What you know, of course. . .
Hat tip, Andrew Sullivan.
What you know, of course. . .
Hat tip, Andrew Sullivan.
this last year, has been belonging to an online writers group. There’s 7 of us. We each post about 150 words of our work on our designated day of the week. I post on Saturdays. This is what I posted today:
We got drunk on Havana Club, this fancy rum they have over there available only for tourists and those high in the government. We came home singing, drunk as skunks. I went to sleep in the clothes that I was wearing. My dad stayed with my grandmother. I had never seen him happier–except maybe the time after I graduated from Pratt. The next morning we drove west, from Havana to Pinar del Rio. That’s where we’re from. The strangest thing about this, is that when I saw the truck coming towards us, I didn’t have time to be afraid. I’m sure it was the same for my father. I was fooling around with my camera, and I remember my uncle, who was driving, saying: “look at this guy,” we looked up at the truck, he was trying to pass someone and he couldn’t get back into his lane. This main road in Cuba, the Carretera Central, was only two lanes, one going each way. I heard they gave the driver a ten year sentence. What a useless, stupid thing to do. Like the poor guy wasn’t already in jail, after what he did. He probably never felt free, after what happened. Me neither. . .I haven’t felt free since. . .
From a work in progress currently titled From Mountain Road to Easy Street, a brief passage:
I walked towards my neighborhood up the Fourteenth Street Viaduct, its steep angle rising towards Union City matching the increasing elevating effect the pot had on my mood, as I walked on. When I reached the traffic light at the top of the bridge I turned around to look at the island of Manhattan below me, the live version of a black and white photograph from the nineteen fifties, taken around the time I was born, pressed into my memory. The skyline had grown new skyscrapers since I had arrived, like the newer trees in a jungle, they had sprouted, changing the outline but the basic premise remained. She was lit up from the edge of the water to the highest penthouse, permanently awake, as alluring still as the first time I had seen her. On this night, my existence, with all of the unconquerable problems it owned, was dwarfed by the magnitude of the man-made landscape before me. . .
I took the photos of the New York skyline on the slideshow above over the last few years. These are just a few of the hundreds of images I’ve taken since arriving in Hudson County, New Jersey, in 1970. It’s impossible to ignore the view when you’re on this side of the Hudson. To some of us who, as kids, imagined living here, it’s the physical manifestation of dreams realized.
For my good friend Andy Marino’s 60th birthday, his wife Dianne asked that his friends bring artistic presents to the celebration. There were gifts of songs, heart-felt testimonials, music, love and friendship.
I read from a work in progress, FROM MOUNTAIN ROAD TO EASY STREET, a novel I hope to complete soon.
Thanks for watching.
Most of the people I write about in ESPERANZA FARM are composites of people I’ve met at some point in my life. A few are completely made up to fit a particular story-telling need while others are closer to their real life persona.
Reinaldo, a next door neighbor and confidant of the young protagonist, fits the latter group:
Reinaldo Garsa, who had lived in the United States for many years, was saying that an attack by the United States on Cuba could come any minute. People believed him when he said that the plane that flew low above the fields earlier that afternoon was an American spy plane. Reinaldo should have known, they said, because he had fought as a Sergeant in the American Army during the Korean War.
“Reinaldo” was my real-life neighbor. I remember the content of our frequent conversations, his very strong opinions about the Cuban government and other matters. I could also recall his descriptions of New York from the time in the forties and fifties when he made the city his home. His love of baseball is still fresh in my memory. But because I had not seen him in approximately forty years, his physical features were lost to me. It’s odd how one can remember almost all about a person from one’s past, except their face. That was until very recently, when I discovered the photo that accompanies this update.
Suddenly, “Reinaldo” came back to life and I realized, at the same time, where his love of baseball probably came from: he managed one of the baseball teams that traveled my province, Pinar del Rio, delighting Sunday fans. This was a detail I did not know about the character or about the person.
I’m considering slipping that detail — about him being a manager — into the final revision of the manuscript. It would add depth and context to the character. I also know it would please the person I knew.
“Reinaldo” is the man on the far right. Looking at the photograph, I concluded that he came to the ballpark straight from work. He was in such a hurry to get to the game that he didn’t have time to change. “Let’s get this damn ceremonial first pitch over,” I can imagine him thinking, “let’s play ball.”
This should make my life easier. From Reuters Life! via @davefenton:
Ever wanted to know the secret to writing a good novel? Peruvian-American novelist Daniel Alarcon set out to find the answer but ended up finding that the secret is that there really is no secret.
Alarcon, who has one novel and two books of stories to his name, interviewed 54 novelists, asking questions such as what do you look for in a novel, how much do you know about the plot before you start, and what makes characters compelling.
The result was “The Secret Miracle: The Novelist’s Handbook,” released this month, with insights from authors such as Roddy Doyle, Mario Vargas Llosa, Rick Moody, Haruki Murakami, and George Pelecanos, Gary Shteyngart, and Colm Toibin.
The answers varied from Stephen King’s distinction between novels and short stories — “Novels are longer and have more shit in them” — to Toibin’s take on his characters — “They are just words.”
Alarcon spoke to Reuters about the book and his writing:
From Advice To Writers:
The writer learns to write, in the last resort, only by writing. He must get words onto paper even if he is dissatisfied with them. A young writer must cross many psychological barriers to acquire confidence in his capacity to produce good work—especially his first full-length book—and he cannot do this by staring at a piece of blank paper, searching for the perfect sentence.