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Last Year's Model

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message 1: by Brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:47AM) (new)

Brian | 32 comments Mod
http://www.nytimes.com/ref/books/revi...

Okay, okay, so the Times' book section doesn't have the best reputation. Oftentimes, they pick intellectual opponents to review the book, just so they can savage each other in print. I like to think of it as Jerry Springer on some wierd existential level.

There are still at least five titles here I'm interested in each year. The 2006 edition was no exception.

Absurdistan, Apex Hides The Grief, and a couple other ones look interesting.

The points I take off for having my personal archnemesis Stephen King on the list, I give back for including John Updike.

Thoughts, murderer's row?


message 2: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:47AM) (new)

Alex (alexinmadison) | 31 comments First a question... why is Stephen King your personal archnemesis? Does he wield some secret power that we're not aware of?

Apex Hides The Hurt does sound interesting, although I'm not a huge fan of Whitehead's writing style. I love the idea of being a "nomenclature expert". I kinda want that job.


message 3: by Brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:47AM) (new)

Brian | 32 comments Mod
I think I'd find Latin equivalents for unpleasant aspects of life and name cities after that.

Actually, as the last remaining Grandmaster of the Freemasons Society (the inner circle of which is a front for Howard Hughes clones and Lohanesque vampires), King is forever roaming the earth looking for new ways to thwart me, the last Scion, and my cocaine-addicted repressed-homosexual lawer-sidekick, Gary. Lately, King has been trafficking cucumbers out of Bolivia for God knows what end (almost certainly evil...evil always involves cucumbers). Meanwhile, Gary has sureptitiously gone shopping for lipstick, only to be taken prisoner by Farquod, head of the Society to Resurrect Hitler, a subdivision of the Inner Circle, with the lure of a free, China-white-laden Twinkee.

It's a tough job, being the last bastion of faith, hope, and goodness in a world gone awry. Somehow I'll manage.

Delusions and Anne Rice-John Grisham-Dan Brown-Douglas Adams crossovers aside, I spent a lot of time reading Stephen King books, and (ever the slow learner) slowly came to the conclusion at the end of "Desperation," that I had, in fact, read that book before, in a slightly different guise, perhaps a dozen times at that point. Cataclysmic struggle of supernatural good vs. supernatural evil. Man vs. the supernatural. The bad guys always have the initials R.F., and good always wins in the end. The few times he's deviated, I've enjoyed it. I liked Pet Cemetary. I liked The Dark Tower.

My dissatisfaction peaked right as I discovered Vonnegut, Hemingway, Faulkner, a bevy of others. It's three years of my life I'll never get back.

So half of me resents me for reading nothing but SK novels. The other half resents him for not having something better at the end of the ride for me. Petty? Absolutely.

It's one of those subjective things I cling to, the way people seem to irrationally hate Paris Hilton (while they read every AP story about her and e-mail it to their friends, normally with angry remarks like "look what the stupid skag has done now," etc.) I just ignore Hilton, and that suits me well enough.


message 4: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:47AM) (new)

Alex (alexinmadison) | 31 comments You're writing a book, aren't you? What's the subject? If it's half as funny as the sh*t you write here, I want to be first on the "to buy" list.

I know what you mean about King. I woke up at Cujo and haven't read anything substantial from him since. Although, I have re-read The Stand, Carrie, and Dead Zone. I heard that the Dark Tower series and the Green Mile were good but never ventured in.

Funny that you went from King to the likes of Vonnegut, Heminway, and Falkner. I can't think of anything quite so diametrically opposed.


message 5: by Christina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:48AM) (new)

Christina | 5 comments With King, it really depends when he wrote it, if HE wrote it and what the subject is.

Personally, I still enjoy his short stories and select pieces of his early work. The Green Mile is definitely worth a look. It has one thing in common with the Gunslinger series: you can tell King gave a damn about writing it. it was a different style for him and he put serious effort into character development.

If you have seen the movie, you have not seen the best parts of the serial.

