clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Saturday, September 14, 2013


At left, the superhuman Vasily Alekseyev: the great Soviet man. He won the Order of Lenin as an Olympic Weightlifter. In the early 70's, he was very much the face of Soviet mastery in sport.

You won't comprehend how much weight he would lift over his head in competition. Trust me: it's superhuman.

I've been thinking on superhuman lately. I've been thinking what it means to be superhuman.

Steve Almond says writing is an effort of "superhuman compassion in the face of persistent misbehavior."

For a long time I thought he was wrong. Now I know he's correct.

Great literature - the stuff I want to read more than once - is about those freakish secrets deep in the author's soul he displays using fictive disguise. If you're doing any good at all, you're exploiting the the most sensitive of relationships you've had for items which appear in your pages.

You can lie about it but you know what I mean. You've never used parts of your mother in a character?  What did she want you to be when you grew up, anyway? A writer? I'd be not. 

You can call  bullshit. You can say Lee Child never does that and maybe you'd be correct.

I'd bet money that a bottle of scotch would get him to admit otherwise. He's hated someone enough in his life to imagine how a slug from a Desert Eagle would tear them up. He's known someone whom he imagines feeding a husband's testicle to a wife. He's known someone that mean. He's known them better than he wants you to know.

Oh - horrible I say this, isn't it? Best seller stuff cuties. That's in the FIRST Jack Reacher novel The Killing Floor. 

You don't want to face that dark ink you mix with blood and betrayal - fine. I'm telling you it happens in the good stuff. It happens in the commercial stuff. If the emotion smells true I bet you it is happening 9 of 10 times whatever that emotion might be.

You're misbehaving and betraying trusts - even those you hold with yourself - every time you get the pen out and write something raw. The contrived stuff? Who gives a shit. We've all bought crap to read on a plane. Col. Mustard in the library with the candlestick. It's fun.

I'm not talking about that.

Try of a little of For Whom the Bell Tolls again and see what you think of what is on the page. What do you think Hemingway's family thought about the suicide theme in the book? How'd you feel about that if your son wrote it after coming back from Iraq?

You are recording things that you hope no one recognizes. You are betraying unspoken confidences about old friends, family, lovers, yourself. You are misbehaving and hoping that in doing so you can communicate your deepest thoughts about your views on the human condition. Or, you're wanking.

Write something before you go blind.

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