The Book of Changes, the third volume of The California Quartet, is in the chute and should arrive sometime in October, 2013. Here’s what you’ll get:
Seattle’s Literary Community
Who Do You Listen To?
After I came across a very brave and unique novel titled: Taliban Escape by Aabra which was reviewed in The Dark Phantom Review, I remembered an exchange I had with a fellow writer and former student. I want to post it here for anyone visiting this blog as a reminder of why we write:
Writer: I’m trying hard to maintain the last bit of writing advice you provided, “write what you want, the way you want.” That’s hard, especially with two friends criticizing it. Right now, if I take them seriously, I need to go back and almost start over with my work-in-progress.”
JR: Yes, that’s a tough one. One short answer is to listen but choose what to change if anything. The way I see it, we have this ideal story in our heads. It’s endless, but when you write, the readers plug in what you write and if it doesn’t connect somewhere to the universal story, they get this disjunction and their pencils move. What that gives us then is the issue of who’s doing the writing. But even deeper is the question of vision–-readers want you to tell them the story they want to hear. It’s your job to tell them a story they’ve never heard. If you can’t get past the universal, then you add nothing to the inventory of art and vision. It’s the ones who teach through their writing who are important.
A longer answer might be here: Readers are conservative and they want to be safe. Unsafe writing makes them uncomfortable. Your critics probably attack your work either at the Story or the Style, but never at the Structural level. They have that right when you put it on the table, but you cannot listen to everything they say no matter how much you like them. Realize this: the need to be loved is so strong, most writers will abandon their vision in order to bring their story into synch with the safe and limiting minds of their readers. If you do this, you fall as a writer because you are no longer scaling the heights of creation and in so doing you acknowledge the stasis of existence–getting and spending–and you will always feel guilty about knowing what you have betrayed. Each of us is unique while being an evolved animal who shares an immense pool of history and truth with your fellows, but you are not them and the vision you carry as a writer is the exact thing that changes, as Rushdie reminds us, cucumbers into pickles. Think of the journey…a long road into light. It is easy to stay where you are, but at some point you have to turn your back on those following you and go directly to the light and say follow me…what you have, my friends, is a faded vision. They want to visit a museum. You want to create the object they go to the museum to see. No one will ever suggest that DaVinci should have colored the Mona Lisa’s robe pink. So? Who do you listen to? Shakespeare said it, I say it, be true to yourself. If yourself wants to be loved too much, then you will make the amends you need to make to be loved. But if you tell them, this is my vision, this was not here before, then you expand what is. As a writer, You bring an object to the museum. You have to. It is your job, as a writer, to bring, not an imitation to the Museum of Writing, but the real and very first piece of its kind. That is your obligation. Unfortunately it’s an obligation, that, if you meet it, won’t let you be normal. Resist the need to be loved. Be a writer of new things. Jack
Silvio‘s review on Goodreads, posted Dec 11, 2012. Reposting.
Dec 11, 12
Like other reviews said, this book is not a romance, not by a long shot. It’s brutal, violent, gory, disturbing with detailed descriptions of many monstrous murders, real or imaginary, and the dark sides of human nature. Needless to say it’s not for the faint of heart. At times I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable. It’s no exaggeration to say that this book wore me out, mentally. However, it also can’t be denied that it’s an amazing book, the kind of book makes me become depressed but think about lots of things. And isn’t that is essentially the meaning of books?
I started this brilliant book without expecting an HEA, or even HFN, and sure enough, there isn’t anything like that. Nonetheless I like the ending, maybe because I think that an sad ending will stay in my heart long long after the story ends, and in that way I’d remember the book always.
I am very moved by the love between Henry and Squeaky. It pains me to see that they are no longer together. I won’t say that René hasn’t an important role in Henry’s time in prison and since then his ways of thinking and measuring life. And in a way, Henry loves him. But Squeaky, he is truly the love of his life. He’s puppy-like, helpless, dependent, in desperate need of someone to love and protect him in the brutality of prison filled with thieves, rapists and murderers. But he’s also adorable, innocent, caring and most of all, loves Henry to death. I genuinely marvel at the tenderness and affection of a cold-blooded killer towards his lover, his little pet. It’s really touching. Henry kills for him. Henry often compares him to a beautiful flower, an innocent angel, something pure, precious, born to be treasured.
He is a little flower with his own perfume and so I will immortalize him.
He stands in a shaft of bright light that rains down over him and in the light he shimmers and I expect to see him levitate, rise up into the beam of light.
He will be as pure and simple coming out of Death in Venice as he was going in. He is purity itself—cut, tattooed, raped, beaten but still pure and holy. In his purity he is a paragon of patience and emptiness, his mouth a paean to perfection, his buttocks as delicious as the mouth of the Nubian in the Song of Solomon. The purity of the rose.
And the cover, I never saw any cover as meaningful as this one. It’s like the symbols of Henry’s life, the knife for the killings he has done, the ears for the intense love he feels for his lover. I’d give this book 4 stars if for no other reason than that gorgeous cover.
I HIGHLY recommend this book!
Valley Boy, Part of the Okie Chronicle– A Novel by Jack Remick
Valley Boy ($13.95, 254 pp, 6×9 Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60381-145-3), by Jack Remick, covers a year in the life of a third-generation Okie teenager who is struggling with the stigma of his heritage.
