Sunday, January 4, 2009

January 4, 2009: Thoughts on writing and Michael Chabon's "Wonder Boys."

As people out there know, I am a writer. Yet people who follow my writing will also know that I haven't been terribly active as a writer over the past few years. There's several reasons for this. Chief among them is other priorities got in the way. First there was graduate school and earning the master's degree. After that came job hunting and a desire to achieve financial stability. Nevertheless, throughout this period I did write, I just didn't make it a priority.

Therefore during the last few months I sat down, did some thinking, explored some different things and set some goals.

As part of this I actually sat down and read Michael Chabon's "Wonder Boys," a novel that was originally published in 1995 (interestingly enough, that was also the year "Tongs, Gangs and Triads" came out, make of that what you will.)

I've enjoyed the movie greatly and seen it countless times on DVD and VHS.

Just a few thoughts in no order:

Michael Chabon, like Kurt Vonnegurt, writes worlds set in the "real world" yet with his own tweaks included. Vonnegurt has "Kilgore Trout." Chabon has August Van Zorn, the pen-name of the fictional yet well-developed Albert Vetch, an author of Lovecraft pastiches who wrote in the pulp era, at least in Chabon's works.

The work is told in first person, a technique that allows interesting asides.

The characters are much less functional, and therefore much less likable, than the characters in the film.

The characters are all quirky and interesting. (i.e. there are three sisters, all Korean-adoptees raised in a Jewish family, who appear in one long scene.)

The primary characters seem to be not just largely dysfunctional, yet also largely amoral and lacking in character or compassion for others. This tendency is toned down in the film.

Actually I found myself preferring the film although I did enjoy the novel. There are some wonderful passages that I found myself reading aloud to whoever happened to be nearby when they hit me with their excitement. Nevertheless, the film was just so much more . . . for lack of a better term . . . better.