Updated: Jan 2, 2021
C:\Users\Yuqing\Documents\Writing\Baltimore Spring, Sprung\dive\*.doc
I've been reading Bolano's The Savage Detectives and reviewing a lot of my own Bad Writing from when I was 18/19. Still, some of the ideas remain palatable, and I'm attempting something new with them.
Bolano's novel is stitched together through the voices of over fifty narrators, alternating one after the other for 500+ pages, with each narrator taking anywhere from a paragraph to twenty pages to tell their story. It is remarkable. For example:
1. Heimito Kunst:
"I kept having dreams all night. I thought they were touching me with their fingers. But dreams don't have fingers, they have fists, so it must have been scorpions.”
2. from the viewpoint of Jose Garcia Madero:
“I didn't hit her, man, what happened was that Maria was obsessed with the Marquis de Sade and wanted to try the spanking thing," said Luscious Skin. "That's very Maria," said Pancho. "She takes her reading seriously.”
3. on Julius the policeman and Ulises Lima:
“At the bar on the Favoritenstrasse, Julius the policeman talked to us about dignity, evolution, the great Darwin and the great Nietzsche. I translated so that my good friend Ulises could understand what he was saying, although I didn’t understand any of it. The prayer of the bones, said Julius. The yearning for health. The virtue of danger. The tenacity of the forgotten. Bravo, said my good friend Ulises. Bravo, said everyone else. The limits of memory. The wisdom of plants. The eye of parasites. The agility of the earth. The merit of the soldier. The cunning of the giant. The hole of the will. Magnificent, said my good friend Ulises in German. Extraordinary.”
For the purposes of the kind of story I'm trying to tell, I thought having multiple voices narrating a patchwork oral history (a la Chuck Palahniuk's Rant, an Oral History of Buster Casey) would be the best form. (possible that I mess with form/function for fiction too much. Those in a certain workshop will recall my attempt at using recursion to write fiction, which is the worst kind of lesson one could take away from Godel Escher Bach.)
I wanted all of my characters [here] to have surnames that had something to do with the color red. Names are great fun and I tend to spend too much time assigning them to the supporting cast. The main character is simply K (for 'Kafkaesque', awful but useful) until the final stages.
Also, for anyone doing any kind of writing, here is a list of places to submit to in August + September. ENTROPY publishes such a list every two months!
I also made a github today. Not for collaborative programming -- I think it could be useful for organizing edits that I make to my kaleidoscopic stories. Let's see if it is!
Photo: summer evening down the Rue Beaubourg, Paris, June 2017.