Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Critics, Musical Horses and Cat Vomit Stucco

Went to the library today. Dropped off Metro Girl--okay, but I wouldn't recommend it--and picked up Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.

At the conference last weekend, Liz Scheier indicated she was less than impressed by the novel. I'm been curious about the novel for awhile, so I thought I'd give it a go.

The disconnect between what is popular and what gets smiley faces from critics always fascinates me.

Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code got some nasty comments at the conference, as well. Not the first time I've heard writers complain about the book's lack of good characterization and other issues.

But my in-laws really enjoyed it. Fascinated by the theories posited by the book, my father in-law bought several books on the Knights Templar. Justin, who agrees the characterization is a little thin, still thinks it was a good read. I guess one could argue that majority of the "masses" were taken in by its fast pacing and were too dim to demand much more.

But...my father in-law in not a stupid man.

So what is it that makes a book popular? And can a book or movie be popular and critically aclaimed? I believe "The Lord of the Rings" movies accomplished this. As did "Titanic," several years ago. George R. R. Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series is popular and well received by the critics.

OTOH, I'd rather have bamboo shoved under my nails than watch Lost in Translation. Given what friends and family (in-laws hated it) have said about it, it is, at best, a cure for insomnia, at worst, a waste of two hours.

I've never gotten past the first page of The Left Hand of Darkness (denser than the darkest Amazonian jungle) and Lonesome Dove was more longish, than epic.

But, I'm not a permanent rider on the popular wagon. Reality TV is lazy television; the networks don't even have to hire writers anymore. Just chuck a bunch of morons in a room and watch 'em interact. I've never watched an episode of The Apprentice and I never will. (At least, not unless they arm the contestants with lethal weapons. That I'd watch.)

I don't know if The Lovely Bones is going to be about much of anything, but it passed my "first three pages" test. The prose is straightforward, the character tells her story first person (generally more accessible) and I like the writer's voice. We'll see.

(I'll try The DaVinci Code one of these days, but I take a sort of perverse pride in having not read it. Sort of like the way I'm proud of having never seen "Titanic.")

The Nikster...
The last two nights, I've given him "late supper" in the other feeder. Then I've piled stuff--the mounting block, the feeder tub, a bucket, the pylon--around the other feeder. In the morning, all the stuff had been moved, but he didn't have any midnight drumming sessions on the feeder.

The neighbors are finally getting their house stuccoed. They picked a brownish-green stucco. I suspect the name on the bags of stucco is something like "Sagebrush," but I'd liken it more to "Cat Vomit." Seriously. It's just nasty.

Speaking of home improvement...a trailer house down on Sagebrush is "movin' on up." First the trailer's residents added a small room on one end of the single-wide. The addition process stopped after they put up the plywood sheathing. Tho' they missed a spot. Insulation blurps out of a two foot by six inch section of the wall. Must be nice and soggy with all the rain we've been having.

Meanwhile, their next addition was accomplished by attaching half of another mobile home to the opposite side. Niiice! Here's the question. "Where the heck do you get half a mobile home?" Is there a store for that sort of thing? A place where only rednecks shop?

Almost finished the short story "Romeo Had It Easy." The story is another backstory exercise. The last backstory exercise with the same character (Talis) got accepted in an anthology, so maybe this one has potential. I edited "The Shapeshifter's Challenge" because the version on Critters was still a little too drafty. Decided I liked that story; it's blantantly romantic, probably because it was written around Valentine's day. Still dinking with "Meddling in the Affairs of Dead Mules." I think I'll send "Memories of the Sun" to an online market.

Sent first three chapters and synopsis of TMOC, as requested, to Lucienne Diver of Spectrum Literary Agency.


P. Kirby


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