I knew my most recent post would create controversy, at least within my own house. As I said in the teaser to Either Learn to Endure or Hire a Bodyguard, it was intended as an exercise in nonlinear storytelling. Which means it was one of those posts that I was writing mostly for myself, mostly to practice my craft.
Karen hated it. She said it didn’t make sense – she might have me on that one. And she even criticized it again this a.m.
Which is kinda funny. Because she inspired it.
Here’s the inside story on Either Learn to Endure, in a special Behind the Music edition of Rants ‘n’ Raves.
It was last week when she was looking at some bargains on Amazon for her Kindle. She asked me if I’d ever read Slaughterhouse-Five. I had.
Then she asked what it was about. I paused, laughed, and said, “That’s a pretty good question. I guess you could say it’s about the firebombing of Dresden during World War II.” She was horrified. “It’s a pretty funny book.”
She looked on for something else. So it goes.
But it got me to thinking about writing a story that jumped around among sort of unconnected things that might have a bit of a connection after all through all the machinations. I thought immediately not just of Vonnegut, but of two of my favorite works – Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, and John Dos Passos’ U.S.A. trilogy.
Now I don’t pretend to be Vonnegut or Faulkner or Dos Passos, but I thought I’d borrow a bit from all three for a disjointed narrative (Faulkner) that jumped from topic to topic (Vonnegut) with lots of obscure song and topical references (Dos Passos).
And that’s what I did. The central portion of the narrative was about how I’d narrowly missed being in fight once in a Jacksonville bar – the closest I’d ever come to getting punched out (which would most assuredly have happened had things progressed). But I also wanted to talk about the ongoing struggle of newspapers to survive – to the point of dumbing themselves down so much – both in what they write about and how they write it – to become less relevant, not more.
To tie all those notions together, I used a headline inspired by The Sound and the Fury, lines from one of my favorite poems, Ozymandias (by Percy Bysshe Shelley), a quote from Watchmen (spoken by the character Ozymandias) and lyrics from Public Enemy’s Fight the Power, Whiskeytown’s Yesterday’s News, Dave Alvin’s Evening Blues, and the Avett Brothers’ Shame.
It occurs to me, of course, that having to explain means I didn’t do a very good job of storytelling: nonlinear or otherwise. So it goes (couldn’t resist).
I’ll close this section with a Vonnegut passage from Chapter 9 of Slaughterhouse-Five: “Everything is all right, and everybody has to do exactly what he does.”
Here’s the And Other Stuff:
I have been struck by some more examples of bad newspapering, courtesy of bad or nonexistent copyediting.
In yesterday’s (or maybe Wednesday’s) Wilmington paper, an article addressed the governor’s need to appoint a judge because of the “sudden death” of a jurist. Isn’t all death sudden? You go from breathing one second to not breathing the next. Methinks they meant “unexpected” death. This is the same kind of lazy writing that produces articles praising the creation of “new” jobs. I want to see some old ones created once in awhile.
Today’s Charlotte Observer had an egregious headline on THE LEAD STORY about the governess vetoing the voter-ID bill. Here it is (still up on the website at 11:09 this a.m.): Measure’s critics say it cut reduce turnout.
I guess it cut at that. I’ll bet they wish they wut have read it closer.
They also should have read their story on a Chinese company that will begin production of solar panels in Charlotte later this year a bit closer. Here’s a gem from it: “which opened its first North American headquarters in Charlotte last month.” I’m just wondering where they’ll open their next North American headquarters.
At least I was trying to be sorta obscure.