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Friday, October 24, 2014

Gina Berriault on our contemporary culture's inability to venture or artificial limitation of venturing into writing about certain necessary subjects/themes

"We write to be acceptable. Some thing I wanted to write about, I haven't because I was afraid I wouldn't be published.... I like to believe... that I wrote truthfully, but I've always felt the presence of anonymous and not-so-anonymous authority."
--Gina Berriault from Passion and Craft interview

Has this trend gotten worse?

Gina Berriault on characters

"The way to escape from the person you figure you may be is to become many other in your imagination.... I haven't roamed far enough."
--Gina Berriault from Passion and Craft interview

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"[Why there is a gap between books is] a question that should never be asked. It opens a wound. What can a writer say about gaps and silences?"
--Gina Berriault from Passion and Craft interview

Gina Berriault on the failing of contemporary writers

"In Unanmo's Tragic Sense of Life he speaks about poets' desperate longing to be remembered, to be immortal. I think that concept of immortality is long... gone from our consciousness.... Now the vying with one another is only for present gain. When I asked the students if they'd read this-or-that greatwriter, most had read only contemporary writers."
--Gina Berriault from Passion and Craft interview

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Gina Berriault on learning the craft with others

"I regret not having a formal, organized education.... I wish I'd studied world history, philosophy, comparative literatrue, and... several languages... [T]here is no excuse for my lack... of intellectual exploring.... [L]earn more about everything... rove... be curious, and... read more great writers from everywhere.... [Enter] a creative writing program... [to learn] how to shape what's already known and felt. Sometimes, when I taught workshops, I was glad I hadn't subjected myself to the unkind criticism of strangers. There's so much competitiveness, concealed and overt."
--Gina Berriault from Passion and Craft interview

Gina Berriault on learning the craft alone

"One thing I'd do was put a great writer's book beside the typewriter and... type out a beautiful and moving paragraph... and see those sentences rising up... and... think, 'Someday maybe I can write like that....' It was like a dream of possibilities for my own self. And maybe I began to know that there was no other way for the sentence... to... arouse the same feeling. The someone writing whose words were rising from the typewriter became like a mentor for me.... You shouldn't do it more than a few times because you must get on with your own work."
--Gina Berriault from Passion and Craft interview

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Manliness and Manitude (pt 1) in Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal's Hurt Locker

Someone said she wouldn't read a book without females. Dave Wolverton suggests you populate your stories with a maximum of character types to maximize your audience. No doubt that's true, but life happens outside mixed groups, and fiction can get interesting when the focus narrows.

Bigelow and Boal's Hurt Locker tells (yes, there will be spoilers, so go watch it) with a three-man EOD team or a bomb diffusing squad.

Death: Amazingly, they toss big actors Guy Pearce and Ralph Fienes, and we the audience believe they'll be around for awhile. Boom. Nope. They want you to think this is life and death. The people you're used to rooting for, can die. That's war.... But it's also something that fascinates men--violence, death, honor, codes of conduct.

Violence, Honor, Codes of Conduct: The lead, Sergeant First Class William James [Jeremy Renner], takes an unnecessary risk with the smoke screen, which I doubt this character would take. It seems to me likely he'd take risks to defuse bombs, but not stop his mates from helping (unless he has reasoning we're not privy to). So in this case, we agree when Sergeant J. T. Sanborn [Anthony Mackie] punches James in the gut.

Violence, Honor, Codes of Conduct: Of course, not all men are equally drawn to these subjects, but most of us are to a degree or are fascinated by other men's fascination. The scene involving traded gut-punches evoked memories. One young wanted a group of us guys to organize wrestling matches. When I broke my arm playing rugby, he urged me to play again, with the broken limb. A river, inner-tube trip with another group of guys ended up in an impromptu mud-wrestling match. You play or you're a spoil sport. Or say, the pointless grade-school fight (started by someone claiming I said something I had not--someone bored, no doubt) ended up in friendship afterwards.

A Man's Life: We wind up focused on one man's life, William James (perhaps named after the famed 19th century philosopher/psychologist). He befriends a lad, threatening his life one minute, then saying he's joking the next, proving the joke by buying things from the kid and giving him bonuses (earned by defending James's terrible soccer kick). When James find a dead kid looking like the kid he befriended, he must avenge the kid's life, as if the kid were his own. He holds the man for whom the boy works. He interrogates a family. He shoots down three men in the street, one of whom is part of his EOD team. And it turns out James misidentified the kid.

When James goes home to the States, he tells his baby boy (not his wife) that for men all the things in life you love whittles down to one or two things. For him, there's only one. He returns to Iraq for another tour.

Part 2 regarding Michael Chabon's "Along the Frontage Road" appears here.