** CLICK THE COVER IMAGE TO ORDER **
**ALSO AVAILABLE IN KINDLE **
“Valley Boy is the story of every kid who wandered out of the Valley into Baghdad by the Bay with dreams, imagination, curiosity and a mind that admitted stuff besides cars and girls. I’m tempted to say this is Remick’s best work …. The story is witty, tense and true. The protagonist is Ricky, but this is Linard’s story too—which makes this novel a more fulfilling coming of age journey than that of the self-absorbed, self-righteous icon of the Eastern Experience—Holden Caulfield …. Remick might be accused of writing a happy ending but I, for one, am happy to see an ol’ Okie boy find his place in the shade and out of those god damned vineyards and peach orchards. Good for Ricky. Good for Remick. It takes guts to write a novel such as this.”
—Frank Araujo, Anthropologist, Linguist, and Author of The Q Quest, A Perfect Orange, Nekane, The Lamiña and the Bear
“Valley Boy is a teeming amalgam of allegory, pathos, and stark language, all wrapped in a blend of dark humor and strangely relatable characters. What is Valley Boy about? Turkey debeaker Ricky Edwards heads to college, falls in love with a rock guitarist, and faces coming of age challenges—such as learning how to order coffee and the importance of following The Rules—revealed in a storyline reminiscent of an Allen Ginsberg poem. Remick writes with a fresh voice in prose as raw as the open wounds his subjects are apt to suffer. An unrelenting literary experiment that is also a terrific read. Best enjoyed with a caffe latte … or maybe a macchiato?”
—Cole Alpaugh, author of The Bear in a Muddy Tutu and The Turtle Girl from East Pukapuka
“A lost Valley Boy is dying to belong so he takes a job debeaking turkeys—hot, sweaty, mindless work that still demands precision—to make the money to buy a hot car—the pricey ticket required for acceptance into the Lifters (all male hot rod club), but forces beyond his control—blind teenage lust, blue collar legacy, his inherited talent for the piano, love from an older woman, his jaundiced view of the church, and an exorbitant price for the blue Mercury Cougar—these forces pull the Valley Boy to the brink of his big decisions: Does he stay in the Valley? Does he marry the girl next door? Valley Boy is Remick at full power. Valley Boy is a non-stop read.”
—Robert J. Ray, author of Murdock Cracks Ice, and The Weekend Novelist Series.
Ricky Edwards lives, works, and plays in Centerville, a small California town in the middle of the Valley. Ricky has a gift for music but he’d rather fight, drink beer, chase girls, and debeak turkeys. He debeaks turkeys because he wants a Lifters Car Club jacket with red lettering on the back. He fights because his long time pal, Linard Polk, teaches him about violence, fast cars, and guns—which drives Teresa, Ricky’s hyper-religious mother, nuts. She wants Ricky to escape the legacy of his daddy, an Okie skirt chaser who abandoned the family for a honky-tonk preacher’s daughter gone bad. If Ricky can just get out of Centerville, maybe he can make his mark.
Says Remick: “When you grow up in the Central Valley you meet people who never stray much beyond their home town unless it’s to go next door to a football game. If you’re not the right caste, you learn to work with your hands and you work hard. You wonder if you can ever get out. I wrote Valley Boy in part to remind readers about the Diaspora, the Westward migration, that started in the Dust Bowl. Most people think the Migration ended with World War II, but it didn’t. In Valley Boy, the main characters are third-generation Okies who didn’t make it to the Pacific, got stuck in the dust, and were left behind in the orchards and vineyards doing the gut-busting labor that turns young boys into old men way too soon. I wanted to write about those Okie boys, like Ricky and Linard, who work and live with the bad taste of lost dreams in their mouths.
Jack Remick is a poet, short story writer, and novelist. Valley Boy is Book Two of a series, The California Quartet. More volumes will be released by Coffeetown Press in 2012: The Book of Changes and Trio of Lost Souls. The first book of the series, The Deification, was released in December of 2011. Blood, A Novel was published by Camel Press in 2011. Also coming from Coffeetown in 2012: Gabriela and the Widow. Click here to find Jack online.
Valley Boy is available in Kindle and 5×8 trade paperback editions on Amazon.com, the European Amazons and Amazon Japan. Wholesale orders can be placed through email@example.com or Ingram. Libraries can also purchase books through Follett Library Resources and Midwest Library Service.
This technique is an example of how the writer can work out the full scene sequence for a novel based on a couple of treatments–either the Three Act Structure or the Mythic Journey Sequence. This sequence is based on the Three Act Structure.
Cut To Sequence for Blood©2011 Jack Remick
1. The story starts in a laundromat on Third Avenue in a City that might be San Francisco, but it’s not important, where Mitch gets arrested when he steals a tubful of white women’s underwear. Hooks to Apartment Scene with cops.
2. Cut to: Mitch’s apartment. The objects are the underwear as varied as a Frederick’s of Hollywood catalogue, but all white. The action is the tossing of Mitch’s apartment by the police. The hook is to the courtroom scene.
3. Cut to: The courtroom where the Judge sentences Mitch to five years because, he says, every woman has a right to the privacy of her undies. Mitch doesn’t fight the sentence. The object is the handcuffs ( opens the manacle plot track) on Mitch’s wrists as the guard hauls him away. The hook is to the prison cell.
4. Cut to: Mitch’s prison cell where he sees René Grosjean for the first time. The objects are René’s hair, his arms, and the metal objects in the cell—bunk, sink, head. The hook is to the measuring scene.
5. Cut to: Mitch recounting how he’s measured the cell. It is 15 by 9. The objects are the bunk, the head, the semen scratches and smears on the walls. The hook is to René’s possessing Mitch.
6. Cut to: The cell at night. René seduces Mitch who lets him because René is the first man who ever made Mitch feel little. The hook is to Mitch’s discovery of the Camus novel. Hook is to killing René.
