Monday, December 03, 2007

How to Write

I read an article today in the New York Times about the new Stewart O'Nan book LAST NIGHT AT THE LOBSTER. I took note that part of Mr. O'Nan's novel occurs during a - SPOILER ALERT!!! - power outage at a Red Lobster restaurant during a snowstorm. Now it just so happens that I have nearly 100 pages of my new "detective" novel, and I was just getting to the part when - SPOILER ALERT!!! (if there can be such a thing for a book that may never be finished nor published) - there is a blackout in a video arcade during a squall. So it occurred to me to walk down to Square Books and buy Mr. O'Nan's novel, for research (i.e., stealing) purposes. Ha ha! I won't really steal anything. But I'm curious to see how he handles the power outage and storm. While I was there at the bookstore, someone told me that my special order had come in: THE EYE, by Nabokov. As I had learned from the introduction to PNIN, THE EYE is a spoof (I guess you'd say) of detective novels. That's sort of like what I'm working on, so once again... research. One nice thing is that THE EYE is 104 pages long and LAST NIGHT AT THE LOBSTER is 146 pages long. I consider these to be pleasant lengths for novels, akin to Barry B.'s ideal running time for films. (Just so no one gets excited and thinks that I have written 100 pages since I first mentioned the detective novel here, I'd like to explain that I had as many as 40 or 50 pages over a year ago. It's the work-in-progress, containing a soliloquy on the subject of Richie Rich, that I mentioned quite a while back.) Well, while I was waiting for Tom Franklin to show up for lunch at the Ajax Diner, I had the pleasure of reading the first two pages of Mr. O'Nan's book. They were so good that I made Tom Franklin read them as soon as he arrived. He liked them so much that we walked down to Square Books after lunch so Tom could get his own copy. This has been today's lesson on how to "write." Good luck!