Friday, October 28, 2011

Both ways is the only way I want it

Checking In

It’s been a bit quiet here ever since I lost my mind.

I don’t think I’ll ever try to write 6,000 words on the one piece of fiction in one day again (though I may achieve the fact unknowingly). I’ve hardly written a fresh word since. I’ve either been too zonked to focus or forced to jigger with existing parts of the novel to make sure my giant jenga tower of words doesn’t topple over (much like this extended metaphor promises to if I go on any longer).

I’ll be sending off the first chunk of THE NOVEL to my editor next week. (I may have come up with a title for it today, though it may just be another working title.) By the time of my wedding/the general election (it’s the same day, David) I should have a new roadmap for completion… just in time for a non-metaphorical roadtrip around the North Island.

You may be pleased to know that I intend to post at least one interview with a Kiwi writer next month.

I’ll also work on my annual ‘The Best Books I’ve Read This Year’ post, which will pop up here in December. I might even be in a position to do a similar post about music; the first time in three years I could probably say this. See my Dom Post column from last year for some background. Unfortunately, at the moment I’m working on the playlist for our wedding day (big moments, background music, dance floor boogie), which involves listening to a lot of Billy Joel and Elton John and asking myself, ‘Is it really worth it?’

Recent Reading

Both Ways is the Only Way I Want itBoth ways is the only way I want it by Maile Meloy (short stories)

Great stories in the Richard Ford mould -- there was even a preponderance of male protagonists / male perspectives, despite Meloy being female -- but I didn't tire of the collection in the same way I do (used to?) when reading large numbers of Ford's stories in one hit.

Only one sore thumb story, 'Agustín', which is set in aristocratic Argentinean circles (the rest are set in contemporary USA, often Montana). Not quite as out-there as Wells Tower's Viking story in Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, but 'Agustín' still struggled to hold the ground its fellow stories had won.

Meloy has some interesting things to say about the ordering of short story collections on the book's Amazon page.

Nicholas NicklebyNicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (audiobook)

Technically, I have 27 minutes left to go, but it's been a marathon 30 hours to get to this point and all the plots are being wrapped up. I can't remember laughing out loud this much when listening to an audiobook (to be fair, it's three times the length of the standard audiobook, so maybe I've LOL'd this much with three books, but I try not to make a habit of looking like a crazy person on the bus). I'm filled with glee whenever the boring, satisfied counting house clerk Tim Linkinwater appears. Perhaps if I hadn't done my share of drudgery in financial services I would not warm to Tim as I have.

M. is also listening to the audiobook on her iPod, though she's about ten hours behind me. We talk about the detours into the lives of the Kenwigses and the Crumleses, the lesser villians like Wackford Squeers and Ralph Nickleby and the novel's great villain, Mrs Nickleby. It's all great fun, but is it great fiction?

I think so. It's too flabby by modern standards. Far too many adverbs. I suspect if you cut and paste the text into Microsoft Word most sentences would have a green squiggly underline for committing the (perceived) sin of 'wordiness'. But it's a pleasure to spend thirty hours of bus journeys and waterfront walks with Dickens' narrator (and Robert Whitfield, the audiobook's 'narrator').

The question is, what can I possibly load on my iPod next that'll be this much fun?

A surplus of sentimentality

If finding the right songs for THE WEDDING (yes, it's officially become as ominous as THE NOVEL) was a tricky, it seems finding some words without music to beef up our non-religious, not-overly-sentimental ceremony is bloody hard.

I've got to find something for my step-sister to read out, but it seems it's either God or schmaltz when looking for 'wedding readings' (what a terrible, repulsive phase to be Googling; surely I should have a piece of writing I cherish which will suit such an occasion... um... can't think of one...).

Ugh.  For now, thought, I'm running back to music:

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