Archive for June 26th, 2010

I assigned this to my Gotham class recently.  From The Art of Fiction, a great book in spite of Gardner’s ugly and bogus disdain for the genre ghetto.

Describe a lake from the point of view of a man who has just committed a murder. Do not mention the murder or death.

My take on the assignment:

The gaunt man sat on a flat rock and looked down at the lake.  It was almost perfectly circular.  Tall pines surrounded it like sentinels, except for the short arc of cliff where he sat.  The sun had been up for several hours and the rock was warm.  The gaunt man rested his hand on the hard surface, palm down, and imagined the heat entering his body through his hand, filling him and overflowing, spilling like blood, warm like blood, spilling out of his eyes, his mouth, his nose.

The sky was deep blue, without a single cloud, the lake beneath the reflection of cloud and sky a deeper blue, as if it held not only the mirrored infiinity above but a shadow world  as well.  The gaunt man had been coming to this lake for years and recalled something of its origin.  A dam had been built several miles up into the hills and this lake was the result.  There had been a few houses, a store, a gas station — not really a town, barely a wide spot in the road nestled in a nearly circular depression a half-mile in diameter.  He imagined the irregular lake bottom, slick mossy rocks and the pulpy rotted husks of trees.  The broken precision of a road, asphalt buckled and cracked.  And there in the cool, green dark– the hulking shape of a house.

He closed his eyes and imagined himself there on lake bottom, feet floating a few inches above the driveway gravel, bobbing with the current.  The house loomed before him; a pair of empty, broken windows stared in mute reproach.

He turned his face up to the sun and the image dissolved.  The sun was purple and bright through his closed eyelids.  He wanted to open his eyes, to re-enter the world.  The warmth of the sun felt good on his face and he hated the good feeling.  He dragged his hand along the surface of the rock until it snagged on a sharp spur and he pushed harder and dragged his hand again until the spur opened the ball of his palm and blood began to flow.

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Smart, balanced commentary on self-publishing, with Day-Glo sneakers.  The gist: not all self-published authors are vain, pathetic, and delusional. Only most of them.

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