Friday, November 03, 2006

What I've Been Up To. (Also DeLillo's "Libra")

What up, folks. Happy Friday.

I've been going pretty good on my book this week, which was why I've been lax on el bloggo (I know, last week it was the GRE and now it's this. Always something.) What I've been doing for the last few months has been totally re-writing the final third of my novel. From September 27th to yesterday, November 2nd, was write, longhand, chapters 19 and 20: the final two chapters of my book. Last night, I finished chapter 20. Both chapters, all told: 100 pages. But it's very much incomplete. My plan now is to revise (and whittle down) the handwritten pages as I type them on my trusty electric typewriter, then make a final set of revisions on those typewritten pages, and then enter all of that onto the actual Word document, at which point I would begin the final polish of the entire book -- tightening, straightening, reworking. I have a notecard "To Do" list specifically for the book. It's not too long. (Here's one: "Sharpen description of the clubhouse's first floor.") All of that may seem like overdoing it a little, all of that revising, but this new ending I've written is so raw (read: bad) that it needs to be processed a lot to line up with the rest of the book's quality. But even knowing I have all that work ahead, writing out 'The End" a little after 8PM last night was very nice. Nearly there.

In other news, I finished Don DeLillo's excellent "Libra" on Tuesday. What it amounts to is DeLillo's all-encompassing theory about who killed John F. Kennedy told in the form of a novel. Having done a modicum of research on the subject ever since I saw "JFK" in 1991, I have to say that DeLillo's theory is eerily plausible. He deftly combines aspects of the wilder conspiracy theories with the Lone Gunman theory to create something that feels like the God's honest truth. To me, this read like an official account of what actually happened that day.

DeLillo's book predates "JFK" by three years and, happily, covers some of the same ground; much of it takes place in New Orleans. mean-drunk Guy Banister's in there, Dave Ferrie and his crazy glued-on eyebrows are in it quite a lot, and Claw Shaw makes a cameo, but sadly no Jim Garrison. The main characters in the novel are Lee Oswald, Jack Ruby, the CIA guys Everett, Parmenter and Mackey, and Oswald's mother. For another writer, synthesizing the dry facts of a now 40-year old assassination into a compelling narrative would be tough work. But DeLillo's good. Real good. One of those writers that can demoralize fledgling novelists with his easy command of the English language. He jumps from character to character throughout, managing to make the third-person limited voice he uses for each one convincing and authentic. He makes Dave Ferrie's obvious insanity comprehensible, Oswald's Russian emigre wife heartbreakingly sympathetic, and he limns the dark corridors of the CIA's creepy sub-culture so well you kind of understand why the out-of-favor CIA men who initiate the plot are incapable of pondering the moral implications of what they've set in motion, and also why they believe the CIA will welcome them back as heroes if it works out. Though some of the text is a little on the self-indulgent side (DeLillo went a little overboard with Oswald's mother -- a page of her stream-of-consciousness goes a long way), and because DeLillo's voice is fairly bloodless, a feeling of detachment settles over the events in the story; it's difficult to break through the icy perfection of his sentences to absorb the story on an emotional level. But that aside, "Libra"'s an excellent book. I liked it better than his novel "White Noise", the National Book Award winner he made his name on.

I started King's "Lisey's Story" a couple days ago. So far so good. Little annoyed with the substitution of "smucking" for "fucking" every page or so (Lisey and her writer-husband Scott have a lot of little words exlcusive to their marriage), but I'm sure King will set my mind to rest about it.

Also, wish my mom luck with her Quilt Guild's quilt auction tomorrow afternoon. Me and the wife will be there, if not bidding, then watching others bid. Anyway, have a good weekend. If anyone goes to see it, let me know how "Borat" is.


blankfist said...

There's a quilt guild? That's smucking cool.

Speck said...

I saw Borat the other night....holy hell I never laughed so hard at a movie before.

And answer my email you turd.

harwell said...

Crane, I could totally be making this up...but I swear I think I remember DeLillo saying something about having a connection with Oswald when I saw him do a reading in Cincinnati. What I seem to remember is that they lived quite close to one another in NYC at some point (wikipedia has Oswald there up to 1954 before moving back to New Orleans). You heard anything about this? I'll look around some more and see if I can find anything.

Peggy said...

Here's some info on DeLillo's life that claims the same:

"In Bronx, DeLillo and Oswald lived within six or seven blocks of each other."

harwell said...

Cool, thanks Peggy. Nice to know I didn't just pull that out of my ass...

Anonymous said...

The only thing that should be pulled from any ass is smucking smit.

harwell said...

I'm with Speck. Borat is really, really freaking funny.

Also funny: my wife trying to explain Borat to her parents on the phone right now. Apparently, they thought she said "Borack". Hilarious!

Oh and I finally saw a Reno 911! trailer. Good stuff!