Posts tagged ‘Tardy Son’

August 6, 2012

Tiny whoop. Faulkner Award semi-finalist.

My novel, Tardy Son, is a semi-finalist for the Faulkner Novel-in-Progress Award. Tiny whoop.

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February 2, 2012

How I Create History within a “Live” Story

How I Create History within a “Live” Story . . . or How I Create a More Intimate Close-Third-Person Point-of-View

I’m rewriting a novel of mine to try to create a style that brings the reader closer to the heart of my story. The story is told in both first-person and third-person point-of-views, using what James Wood calls the “free indirect style,” which is also called “close third-person.” The problem that arose with the story is that there seemed to be too much distance between the first-person narrator and the third-person narrator. In the first case the reader lives in the action and the mind of the main character. In the third-person case my first draft has the narrator standing well back from the present scene and also standing well back in time (as if he was telling stories from his youth, which he is doing as a device for the tale). This works on some level because it’s a historical novel and the “story” is written from the journals of the first-person narrator. On another level, as the story unfolds, there is a disconnect between the “alive-ness” of the story as told by the first-person voice and the dispassionate voice of the third-person narration. The effect produced in this contrast could be almost one of boredom, I’m afraid—that the third-person voice gets in the way of the story.

For me, it is a lot of work to change a mode of writing I’ve used for many years now. It does not seem to come intuitively. At least not yet. I’m removing any judgmental language and I’m removing anything that relates directly to a time-period outside of the action. Is there anything you do in a novel to relate complex action to its time period without sounding like some documentary narrating voice?

October 13, 2011

Why “The Cats Table,” by Michael Ondaatje Is Not an Interesting Novel

When I read about this novel, I struck by some of its similarities to my own most recent works, Tardy Son and Tesora. I read an excerpt from his latest novel to find out. But I found that it’s all written from a remote adult’s POV with indulgent explanations about the boy with very little emotional or psychological understanding of him. That may have been all right with The English Patient, but not with this one. Instead of the writing being alive like a teenaged boy is, it’s petrified and dusty and conclusive. Life for a boy of that age might be dangerous in this situation, but it is not boring. He doesn’t seek out answers ontologically. A boy looks for gold and squished bugs and is obsessively optimistic.

It seems the closer a subject is to mine, the further the writing is apart from my style. Here’s a link to a NYTimes review of his new novel.

March 27, 2011

So . . . is your novel in the Young Adult category?

Is Tardy Son a Young Adult novel? This was asked my by another writer, Kimberly Elkins, after I told her about my novel. I had written most of it already and was on a final rewrite. I never did intend it that way, so I finished it with the same intention, but then took this test she gave me:

Test for “Tardy Son”:

Young adult literature has certain unique features which set it apart. Books for teens are often written in the first person and usually have:
• a teenage protagonist [ YES ]
• adult characters as marginal and barely visible characters [ NO ]
• a brief time span (the story spans a few weeks, yes, a summer, maybe, a year, no) [ YES ]
• a limited number of characters [ NO ]
• a universal and familiar setting [ NO ]
• current teenage language, expressions, and slang [ NO, HISTORICALLY SET IN 1958 ]
• detailed descriptions of other teenagers’ appearances, mannerisms, and dress [ NO ]
• a positive resolution to the crisis at hand (though it may be subtle and never in-your-face moralistic) [ NO ]
• few, if any, subplots [ NO ]
• about 125-250 pages in length (although many of the newer YA books are much longer) [ YES, 225 ]
• a focus on the experiences and growth of just one main character [ MAINLY, BUT NO ]
• a main character whose choices and actions and concerns drive the story (as opposed to outside forces) [ MAINLY, BUT NO ]
• problems specific to adolescents and their crossing the threshold between childhood and adulthood [ MAINLY BUT, YES ]

SCORE:
YES, YA = 4
NO, YA = 9

Conclusion? INCONCLUSIVE, BUT IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.
Is the writing good? THAT MATTERS.