7. Cut to: The library where Mitch finds a thumbed copy of L’Etranger in French. The words are marked up, circled, almost illegible so Mitch has to guess at the meaning. He doesn’t tell René about the Stranger. Opens the book plot track with the archeology of writing. The hook is to Mitch’s decision to write his own story.
8. Cut to: Mitch at night writing on toilet paper with a red marking pen that bleeds through the tissue turning it into a blood-like mess that frees Mitch’s memory. We get his first recollection of detail. The objects are tissue, pen. Second phase of the archeology of writing plot track. The hook is to Mitch’s inner story.
9. Cut to: Mitch writing about an attack with Suki on a band of guerrillas in Guatemala on the Rio Verde. This scene opens the Rio Verde-Jungle plot track. Objects are the knives, severed ears, blood, the river. The severed ears are on the death-for-money plot track and index Carl Fairweather, CEO in charge of death.
The hook is to Mitch’s discovery of René fucking a young inmate.
10. Cut to: Mitch’s discovers René fucking a new young inmate. Mitch is devastated. Opens the Outer Killing plot track that ends with Squeaky.
11. Cut to: Mitch confronting René. René tells him he fucks who he wants when he wants. Mitch is jealous? The hook is to Mitch’s decision to kill René.
12. Cut to: Mitch stealing a fan blade from a washing machine in the laundry room. The objects are the fan, the blade, the stone floor. The hook is to the shaping of the blade into a shank—steel on stone.
13. Cut to: Mitch grinding down the blade to make a shank then grinding down the shaft to make a handle then coating the handle with twine and then stiffening the twine with his own semen that he catches in a bottle cap. Objects are the blade, twine, stone, semen. The hook is to René’s death.
14. Cut to: The laundry room. Mitch offers René a chance to apologize but René laughs and repeats his motto—I fuck who I want when I want. Mitch stabs René in the heart with his handmade shank. The hook is to Mitch’s visit to the Governor.
15. Cut to: Mitch in his cell, alone, gets called to the Governor’s office. In the office, Mitch’s afraid he’ll be tried for René’s murder and is on the verge of confessing, but the Governor instead tells him he will be the Gov’s man in the yard. Keep the inmates in line. The twist is that Mitch wants to refuse, but the Governor shows him a photo of the dead René. Mitch agrees to be the enforcer. The Governor also shows him the shank. The hook is to the yard where Mitch is gardening.
16. Cut to: Mitch tending a bed of flowers as he watches two cons in a beef. He cracks heads, cools tempers. They straighten up. Word is that Mitchell in C Block is the man to avoid. The hook is to Mitch’s discovery of Notre Dame des fleurs.
17. Cut to: The library where Mitch, looking for info on flowers finds a book on English roses and stuck high up on the shelf with that volume he finds a copy of Genet’s Notre Dame des fleurs and a copy of 120 Days of Sodom Like L’Etranger these have been marked and dog eared so that Mitch can’t read them straight, but has to guess at their meaning. The plot track is the archeology of writing. The objects are the copy of Notre Dame des fleurs and 120 Days. The hook is to Mitch’s own failing manuscript because the paper is bad and as he writes, he loses all memory of the events he records. The plot track is History as Narrative as Memory loss.
The End of Act One
Begins Act Two
18. Cut to: Mitch gets a new cellmate. Squeaky is a car thief doing five years for grand theft auto. Mitch sees him as an object, a tool like an old t-shirt to wipe his cock on after he jerks off. When Squeaky gets raped in a storeroom, Mitch rescues him. Hook is to the back story scene called “Cain.
19. Cut to: Mitch writing his inner story. As he kills a squad of Indians in the Altiplano of Peru. He finishes, he feels his mind go blank but here he has the words, even if they are bleeding and illegible. Hook is to the new cellmate.
20. Cut to: Mitch is 10, in Oak View School for Boys in the shower where three hooligans force him to suck cock, but Cain, a senior rescues Mitch. Objects are photographs of Mitch’s sisters. Hook is to Squeaky and Mitch in the library. Mitch uses Squeaky. He wants to educate him. We get a glimpse of Mitch’s education level here. He can read French, he knows Darwin. Sets out a reading course for Squeaky.
21. Cut to: Mitch in the Governor’s office asking for a typewriter. Plot track is the archeology of writing as Mitch moves from tissue to black ink to typewriter. Object is his report to the Governor on the state of things. Mitch reports that he saved Squeaky, had to take out the two inmates. Bothers Mitch being a snitch, but the Governor has the photo and the shank. Hook is to first Visitor. Hook is to Mitch’s request to take Squeaky with him when he leaves—Plot track on Squeaky’s death.
22. Cut to: Mitch in his cell gets a call to the visitor’s room. It’s one A. M. In the room, Mitch meets Carl Fairweather, his brother-in-law. Open the release plot track. Object is Carl’s shriveled arm that Mitch broke. Hook is to the backstory on Geraldine.
23. Cut to; Mitch as a kid watching CF and Geraldine having sex in the Corvette. Objects are CF’s Captain bars and Geraldine’s white panties. Hooks to Mrs. Wilson and the spy hole and the Sycamore tree. Plot track of spying, and hooks to backstory on Julianne, the banker’s daughter and her white panties in the tree house. Hook is to Geraldine’s first visit.
24. Cut to: Mitch writing his inner story. CF’s visit opens wounds. Reminds Mitch why he bowed out of being a gun for hire. Scene is a butchery of insurgents on the Rio Verde. Objects are knives, severed ears, guns, Suki’s scars from his knife fights on the Callao docks. Hook is to Mitch taking Squeaky for the first time.
