Released: The “Big” Book

Yesterday, publication was completed. That’s that. If you are not a Kindle user, Conventions: The Garden At Paris is now available in paperback, too:

That paperback, which is a pretty BIG book, is also at Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and all other Amazons worldwide. Tell your friends!

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“Action And Adventure” Violence

You may remember that I mentioned I had a “minor story epiphany” for Conventions on our walk on Tuesday?

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. [Photo by me, 2016.]

We were in much of yesterday “recovering.” 10 miles walking is 10 miles! I think a down day was not unreasonable.

A view. Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. [Photo by me, 2016.]
A view. Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. [Photo by me, 2016.]

I took the opportunity while “resting” to open the Microsoft Surface and REALLY have a thorough go at writing that forest-walk “epiphany.” Having done more than I’d expected, I thought I’d post a small part of it here for you. As I think on it now, this is I believe the first overtly fictional scene from the rough draft that I’m sharing on the Internet for potentially the whole world to stumble upon. Ooh, the nervousness…

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“You American men fall for us so easily….”

Given it was about Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep novel, Humphrey Bogart also had to have a mention in the previous post. In case you don’t know, I’m a huge Bogart fan. Writing fiction also allows one to slip in gems like this:

Excerpt from
Excerpt from “Passports,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

You must know the movie: it was Casablanca.

A Casablanca film promo poster that was a gift to me. [Photo by me, 2013.]
A Casablanca film promo poster that was a gift to me. [Photo by me, 2013.]

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Blockhead On Block Island

I sat through the 4th episode of The Affair.

He took her to Block Island.

Screen capture of Wikipedia.
Screen capture of Wikipedia.

Ugh. They’ve ruined Block Island now, too.

You may have already read my reactions to episodes here and here. This post is more of a general take on how it portrays relationships. It’s more serious than the earlier ones.

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What Did Montauk Do To Deserve This?

It’s Friday. Yesterday was “heavy.” Let’s have some fun.

Before you read on, if you missed the earlier post on this subject, you may want to click here. The caveats and essential points are there, in “Part 1.” This is “Part 2.”

At the end of that “Part 1,” I promised an update if I changed my mind about The Affair. Well, I watched the 3rd episode. Update aside, I’m still not sure about it….

* * *

Presiding at his study’s massive wooden desk (it has to be massive), books on shelves behind him (evidently so we remember what he is supposed to be), the wildly successful novelist father-in-law calls “Noah” – who’s soaking wet from a swim in the pool – in for a hearty man-to-man talk: “So, how’s the writing going?”

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a stack of books and reading glasses.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a stack of books and reading glasses.

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An Affair (Not Yet To Remember)

You may know I’m rarely critical of most others’ writing efforts. That’s largely because I readily appreciate how difficult it is to pen fiction. Moreover, I never offer book reviews here because I believe they are best left to any author’s truly interested readership or to reviewers/ bloggers who review books regularly.

And I’ve got my own books to write, and being “pulled” away from your own work is any author’s biggest problem. Yet keeping an eye generally on “big success” does supply us with evidence for what must be considered the basis for that “success.” However, naturally – as with Fifty Shades of Grey – we may also not always like what we see.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a cartoon television screen.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a cartoon television screen.

Where am I headed with this? I watched another episode of The Affair. If you like the program, and choose to read on, please understand I’m looking at it only from my (one) writer’s perspective. πŸ˜‰

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Showtime

Recently, we watched the first episode of The Affair. It’s a drama from the U.S. that got fantastic reviews. It stars two British actors pretending to be Americans, and the program revolves around the fact that they are having an, well…. I think the title is rather a giveaway.

I’m not sure what I think of it yet. I’ll keep watching it. My initial take is it seems to be mostly about how to concoct a drama that justifies extended sex scenes.

No shock that, really. After all, it’s from cable’s Showtime.

Free Stock Photos: Illustration of a movie clapboard.
Free Stock Photos: Illustration of a movie clapboard.

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Dramatized Violence’s Sexual Divide

Dame Helen Mirren has condemned British TV drama for the growing number of murder victims who are young women:

….Mirren told the Observer that she agreed with the playwright David Hare’s recent complaints about the bloodthirsty nature of most drama on British TV, saying there was a clear sexual divide when it came to the corpses. “Most of those bodies are young women,” she said.

Hare had spoken out against the number of murder victims on television at the launch of the second of his Worricker trilogy of films last week. “I can’t personally stand the body count in contemporary drama. I just think it’s ridiculous,” he said.

The British playwright had added that the Nordic thriller series The Bridge was one of the biggest offenders, although he enjoyed it. Fresh corpses also appear in many British-made dramas and series, such as Silent Witness, Lewis, Whitechapel, Ripper Street, What Remains and The Fall, the BBC2 drama serial starring Gillian Anderson, in which a rapist and serial killer preys on a string of attractive young women….

American TV police dramas also lean heavily on storylines that revolve around killing young women. And not just killing, mind you, but ritualized, sexual brutality while killing. I recall an episode of Hawaii 5-0 a year or so ago in which I was stunned at the graphic and gruesome portrayal of a serial killer’s torture and murder of a young woman…. before the opening credits.

What about novels? We know there is a cultural overlap between modern drama in books and on TV. Are there criticisms that could be leveled about similar violence in books?

20140216-072746.jpg

Almost certainly. Yet most novels do not permeate the public consciousness at a level akin to what appears on TV. (An exception being perhaps when one is made into a film or TV.) Most modern novels are read by only a fraction of the number of people who might sit through a single episode of, say, Lewis, or Hawaii 5-0.

If you write, I’m sure you have your own view of what level and type of violence is appropriate to your genre and writing preferences. Passports, and its coming sequel, are not crime-based thrillers; however, I do have an important character who is a successful crime novelist, and there is discussion in the book at times of what Uncle Bill produces. At one point, he exclaims:

“The French seem to love American crime thrillers, which makes me happy. Sells books!”

One wonders, though, how much drama, be it in books or on TV, is now written deliberately to be both not just thrilling and violent, but also sexually provocative and even pseudo-p*rnographic? It does seem tension and a “mere” murder…. in the drawing room with a candlestick…. is no longer nearly enough. It does too often appear now that dramatized murder has to be after a graphically described, slow, sadistic and sexualized, torture session.

In another scene in my book, “James” shakes his head at his crime novelist uncle’s writing style. Uncle Bill twenty years ago pens nothing on the violence and depravity level we encounter regularly today. Still, James remarks, “I couldn’t write what he does.”

Those are my feelings as well. I also don’t have any answers. I suppose none of us do, really.

We know that this issue is as old as the hills: what sells is what will be produced. We also know big sellers lead to imitators and more of the same. It seems there is simply a large appetite out there for increasingly graphic violence in which young women are its victims.