July 10th, 2008

anchoritism

What's With Today, Today

Well, it's been a thrilling day at Chez Cat.

Both my dogs are throwing up and stressing out and in general needing to be as close to me as possible--which is fine, but they are not small beastlings, and it does make for about two hundred pounds of collective dogflesh pressing in on me at all times. I've put them outside for the moment so as to have some peace. Poor co-dependent wolves. They get lonely, they throw up.

justbeast and I are heading to the Allegheny mountains with vrax this weekend for camping and questing. Next weekend is a rare uncommitted, and then off to New York to see everyone we love there, resting at the lovely home of regyt and novalis. (Propect Park Bring Your Own Parasol Picnic on Saturday the 26th--comment if you are local or in town and want to come!We want to see you!)

Then comes the flood of August, with business trips, our anniversary, and a scathedobsidian/pretendpeterpan excursion to exotic Indiana.

It's a Four of Swordsy kind of time--holding pattern. Waiting on news from agent, nothing really due, activity on the horizon but not yet here.

I've been reading The Ice Storm, which is weirdly compelling all the while seeming completely cliched, as the genre of the desperately lonely and morally bankrupt suburbanite saga has been so thoroughly overdone in movies and books of the last decade. This is practically a How To: Write About Suburban Angst! manual. It's especially awesome that the novel begins with a long list of things Americans didn't have in the 1970s. Presumably to put us modern readers in a suitably humble mindset--because obviously the internet, hybrid cars, anti-depressants, and satellite television fixed all this.

Also, I'm hardly titillated by a Key Party at this point in my life, though it's clearly intended to shock and mortify my delicate sensibilities. How will I wrap my head around the clearly insane, complex, and perverse concept of wife-swapping?

But what strikes me about the novel is how utterly it breaks all the rules of my recent workshops--if I hadn't seen the movie I'd have no idea what the book was supposed to be about after 115 pages, the narrative voice is all kinds of murky and one-note despite four POV characters in its unending emo-spiral of privileged white angst, and nothing has actually happened yet--the Key Party, on page 107, is the first actual non-flashback action in the entire book.

You can get away with this in realist fiction, I think. Especially in suburban wasteland realist fiction. It sets up the feeling of trapped ennui nicely. (Though I have to wonder what the hell is wrong with all these people who act like suburbia is this prison they were sentenced to--American Beauty, Little Children, so on and so forth. They chose to be there, chose to move there, chose to stay there. They all have so much money that moving, either to rural or urban environments, is pretty damn easy. So shut the crap up, spoiled sacks of Starbucks! Also, almost none of these stories end with anyone leaving suburbia--it's like the Matrix, it's easier to die than leave. Gosh, being rich is so very, very difficult! The rest of should sit up and take notice and stop whining about everything that isn't rich and pretty and depressed.)

I feel like realist fiction allows more structural freedom, and speculative fiction allows more freedom of narrative. Where that leaves me I have no idea.

Either way, I am cooking up a lamb roast and mango-tomato salad for a picnic dinner by the Chagrin River, followed by a dumb fun screening of Hackers with my l33t h4xx0r boy. Suburbia is not actually hell--you bring your hell with you, to city or farm or in between. Ask Sartre.
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