25. Cut to: Mitch having sex with Squeaky who has come back from the infirmary. Objects are the semen soaked T shirt on the knife plot track with images of René floating. Hooks to Mitch’s furious writing of his inner story. The manuscript grows.
26. Cut to: Geraldine in the visitor’s room. She wears blue. Mitch needs to know why. She reports that Catharin has returned, has a letter from her for Mitch. Objects are Geraldine’s note pad that she writes on. Plot track is her wound to the throat when CF beat her up linking to Mitch’s near-killing of CF in revenge. Objects are Catharin’s letter. Hook is to Mitch reading Catharin’s letter.
27. Cut to: Mitch in cell with Catharin’s letter in a blue envelope. Catharin writes that she’s been cut out of the church after she was gang-raped in New Delhi. Pregnant, she’s living with Geraldine, but CF is using her like a whore. Objects are the letter. Hook is to Catharin’s story in Mitch’s story as she runs away to be a whore in the City.
28. Cut to: Mitch opens the sex plot track with Mrs. Wilson fucking Dad while Mr. Wilson spies. Thread is the development of Mitch’s fetishes that end with him in prison. Objects are his dad’s twelve inch cock, the sycamore tree, the spy hole, Mrs. Wilson’s breasts, Dad’s tweed jacket, the cars Dad uses. Hook is to Mitch sharing Catharin’s letter with Squeaky.
29. Cut to: the library where Mitch is learning to type. He memorizes C’s letter. Types it in. Then finds that he can’t recall without looking at the pages. He knows he’s fading like a cleansing of desire. Something’s happening to his inner development. Objects are the typewriter, the letter. Plot track is on Squeaky’s education. Squeaky asks for a photograph of Geraldine. Plot track is the photograph track from Cain to Gov’s picture of René to Geraldine. Hook is to Martin the new Guard and his infatuation with the sister. Plot track is pimping the sister.
30. Cut to: Martin the new guard entering the cell block. He’s young, pure, clean, a breeder. Mitch knows he’ll have to kill him. Opens the death of CF plot track as Mitch pimps his sister. Hook is to Geraldine’s second visit.
30 A. Mitch asks for a computer.
31. Cut to: Mitch holding Squeaky after sex. Feels protective. Wants to save him the way Cain saved Mitch, but Mitch tells Squeaky he’ll have to kill him. Squeaky says Okay, just don’t leave me alone in the yard. Opens killing Squeaky that hooks to final scenes of liberation as Mitch cuts all his ties to world. Objects are the semen soaked t-shirt that links to René’s murder, C’s letter. Hook is to Squeaky learning to read Darwin. Education plot track.
32. Cut to Geraldine in visitor’s room. She wears red. Mitch asks for a photograph. Objects are the pad and pen and Geraldine’s scars. She tells Mitch CF is running for Senate. Plot track is the CEO as mass murderer and open’s Mitch’s door to his history of killing. Geraldine begs him to do something. Hook is to Gov calling Mitch to ask how he got such powerful friends.
33. Cut to: Mitch reading Catharin’s letter. She’s had her baby. Plot track is the killer gene. Opens Mitch’s inner story to the time Geraldine murdered her first baby. Plot track is the archeology of writing as Mitch tries to make out the truth that fades as he writes it down. Objects are the pad and pen. Hook is to Mitch and Governor as he asks for a computer.
34. Cut to: CF in visitor’s room asking Mitch to take early release. Mitch refuses. Objects are photos of killings. Mitch has done. How’d you get that? Plot track is the recording of death. Second node after the Governor uses Photo of dead René to subdue Mitch’s rebellion. Hook is to Mitch’s seduction of Martin using Geraldine’s photograph.
35. Cut to: Mitch and Governor bartering for a computer. Plot track is archeology of writing as Mitch moves from ink to typewriter to computer. Plot track is the disappearance of memory. Mitch figures that if he can write faster he won’t lose as much. Hook is to Mitch’s encounter with the woman in his past life who has elephantiasis.
36. Cut to: Inner story as Mitch writes about Colombia and his first encounter with a woman who has a dying monkey chained to her neck. Plot track is First Killing as Mitch writes about the Murder in Toulouse and his questioning by the Surete. Objects are the machines of writing and the imperfect perfection of the computer print out that looks so neat and clean but is as full of holes as the tissue manuscript part. Hook is to Mitch getting Martin to kill CF.
37. Cut to: Squeaky and Mitch in the library as Mitch reads death and blood scenes from his story. Squeaky hates it. Plot track is on Notre Dame des fleurs and 120 Days of Sodom as Mitch explains to Squeaky the importance of prison and how he has to stay out of the river of blood. Squeaky refuses to read the manuscript. Objects are Mitch’s 4000 page manuscript. Hook is to Martin’s return.
37A: Geraldine’s visit. She wears black gloves. Mitch introduces her to Martin. Says he’s in love with her. Sets up CF’s murder when Martin goes after him.
37 B. Mitch uses Geraldine’s picture to seduce Martin. This sets up CF’s killing. Plot track is the photograph and seduction of the innocent.
38. Cut to: Martin in ecstasy as he recounts killing CF with a razor garrote. Did you have sex with Geraldine? Martin says he didn’t need it. Plot track is the Killer Gene. Objects are the photo of Geraldine in her red dress. Hook is to King Replacement plot track as Fat Man takes CF’s place as CEO in charge of death and corruption.
