Tag Archives: comic novel

Your One Night Stand on the Front Page

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Imagining Hot Spring Honeymoon

Where Love Has Come to Play

“Emptiness does not differ from form. Emptiness is form and form is emptiness,” This ambiguous quote comes from Buddhism’s great teachings contained in The Heart Sutra.

Caught in this paradoxical world of here and now, the fiction writer slashes through all the chaos that we know as life on earth and proposes a pathway for human beings to arrive at a moment of clarity. It happens by chance in a parking lot, on a night like no other, in the arms of a perfect stranger, then a kiss and the answer to a question, and a plunging off into the night together… I see patterns in all this human behavior. Yes, I see taller women with shorter men, but not so often as the other way around.

Ultimately the world is more spiritual than physical, but what would we do if a writer of fiction was trapped in a literary form that had to remain nameless and shapeless? Where would the reader grab hold? We know the answer to that question. The reader would attach to the spirit leaving out the physical earthbound parts of the story. This is the literal neighborhood of life that characters press with their eager lips so they may enter into the ethereal realm. If relationship and love were formless and nameless the reader would be denied the pleasure of imagining characters groping through the delusion and into the beyond of where love’s located. Think of this as loves enlightenment experience, a non-judgmental elixir for the lustful, if such a kind of human pleasure might be allowed to be experienced, beyond the boundaries of conscience. This is where the sauce of love is to be simmered over passions stove.

Sexual farce unmasks the libidinous scaffolding where not such adorable human nature is delineated. This is not where we live, but for many of us it is a place we have once visited, some more than others, plenty having stayed long after they ought to have moved on. Human sexuality as comic farce pokes at uncomfortable truths as well as fallacies. We get into love and out of love by some odd gateway that is both physiologically ornamental and optically invisible.

A good farce is ridiculous, the whole human condition is absurd, but facts are facts and for reasons that can appear to be almost completely unfathomable our human nature urges many of us to find partners that we will want to enjoy intimate sexual behaviors with. There is the revelation, nudity, and all manner of peculiar yet popular physiological maneuvers associated with this part of the story. They must be wildly popular as people the world over repeatedly perform these very same stunts. More often than not this behavior provokes not just bodily desire, but love and the quest for relationship. What these provocateurs do about all this sex is the stuff of comedy and tragedy.

In Hot Spring Honeymoon I tipped the scales of human experience in the direction of laughter and amusement. I dared to explain loves whereabouts as in the proximity of lust, perhaps it is not the prettiest place we might locate this noble human hearted phenomena but certainly one of the more ordinary and naughty places. Maybe that’s sexual farces greatest fun is that it seduces the virtuous reader. And just when we had thought so much of our better natures we find ourselves having to hear the remnants of this other less wholesome and skillful side we all have resting in repose within us.

There is fortune in impulse control, glorious wisdom to be earned by tamping down the error of our own ways. Many of us grow up and get a life, find love and a reliable partner. Because of our lack of fame and notoriety we have not had our most salacious miscalculations splattered across the front pages of the National Inquirer for the whole world to see. Instead if we’ve lived long enough, we’ve quelled this perfectly human aspect of how we have been designed, and now from the lofty heights of at long last knowing better we slip back into our other self and enjoy the guilty pleasure and a good romp through the jungle from where we once prowled. We pass through this life at times tangled in this whole affair to discover we are part prey and at other times we have been shocked to discover inside of us is part predator. Or perhaps, as my wise friend gently urges, “You who are nobly born, remember who you truly are?”

 

Lord of the Styles

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This moment’s style and fashion is so obvious. House of Cards has it, Veep deploys it, and Silicon Valley is based upon it.

Lenny Bruce skewered the sacred by roasting it atop the fires of the profane hypocrisy’s he alone seemed capable of speaking about.

And for each act taking one tack there is another cohort heading off in another. Nancy Meyers comes to mind, Seinfeld seems to wield this same aim, Nora Ephron… Then, there is the illustrative past including the direction of Frank Capra, George Cukor, and Howard Hawks.

Mel Brooks seemed to relish the hijinks of the soul of the Marx Brothers. Where Lenny Bruce failed at late night television an equally prolific and volatile Richard Pryor found the means of performing in this setting.

An adorable Eddie Izzard seems almost tame. Hedwig and the Angry Inch feature’s a transgender East German singer. The Book of Mormon if you search online will produce a vast stream of essays on the where to draw the line on what is too vulgar or obscene, and what we ought to do when sitting in a theater and what we are watching outrages us.

It is one thing to be the audience and another to be the creator. What seems clear is that once a project is conceived the skill is in working all the way to the edge of the style that the creator has invented. You do shock jock radio? You work to that edge. You do breezy afternoon commuter type banal styled talk radio you work to that side of the dial.

It comes as no surprise that given the crass bombast passing for political discourse that the cultural artistic entertainment community finds itself pulled in the same direction. Better the bomb throwing pugilistic types take their seat at the head of class. Oprah was a one of a kind and she’s off air and done.

Each of us that work’s in the narrative arts allows for some choice to approach. Any can work. We bow to the masters of one kind admiring their skills and talent while we remain on our own path.

The finger to the wind approach vexes integrity. Mel Brooks has to be Mel Brooks, and thank the gods for that. For the moment, at least this point in time, House of Cards, Veep and Silicon Valley are banking on finding their audience share by leaning hard upon one particular edge in a world that is in fact far more diverse than they can afford to allow for. In short there is a limit, every style can only take you so far, and from there you are on your own.

Brooklyn as Tribal Paradise

Brooklyn Heights

If Camera Pointed in the Opposite Direction You Would See 100’s More of My Peeps…

Perhaps our politics is broken but our bond to community here in Brooklyn is not. We gathered along the East River for a Memorial Day barbecue. We found our countries citizens doing the same. We shared the space, every type and kind present for the holiday’s last hurrah.

