Thursday, November 11, 2010
Jack London Credo: I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time A year or so ago now my wife and I went to the North Georgia mountains to stay in a chalet that we try to go to every Fall. We visited a small independent used book store that we like. There I found an awesome book of short stories by Jack London. It was published in 1962 and includes some of his best. I became a huge Jack London fan after I read "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer. Christopher McCandless' story was amazing and the impact of Jack London's writing on his life made me very curious. I read "Call of the Wild" and "White Fang" and became hooked. This book of short stories explores many different terrains like the south Pacific, inner cities and of course the northern wilderness. Jack London is a great artist that is multifaceted and can bring to life a wide range of characters and situations. The most powerful character of all of his stories has to be life. The realities of life is always one of his main characters if not his lead. London has a great way of letting you step into the scene in which he describes. His writing also satisfies that since of adventure a lot of people have in them. That feeling that makes you want to leave all your belongings and start hitchhiking around the country. He also leaves enough room for warnings against foolish thoughts and actions. So he glorifies nature and the realities of life in a way without idolizing it. That is a thin line and some think he tips one way or the next, but overall I believe he toes it pretty well, especially compared to others. Like Hemingway and O'Connor, London has a way of bringing out the magnificence of the average occurrence. Or should I say, like London, Hemingway and O'Connor do? So if you would like your head to be filled with some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world, live and share the struggles of complex individuals, then any Jack London story is worth the read.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
"Dandelion Wine" is more than a book, but an x-ray of a young, curious boy's soul. Ray Bradbury was the biographer of my childhood, of many children's childhood. Ray Bradbury's use of the English language is something to be in awe of. As a writer I am in constant debate with myself about when is it too much description, too many adjectives crammed into a sentence. Ray Bradbury to me is the master of just the right amount. His use of adjectives that leads some critics to believe that he is overly romantic. Mr. Bradbury's lasting influence and popularity through the better part of the 20th century argues otherwise. Stephen King, who I am a fan of and who lists Bradbury as one of his influences, criticizes Bradbury in his overview of horror/sci-fi, "Danse Macabre" for romanticizing his characters and their stories. What I fear King is missing is that, many of Bradbury's stories are written through the eyes and perspective of a child. When one is a child everything is black and white and romanticized. If you are not good than you are evil. If you are not right, then you are wrong. Bradbury is a master of writing through this perspective and remembering what it felt like with a child's limited knowledge of the world, but increased senses and instinct. Dandelion Wine is a compilation of glimpses of a town that tells the story of one boy and his brother. Just now I was trying to think of the most memorable stories to talk about, which is impossible, so I will simply say that I will highlight several stories that had an impact on me. One being the story of Doug and Tom Spalding's grandmother. She is featured in parts throughout the story and is a very interesting character that is the clear matriarch of the family and she climbs the roof every spring to replace shingles. Another is about a serial killer on the loose in the town. The overall book leaves a good feeling and deals with several very important issues, but the inclusion of this ominous serial killer lingers through the story and Bradbury's description the scenery is spot on. I feel that almost every good scary story, movie, TV show gets it's most frightening aspects from Bradbury stories. I just watched the first episode of American Horror Story and saw many borrowed ideas from Bradbury's stories. His inclusion of this shady character in Dandelion Wine and the build up and plot set ups bring large portions of the story into focus. Stephen King I feel always tries to prove the authenticity of his story through dialogue. I believe he is good at that. For Bradbury real life happenings, feelings and plot twists authenticate his stories. What I mean by the use of "authenticity" is the attempt to lure the reader into believing your story. That is why I love reading the words of Stephen King's books, but I dread the point when he is going to try and pull a unicorn out of a tube of chapstick. I enjoy the words and look forward to Bradbury's twists. By far one of the best side stories is that of the happiness machine a local craftsman tries to make. I refuse to elaborate on these stories now, because I don't want to give away the great parts. Not that anyone is reading this, but to keep up that illusion in my head, I won't reveal good parts. Easily one of my favorite books.