Sunday, September 20, 2009

Casting Call

You sent forth the casting call some days ago, wanting a character to come forth to play the lead in one, possibly two novels.  When He responded, neatly barbed and wearing khakis with sharp creases, an open-at-the-collar shirt with narrow stripes, brown suede loafers (but no socks) and a light jacket that came floating out of some crofter's cottage, you waved him off.  He is persistent, however and he pulled a kind of Dustin Hoffman trick on you, showing up in a kind of rumpled dishabille, cranky and demanding you watch him, first as a juggler, then as a soft shoe dancer.  If you'd have let him, he'd have gone on somewhat like Jerry Lewis.  You finally saw through this latest iteration and said in no uncertain terms, "We'll call you."

Then he returned in suit and tie, a potential model for the Ben Silver catalogue, fooling you at first by twirling tortoise-shell reading glasses as a prop before starting to read lines.  You were at first impressed with his gravitas, his bearing, his seeming honesty, particularly in that he made no attempt to cover or in any way disguise the advance of male pattern thinness across the top of his scalp.  The giveaway was a sprinkle of croissant crumbs clinging to his short.

Back to the others, some trying a bit too hard, some reminding you more of types than individuals, cheesing it up or projecting entitlement with too-broad strokes of gesture and tone.

The project, possibly even projects in mind, are novels, a form you are eager to revisit, particularly since in recent weeks you believe you have evolved a technique that will get you sufficiently inside the story that the ticks and discoveries will matter more than the story points, giving you a dangerous-but-attractive high bar of a merge between Richard Powers and Richard Price, yet allow the elephant in the living room of your fiction, the irrepressible and mischievous, to meander forth.

So he keeps coming back to the auditions, in one disguise or another, which is okay, he wants the gig, but the problem is, the big problem is, he is you, which is a tricky enough business as it is, but even given that, you are not yet sure what he wants.  You know who he is and what he is willing to do to get what he wants, but you do not yet know what he hopes to gain from this.  It is one thing for him to be the protagonist of Coming to Terms, the novel set at The University, where you have some street cred.  But you have no idea how to get him into Casa Jocasta as a resident.

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