January 23, 2011

A short synopsis of Tardy Son

Tardy Son, a novel

When a 13-year-old California boy’s attempt to run away from his abusive home is thwarted, he defies the police, and wages a war against his father. His first attempt to escape by jumping onto a freight train bound for San Francisco becomes an odyssey. He wants to start an imaginary baseball team, go to an imaginary school, and become a real writer. But when cornered by the police and angered by the lies his father tells the newspapers, he uses his wit and humor to fight back and publishes his own version of the runaway story which becomes infamous throughout California. He writes his real, day-to-day story for his teammates, his girlfriend, and his father to read. When he finally faces his father again, his anger draws blood, yet it also reveals a deeper story. He’s a polio survivor and a Mexican adopted by a white family in the 1950s, so his fight for his truth becomes more than a struggle to survive life on the street—it becomes a struggle to find his own identity.

November 14, 2010

Haibun and Novels

My fiction combines autobiography, short parables for children, history, travel writing, and poetry. It is related in this way to the Haibun form of 17th Century Japan. The Japanese poet, BashĹŤ, known mainly for his haiku, was a writer of haibun. Haibuns may use a scene in a descriptive and objective manner or they may occupy a dream-like space. Realistic scenes may be faded into parabolic ones such as this which follows a paragraph of standard prose:

I am your mother. I give you life, I hold your life up, I give you life on your own. The last gift is the hardest to give. I caress your title page as it leaves my hand. I can’t imagine not giving you a little sister. It’s the third gift.

October 6, 2010

Richard Eoin Nash has a Cursor

Richard Eoin Nash has got some interesting ideas about bringing the Internet towards traditional publishing and vice versa. His new publishing company, Cursor, he calls “a portfolio of niche social publishing communities.” The first imprint of Cursor is called Red Lemonade and his first list is three novels to be published in Spring, 2011. Check out his blog at: http://www.rnash.com/

September 21, 2010

Tardy Son Synopsis (Novel #4)

Tardy Son synopsis: (Manuscript now complete . . . Yay!)
When a 12-year-old California boy’s attempt to run away from his abusive home is thwarted, he defies the police, and wages war against his father. His first attempt to escape by jumping onto a freight train bound for San Francisco becomes an odyssey. He wants to start an imaginary baseball team, go to an imaginary school, and become a real writer. But when cornered by the police and angered by the lies his father tells the newspapers, he uses his wit and humor to fight back and publishes his own side of the runaway story which becomes infamous throughout California. “Two crazy people are better than one,” he says. He writes his day-to-day story for his teammates, his girlfriend, and his father to read. When he finally faces his father again, his anger draws blood, yet it also reveals a deeper story. He’s a polio survivor and a Mexican adopted by a white family in the 1950s, so his fight for his truth becomes more than a struggle to survive life on the street—it becomes a struggle to find his own identity.

September 4, 2010

Tardy Son Synopsis

When a 12-year-old California boy’s attempt to run away from his abusive home is thwarted, he defies the police, and wages a war of words against his father. At first he escapes by jumping onto a freight train bound for San Francisco. He wants to start an imaginary baseball team, go to an imaginary school, and become a real writer. But when cornered by the police and angered by the lies his father tells to the newspaper, he uses his wit and humor to fight back and he publishes his own truth for his teammates, his girlfriend, and his father to read. He’s a polio survivor and a Mexican adopted by a white family in the 1950s, so his fight for his truth becomes more than a struggle to survive life on the street—it becomes a struggle to find his own identity.

July 15, 2010

The Adventures of Tardy Son Finn

My novel-in-progress, Tardy Son, is in no direct way an homage to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I do, however, refuse to read it again until my novel is finished because Twain’s story is lodged deeply in my own subconscious. Freedom is a theme no American writer can avoid. The Concord Public Library, however, once tried to avoid that theme and the one about free speech. See below.

“The Concord (Mass.) Public Library committee has decided to exclude Mark Twain’s latest book from the library. One member of the committee says that, while he does not wish to call it immoral, he thinks it contains but little humor, and that of a very coarse type. He regards it as the veriest trash. The library and the other members of the committee entertain similar views, characterizing it as rough, coarse, and inelegant, dealing with a series of experiences not elevating, the whole book being more suited to the slums than to intelligent, respectable people.”
—from Satire or Evasion?: Black Perspectives on Huckleberry Finn. Duke University Press. pp. 2. ISBN 9780822311744.

Today the Concord library lends forty-four versions of the novel including digital, tape, DVD, and a manga/graphic novel version.

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