End Act Two
Begin Act Three
39. Cut to: Mitch in the library hacking out pages of his inner story. Objects are the growing manuscript. Hook is to next meeting with the governor.
40. Cut to: Mitch in the visitor’s room with Geraldine. She’s ecstatic now that Carl Fairweather is dead. She asks if Mitch sent the killer. Objects are Geraldine’s note pad and pen. Plot track is the death of the CEO as messenger of death. Hook is to last moment before Mitch is released.
41. Cut to: Mitch in Governor’s office where Gov reads an official looking document. Objects are the paper with the seal. Plot track is early release. Mitch doesn’t want to go. He asks if he can take Squeaky with him. Gov says have other plans for Squeaky. His future is charted out. Hook is to Squeaky’s death scene.
42. Cut to: Mitch in the library finishing his manuscript. Plot track is the archeology of writing. Objects are computer, mss. Squeaky listens to Mitch’s inner story.
43. (Note: This is cut into the end for later placement. After Mitch and Fat Man.)Cut to: Mitch’s inner story as he writes out the last scene of his manuscript. It is the Purgative Scene. Plot track is the Emptying out of memory as writing grows. Objects are knives, guns, severed ears and Suki’s disembowelment by a machete. This is a turning point in Mitch’s awareness and he sees that’s when he decided to quit being a gun for hire. Plot track is Squeaky’s death. Hook is to Danny’s suicide in D Block.
44. Cut to: Mitch egging Danny to kill himself. Do it, Mitch says, you’ll be happy. Danny bashes his head in. Objects are the canvas bag. Plot track is the disappearance of the dead. Hook is to Mitch strangling Squeaky.
45. Cut to: Cell with Squeaky and Mitch as Mitch explains why he has to kill Squeaky to save him from the pain. Plot track is to Mitch’s inner story where Cain saves him from rape at Oak View School for Boys. Hook is to the early release. Mitch in Doc’s office carrying Squeaky. (Have to work this some more. Can’t find the text for Mitch telling him why he has to kill him. Maybe fuse 45 and 46)
46. Cut to: Mitch strangling Squeaky with his bare hands. Mitch calls the guard. Tells him Squeaky has a terminal illness, don’t get too close. Plot track is death of the loved one. Death in love is different from death in business. To die is to die, but as always with the dead, the issue is with the living. Hook is to the farewell scene with Geraldine.
47. Cut to: Doc’s office and Squeaky dead. Doc calls the Governor who hustles Mitch out of there. Object is the corpse of Squeaky and Mitch’s farewell to him.
48. Cut to: Mitch and Geraldine as he explains that he’s getting out and can’t ever see her again. Geraldine tells him she’s moving to Colorado, wants him to live with her. Plot track is Death in Life as Mitch cuts away his connections on his road to apotheosis as the god of death. Objects are Geraldine’s note pad and pen and her bright yellow dress. Mitch sees her as a flower. Hook is to the Limo Scene with Fat Man.
48 A. The Judgment Scene Again.
49. Cut to: Mitch in the library placing his Patron Saint of Blood on the shelf next to Notre Dame des Fleurs and De Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom. The Stranger is not included here. Mitch leaves his book behind for someone else to find. Plot track is the continuing archeology of writing and the deciphering of the code of the past. The hook is to the final judge scene (full cycle now as final judgment closes the opening) when Judge reads Mitch’s dossier. Mitch confesses that he killed René, the two men who raped Squeaky, and hired Martin to kill CF, and that he also strangled Squeaky. The judge says there’s nothing in his dossier about any of that so he’s out of there. Plot track is to CEO as corruptor and purveyor of death. Plot track is on the manacles and freedom. Objects are the cuffs, the dossier, the paper releasing Mitch. Hook is to his last walk out of the steel and concrete cage.
50. Cut to: Mitch dresses in street clothes. Objects are blue blazer, gray slacks, white shirt, black shoes and socks, red tie. He changes one uniform for another. Plot track is Messenger of Death as Tanist and Lackey of CEO who needs an army of killers. Hook is the release back into the river of blood and the maelstrom of slaughter.
51. Cut to: Mitch walking out of the cage. The light goes from dim to yellow to white to daylight as he rises out of the bowels of the cage. Objects are the doors—three of them—the lights—wire cages change to sconces that change to neon light that change to white light and white walls and then to the sunlight of freedom. Plot track is on the paradox of light and death as Mitch steps into the river of blood. He sees the river rising up, washing over everything, sweeping up everything, it is an Apocalypse and he is the Bringer of Death. Hook is to the limo scene and the Fat Man. Plot track is Re-entry of the killer into the River of Blood.
52. Cut to: Mitch in the Limo. Across from him he sees a fat, well-fed man in a dark blue suit, red tie, black shoes, black socks. The General to Mitch’s foot soldier. Mitch is revulsed. In the Man’s Fat, he sees Death, the skull, the sacks of ears, the bleeding river. Fat Man explains what he wants from Mitch and where he wants him to be. This is what Mitch didn’t want, but he’s made his decision. He’s lost in the openness. Plot track is Killer back in the river of blood, but he’s changed.
53. Cut to: Mitch tears out the Fat Man’s throat. He then kills the driver. Objects are the Fat Man’s cell phone, the Driver’s Beretta. Plot track is on the Big Hits. Mitch gets the names and addresses of the Fat Man’s Contacts. They are in Alphabetical Order—the Order of Extinction. Mitch stows the dead driver in the back seat with Fat Man. Plot track is the hearse of death, the boatman ferrying the dead across the river of blood. As Mitch drives, he sees the river of blood and he’s driving the limo like a boat across it. Hook is to an implied scene where Mitch executes the First Name in the Fat Man’s address book. Plot track is CEO as killer now killed. Links to past and CF’s hiring of Mitch. Mitch takes the ears of the Fat Man and his driver. Starts a new collection but instead of dried ears it will be cell phones.
