Posts Tagged ‘Books’

I am wishing you all a healthy and happy new year. Keep up on those resolutions you’ve made. Here are a couple of mine (yes, I am doing more than one).

  • Save some cash with my hubby
  • Get published (this one I surprisingly have never made to myself before, but this year I plan to send out more stories, more often, to a much wider variety of magazines, and I would like to finish and send out my novel Lashine).
  • Publish an e-book (possibly under a pen name, I’m not positive I’ll do this one though)
  • Fix up the house (we plan to do our bathroom and kitchen by the end of next winter, and I’ve been wanting to paint my office too)
  • Work out regularly (for muscle tone only)

I never seem to be able to keep up with my resolutions. This year I’m writing them down and sticking them up on a wall in my office, that way I have to look at it all the time, and I’m constantly reminded of the promises I’ve made myself.

But now, onto what I really want to discuss here. The Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Supernatural (1981). I first heard of this collection of short stories in a Writer’s Digest Genre Series, How To Write Horror Fiction. It was recommended by the author as something every writer in the genre should read. Without doing much research as to whose work was in this collection of short stories, or how much a copy goes for, I asked my Mom to get me a copy for Christmas, if she could find it. Now, I have no idea what she paid for it (though she did say it was pricey, and other copies were going for as much as $500), but she found it, and over the last couple days I’ve been reading some of the exceptional works of horror and supernatural fiction.

I believe The Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Supernatural, is no longer in print, which would account for the high prices and high demand. However, I think most libraries would have a copy you can borrow, if you don’t want to purchase one.

Any way, I highly recommend this anthology of short stories. It includes such masterpieces as: Hop Frog– Edgar Allen Poe, Rappaccini’s Daughter– Nathanial Hawthorne, Squire Toby’s Will– J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Sticks– Karl Edward Wagner (which I loved), and Sardonicus– Ray Russel, The Doll– Joyce Carol Oates, The Crate– Stephen King, and so much more. Most of those listed, I’ve read, though the last two I haven’t.

The book itself is divided into two sections: I. Grandmasters, and II. Modern Masters (pretty self-explanatory, I think). I started in the Grandmasters section (skipping Hop Frog, only because I’ve read it before in a collection of Poe’s work, though it is one of my favorites of his work) and read a few before jumping to Modern Masters. I’m nowhere near finishing the entire book though.

I feel that there is a lot to be learned from both the “Grandmasters” and the “Modern Masters”. Though, being that it’s from the early eighties, the “Modern Masters” aren’t so modern anymore, but that’s not to say these stories have lost their luster or grandeur. The writing styles captured in this collection vary, as well as the topics of the macabre and the supernatural, but all are great in their own way.

And now that I’ve made my recommendation, I have work to do on a short story I started just before Christmas. It’s coming along well, and I’m looking forward to finishing and editing it to perfection. I won’t bore you with what it’s about, until my next post, maybe. Now that the holidays are over (though tomorrow is Ty’s birthday), I should be able to resume my normal couple posts a week, and get back on top of my writing.

Looking forward to reading some of your posts before I log off, and to reading some of your comments. I’ve missed you all!

Again, Happy New Years, and I’m wishing you all the best of luck with your own writing.

 

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We’ve all seen, or read, at least one horror story or movie with a child as a main antagonist, or even the protagonist. There are countless works of fiction that fall into one of these categories. Such as: The Shining-Stephen King, IT-Stephen King, The Omen-David Seltzer, (to the more recent works like the 2011 movie Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark) and so many others.

It’s my (loose) belief, that there is a right and wrong way to use children in horror. This is all a matter of personal opinion, and I’m not going to rule out the greatness of a story just because of my beliefs, but let me outline how I use children in horror.

I try to steer away from a child protagonist. It’s just what I like. I think creepy children in horror should be outlawed (not seriously). It could just be that they scare me so much I avoid them in my stories like they have the plague (and in most cases they really look like they have it), but no matter the reason, I choose to mainly use children as antagonists in my stories. The young antagonist reminds us so of what we were afraid of as children, and is that not where all our modern fears are rooted? To me, the creepy kid is a depthless monster. They often have little motivation, or motivation not easily understood by the audience. When you think about what makes children murder, how many possibilities can you come up with? Abused (or murdered) by parents, bullied at school (or murdered by bullies), and the son/daughter of the devil, are just about all I can think of (off the top of my head). There are only so many ways and times that these concepts can be used (but of course there are always going to be spin-offs and twists on these tried and true child protagonist motivations).

To me, the child protagonist unleashes a largely overdone genre of horror, in which the antagonist is disarmed by worry for a child who is actually out to get them. This is useful, for suspense and surprise, but, I feel it’s often not done “right”. (Do any of you know what I mean by this? I hope so.)

