And as Clark notes, Zinsser is an ass-to-chair disciplined writer.
Why William Zinsser’s writing book is still number one | Poynter..
King Rat by China Miéville
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A clever revisionist vision of the Pied Piper story. It reminds me of John Gardner’s retelling of Beowulf through the eyes of the monster, Grendel. It makes me wonder what makes Gardner’s novel Grendel “literary” and this novel “fantasy”? I’m sure it’s a question Mieville himself would ask in his quest to abolish genre as a rigid category.
Mieville’s such a unique visionary. At the same time, this novel reads like a superhero novel that begs a sequel.
Still, it’s brilliantly done.
View all my reviews
This link is a great analysis of why a short story beginning works. All of writers should aspire to it. Plus it has Cotton Mather in it in a fit of religious ecstasy. You got to love that. Right?