In any event, the last King novel that was worth anything, in my opinion, was Needful Things. The only ones that were EVER worth anything were: The Stand; The Shining; Needful Things; Talisman; and It.


message 6: by Brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:48AM) (new)

Brian | 32 comments Mod
Actually, the book is going to be nowhere near as funny as the stuff I write here. It's an attempt at Serious Literature, the kind of Serious Literature that drives people to heavy drinking and withdrawing from society for long periods of time, and perhaps the wearing of black berets, but almost certainly the smoking of cigarettes. There's humor here, but it's black humor.

It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't come down with Stockholm Syndrom midway through Part 3 and now don't want the book to end. I've got probably about 45 pages (25,000 words) left to go on the first draft (after which comes the First Cut, then the Distribution to Friendly Editors, then the Second Cut, then the selection of literary agents to pester, then the Third Cut, then mailing, then Rejection in all, the process is probably going to take two years at the rate I'm going now), and between starting a new job, commuting for four hours each day, packing, negotiating the end of my lease, I'm having a difficult time finding time to write my standard 2,000 words a day. The inevitable truth is, I'll simply have to finish one day, because I've written about 125,000 words so far (about 225 pages so far), and even if I have to turn the main characters into superheroes to do it, or simply bang my forehead against the keyboard to fill stuff in.

The rule I'm adhering to is: No one but the Holy Whoever sees anything before the first cut, so I don't go posting excerpts everywhere.

But the synopsis is basically: two gay lovers travelling cross-country in 2004 from Maine to California. Working title is "Sons of Perdition."

It seems I've chosen the one book that will piss Absolutely Everyone off. Gay people will hate it because I'm heterosexual. People who don't like gay people will hate it because I mention gay people.

As to why I decided to write about homosexuals, it basically boils down to having been at Ground Zero for the 2004 election, and having heard for months about the stupid gay marriage amendment. Then, just when everyone was screaming at a fever pitch and the battle lines were drawn and the culture wars were reignited and people were screaming for blood in the streets, something very profound happened, which was: nothing. Sure, all the states passed their acidic little amendments (including Wisconsin), so I guess in some sense, something happened. But the titanic clash between the forces of cultural conservatism and humanism never really exploded the way I wanted it to, the way I needed it to in some sense.

So I set out to write an ending, some kind of ending, anything, to take the tremendous hyperbolic energy that had been pouring into my ears and eyes and do something with it, put it to use. Which carried me through the first two acts, or 100,000 words, well enough. Now we're in the land-mind riddled third act, and I have to bring the thing to a close and I don't really want to, because I like my characters, but I know I have to, so I'm kind of winding it through anyways, like chipping out a marble statue with a toothpick, or your fingernails.

And now I bet you wish you hadn't asked about the book at all.


message 7: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:48AM) (new)

Alex (alexinmadison) | 31 comments Actually, I'm totally glad I asked. I still call "shotgun" on buying it. (Whatever parent figure you deem appropriate gets the first copy.)


message 8: by Patrick (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:48AM) (new)

Patrick Brian and all,

Been lurking on subversives for a while...time to comment...

RE: message 6 above: I applaud your guts in writing a book. Far from any of us being sorry for you expounding upon it, I concur with Alex in believing that most of us here will be really interested in hearing more about it. Seems to me than inside every fanatically devoted reader is someone who really thinks that they can write a much better book than 90% of what they read. But only a few courageous ones act upon it. Keep us posted!

RE: message 3 above: I think that you show much self-awareness in letting us know why you once were devoted to and now can't stand SK. Most people wouldn't look too deeply at that, but you're better off having done so. Otherwise you carry it around with you and then spew forth bile when someone give you an opportunity to let loose (see the What Was I Thinking? thread on BOOKS I LOATHED).

Also, on message 3: concur again with Alex that the second paragraph in message three is in the top 10 list of most hilarious things published on Good Reads, and there is a lot of good company on that list. If your first book isn;t in that vein, then the second book should be. A book like that could be a cult classic like Confederacy of Dunces or soemthing...

Finally, to my beloved Christina: thanks for publishing in public what you told me about SK not writing his own books these days...let's not let that go without comment...I can forgive an author for writing a bad or mediocre book, especially if he is very prolific like SK....but to have other people write your stuff and then put it our under your own name is FRAUD, plain and simple....even V C Andrews and her ilk didn't do that...if that's true, my opinion of SK will be forever changed...he will be the Barry Bonds of horror for me...

