Quick Book Review: The Rim of Morning by William Sloane

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I took a break from research on Corpus (Aerial views of Herculaneum, MO anyone?) to finish one of two novels contained in The Rim of Morning by William Sloane: To Walk the Night.

I almost passed this up. I purchased on a whim (And King’s recommendation), and I am not let down by it.

Stephen King introduces this reprint of a 1937 novel with a disclaimer, and so will I: writing in the late 30’s was not very PC, and there were repeated references to people as “idiots” and “not people” when referencing a person with mental illness. For the sake of this story, I’ll also state the “snappy dialogue” also included personal opinions of one of the two white MCs that non “American” names were cockeyed and women should have a “mysterious composure” to them so they don’t get too headstrong.

This novel bends genre; it’s a story covering early football, university studies, detective whodunnit, science quandaries concerning infinity, questions concerning humanity and insight, all framed through a Lovecraftian lens of “strange science” and otherworldly “madness.” The story itself is so very low key, so very rhythmic in its flow and discourse, I found reading it almost calming in effect, despite the topics being covered.

I agree with Mr. King, though: this is horror. A slow, building, jump-scare free, chauvinistic pursuit of information that ultimately climaxes not with a scream and a fade to black, but with a baleful understanding.

That being said, this story, to me, was about the “Antagonist,” Selena. Without spoiling too much of the short, amiable read, Mr. Sloane did not agree with his protagonists’ opinions of womanly composure, or otherwise sought to create a powerful character with whom I was thoroughly impressed. While Mr. Lister the son was interesting and all the characters rounded and plausible, all were ultimately forgettable save Selena. I believe that was the intent in the novel: to serenade an air of power around one character so sublime and deep-reaching and hardly discernible that one was apt to overlook it entirely.

I loved this read for her. If she wasn’t a part of this story, I’d’ve forgotten the book in entirety. If you’re in the mind to read something simple, straightforward, and not lacking in subtle build, read this.

Chris

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Personal Update: Books

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This is the most flattering pic of my ugly mug I can find from the past month. Me, throwing back a few beers at the family reunion. Note the eyes have that faraway look one might get after, say, imbibing a brewski or two.

Good afternoon/evening to those intrepid voyagers who find interest in my words. I’ve been writing in this for a while, and I like to periodically update on what I’m actually doing IRL, instead of positing opinions or rambling on about whatever topic I find important.

I’m ABSOLUTELY STOKED about all most of the happenings in my life and I’m running into a lot of great moments I want to share with whoever wants to listen. (Spoken like a true extrovert, I guess?)

So, here it is.

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Books: Morgenstern, Mieville, Jung, Cline, Enright

Or… New Classic? (Exhibit A)

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The books I’ll be looking at are:
Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus,
China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station,
Carl Jung’s Red Book (There are cheaper versions out there; this one is full-size),
Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One,
Anne Enright’s The Gathering.
As a note: I have only finished Night Circus and The Gathering.

Another aspect in a writer’s dedication to improve on his (since I’m referring to myself) writing ability is the importance of reading. I’ll be the first to say that between my bouts of college, I didn’t read much. When I was younger, I simply wrote what I wanted to read. I went on grand adventures, and for some reason all my characters started to sound the same: little me’s running around doing me things as magical people, as witches, as generals, as parents, orphans. You get the drift. Before that, in grade school and high school and college try 1, I read voraciously.

I have to force myself to read now. I don’t like the writing styles of a lot of writers, I don’t enjoy the shortsightedness of storytelling arcs, I have to force myself to read a lot of recommended reading. Nothing against anyone, but I don’t pleasure read. I don’t know if I can ever go back to it either. But I’m trying.

So! I have a short list of books I’m reading, books I’ve finished reading over the past semester/year, and I want to talk about them. If you’re interested, please come along.

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Joyce and Modernism: Why is it Important?

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The text outlawed in the United States when first released in full.

