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in a web of glass, pinned to the edges of vision

Gah.

I'd forgotten how often we saw Magritte

mucha mosaic

Gah.

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mucha mosaic
So a friend commented that he was wondering if most novels are like thalidomide babies- malformed in some deep way, that is- but the best novelists are able to arrange their hideous offspring in such a way as to not draw attention to their flaws.

And the cynical little beast in my brain spewed out:
Most novels are flipper babies. Most novelists are too arrogant about their 'parenthood' to acknowledge that they were swilling thalidomide while they were expecting.
"Isn't my baby perfect and wonderful?" becomes a very frightening question when delivered just a decibel or two overly loud, while a horrifyingly misshapen thing is waved in your face, doesn't it?
Is the mother going to bawl if you blurt out in your panic 'no, no, it's hideous!'? Are you going to be hit if you say you don't care for the baby, subjected to public humiliation for your cruelty to the woman with the hideous baby, or perhaps even stoning? Or worse, are you going to be forced to hold it while it wriggles in its spineless way, a wet smacking of lips and gums crossing through it while it stares at your face and wishes that its complement of needle-like teeth had grown in?

I think it's experiences like this that get in the way of honest criticism of novels.


I'm proud of the cynical little beast in my brain's cleverness in how he phrased this, but you know? It's actually kind of scary. Insightful, but scary. How much criticism is just 'your baby is a baby like every other goddamn baby, get it out of my face'? How much is just the equivalent of a polite social noise, like 'cute baby'?
  • Most novelists are too arrogant about their 'parenthood' to acknowledge that they were swilling thalidomide while they were expecting.

    Most I know hate their old work, or even what they just finished. They sell it because *points to mouth* food go in here.
    • yeah- I think I'm noticing where my perception went awry, w/ scanner_darkly's help (see below). Fanfic novels are the spawn of Innsmouth residents, while I suspect that Lolita would be the perfectly healthy baby about whom the whole family later loudly protests they don't know what they did wrong.
  • Well spoken. :D I think your friend has a point, there.

    And this is coming from someone that has just completed a novel.
  • One of the things I've started to realize more and more is how people try to repeat something enough to make it somehow true.

    I think at heart most people are incredibly insecure about something like a novel, which they put their life into and somehow it doesn't quite come out the way they do.

    Nevertheless, I think there's a flaw in your argument. If most novels are flipper babies, the doting happens at the formation of the details of the novel and the start of chapter one: the babyhood of the novel. Talk to someone starting to write a novel and he or she will blabber end on end if they're impolite (and if they're polite, just keep a running internal monologue) about how great it's going to be and how it's just what writing or reading in general needs.

    Luckily for the reading population, most novels suffer Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at some point early on.

    At the end of the novel, or perhaps after the second or third revision in order to make it more palatable for publishers, it's more like the novel has made it to its late teens. It's surly and rebellious and wants nothing to do with you, it's frankly sick of you telling it what to do. At that point you salvage what pride you have in the novel and try not to wince too much when people mention when the subtext of their criticism screams how utterly bored they were with something you put your life into creating.

    It's perhaps more honest to say you're insane and trying to get on SSI or some other government assistance. But it's a hell of a lot more paperwork.
    • You make a valid point. I should really slightly retool this comment into being about fan-community 'novels': the ones that nobody will buy, but the author will shove into anybody's face at the drop of a hat.

      There seems to be some sort of inverse-square of fiction sucking: the more likely it is that the novel sucks, the less likely it is that the author suffers any shame or willingness to shut the fuck up about it.
      • Quote Colubra: "There seems to be some sort of inverse-square of fiction sucking: the more likely it is that the novel sucks, the less likely it is that the author suffers any shame or willingness to shut the fuck up about it."

        That is so on the money honey, it's a million in the bank. All those blaterings on and on about the great paragraph. Makes one want to go get a rope and a big hook. I'm adding that one to my private quote file. Merci!
    • BTW: Would you rather be uncredited or credited for the thought that spurred that little just wrong-ness of thought on my part?
  • I am reminded of having been told, by someone who heard it directly from the author, that the award-wining made-into-movie novel _Birdy_ is, in fact, violently flawed from the author's POV.

    Something else to remember with authors is that when they point to the minty new paperback and say "Is'nt it BEYOOOtiful?" they do not mean the contents. They mean "Look, it's a REAL BOOK with my name on it! And they paid me!"
    "Well, the plot kind of falters -"
    "Nonono IT"S A REAL BOOK!"

    I don't care if it doesn't have proper arms, damnit, I don't care if it has three arms! The POINT here is that it's OUT OF MY BODY. I formed an idea in my head, and like a parasitic plastocyst, it attached itself to me and WOULDN"T LET GO. After a very long time in which it sucked my blood and brain fluid and life force, and I drank a lot and had headaches, I successfully chipped a hole in my skull and let the little bastard out.

    I like your bitchy paragraphs.

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