It was tribe and village, type and kind, tolerant and generous all to each other. We shared the commons, arrived and departed by subway train. We played cat and mouse with park police enforcing the no alcohol rule. All they wanted was that the gathered use red plastic cups. Roger that, ten-four, over and out.

The New York City I have found here is a cauldron of cooperative life. The people are a splendid sea of multicultural diversity. Age, sex, religion, race, hairdo, and tattoo are each of their own kind, but of this one trait we all shared along the East River. We shared tolerance and appreciation. We are all in this together… Yesterday’s thousand kindnesses reminded me I am nurtured by a sprawling heap of loving humanity.

Now I strap my working hat back on and turn my attention to the charms of working the Book Expo America at the Jacob Javitts Convention Center… Won’t that be something….

sunset Brooklyn

 A Glorious End of Day… Thank You Brooklyn

You Changed Me…

 

Book Expo America

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I am here in New York for the Expo. I have noted that Hachette Book Group has crossed swords with Amazon. A fight has broken out and it seems Amazon is putting a hold on Hachette’s Books because a royalty dispute. Nasty bit of business this industry is involved in. Seems JK Rowling’s new title is swept up in this bit of tit for tat among the giants.

I’m still seeking an agency’s representation in the business. What is happening to the distribution channels, what is happening to our reading audience, what is happening to the economics of the industry is certainly chaotic. Perhaps I have arrived at the perfect moment or I am too late.

Somewhere between the former controlled closed distribution system and what has replaced it there has given way to a mass bookstore extinction event. And what we are all thinking about is whether each actors percentage of the deal is fair and square capitalism or if there is a rate setting formula that might better reflect the value of each player.

I have my own instincts but no facts to back up my hunch. And that’s the problem an author who has spent the last decade at his desk focused on three novels faces. How do I make sense of a marketplace in the grips of such monumental changes? I am here in New York and this week I will be gathering with my tribe at the Jacob Javitts Convention Center to see if I can wrap my head around how to function in this altered industries dysfunctional condition.

 

Writing Comedy…

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It is all in the words…

After working on three novels, some 340,000 words, work that spans seven years, I’m trying to distill the essence into one hour. Someone has to do it. I spend seven years working on three novels and a reader will be done with all three in 30 hours, more or less. In some sense I am engaged in a reverse engineering operation. Plucking out pieces of literary work and making a show.

 

Show is made of routines, transitions, bits and gags. It is a line by line process. We have to account for pace. The performer has to visualize what an audience will see. You memorize, rehearse, try them, adjust them, and finally you’ll emerge out the other end. It’s called a show.

 

And since I’m basically a variety act guy, having devoted 40 years to the non-narrative show I am embarked on the paradoxically challenging effort to do the non-narrative/narrative show. Not so much a story within a story as it is a journey tangled amidst the web of storylines.

 

And that is what I’m thinking about now. How to navigate this terrain, part narrative, part non-narrative, part literary and part spoken word, I feel like I’m on the right track because I feel a degree of dread and fear. That’s good. That points the way.

Princeton’s Epitaph to Democracy

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The Luxury Yacht  Karma

That Princeton Study says the elite having captured the political process going back all the way to the 1980’s. The powerful have ended democracy in the USA. The novelist is always looking for a working model of the world. Billionaires, corporate titans and their paid operatives are running riot now. This is the paid for crowd. Fox Television isn’t a political ideological operation it is an oligarchic operation. Lower taxes, less regulation and free trade isn’t a consensus economic perspective, it is an elite belief system. Privatization of everything isn’t always the way to go. Our water systems, prisons, and national security agencies are best left in the public sector. Do we really want Wall Street setting our water rates? Do we want incarceration rates set by judges drumming up more business for privately held prisons?

Creating narrative is fun. Down at the personal level, human to human, a multitude of interesting storylines can be developed. But, if we really don’t have a democracy it means the fish are no longer swimming in the same ocean that Steinbeck or Sinclair Lewis imagined. I give a lot of thought to Buddhism’s model of mind. I don’t find dreams or childhood trauma always helpful in development of a character. Similarly whether we like it or not capitalism or some mutant ascendant version of some form of economics has escaped from the regulations used to constrain its most vile tendencies and here we are left to wonder when the next shoe is about to drop. I am pondering a narrative set in the wine country, and a man who makes wine being chased around the valley by a super wealthy woman. As he explains to her, “I can’t make love to you. It would be like going to bed with Lloyd Blankfein in drag…”

Trouble in Nevada

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Hot Spring Honeymoon

Just Enough Trouble to Call it Fun

Life imitates art. The recent standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and Clive Bundy is a more radicalized version of the politics I hinted at in Hot Spring Honeymoon. The free grazer movement depends upon more magical thinking than my character Garrett Harwood. My character is more or less disposed to free trade, less regulation and lower taxes. He’s a privatizer type and wants everything left to the private sector. He’s plenty angry but he influences things by means other than at the end of the barrel of a gun. I’m heartened by what I’ve heard on talk radio shows. Most folk as I’d anticipated prefer to see their community remain whole and healthy. People want their freedom but they’d prefer working from within the law. Garrett Harwood is a businessman and his temper while hot runs more or less to the civilized side of the road. He is not a secessionist and not a member of a militia. We do have a bulldozer in the book. There is also talk of “second amendment remedies,” but for reasons of comedy my villain only needed to quarrel and fistfight. I wanted a more nuanced conflict than this latest headline would allow. I prefer a man that still believes in democracy and capitalism. Once you draw down to the level of wanting everything your way and not any other way you have left the room of reason and are floating around a few French fries short of a happy meal…