Does anyone else know anything about Stephen King not writing his own books? Any sources out there that can corroborate that?

Finally, Christina...on a separate thread I make IT exhibit A of how a bestselling author who, due to his or her popularity, is unchecked by an editor, will put out mediocre writing...as I wrote that I didn't realize that It was one of your favorites...it's an interesting story, but SK could have made it a third the length and IT would have been a better book...it was just too massive, for me....no hard feelings, please!


message 9: by Christina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:48AM) (new)

Christina | 5 comments No hard feelings at all. The thing about horror is it either hooks you or it doesn't. I never said that it was one of his best works. There are many that are better written, Carrie for example, but the story just didn't resonate with me that much. "It" resonated with me.

King writes, or has written, in one of the most personal genres there is. That is why he seems so hit and miss. part of it is the writing itself, the other part is the subject. If it doesn't get you, it just won't work.


message 10: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Alex (alexinmadison) | 31 comments *ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!*

See my previous post on one of the threads about subjective (and/or "purchased") opinion.

Maybe we should build a list that actually has some objective criteria.


message 11: by Brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Brian | 32 comments Mod
[quote:] In his analysis of post-World War II horror fiction, The Modern Weird Tale (2001), critic S. T. Joshi[19:] devotes a chapter to King's work. Joshi argues that King's best-known works (his supernatural novels) are his worst, being mostly bloated, illogical, maudlin and prone to deus ex machina endings. Despite these criticisms, Joshi argues that since Gerald's Game (1993), King has been tempering the worst of his writing faults, producing books that are leaner, more believable and generally better written. Joshi also stresses that, despite his flaws, King almost unfailingly writes insightfully about the pains and joys of adolescence, and has produced a few outstanding books, citing two non-supernatural novels – Rage (1977) and The Running Man (1982) – as King's best: in Joshi's estimation, both books are riveting and well-constructed, with believable characters.[/quote:]

-- Wikipedia entry on "Stephen King"

This is almost exactly how I feel about Stephen King. I detested The Running Man, but I liked "Rage" and "The Long Walk"

"Gerald's Game" was a tad histrionic for my taste, but it was wickedly plausible. "Bag of Bones" was the most recent King I have read (I read it immediately before "Desperation" and disillusionment), and it was meaner and leaner, but hardly more believable.

Have been unable to find anything that points to King ghostwriting his latest novels, although there seems to be an interesting discrepancy between King being unable to write because of painful injuries from the van crash (hip shattered, unable to write for more than an hour at a time) and King suddenly blossoming into a horror wunderkind again.

In other news, we begin the desperate sprint to finish the first draft this evening. I'm only 2,000 words a day for two weeks away from a full night's sleep, then the first cut, and then the bloodletting and recriminations begin.


message 12: by Patrick (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Patrick Well put perspective on King, Brian. I got back to the US just before the last two books in the Dark Tower were publsihed simultaneously, and those were write on the heels of the second-to-last book in the series. (Bought 'em but ain't read 'em yet.)

I recall thinking it odd that after years of famous struggles with writing that series, he was suddenly putting out almost three at once in addition to some other books, but didn't think much more of it at the time. Oh well, truth will out, even if occasionally a Barry Bonds breaks the HR record.

Should Stephen King be exposed as someone who did not actually write the books published under his name for the latter third or half of his career, our desendants will always remember that when discussing his life and work.

Good luck with the writing, man.


message 13: by Maryam (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:52AM) (new)

Maryam | 1 comments Not to beat a dead horse, but i'm new to this group and i just have to say that i really enjoyed this insight into king's writing. it's good to know i'm not alone. I have such a love/hate relationship w/him so thanks for helping me but that into perspective.


message 14: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:52AM) (new)

Alex (alexinmadison) | 31 comments IMHO, we all have a love/hate think with Stephen King. If nothing else, you've got to love the guy for the self-awareness that he seems to have.

Anyone ever read his "back page" column in Entertainment Weekly. It was often hilarious and, frankly, makes the guy seem totally down-to-earth.


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