Stranger in a Strange Land, Gauguin’s Paradise Lost, The Stand, A Pocket Full Of Rye, A Study In Scarlet, Catch-22: what do these books have in common? They are all books I read in my formative years: high-school, university (not that I spent much time there) & thought the 70’s, early 80’s. All of which I have re-read this past year.
Over the past couple of years I have been examining the books that influenced me creatively in one way or the other. None of which I have read in the past 30 some years. Rereading them as an adult has been informative, interesting & disappointing.
The re-reading has been as far back as grade school, jr high. Book for pre-teens: http://wp.me/p1RtxU-uJ. In both ‘eras’ what I have noticed, amongst other things, is a total lack of otherness – the occasional lesbian, but no queer boys. Sure Sherlock & Watson have than nearly non-existent connect but one has to really stretch to see it. Same with Jules Verne, whose male dominated adventure books rarely even allow the straight men express any kind of affection. Of course movie remakes had added female love interests of sort sort to keep anyone from getting the wrong ideas.
Agatha Christie was a favourite of my mother’s. I read piles of them & never caught the bad guy. Re-reading I see how she constructs plots, creates engaging characters but frequently falls back on disguises, and the explaining detectives. In one the truth is literally found as a message in a bottle.
The Stand was also a revelation. The more recent edition has had hundreds of pages restored to what was already a long novel. Again my memory was selective – Mother Abigail was all I recalled. Killing off major players at the three-quarter point was a risk that sort of paid off. Of course the noble lesbian dies to protect the good guys. All the men heterosexual. In fact in nearly all books I’ve read about the future of the world there will be no gay men; and if there are they have no sex lives & are doomed to self-sacrifice so the breeding pool can survive.
… a Strange Land, is the most recent of these re-reads. It is more of a satire that I recalled, in the Vonnegut vein, than anything else. I grok that but am disappointed in the amount of attention given to making fun of negotiations, double-talk pissing matches. I wanted more of Smith & less of the other talky, uninteresting stock characters.
another piece from my recent Noir feature http://wp.me/p1RtxU-xc
snow bone back yard
the bare maple tree
flake teased kissed
every branch from crook to twig tip
gentle layer upon layer
building a changed torso
boneless mounds curving garage roof
topping fence post
midnight moon skittering streaked
dimly biding till dawn
brief days on end
with each snow cascade
in summer the tree’s over-leafed skin
longs to be bare to icy tease
yearns for the the cold bones of winter
the clue in the cover