Before I dive into Joyce’s modernist writing style, I must start with definitions. (All definitions used while focused on writing only)

  1. Modern – characteristic of present and recent time; contemporary; not antiquated or obsolete.
  2. Modernist – (in literature, structuralist) a deliberate philosophical and practical estrangement or divergence from the past in the arts and literature occurring especially in the course of the 20th century and taking form in any of various innovative movements and styles.
  3. Postmodernist – (in literature, poststructuralist) any of a number of trends or movements in the arts and literature developing in the 1970s in reaction to or rejection of the dogma, principles, or practices of established modernism, especially a movement in architecture and the decorative arts running counter to the practice and influence of the International Style and encouraging the use of elements from historical vernacular styles and often playful illusion, decoration, and complexity.

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Inception is Strangely Lovecraftian in Design

inceptedInception is the type of movie where people walk away scratching their heads. Most people. I watched it when it first came out, enjoyed it for what it was, and moved on. (My brother, on the other hand, wasn’t such a fan.) It’s a “cerebral” thriller where the environment itself tells as much (or more) of the story as the characters. The premise surrounds a man who can extract information from another person’s subconscious via a cocktail of drugs and a carefully constructed “dream.” He brings a “Get Shorty” group of people in with him where they directly talk to the dreamer’s mind and find information, therefore performing an “extraction.” While the possibilities for creative enterprise is boundless, the movie pares all creative deviation to the story at hand, which is great for the masses and thus made for a somewhat accessible movie. While I understand why, the possibilities were literally endless for subject matter.

The content, on the other hand, is not only a throwback to “Weird Fiction” stories from the early 20th century, but also pays direct homage to the writer H.P. Lovecraft via dialogue and imagery. I watched the movie a second time yesterday, and was surprised by the correlation.

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Writing Insecurities

I’m writing on a novel I haven’t touched in nearly two years. Its only 20 pages (with seven added today). It’s about a character I created, who came to reside in the apartment above me, in my actual apartment. Oddly enough a year and a half ago a woman actually moved in upstairs, and she was nothing like the character I created.

Which has nothing to do with the story, really. I didn’t stop writing because of her. I stopped writing because the silly story required a kind of melancholy, a kind of vulnerable insecurity, where my chest is open and bared to the screen. No adventure. No thrill of the hunt. No meeting new people. This book is about an intimate relationship with a woman I’ve never met, who doesn’t exist, to a man I’ve come to see as a lofty ideal so distant from humanity he isn’t even human. He is the Overman, the Great Observer, and while she fights to find transcendence, he fights to find his humanity. Through their similar pursuit of “purpose,” she walks in the steps of a god. Continue reading

The Great Hunt, Leviathan Wakes, and Six-Gun Tarot

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I’ve been reading a lot more of late. Having begun Mark Twain’s Autobiography, Leviathan Wakes (Now A Major Syfy TV Series, The Expanse), The Six-Gun Tarot and the second of the Wheel of Time Series, The Great Hunt, I’ve had ample opportunity to cross check the writing styles.

For me, great writing stands alone. Back when Tolkien’s LOTR novels were being made into movies, there was an outpouring of novels with the phrase “Like Middle Earth but better!” on the backs, or “Greatest fantasy adventure since Tolkien!” The spinoff books–some very successful–all playing off the idea of his works (Like Terry Brooks’s Sword of Shannara series and Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series) had the same feel of Tolkien, only light. In fact, I’d call them Tolkien Lite. As a disrespectful term.

Now I see “Think Game of Thrones with Bocci Ball!” or “John Doe, and his family, has a coolness factor so high, it’s like Harry Potter had John McClane as a father, AND THEY WERE ALL LANNISTERS!” While this isn’t exactly what I’m reading on the back of boring old fantasy novels, I’m not being hyperbolic. I did see a similar phrase somewhere.

These people, while possibly successful, are not great writers. You can’t take a powerful writer and say, “This writer is JUST LIKE another writer, ONLY BETTER,” and get any respect. If ever I get picked up by a big publisher, and they say anything of the sort on the back of my work, I will straight-up drop the publisher. One of the books I’ll discuss today is touted as a Martin Lite, even though he’s nothing of the sort.

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