Delivering a moment

If you haven’t heard of Moss yet, it’s an online journal found here.

Anyways – I went to APRIL, which had a small convention at the Hugo House, letting small indie presses sell their wares, and Moss was one of companies. Apparently, they just made a new first-time-ever print edition, and me having known about them for a while, and being irresistibly excited by print, I bought a copy.

First story – “Family Life and Sexual Health”

After I finished this story, the first thing that comes to mind is a motif about brothers, siblings. You can tell from reading this story that the main character, Elle, really wanted to be something other than an only child. And this is a great feeling to focus on – I feel like a lot of children/people can relate to this feeling.

And for its one positive to focus on – pacing. This author’s style is similar to mine as of late. At least when I’ve been riding the bus, and writing in between bus stops, I find myself favoring the quick, jumping scenes, ducking in and out of the story, and Texeira has successfully accomplished this.

She writes, What do you mean by and stops.

Elle keeps her eyes on the paper, “Sex?”

A few uncomfortable attempts and she finally figured out the angle at which something could go inside. (4)

A lot of scenes are like this, cutting in and out with dialogue or some concrete imagery, with each scene not being more than a moment, maybe a few minutes at most, before continuing on with the story. I think this makes a short story really successful, delivering only the most crucial details. In this case, Dan’s repeated visits to Elle, always eating pie, always asking for a fork, sharing a timeless moment, is something you would see between siblings, quickly getting the motif across. It makes me wonder if Texeira wanted one.

Guy, Connor and Alex Davis-Lawrence. Family Life and Sexual Health. Seattle: Moss Volume 1, 2015. Print.


And from the depths of the sea…the Kraken!

I like calamari. Of course, that has nothing to do with China Miéville’s book, Kraken, except maybe a distant relationship to his brother octopus. But thinking of both of them brings a warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach – probably the beginnings of heart burn, or something. Ha.

But seriously, I liked it. Just finished reading it, courtesy of one of my students. He was captivated by the ending. I was captivated by the details and a few other things.(Spoilers!)

+ I loved the critic on religious beliefs. It was entertaining to read about these different religions, whose gods took different forms. Kraken, sea, ferret…It was random. And entertaining. It puts religion in perspective, how silly it is to argue different beliefs because you can never prove one write, and why should you when it’s a belief and not a fact.

+ I liked the introduction. It was this hilarious deceit, showing you through a scene, oh – this is how all the tours go. And then it breaks the continuity, and says, oh – the tour didn’t go like this. It actually went like this. It was this funny contrast between usual and now. And I really enjoyed that comparison.

+ The random extra characters. Miéville has a great imagination, and he didn’t let me down in Kraken. He invented all these extra characters, who don’t really add anything to the novel, except to show more details behind this society. The one guy I liked in particular was this guy who went to a villain meet-up, and they were auctioning the job. Everyone got greedy hearing the prize, but there was one guy – he was allergic to greed. He had to run out of the room (184). How hilarious and random, is that?

There was also one other guy – Jason. Anyone who met him thought they knew him; his knack was familiarity, recognition. Everyone thought they recognized him, and it allowed him the ability to walk in to secure offices, to walk around without a badge, to take information without asking. It was cool until someone with powers recognized him for what he was and until the bad guys found him and killed him. Poor guy.

I don’t like Billy. This is where I feel like Miéville is definitely a plot-oriented author. For most of the book, Billy was in mourning for Leon, being dragged to and from events like a little kid. He didn’t contribute anything to the book until it was time for the conclusion, where he re-wrote the laws of nature with the strength of his belief. Billy was a flat character. At least in my opinion. I got more feeling from Marge.

I am…unsure about the ending. So in the end, they figure out the villain is Grisamentum, who has preserved his life in ink – that was cool. But then after the good guys beat bad guys, Billy’s all, oh no! Port me! Port me now! And all the sudden, it’s like, Nope! Vardy’s the bad guy, and has been all long. He’s the one setting the Earth on fire because he can’t deal with having no belief…I’m sorry. But this to me seems like atheism, and is a legitimate belief… I don’t know. I didn’t like the “twist” ending even though it is explainable with Vardy’s beliefs.

I’m not sure I liked the pace. This is something I have to go back and examine, but for the first half of the book, I’m struggling to read it. It’s interesting, and I want to learn more, but it’s not captivating. Then, a little more than halfway, it’s pulling me along. There’s action; characters are interacting; they finally have a plan. I really do want to look back because to me, the most interesting part to study is why do I feel this way? (My hypothesis is that the first part of the book was just setting up the story of the three character sets: Billy/Dane/Wati, FSRC, Marge.)

Miéville, C. Kraken. New York, NY: Del Rey, 2010. Print.


Advancing the timeline

There was a movie a while back with Adam Sandler – really bad, really depressing – I think it was called Clicker. About a man who could pause, start, skip pieces of his life with a remote. I think summaries are a lot like that, quite similar to a remote.

They can pause or skip over action, either taking the time to delve into details or diving past a scene that would be too boring to write.

I think this is a good example of the second type of summary: Clicker on fast forward.

“I’m worried that I erased too much,” I say before I can stop myself. Then Frita, one of the two proprietor/cook/designers wanders over, and we’re lost for a while in praise of his latest creations, and of course we have to sample the fruits of the first production run and make an elaborate business of reviewing them while Erci stands by strumming his mandolin and looking proud.

“Erased too much,” Kay prods me.

“Yes.” I push my plate away. “I don’t know for sure…” (Stross 27)

Here, Kay and Robin (main character) are talking over lunch. And while this is the action within the chapter, the main purpose of this chapter is not to explore the scene, but to explore their reflections through conversation. They’re both in similar predicaments, with their memories having just been erased, and they want the verification of did they or did they not make the right decision. It’s hard to know without knowing what they erased.

Because this is its purpose, we as the reader and writer, don’t want to spend time over a pointless scene, where they’re talking about food, talking to a chef, and even though the writer could do a beautiful job of explaining what happens, without having a purpose behind it, there’s no reason to show it, which is why we can skip it with summary. Shown above.

This is a good learning lesson for many, including myself.

I like to write according to time, letting time direct most of my books – even though it should be as flexible as perspective – but having said that, I like to see all scenes, every scene, which can drag a book’s pace until it’s as slow as running through water.

And no one likes to read that.

When you read, you should be immersed. You should be pulled, dragged along the ground, until you’re running to try and keep up. You should be excited, engaged, and I read for entertainment, whether I’m engaged in the conflict or thought-experiment.

Either way, if I’m not engaged, I’m not entertained – same for learning, which is why summaries must be used in conjunction with scenes. You just have to decide as the writer, what is the purpose of this segment, and if it has none, cut it, skip it. Summarize it.

But please don’t bop it!

Stross, C. Glasshouse. New York, NY: Ace, 2006. Print.