Friday, January 11, 2008

Lessons to Be Learned

1. Do not--repeat, do not-- write new fiction text directly onto blogger dot com templates; write text on a more reliable recovery platform, them copy it onto blogger dot com.

2. Tastes change with the passage of time. Some of this has to do with you having read more, thought more, experienced more, allowing you to see what you did not see earlier.

3. Not all of what you did not see earlier comes out of your account; what you saw earlier might have seemed wonderful and lost its luster or, conversely, may have bored the pants off you then only to have achieved some sturdier ground in the shale and sandstone of your perceptions.

4. Raymond Chandler pretty well stands up now, having stood up then.

5. James M. Cain stands up, particularly Postman, but also Serenade.

6. So okay, we're talking about hardboiled, aka noir fiction.

7. Paul Cain. Fast One. Yep. Holds up.

8. But the one that doesn't hold up, but rather falls apart, is Eric Knight.

9. Are you kidding? Isn't he the one who wrote Lassie, Come Home? And you're talking noir.

10. I first encountered Eric Knight when my mentor gave me a book containing her novella, Turnip's Blood, and Knight's The Flying Yorkshire Man, I was so caught up with Rachel Maddux's work that some years passed before I got around to reading, and forgetting The Flying Yorkshire Man. As the title suggests, it was a fantasy.

As the years progressed and my reading of pulp/noir/hardboiled writers blossomed to the point where I was actually editing some of my favorites and editorially supporting such projects as the Hard Boiled Dicks Anthology and The Pulp Jungle, and The Human Encyclopedia stories, I also began amassing a collection of the noirest and hardest boiled of all the pulp magazines, Joe Shaw's Black Mask, which featured stories by Chandler and Hammett and Erle Stanley Gardner. At that time I also began editing William F. Nolan, who seemed incredulous that I had not yet read You Play the Red and the Black Comes Up, Eric Knight's one and only venture into noir writing. Nolan took me to an amazing used book store in Long Beach, Acres of Books, and searched the shelves until we found a readable copy of the Knight novel. Back at home, I worked my way through it in a few hours, then read it again, just to make sure I had the rhythm and near nihilistic drive down pat.

11. Toward the waning months of 2006, I was told that the Montecito Journal was going to go weekly and thus did I want to contribute my review column every week or stay on the every-other-week schedule. What about, I asked, alternating weeks reviewing a book from out of the past with currently published works. Same schedule, the MJ said. Copy due on Thursday.

Switch to a few weeks back, when in the midst of shaving, two titles appear out of the shadows of memory, like long lost relatives from another continent. One of them was the Brazilian, Machado de Asisi, and his remarkable Epitaph for a Small Winner, which in some ways I have unconsciously been trying to take over in my own work. More about that in another post. The other title was the Eric Knight, which I promptly--well, promptly after shaving--Amazoned and ordered forthwith.

12. Nope.

13. Silly. Illogical. A patchwork of effect and sketch, not unlike what we would do just before publication time when the college humor magazine was shy some pages of copy. Quick, what's funny?

14. So one golden oldie is down in the fieriest of flames.

15. Really; no more fiction right onto the blogger dot com template.

16. Aaargh.

three or four projects now in the works at other publishers


f:lux said...

Completely, particularly with you on no: 16 (if somewhat selfishly? aaahh...)

R.L. Bourges said...

I just read this after smiler's comments about her work being lifted and used elsewhere - but how is it any safer if not on the template?

Smiler said...

Did the latest installment get gobbled up by blogger then? That's a bitch ain't it?

x said...

Yikes! I do everything directly onto Blogger, but I also don't value it that much. That said, I'm going to take a peak at what I might want to back up. I still haven't figured out the magic of backing up your entire blog.