54. The novel ends with Mitch in the driver’s seat heading North on the Coast Highway. He is the Angel of Death.
This is a story about a man who steals women’s underwear so he’ll get caught and lifted from of the river of blood. It is a story about a man who uses his time in prison to write his story but then leaves it behind along with the other indecipherable books he finds in the prison library.
It is a story about a man who sees that there is no excuse for the human race but also sees that he’s been killing the wrong people. It’s a story about blood and semen and the inevitable destruction of the race. It’s a story about a man who is so pessimistic and misanthropic that he wants to see the human race eradicated. It is a story about a man who has the killer gene. It is a story about a man who kills because he’s told to kill until his eyes open and he understands that he’s a tool in the hands of his bosses. It’s a story about the evolution of writing from scratchings on stone to semen smears on concrete to writing on tissue paper to writing with pen and ink to writing on the typewriter to writing on the computer. It is a story about how memory is lost when the writing is done. It is a story about losing the past when we try to capture it. It is a story about a man who at last sees truth and makes a decision to go back into the river of blood. It is a story about love and death and blood. It is a story about a man who achieves sainthood but his god is the god of chaos and annihilation.
Addition to Story About:
This is a story about Henry Emmett Mitchell who goes to prison for stealing a tubful of women’s underwear. He doesn’t challenge the sentence of five years because he wants out of the river of blood. Mitchell is a mercenary who has severed his employment with the Corona Corporation that is headed by his brother in law, Carl Fairweather. Mitch was hired to calm any disturbances caused by Corona’s plans. Corona has holdings all over the world so Mitch’s arena is vast. Mitch’s inner story is told when he discovers Camus’ novel The Stranger in the prison library along with Genet’s Notre Dame des fleurs and the 120 Days of Sodom. Released by his captivity and inspired by these stories, Mitch tries to write his own history but he can’t get any writing materials. Mitch’s cell mate is Rene Grosjean, a Canadian from Montreal in prison for extortion and blackmail. Mitch falls in love with this man, his first and unexpected submission, and this begins the outer story of Mitch’s progression from hired gun to God of Revenge as he sees, in writing, that as a mercenary he was killing the wrong people. When Mitch kills René, he has to make a decision.
Writing about Writing—A useful technique for getting control of your story ©2012 by Jack Remick
After rewriting the last three scenes for the fourth time.
I find myself rewriting the same three scenes over and over. I’m looking for the deep place they hook to but I can’t find it.
Scene One Is the Explanation where Mitch explains in detail to Squeaky why he has to die..
Scene Two is the Walkout where Mitch showers, bringing back memories of Cain at the Oak View School for Boys.
Scene Three is the Fat Man where Mitch finds out who the Fat Man is and why he sprang him early.
I’m looking for some connection here, something that will tell me I’m on the mythic wave. I look for sets: Squeaky and Mitch, a two character scene; Mitch alone (in the shower, Perry, the Guard walks out) evokes a deliverance scene with Cain, but also washes Mitch as he preps for the ritual crossing to the other side and his diabolic rebirth as the God of Dead; Mitch and the Fat Man masks a ritual of transcendence when Mitch makes his big decision—already indexed in the scene with Geraldine in Yellow Dress—but not worked out when he tells Geraldine that he can never see her again.
Once the mythic wave goes silent, I’m lost. I can’t add anything new. I rewrite because I find nothing to add, but it’s a stall pattern—write what I know while I wait for the mythic wave to gear up again.
So one part of me says ‘You already know all you can and need to know (a reference to Keats’ Ode On A Grecian Urn), and so the story has been told.
Story, Structure, Style.
Work them in order: Write into character and story for a year, then a splash write of the Cut To Sequence that shows me I’ve written a through line with character development and plot tracks and once the story is in order, I work the scenes for depth and back story. To end with stylistic choices.
But I’m afraid to let go of this familiar story. It’s comfortable being in that place with Mitch and Squeaky and their objects. It’s safe to stay there instead of prepping for the release—is there here an index to Mitch’s early release?—and turning to the rewrite of the story and the scenes.
The problem is not to let go before it’s ready, not to close off, but to leave it open so the rewrite makes sense. Every scene can be redone, every arc recalculated, every character remapped for back story and story arc—for example, I know nothing about Martin—not even his last name and he isn’t talking to me—the mythic wave is silent. I think of Herodotus’ plea to the gods—why have you quit speaking to me? Did the rhapsodes take dictation from the Unconscious? Was the voice from the Unconscious the voice of the Gods? Has writing practice left me in that silent place with Herodotus? With the Unconscious no longer speaking to me? Maybe the issue is that my part of the Universal and Solitary Story has been told in this stretch. Maybe the Platonic Perfection hinted at in the Mythic Wave is all I get. Maybe It is. IT=The Mythic Wave telling me it’s time to move from the irrational abreactive and automatic mind into the rational numeric mind and to make choices. Maybe I don’t want to leave the place where the emotion of the mythic wave breaking free lifts me to a hormonal high that leaves my hand shaking and my voice quavering when I finish an in-depth bout of creative spilling. Maybe this is the abandonment, the cause of the silence—as if it’s enough and now I have to practice my own techniques—Discipline is my obligation to the Given.
