I started reading this right after finishing Robert McKee's STORY, with my head full of structure and the principles of story, my hands working on pla...moreI started reading this right after finishing Robert McKee's STORY, with my head full of structure and the principles of story, my hands working on planning a novel. Goldberg's book had been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years and I'd picked it up and started reading once before. The chapters are quick little things, full of wisdom, and this wisdom initially put me off -- my head was elsewhere, in structure land, planning, working in linear space and time, and the wild simplicity and urges to let the writing spill out of you, up from those inner hidden spaces that you don't really know about, the unconscious, the subconscious, the blood... well, that pissed me off.
Don't get me wrong. I like Buddhism more than the next American. I like wilderness, deep time, and impermanence, at the same time as this stuff threatens me as a suburbs-raised, civilization-dependent American. There's a dichotomy in that last sentence, much like the dichotomy between STORY and WRITING DOWN THE BONES (I'm going to capitalize book titles now, it seems to be trending, why not, and I don't want to mess with html for bold or italic, excuse me, back to the review). I'll take from STORY and BONES, both/and, rather than take one and exclude the other. I'll synthesize the opposites.
This book is an excellent primer in or reminder of the need to let loose in writing, and to delve deeply into experience and memory in order to create art. It's an easy read and straightforward in its simplicity, but like Goldberg cutting mountains of carrots when she worked as a cook, it's deep.
One word of caution, though: if you don't like hippies, if you don't want a little LSD in your writing (Goldberg doesn't advocate the use of this or any drug, but LSD does come up more than usual in this book), and if you think Buddhism is bullshit or don't like your writing messy, you may want to skip this one.(less)
I've not read a lot of noir or neo-noir or detective fiction of any kind. But I've wanted to for a while. I couldn't have started with a better series...moreI've not read a lot of noir or neo-noir or detective fiction of any kind. But I've wanted to for a while. I couldn't have started with a better series than Walter Mosley's Leonid McGill books.
I've never been to New York City, but Mosley puts me in a version of New York City. It's a nasty, storied, soiled, scary, loathing version of New York. I'm not sure if it exists, and I hope it doesn't, and I admire Leonid McGill for navigating and surviving it. He doesn't thrive. He gets his ass kicked. He's cheated on and cheated. He's deceived and he deceives. McGill is a career criminal who, late in life, thinks better of the life he's led by way of guilt over the lives he's helped destroy. The McGill that Walter Mosley brings us is a man straining for atonement. His efforts to go straight get him into all kinds of bad shit.
Great character, great stories, great writer.(less)
Not only the best horror novel I've read, but one of the top novels of any genre. Full, complicated characters; relationships; great mounting tension;...moreNot only the best horror novel I've read, but one of the top novels of any genre. Full, complicated characters; relationships; great mounting tension; psychological and philosophical insight; and a satisfying resolution. A wonderful, moving book. Plus it's fucking creepy.(less)