clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Nose for It

At left, Louis the Foxhound impersonating a lapdog. He's getting it down pretty well.

This is a Saturday confessional. I love literary fiction. I know, I know. There's something wrong with me.

I discovered The New Yorker way too long ago and back then, they were almost accessible to a competent writer. This innocent discovery led to the harder stuff. Yep. Gateway drug.

The Atlantic followed and yes, in those days they published fiction and occasionally fiction from new authors. When was this? Well, you could get something to eat at Max's Kansas City then wander down and see if the Ramones were at CBGB. I don't need the reproduction shirt from American Eagle or whoever is producing those bastardized reprints.

The Paris Review was rare and stratified air and it published - gasp - interviews that were nearly as mysterious and unobtainable as the stories within.

I danced between these for years - often at libraries. While The New Yorker was affordable and nearly a giveaway, it also built up around the house like soiled diapers from pre-toddlers.

Then, the kids were gone. The American Reader, The Threepenny, McSweeny's, Prairie Schooner, The Virginia Quarterly (before the colossal meltdown), Sewanee Review, and The Iowa Review.

I'm practically in need of a twelve step program for stories in search of the merest framework of a plot.

I can wax about some of the earliest stories that I enjoyed. Some I remember but have not been able to find again. There was an amusing story of a group that played "the game of world domination" on a formica table in a kitchen. There was a Johnathan Livingston Seagull flavored piece about the Tomcat F-14 which of course resonated strongly. [ I never was a Tomcat driver. Last trap was in 2006 for this wonderful platform. A loss at half the weight.]. I was never enthralled by JLS and have despised the positive thinking approach all my life. Of course, I deal with disaster, destruction, and death professionally.

I remember reading a story while a freshman in engineering school where the story ended without resolution and only hinted - to me - at the transformation possible in the protagonist. I can't remember the details though I remember spending nearly a month re-reading and wondering at the constructive transformation off the page drifting into the story as just a shadow.

Now, none of this is as solid as a body in the living room. I love bodies in the living room too. I love what they do to the people who walk around them.

When you open the front door and there's a smell of gunpower lingering in the hall. Ammonia strikes me first, then acetate. You know something's happened. The change starts there as you wonder. You move in calling names. You've lost caution because you're not confident in your first suspicion.

The confirmation is the same as those times when you consent to something knowing in your heart it will turn out badly. You knew when the door opened that it was bad. You just didn't believe yourself and when proved true there is the disappointment in yourself for not trusting judgement - snap judgement of the moment or not. You should have known.

Great stuff.

With literary fiction., I might not even care about the mystery of who or why. Telling Aunt Jane there's to be a funeral might be the major conflict requiring resolution. Not really the stuff you read in each Ellery Queen.

So, I love foxhounds and the transformative introspective nature of literary fiction.

Don't give the nephews subscriptions to magazines you don't read yourself. Don't do it.

Now, off to write. You should do a little character transformation tonight, too.

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