Maybe the mythic wave (Jung’s Collective Unconscious) knows when it has run the gamut and has given all it will give for this story—maybe it, the voice in the mythic wave, is satisfied with its gift and now rests, lays back to see what I will do with its little two-hundred and seventy-five page present.
I see now that it is time to move into the Style Phase and to let the rewrite determine what needs to be added or taken away and then at that time when the holes open up, the mythic wave will direct my pen where it needs to go.
In Sum: I have to move from feeling mode to thinking mode. I don’t recall one instance in the past year when I thought about what to write—instead, I came to the table with an idea of a whole-hole thing trusting that a part of it would reveal itself to me, and this helps me understand why I have rewritten the last three scenes four times each—it is the end of the road, time to rest, time to let the left brain work on the given, time to use the numeric side of the brain.
And this is how the Cut To Sequencing technique acts as an End Stop—it takes the through time and in one feral gift from the mythic wave jerks the story into an order—a fusion of feeling and thought—but again and still driven by the Unconscious energies of the abreaction bursting across the corpus callosum, that little white highway between creation and discipline.
At the root of the gift there is the structural integrity of the scene. Without the scenic principles of Character, Dialogue and Timing, the writing betrays itself as nonsense and this evokes Brahms who said that he studied Bach’s fugues in order to discipline himself so that when he went into rhapsodic mode and took dictation the gush had a form to contain it.
So now, the fusion of the elements persists and I resist because I love the feeling of being lost in this emotional forest of time writing only to return from the abyss to find myself at a table in time while for 31 minutes I was out of time, out of space. The rhythm of creation—taking dictation from God Mind—then is loss, to wander to cherish the form as receptacle for the sea breaking out, to return to real time with the only marker of the journey being the six columns of scrawl on the yellow page—then to type it up.
Always type it up because in typing, there is a fresh read—in real time—of the suspended reality of the rhapsodic moment when the mythic waves drives and guides the hand into the new—taking the known: words, vocabulary, grammar, the sentence, the image, the action and fusing it into a flow. An object you didn’t know before takes shape and can create in the mind of the readers and listeners, the image—and this is why we read the gush aloud—to relieve the terror and fear that what the wave gave us is nothing. But it is always something if you trust who you are and trust what biology has built into you. That Collective Unconscious, the Sea-Deep Mind that Jack Moodey wrote about. The Sea-Deep Mind speaks, words from the wave, voice from waters profound…
5-15-2008 Second Writing About Writing: Louisa’s Café
Today I write about what I don’t know. The challenge of voice in a First Person Narrative. I have two problems:
1. The Voice of the Inner Story which is Mitch’s relation of events from the time of his arrest up to his release and the death of the Fat Man.
2. The voice of the Outer Story which is the full backstory on Mitch’s life as a mercenary, his family history, and his coming of age.
1. I’ve chosen to write the Inner Story in present tense. The problem is the vehicle—when, in a First Person Narrative, the narrator speaks, what is the vehicle for transmission of the story? It’s not a written text so he’s not reading it aloud. It is told directly to the reader in Present Time, so there is a break in the framework that demands a suspension of disbelief so that I can accept the convention of the Narrator talking to me—Maybe that is the psychological solution—the narrator talking to his writer telling me his story and as I move aside in my place the reader takes over.
Bob is right—the convention of the Narrator speaking to the reader is accepted by the reader and isn’t a violation of the realist precept and it releases the writer from the burden of creating a phantom vehicle or a pretext (is this what Gide meant?) for the narrative structure.
2. The question of the Outer Story isn’t as thorny because I use a convention of Story within Story. The voice relating the narrative in the past tense uses the vehicle of a manuscript he is writing and so the convention is that the reader is privy to his writing as he writes it.
But there is still the issue of how the reader gets access to the Outer Story if the narrator hides it—but the illusion here is that the reader experiences the Outer Story as the narrator tells it—so we see him writing. No, we see the text he has written. But how does the reader get to it?
This problem lies at the heart of any novel in that, as opposed to a film where we have the voyeuristic luxury of watching through a window, in the novel we’re invited into the mind of the narrator to witness his reality as it unfolds. In this we become participants in the story as we read the illusory pages not knowing if we can trust the narrator at all whereas in the film, the action and image create their own illusion without reference to our participation.
1. Don’t worry about it. Let the story tout with its inner and outer complexities.
2. Write it as well as possible. Bob says that neither of the breaks in the realist precepts matters if the language is good enough.
3. Work in a more intensely poetic idiom so that the image and action of the narrative come alive and enter into the reader’s mind. As Natalie used to say before she gave up writing practice—mind connects to mind. In writing a poetic idiom, the voice illustrates a number of psychological traits—education, experience, desires, dreams. The narrator by speaking rhythm and beat using rhetorical structures invites the reader into the images so that instead of waiting for the passive induction of the moving picture, the reader is active, or, as MacLuhan said, writing is a hot medium whereas film is of necessity a cool one.
4. The goal of all fictional writing is story. Story is a competition for a resource base told in action and image. In the narrative then, the poetic medium substitutes for the filmic image but the result is the same—the firm implanting of memories into the mind of the perceiver. Thus phenomenology and pragmatics of CS Peirce inform fictional writing as well, as when the Icon, Index and Symbol all work as a unit to induce a feeling of being there. Sulaika writes that any image that evokes a pre-existing memory in a reader is good and the writing is a success.
5. So this brings me to a question—What Bob means when he asks if the writing is good. Good writing must evoke feelings in the reader and it must create images that link and hook together into that elusive beast Stewart calls the Harpoon. And the writing must give the illusion of action and the only way to achieve that is through the use of strong Anglo-Saxon monosyllabic verbs—Strike, Hit, Yank, Thrust.
