The Origin, by Irving Stone

“Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson


 

Great books remain relevant for a reason – because they teach us something. They better us; broaden our understanding of the world and its many fascinating inhabitants. And for that reason they deserve to be re-introduced, from time to time, so they may find in this vast ocean of distractions, some few new fertile islets upon which to propagate.

One such enduring saga is Irving Stone’s 1980 exploration of the life of Charles Darwin, The Origin. So much more than a fictional biography of one of the greatest minds who ever lived, it serves to immerse us in his world and enable us to understand better the true heights of his genius and courage. It lays bare the distinctly human aspect of the man himself through an exploration of his fears and insecurities over his own writing, and how the world may ultimately perceive him. (more…)

What’s Your Excuse?

This is a kick in the ass to you, to me, to everyone who ever wanted to write and had an hour that they wasted. Writers are dreamers. They have to be. It’s in the job description. But not all dreamers are writers. Some go on dreaming, and their stories are never written, never shared. That part of dreaming is hard work. It’s easier to read silly articles like this than to find the courage to dive in. It’s easier to write silly articles like this than to dive in. Whatever demon is holding you back, I’ve already encountered it, danced with it, sat on a porch and had a fiddle duel with it. Let me save you some trouble.

I can’t fail if I nevtearing-hair-outer begin.

That’s a comforting little prolepsis, isn’t it? You can’t succeed either, though. Next! (more…)

The Minefield of using Dialect in Dialogue

The use of dialect to convey accents or regional argot in fiction is one of those issues that seem to polarize writers and readers both. Many of the so-called experts, preaching from behind their pulpits, will slam the gavel at the mere mention of such parlor tricks in prose, and yet, the more I read the more I realize that the books and authors I most admire are the ones who aren’t afraid to splash their pages with apostrophes and hyphens, and ask their readers to do a little more work.

So how does an aspiring author approach such a minefield without losing a proverbial leg? The ready answer would seem to be very carefully, with delicacy, and perhaps a soupçon of skill, or not at all. (more…)

Word Arsenal 5

I take no pleasure in delivering this nasty little word to you. Actually it’s not so little – do the Germans have any words under 13 letters? – but it is in rather poor taste. It’s a deviant word, really. Downright sadistic. But war is a messy business, and we can’t stand by watching the other buggers enrich uranium without cooking some up ourselves. Unless they don’t know what they’re doing, of course. In that case it might be fun to watch.

Okay, okay, on with it. Word number 5 is: (more…)

 

Hunter S. Thompson – the unequaled, irreverant father of gonzo journalism, and the author (and miraculous survivor) of the semi autobiographical Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, planned his grand departure as only he could – with his giant, bi-thumbed fist shoved up the ass of the world he loved to hate.
R.I.P.

 

Galore, by Michael Crummey

Galore indeed. Michael Crummey, with his third novel, serves up a whole heaping fish-bucket full of fantastical characters and larger than licoverfe, mythical tales that serve to dazzle and astound the reader. For fans of Gabrial Garcia Marquez, Galore will be a reminiscence of sorts, as Crummey makes no bones of his emulation of that master of magic realism. But that’s where the similarities end. (more…)

Word Arsenal 4

It’s round four in the word war – time to break out the big guns. It’s all about superior firepoAnimals-Squirrels-Bazooka-485x728wer in this installment. Feeling like that first guy who brought a gun to a sword fight, or a cannon to a castle wall. This word is like having a bazooka on your shoulder when the savages are charging on horseback. You feel pretty good about your chances, I think, calm, unperturbed by the wild ululations of the painted-faced hordes. You watch with mild amusement, disdain, even, as they raise their spears and shake fists at you, and then… fwoosh! Splat. Horse bits raining down, a fine red mist in the air.

That’s what this word is all about: (more…)

Word Arsenal 3

It’s time to fight dirty. No, we’re not going to sucker-punch or pull the proverbial hockey-jersey over anyone’s head. Nothing like that. This will be much more fun. More arousing.

Rid6yMyi9

We all need a word or two like this in our arsenal: a word to tickle our tongues, to savor; a quadrisyllabic, orgasmic firecracker of a word; a word so fun to say it’s banned in 43 States. (more…)