Posts tagged ‘Jack Kerouac’

STRUGGLING TO GET IT WRITE: HOW MUCH OF ‘YOU’ IS IN YOUR CHARACTERS?

This is a question I often ask myself of the author while I read his novel. How many of the characteristics of a main or minor character are yours?

I’ve recently finished reading Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s a strange, enjoyable read. In the book, one of the characters is the creator of the characters in the story which makes for a strange interaction. The ‘author’ character refers to elements of his past. I’ve also recently completed reading And So It Goes by Charles J. Shields, and all the facts and incidents mentioned by the ‘author’ character are also true for Vonnegut.

As in the above, what I like to do when I find an author whose work I enjoy is seek out facts about the mind behind the words by reading their biography. Here’s a sampling of whose fiction I’ve enjoyed and whose lives I wanted to discover.

I expect that you know by now that I enjoy writing horror. One of my favorite authors of the genre is H. P. Lovecraft. I have a volume of his complete works and occasionally visit the volume to enjoy a short story or one of his longer works. His writing is quite dated but I find the worlds he creates interesting.   Lovecraft gave birth to a subgenre of horror which lives on. Sometime ago I read a biography of his short life. I recall he died around the age of 49. He initially fancied himself a poet but eventually fell into horror much to our benefit.

Frederick Exley is a writer I found to be both funny and sad. For a great read, find a copy of his novel, A Fan’s Notes, a work following the career of Frank Gifford and is a weakly veiled account of Exley. The biography of Exley I read confirmed this. As an example of Exley’s outlook, in one episode of the book the main character thinks he is dying. He decides to practically take up residence in a bar and then relates how he gained twenty pounds while wasting away from cancer. You’ve got to feel sorry for the guy and yet love him. As I said, funny but sad.

Jack Kerouac is another author I enjoy and read his biography. His classic novel, On the Road, closely reflects his life with the names changed to protect the guilty.

So many authors endure lives that are far from pleasant, something I’ll touch on in a latter post concerning the merits of good vs bad in an author and his characters. But with their many and sometimes tragic faults, we readers reap the rewards of their work.

So back to my original question to you writers: How much of your characters reflect details of your life? As far as my work is concerned, there is one character in my novel, New Moon Rising, who is me, and I’d like to challenge my readers to name the character and reap a reward.

To be continued…

September 20, 2014 at 6:47 pm Leave a comment

VISIONS OF GERARD BY JACK KEROUAC

If you’ve never read anything by Kerouac do yourself a favor – begin with On the Road and work your way through his works.

I’ve read a few of his books, but that was some time ago.  I’ve now reentered Kerouac’s world with Visions of Gerard.  It’s the first book in his series, The Duluoz Legend, and I guess I’m now along for the ride.  The series is fourteen books long with Dr. Sax as the next in line and I’m lucky enough to own a copy I bought years ago.

But first, back to Visions of Gerard.  This short novel is on long stream of thought with a story line of the narrator’s brother’s death woven in.  I’m not an authority, but I don’t think there is anyone currently using this technique.

To be in the mind of Jack Kerouac would be as if you were the silver ball in a pinball machine.  You know you’re on the move but not sure of the destination.

April 7, 2014 at 9:19 pm Leave a comment

THE COURAGE OF THE YOUNG WRITER

I salute those youthful individuals who toil daily for the love of their art. Jack Kerouac banging out On The Road on his endless roll of paper not knowing where that work would lead. For hundreds, thousands of Jacks the road is a dead-end. They are the unsung heroes of their art hoping the nod of someone of power, the recognition that never comes. You shall remain unknown, taking your work to your graves.
I began my fiction writing career thirteen years ago when well into my fifties. I stumbled upon this career by accident. Beginning with writing a memoir, I soon turned to short stories and finally novels. While beginning this chapter in my life, I had already been a scientist for twenty years and well established in that profession. Thankfully my two careers overlapped and when a lay-off raised its ugly head five years ago, I became a full-time writer. Since beginning my writing career I have published more than twenty-five short stories and one novel. I’m just getting started for I have two more novels written and a host of short story ideas. Yet, with all this under my belt, some who know me think I ‘just dabble’, that writing is my hobby. None of them know the terror of the blank page or computer screen, but you do my young and young-at-heart friends.
This reflection of my past and present is to contrast the path I took to writing with those who early on decided that putting down in words their thoughts and products of their imagination was the purpose of their life. They take any job available to support their profession, a profession where they can well spend hundreds of hours not knowing if they will make a penny.
You have chosen a lonely profession. For when you take up your pen or sit before your keyboard there is only you and your thoughts. That loneness is the great equalizer between the known and unknown writer.

November 27, 2013 at 8:29 pm 2 comments


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