Good writing then, is film frozen one image at a time in a single concrete noun linked to a single action verb that evokes an emotional response in the reader—whether he wants it or not.
This brings me to a quandary—Can a reader choose not to accept the image? When a viewer looks at a painting (or a stop sign for that matter) the object goes into the brain via a purely mechanical but physiological track from lens to retina to optic nerve to visual cortex where the viewer has no choice but to accept it—once seen, then, an image is fixed in the axons and neurons.
But can the reader who has to be more active, reject, or choose not to process the image in the writing? The answer lies in the strength of the stylistic obstacles the writer throws up to block processing and acceptance. Style can stand in the way of perception. This notion is akin to a listener processing a Mozart melody such as Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Perception is insidiously easy but the truth of the musical structure is embarrassingly difficult. Thus in writing, we must strive for the immediate and easy perception—no stylistic challenges—Melody, while building complex structures, Harmony.
These techniques in writing are—plot track, symbol, object, hook as in the Cut To technique but analyzed out into complex metaphoric language—thus allowing the complete story to be told in each and every scene in the narrative.
To summarize: Story is image and action for quick acceptance; complexity lies in the structural framework that binds the narrative into a unified but not of necessity organic whole. To accomplish this, the writer has to discover the ritual structures that inform the myth base. The myth base, once seized and raised to consciousness, will provide the framework for the complex metaphoric reality we call book.
I grew up in California’s Central Valley. The Valley was huge but stifling. If you climbed the town water tower one foggy night and the cops hauled you down, it made the local newspaper–“Boys Saved From Fall and Likely Death”. Your one goal was a customized car with a flame job and flipper hubcaps. You wore Levis or Chinos and you cut your hair short. And then along came Jack Kerouac and On The Road. Right behind him came William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Philip Lamantia, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and, of course, Allen Ginsberg. And everything changed overnight.
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen wrote about these crazy people living in dens of iniquity in North Beach. He called them “Beatniks”. He took the term from Kerouac who used it to mean Beatitude, but Caen mixed it up with Sputnik and a whole generation was born.
And of course the craziness of the Beatniks was magnetic to boys hungry for Nirvana. Along with my other rebellious friends I headed to the City (on the West Coast, San Francisco is-The City), to see what was happening. We camped outside the Blackhawk and the Jazz Cellar. We lived for the weekends and City Lights Bookstore were we bought the Beat Bibles—On The Road, Junkman’s Obbligato, Howl . We ran up and down Grant and ate Chinese food in bombed out restaurants, we stayed in crazy wino hotels in the Mission District because the rooms were cheap and the inn-keeper didn’t mind half a dozen doped up teenage hunger artists sharing a room.
On The Road and the Beatniks set me free. Get out of the Valley, they said. Go find your America. And some of us did. Zooming back to the Valley stoned and giddy with wine and words, I knew I wanted to be a poet, be a writer, see the world. So I did.
This novel, The Deification, pays homage to those wild men whose vision of the world opened up the social revolution of the 1960s. They changed me. They changed you. They changed everything.
The publisher, Coffeetown Press is shooting for a release of The Deification to synch with the release of the film version of On The Road coming in December, 2011.
The Deification is the first book of The California Quartet. All four novels are slated to appear under the Coffeetown Press imprint. The Deification will arise on December 10th, 2011. You can buy the novel with a pre-publication order from Coffeetown Press or from Amazon.com. Here are the urls:
I just signed a multi-book contract with Coffeetown Press to bring out The California Quartet and Gabriela and the Widow. All five novels should be available by December 2012.
The first release will be The Deification. Sounds like the Rapture, but it’s the first book of The California Quartet. We’re looking at a December 1 release.
The Deification tells the story of Eddie Iturbi, a young car-thief obsessed with the dark magic of Beat culture in 21st Century San Francisco. Taking a trip to the hazy Underworld of poetry gods where rats eat the ones who fail, Eddie links up with living legend Leo who sees in him a disciple worthy of continuing the Beat tradition. But first, Eddie has to survive the Buzzard Cult where a mysterious mentor reveals the discipline of blood and words….
Gabriela and the Widow is the story of a 19 year old Mexican immigrant who takes care of a 92 year old widow in a mysterious and mythical California. Here’s the opening–
The year the war ended, Gabriela led her sick Mother out of Tepeñixtlahuaca. The bones of the villagers still had meat on them then and the hearths still had embers in them but the retreating soldiers had chased the skinny dogs away and burned the houses. Scattered in the jungle the bodies of young women—always the first to pay—lay left to rot. The young men all were either dead or had become soldiers and had, in their own time, committed atrocities…
Now available at Elliott Bay.
Blood (Camel Press) is Seattle writer Jack Remick’s new novel, a taut, open-eyed story written by a one-time mercenary and hired killer doing prison time, due to soon be again free and on the street—a street that wants him in the same hard places that helped put him in prison. His writing helps him see and come to terms with who he is and where he comes from. “Blood does not read so much as it pours forth, lava-hot, like a force of nature. Mitch the killer, collector of ears, Mitch the lover, writing in prison on toilet paper, opens an artery in the American psyche.” – Priscilla Long. “Locked in prison like the soldier-narrator of Jean Genet’s classic, Our Lady of the Flowers, the narrator of Jack Remick’s Blood unwraps his tale by writing a secret book about his mercenary past—killing for money, then verifying his kills with a heavy necklace of human ears. A powerful tale written with total intensity.” – Robert J. Ray.