Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2Fer: Realism, schmealism

This post dedicated to my one true follower in Reykjavík ; sorry to hear about your economy, but not sorry about McDonald's...

Perhaps, attending school for creative writing has ruined me for traditional narrative?

I'm currently reading a small press novel that I find incredibly boring. I'm not going to name the press -  it's a good one, or the author - he's heralded as a "genius" in the book blurb, not because of what I'm afraid it'll do to my fledgling writing career (ah...but I have you, my Icelandic minions), but because it's a matter of personal taste. The book is unrelentingly realistic and I am so bored bored bored. If I wanted to suffer the excrutiating boredom of life in a corporate office, I would go live it. If I wanted to follow the minutest thoughts of someone who's plodding through life, overcome by ennui, someone who's on the verge of an existential crisis because their life is so very boring and unfulfilling but they don't know it (the rub, of course), I would just go to the post office of my small Southern town and imagine what everyone in line is thinking...or trying not to think.

I've managed to sound both haughty and pedantic in the above paragraph. Forgive me. Next I'll be sending hate mail to unsuspecting editors and McDonald's corporate office in Bethesda just for fun (and for the citizens of Iceland who will be deprived of their Big Macs and environmental/ethical onslaught).

Fiction, for me, should be surprising. It should show me something new. It should give me something I need that I wasn't quite conscious of needing, not like the next Iphone or Kindle or something you're made to think you need, but more like when you step into a warm shower and the water hits your calves and feet and all of a sudden you realize your feet were cold but you hadn't even noticed...you had acclimated yourself to cold feet. Fiction (and poetry, too) should make you realize you don't have to accept cold feet as a condition of living. These are my humble requirements, and the book I'm reading now just don't cut it.

I'm going to keep on reading, though, because I'm an idealist and an optimist way down deep - hell, I'll give the book a chance until the end. Plus, it's cheaper than boubon or Reyka in helping me fall asleep.

Yours in hoping the krona rebounds,

I'm not so good with titles...

& I wonder if the Postmodernists have ruined me for traditional narrative.

I've been working on a series of poems about this woman I call the PARIAH. Pariah's in all caps because she's appropriated the label but it still plays hell with her psyche. She wrestles with it daily. Anyway, I've got a PARIAH poem that I've entitled "The PARIAH fights the years, the suburbs, the nepotism, the networking and all the other crap of existence," which is a hell of a clunky mouthful and may be too telling to boot, but I just can't think of any other title...

(Today's word must be hell - in a Satrtrean sense, of course. Perhaps. How can I be so certain?)

I'm also working on my new novel; thanks to nanowrimo.

I've been carrying the idea for this novel around with me for months, but I haven't had the time to write it. That's what I've kept telling myself, although I think the bigger problem is this deeply ingrained fear of commitment I have. Plus, writing a novel is kind of like how I live my life sometimes, slogging through everyday minutiae and mundaneness to get to the sexy, exciting parts. I just want to write the sexy, exciting scenes; I hate backstory, I hate moving my character through time and space sometimes, I dislike linearity and having to be aware that everything has to make some kind of sense, which may be why I lean towards absurdism in my writing.

(I could illustrate this here by suddenly turning into a parrot, frothing and shouting Qui est la? But you'd have to have just read Wide Sargasso Sea & what does Rhys have to do with any of this, anyway?)

I may have set myself a difficult task as this new novel, because of its fantastical elements, does require some kind of linearity. Kind of like some of Murakami's novels (not Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World), set in "every day reality" but then there's a strange quirk, a slight tweaking of "reality," where what seemed to make sense is revealed as making no sense at all. My new novel's about the South and it's about what's going on in politics today (Glenn Beck and his rabid parrots, teabaggers (ha ha!), corporate takeover of the U.S. (see police response to G20 protestors vs. police response to teabaggers)), so maybe it's actually the opposite of Murakami - I begin with double strangeness and surreality to achieve some sense of reality. Maybe.

My tentative title for my novel in progress, though...it may be terrible and it may be too telling. It may be both.

(The other word of the day could be parrot. But there won't be any parrots in my new novel. Possibly. Maybe.)

Yours without any parrot pix Yours,

P.S. I know parrots don't froth...