Dog Ear
Punked (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 18 August 2016 00:00

o I did the three R’s on a friend’s book, The Eyre Affair (Received, Read, Reviewed). Attempted to Rave but, as mentioned HERE, I got Rejected. Man, felt bad about this.

However, my wife and I did do dinner with this person a while later. It was one of those comfortable evenings; a quiet restaurant, good conversation, good food. And even though she’d bombed the book, I mentioned it anyway. I thought it was good, regardless. Hey, everyone’s a critic, present blogger included.

Oh, and minor spoilers ahead, that is, if you are going to read Jane Eyre and wish to be surprised by this slow-moving bodice-ripper.

So when I’d borrowed this book, I was a little leery because I had not read Eyre. I was told not to worry because the author pretty much streamlined an explanation about novel’s plot. Fine. In a nutshell, Jane meets Rochester. Jane plans to wed Rochester. In the wedding, someone denounces Rochester as having a mad wife chained up in the attic. Jane returns to her cousins. Jane goes to India. End of the book. It is described as a favorite of Brontë fans except for the unsatisfying conclusion.

So, cool, that’s covered.

But then Thursday Next, the heroine of The Eyre Affair, manages to get into the book to safeguard Jane from a criminal manic, everything goes as planned, except that Thursday takes it upon herself to whisper Rochester’s name through the shutters as Jane is preparing to leave for India. Jane changes her mind, she rushes back and finds a badly burned Rochester (his house and mad wife having gone up in flames during the climactic battle with the villain) and loves him. So, while Brontë literary professors were angered by this change, the fans liked it better this way. A cute twist.

So I was explaining this to my dinner companion when I was corrected. According to her (and confirmed independently), Jane does hear voices that tell her to return to Rochester. That’s the way the book actually ends – in our world.

So apparently, the author played a joke on us where in the world his novel took place in, Eyre does end unsatisfactorily. And Thursday’s intervention makes the book into a better one, the end where she stays, marries and is happy. But he never comes out and tells us that. Thus, people familiar with the story see the trick as it plays out – that we’re in an alternative world. But people who’ve never read it and are relying on the author to fill us in, it’s almost like an April Fool’s joke.  And there I am, well-read, scholarly, leaned, discussing a novel with great authority that I know nothing about.

Oh man. Did I get played.

>>>I THINK MY NOVELS ARE GOOD BUT MY KNOWLEDGE IS QUESTIONABLE. BETTER BUY ONE AND SEE IT I’M RIGHT OR NOT!<<<

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2016 09:25
 
Andre (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 11 August 2016 00:00

o last week, we chatted about Athos, the literary character I see myself as. This week, we’ll look to Andre-Louis Moreau, the character I wish I could be.

Andre, a lawyer from Gavrillac, is a man famously described as “born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." He gets royally screwed (actually, in this case, nobly screwed) by the Marquis de la Tour d'Azyr, who butchers his friend and forces him (like Athos) to hide in the gutter. But Andre undergoes a series of transformations, eventually becoming a man of influence, power and deadliness. And these powers (especially his methodical skills with a sword) he uses to attack and dispatch members of the nobility who dare to challenge him.

I like Andre. He’s played with bombastic scenery chewing (which I learned to love) by Stewart Granger in the movie version. This is Scaramouche concentrated; his passions, his abilities, all culminating in an amazing sword fight (seven minutes, the longest ever filmed) where he battles the Marquis de Maynes (i.e. the Marquis de la Tour d'Azyr), first losing, then gaining confidence, and beating back his opponent’s blade (the look on Mel Ferrer’s face is priceless, that Oh shit, I’m losing! expression).

But if Athos is who I see myself as, Andre is who I wish to be, a guy who overcomes adversity, who gets the girl, who beats his enemies through study and magnificent ability, who overcomes all.

And here is the power of storytelling, a relating of character and circumstance to the plodding-through-life reader/viewer with the magnificent and interesting lives of protagonists. Be it Jane Eyre, Gilgamesh, Han Solo, Bob Cratchit, or Peter Blood (another Sabatini reference, yeah, I know) or any of the thousands of characters we come across in our media-flush world, we all associate with a couple in particular, either in our realities or our desires. That’s what I think we need to consider (as writers), not only to make our heroes sympathetic or believable or interesting or marketable, but crafted in some way that people associate with them. What better homage can an author have than to find a reader who tells us that they dwell inside our character, and share their hurts and heroics, and live through them. It’s the goal of good storytelling, the drawing in of the reader.

We might not be able to be our characters, but we should be able to craft them.