I don’t know exactly why child protagonists bother me, it could be that I feel that youth should be care free, fun, and light, not dark, evil, and murderous.

No matter what side of my debate you fall on, the usefulness of children in horror cannot be ignored. Time and time again, I turn to child antagonists to give my stories a youthful naïve tone, and to (hopefully) remind the adults out there of what they were afraid of as children. The Wish, is one such story of mine, where a young boy finds an old brassy urn buried in the sink hole behind his family’s home. He makes a wish, out of anger, and finds that it comes true. This would never work with an adult, because one of the main factors in this story is the main character’s naivety and inability to stop making wishes in hope that they will turn out alright this time. There’s also: The Dark Place, The Property, Potty Training, The Puddle, and one, currently untitled, about a boy with ear infections who goes to a “Free Clinic” for treatment and ends up worse for wear upon leaving. The boy’s oblivious mother continues to take him to the doctor, believing that her boy will be all better soon.

Just as sure as the sun comes up every day, be sure that horror writers across the world (myself included) will continue to utilize children in horror as an invaluable character, unmatched by their adult counterparts.

When making your antagonist a child (let’s say under the age of 16), it’s important to understand children, how their minds work, their thought process, and basic behavior characteristics. (The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D., is a priceless tool in this regard. In it, she outlines basic behavior patterns and characteristics for different age groups, and also contains adult characteristics as well) One thing I do, is watch children (not in a creepy way, I swear!), pay attention to how they interact with each other and adults. I have two younger brothers (both well under the age of 16), and two nieces (one coming up on two yrs and the other will be one). Watching them (especially with each other) gives me ideas for new stories. Be sure to take note in their mannerisms, the words they use, how they seem to see the world, and how they react to the unknown and fear. As always, I stress RESEARCH. Do more and more and more, until you feel like your brain can’t hold any more information, and when you reach that point, research some more still. You can NEVER gather too much information. Of course using all the information you’ve gathered would be a gross overload, but you’ll be able to pick and choose the right characteristics to create the child character that fits just right.

Now, here’s something else I’ve noticed about my using children in horror: I tend to favor boys. I don’t know why. It could be their seemingly constant willingness to prove themselves, or their mindset that they are a “big kid” and can do anything. Girls, I find a little harder to utilize in horror fiction, but that’s not to say I haven’t used a female child antagonist. The Property is a short story I wrote, about a young girl with a fat pet cat who doesn’t come home for his usual breakfast. Worried, the little girl heads out into the marshy swamp her parents own, across the road, in search of her beloved Snuggles. Little does she know, the cat stayed away for a reason. There is something evil lurking in the eighty acres across the road, its following Snuggles deeper and deeper into the swamp, with the little girl in tow. (I need to re-write it because I lost all but one copy of it when I had computer malfunctions back in August and had to do a system recovery.) I also broke my own rule with this one, turning the little girl into a thing of nightmares in the end, however, this is different because she began as the antagonist and fell victim to the evil. In the story, she is a terrifying “thing” for a matter of just a few paragraphs, and it ends on a “what if?” note.

There is no real right or wrong way to use children in horror fiction. Play around with your characters and try something new. Who knows, you may invent a genre of horror of your own.

Do you write about children, or use them in your stories? How does it work for you? Where do you stand on child antagonist vs. child protagonist? Do you have any favorite horror stories with children as the main characters?

Please, feel free to comment. If you don’t get a reply from me, it’s because I feel your comment warrants no reply. If you would like a reply, be sure to ask a question or something that would require an answer or response. I know little to nothing about the etiquette of blogging/comments, and I do have a life of my own and stories to write, so I don’t always take the time to respond. Sorry!

 

I’d like to look at the importance of character names today.

Some may think that a name’s a name, right? Or “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. No. Wrong, wrong, wrong (in literature).

Your characters names should in some way, shape, or form, reflect notable characteristics they have. The best way to have a plethora of names at your fingertips would be to buy a name dictionary or a baby name book. Mine’s called The Name Dictionary by Alfred J. Kolatch, and consists of both modern english (modern as of 1967, when it was written) and hebrew names. Besides just lists of names, this book also provides a background or definition of the name. (Or, if you don’t feel like spending the cash on another book, use baby naming websites, they are extremely useful and often will provide background on the name as well.) This is not exactly necessary for naming characters, the definition doesn’t have to match the character so much as the sound or the effect the name has on the mind should correlate.

Take for example, Stark, the villain from Stephen King’s The Dark Half. Stark has a rough, tough, brusque feel to it, instantly making us think: menace. I’d provide the definition in my name dictionary, but there is no Stark in there.

