Today, I put down the Raymond Chandler for a bit to start reading Charles Bukowski‘s Pulp on the suggestion of an acquaintance who noted similarities with my novella On The Head Of A Pin, which is also about a detective who meets Death. So far, I find the book funny and clever, perhaps too clever, as if Bukowski is trying very hard to appear clever. Also, I find it a bit childish and superficial. I have seen it discussed as a riff on Chandler, but it reads more like what a Middle School boy might think is a funny take-off on detective fiction rather than a grown man’s literary commentary on it. There are lots of sex and scat jokes, many of them treadworn.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself (I’m only on 22 of a 51-chapter book) but if you really want to understand the difference between Pulp and Chandler, read Pulp and what Andrew Mathis says about Chandler in The King Arthur Myth In Modern American Literature. Also, I am discovering that Death + detective ≠ same story, although I am certainly better off being aware of Pulp and the comparisons readers will certainly be tempted to draw with Pin. Anyway, enough about that.
Author Elizabeth Spann Craig guest blogs at Writers In The Storm, sharing “15 Tips For Writing A Mystery.” Reading through them makes me want to scrub On The Head Of A Pin once again. But, no! Must stop polishing and submit. (My last scrub, which was supposed to be a final grammar-spelling check, ending up adding a full grand to the word count, which is exactly the sort of thing that made the last “final grammar-spelling scrub” turn out to be not-the-last.)
On her own blog, Mystery Writing Is Murder, Craig has a piece on the importance of confidence for writers, which I find intriguing. I have never experienced a crisis of confidence as a writer, which is not to say that I think everything I write is fantastic. For example, I still have a hard time understanding why readers have been so impressed by “Heather Hadrigal.” And, I have occasionally experienced a crippling lack of enthusiasm.
But, the fact that a story lacks a certain something never made me want “to just throw a manuscript in a trashcan” as Elizabeth writes, and that’s certainly not because my personality is characterized by Zen-like calm—just ask anyone who knows me! Perhaps I have a different relationship with writing from most writers, and I’m more ready to chalk up a crap story (and, good God, there have been so many) to natural, statistically unavoidable likelihood. It’s just going to happen now and then. I don’t feel like that’s confidence so much as perspective. *shrug* Thoughts?
I learned from Dale Spindel at Hey There’s A Dead Guy that publishers are learning to love librarians. About time, huh?
Also reading lots of news about Penn State, vodka tampons (Google it), the failed Mars probe, why the Ravens beat formidable Pittsburgh but folded to a stumbling Seattle, volcanoes all over the place, Atacama whale fossils, how much Herman Cain respects women (according to his wife), how bits and pieces of America’s war dead ended up in a landfill, and the neo-Nazi terror cell in Germany.
No BEST READ today. Yet.