>>>I LIKED ELISHA FROM FIRE AND BRONZE. SHE WAS DRIVEN AND FORCEFUL AND HELD A COALITION OF NOBLES TOGETHER IN EXILE. ME, I’D HAVE NEVER TRIED, BUT SHE PULLED IT OFF. THAT’S MY GIRL. AND YOU CAN READ HER STORY HERE!<<<

 
Athos (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 04 August 2016 00:00

een thinking of Athos a lot recently, the oldest, wisest, drunkest, and darkest of the famous Musketeers. In the recent BBC adaptation, Athos is played handily Tom Burke, who might be a wee bit young and drunk on demand. No, for my money, it was Oliver Reed back in the 70s who hit it on the head, portraying the man who’d once been the Count de la Fère before he’d hung his wife for the thief she was and sank into low-class oblivion as a lowly musketeer. There have been other Athoses of course, including John Malkovich, which is all I’ll say about that.

I love the character, frankly. In fact, all the Musketeers work for me – they are the perfect balance of heroes. But Athos I identify with for reasons I don’t quite get. I guess I connect with having a moody backstory and wish I could be more like him (silently dealing with emotions and the past, rather than blogging openly about it as is the way of the twenty-first century). He is the glue that holds that entire literary world together.

All of these thoughts would have beneath even blogging about had I not dreamed of my late father last night. The dream was long and vivid and strange and disturbing. The thing was, when I did wake, while I was feeding my yowling cat and putting on my bike clothes, I thought it over more. I suppose saddling a horse before a somewhat dangerous mission gives a hero time to reflect, as did I as I settled my saddlebags over my rear carrier and slipped on my gloves and helmet. Suddenly I was looking at the sum of my relationship with my old man, which never quite reached the level of understanding I’d desired. We watched movies together and cofounded a club that is still around twenty-five years later, but we just didn’t click. At least, it didn’t click in that Hollywood way.

I rode along dawn-hinted streets, silent aside from the clicking and creaking of my aged Cannondale. I fingered that feeling in my mind, that thought if my dad and all the small disappointments of our relationship. Time to think without a radio, without the rush of vehicular commute, just an aging man with his thoughts. Hooked south onto Ferncreek to meet my young co-rider and here he came, helloing to me, serpentining in traffic in dark clothing and no running lights. My d'Artagnan, I suppose. And yes, I felt old, but like Athos, I felt comfortable in my place.

Just backstory. Just ghosts.

>>>MY BOOKS ARE NOT QUITE SO MOODY, THOUGH I DO KILL OFF MY HEROINE IN FIRE AND BRONZE (THAT’S HISTORY FOR YOU). CHECK THEM OUT HERE, BUY A COPY AND MAKE AN OLD WRITER SMILE<<<

 
Backed with fists (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 28 July 2016 00:00

as going to lunch, my wife and another couple the other day. Mentioned I was reading The Eyre Affair. The woman in the front seat hardly turned. "By Jasper Fforde"? I blinked. "Wow! How would you know that?" She told me she'd started it a couple of weeks ago. Me, I'm midway through and really enjoying it. I started to babble about how funny it was (militant astronomer groups?) and she sniffed (you couldn't hear it, but all the evidence was there for a down-her-nose dismissal). "Oh, I dropped it after the first chapter. It wasn't very good."

I started to say why I liked it but she simply dismissed me like one would a servant. Humiliating.

And eye-opening.

There are writers I love. Wells is way up there, along with Pratchett. Fraser. Dumas. Sabatini. God, so many. But I've never been sniffed like that. Just flat out rejected. I was actually stunned by how cold she was about this.

The Eyre Affair takes place in a world several version removed, where Germany sorta won World War Two (nothing came from it) yet the Russians and English have been fighting in the Crimea for over a hundred years. And literature is far more important. There are productions of Richard III (Dick the shit, as he is called) that come across as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It's actually a very funny idea. And rival denominations of literalists fight over their favorite authors, literally engaging in punch-outs and even fire-bombings.

And that's the thing that got my head whirling. I've seen D&D role players get in fights (even in my games) with silly punches thrown. I've seen model railroaders get so mad with each other they couldn't see straight (been in one of those, too). Pool players are quick to brawl. Card players shoot each other on occasion.

And religion? Good heavens (or whatever is suitable for you) - you should all be ashamed before your various Gods. Genocide? Terrorism? Knifings? Where are all these rules you are supposed to honor? How can you look at yourself and not see the hypocrisy in your actions?

But readers? I don't think I've ever heard of book lovers breaking into a reading room brawl over book differences. And this is even though readers engage in seeming-meditation, reading and rereading their favorite books, worshipping their writers, and pouring over books, breaking down sentences, scrabbling for hidden meanings. Just like religion. Without all that violence.

So, perhaps of all the pastimes and amusements and devotions out there, perhaps reading really is the sanest. It brings comfort. It brings clarity. It brings wisdom. And it brings truth. You can find someone who shares your view and talk away the hours over musketeers, Martians or Moby Dick. And even if someone casts down your thoughts, grinding them into the dust, you will never resort to bombings, shootings, lynchings, or stabbings.

You might, as in my case, think of them as a bit of a prig.

I mean, really.

>>>IF YOU DON'T LIKE MY OWN BOOKS, YOU HAVEN'T READ THEM. AND HERE THEY ARE, RIGHT DOWN THIS LINK!<<<

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 July 2016 18:58
 
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