Master CraftsMon

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Chapter One Vulgarity

A female friend of mine wrote:
> Yup. After your intriguing forward, I was surprised
> your vocabulary was so unimaginative in the first few
> paragraphs. You are smart enough to find more
> creative ways to present the character as vulgar. Play with it!
I reread the novel over the weekend and you are correct that the first part of the first chapter is pretty raw. The whole point of it is that the kid changes as the novel progresses. The first few paragraphs are describing one of the worst days of this guy's life. His second mother, the Librarian, has died unexpectedly. He is grieving. He is cursing God as much as anything. The center point of his life, the Librarian, has disappeared. He's pitying himself and whining about his fate. The character, Green Sky, interrupts that grieving process by forcing him to move on before he is ready. The focus of the first chapter is breaking of his bonds with the Librarian and establishing bonds with Green Sky.

For the first ten or fifteen chapters he is a child. He has a childish way of looking at things. Plus he has mental problems caused by multiple personalities. As the novel progresses, he has a different voice as the multiple personalities integrate more and the noise level in his mind clears away. At the same time the chaos in his external environment increases.

I thought when I wrote this that most of the teenage profanity and sex was over the top. I have since questioned people in Child Welfare and the Teen Center in Bryan and have come to the conclusion that if anything I am understating the extent of profanity used by teenagers. I also thought that the sexual content, which is extensive in the book, was over the top, but that too looks to be, if anything, vastly understated.

Chaucer when he wrote the Canterbury Tales, ended the book with an apoligia. Some of the Canterbury Tales are VERY bawdy. He was, in essence, attempting say to people, "Look. Reality is as it is, I have recorded it as it is, not how polite society would have it be."

I'm not in Chaucer's class, but I am trying to point out in the book that years of Liberal ideology have screwed up how kids are reared, because too many parents have abdicated responsibility for raising their children. The children who result from that environment are blaming their parents, society and everyone else for their problems. The kid in my book is not allowing himself to fall into that trap. He is taking each setback as a roadblock to his eventual success that must be overcome.

Prior to the appearance of Green Sky, John Jones had figured out that he could not depend on anyone but himself. He has set the goal of going to college and getting out of the wide place in the road he is growing up in. To do that he has methodically researched each of the teachers in his school by reading their Master's thesis, memorized the text for each subject (he has eidetic memory), kept a low profile in class, raised money to go to college by selling drugs, gotten ALL the bullies in his school to leave him alone, scared each new foster parent into leaving him alone or dumping him back in the Child Welfare shelter and generally tried to eliminate all the roadblocks that could stop his march toward independence. What he had not counted on was that he has a mental disorder that will kill him, if Green Sky does not fix it for him.

The whole book is about coping with chaos. John Jones does a pretty good job of coping, but not great. He keeps making mistakes and trying to correct them. As I implied in the Foreword, "What happens when society CANNOT constrain you, only you can constrain you, because of oaths you have given or inherent honor."

There was an author named Robert Heinlein. He and John Campbell created science fiction as a literary genre. Before them, science fiction was pulp. Heinlein wrote quite a few coming of age books that I admire. His central characters were always in control even when events around them were out of control. What I wanted was a character who was out of control and constantly having to adjust to changing circumstances. My book careens from disaster to disaster with a backdrop normal Texas town. Things that are said to be true in one part of the book are shown to be untrue in later parts of the book. Paradigm shift is ever-present. A huge number of teenagers are feeling this way right now. They are NOT coping.

Ah, well. I have started training to be a talk show host on KEOS 89.1 FM here in College Station. I am going to use the book as a starting point in debating the Liberal ideology about child rearing. I have not figured out how it will all turn out.


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