lengths of comfy verdure

i like to sit back, relax and opine.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

the normals

i am reading a book called the normals by david gilbert; it's about a guy who becomes a subject in an experimental drug study in order to pay off his student loans. as was the case with the big love by sarah dunn, i am encountering disturbing similarities between it and the novel i have spent the last three years writing--well, not the whole time.

i guess it's only to be expected, the only book reviews i read to determine which books to buy are the blurbs in the new yorker's "briefly noted", and i tend to select books about losers who are around my age. on deck is home land by sam lipsyte, an epistolary novel consisting of bitter letters to his high school alumni newsletter. it's not that i identify with losers (see below). it's just that i like novels about people who are around my age written by people who are around my age. and if you've just published your first novel at age thirty-five, or what have you, it's likely that a lot of people have been perceiving you as a loser for a few years at least. plus, novelists tend to be less social than other people. (i think i might be a little too social to be a novelist, which is why it's taking so long, and why this will probably be my one and only novel.)

anyways, this book is totally overwritten. there is an unusual metaphor in every other sentence, often wedged in with a shoehorn. "gretchen lounges not quite lovely in bed, the weather swirling in front of her, like Isis if Isis were in the witness protection program after ratting out the syndicate of gods." and "lannigan hopped out of bed and went to his section of the bureau where his toiletries (a city compared to the towns of Billy and Do) stood. He grabbed the Right Guard skyscraper...." i am guilty of the same crime, so often unable to resist my own cleverness. here's another doozy, "It's raining.... Any harder and the drops would lose their integrity." oh, please.

some of the metaphors are beautiful, apt and efficient though, for example, "Do glared, his heavy brow like knuckles on a ledge," and, "The storm's bruised light does wonders with the bronze," and, "The Bible is held tight to his chest, like some flotation device." also, he seems to enjoy the rhythm of his paragraphs as much as i do my own, and, i guess, his, and he also likes to say things that sound like truisms a lot, "nothing worse than jerks with sudden souls," like i do. we also have both written a lyrical passage about a weatherman.

as is the case with first novels, the narrative arc is rather forced. it's making me scared about the ending of mine, which i am writing right now, and quite frankly forcing the hell out of. i am averaging about a page every three weeks. twelve point courier double spaced.


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