Say your character is older, a great place to start looking for these types of names would be with grandparents and older relatives. Throughout history names have come and gone in the sense of popularity. When I was growing up, there were more Jessicas, Heathers, and Lauras than you could imagine, and the same went for the masculine Tylers, Stevens, and Jesses. Though back when my Mom was younger, Stephanie was a popular names. Now days, it seems just about anything goes for a name (though it seems to me that you’d be hard pressed to find a Tyler or Heather younger than twelve). I wouldn’t be surprised if some “super star” named their kid “Spoon”, hell, you never know. The abstract and obscure names are hot right now, and soon enough it’ll be a thing of the 2010’s and the next popular names will crop up. You don’t need to concern yourself with what’s popular right now, unless you’ve put an infant into your story. Think of the age of your main character, then do a little research and see what was in style then. Back in the 1920’s, names like Ethel and Hazel and Blanche, were sensual or sexy names, for a young woman. Now days, (to me at least) names like that bring up images of grandparents and the elderly.

The research holds its importance in regards to period novels as well. You wouldn’t very well drop a Harold into a prehistoric novel, give him a club and expect your readers to believe it. It’d be best to choose a simple name which people would associate with the grunting sounds cave men supposedly made, like Grun, or Agon, or anything similar and simple, think no more than four letters, preferably two vowels.

Say your character is the epitome of innocence, a great name for a girl would be Hope, Charity, or Heaven. If you’re looking for a more sensual female name, Amber, Candace, or (ironically) Chastity.

Ironic names are useful as well. For example, I heard of a young woman (close to my age) named Chastity, who was a slut. I found it hilarious that her parents would unknowingly give her such a wholesome and sweet name, when she turned out quite the opposite. But be careful when using ironic names, you don’t want to confuse your readers with deep meanings to names they don’t understand. Chose something that has a definition of its own as a word, rather than a name with religious meaning or a derivative widely unknown. Try Justice for a woman on the run, or Grace for a clutz.

Another plethora of name ideas would be the news paper, and the real world around you. Say you’ve got a friend whose name you love, rather than offending her and using both her first and last, combine her first name with a different last name, or put your own twist on the spelling of it so it reads a little differently. But, please, for your sake, refrain from using names (both first and last) that you know to belong to a real person. Failing to do so could easily result in a law suit or at least hurt feelings.

Names are an important aspect of how your readers feel about the character. Think of naming your characters like setting the tone and mood for your story. There are certain names that give the reader an instant sense of who the character is. Carefully consider your character’s personality type before naming them. And of course you can always break the rules (sometimes I think that’s the only reason we have rules in the first place: so it’d be so much fun to break them!), and make exceptions, or put your own twist on things.

I this helps someone.

Comment, if you like. What do you think about naming characters? What are some names you’ve used? What are some names you like? What are some names you avoid, and why? The best part of my day is reading the comments you all leave. =]

So far as literature goes, I tend to reach for fiction. However, being a writer, I do often buy/check out and read non-fiction books in order to further and better my craft. Yet there are so many books on writing out there, how do we know that we’re getting the best advice?

I find that as a rule of thumb, it’s probably best to choose something that is highly recommended, suited for your genre or writing style, and the author has a reputable opinion or career. I know, I recommend the same writing books over and over. If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know which these are by now. But just for good measure, and because I’ve recently added more books to my “Writers Must Read” list, and I’ve also been accumulating followers, here they are yet again.

The Writer’s Market (2012 Deluxe Edition) (Editor: Robert Lee Brewer-since I should give someone credit for the most useful book in the writing world)

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edlestein, Ph.D.

Publication Manual of the American Psychology Association (fifth edition) by (of course) The American Psychology Association

The only one that offers an actual good read is Stephen King’s On Writing. It has a solid narrative that chronicles some of the more notable points of SK’s life, as well as his advice and views on writing. The other three are more reference books, or tool books as I call them. However, I find The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits extremely interesting to just browse. In it, the author outlines various personality types as well as influencing factors on a character’s behavior (such as emotional abandonment, mental disorders, and other issues). I’ve found that personally, the Publication Manual of the American Psychology Association, is probably the hardest to navigate out of these tool books. Don’t let the title mislead you into thinking it won’t be useful for the writer of fiction or anything besides psychology findings. There’s loads of information and tips for publishing writing. And if you don’t know anything about The Writer’s Market, and you are a writer (or are working your way there), I highly recommend at least checking it out from a library to familiarize yourself with the listings before sending a manuscript out. Be sure to check the pages in the front for tips on making your manuscript, query letters, and cover letters professional.

I find myself wondering, though, about the writing books written by less than reputable sources. I’ve come across a couple, and while I can’t remember specific titles or authors, I do distinctly remember sitting down to read them, only for the author to let me know I don’t have enough talent to make it in the literary world. I find many books on writing are snobbish and self-important. Many of these authors (I think) have been in the game so long, they don’t remember what it was like starting out. And they sit down, with ideas of helping others in mind, while they write a book on the craft that is so pretentious and rude, the new writer can hardly get through a chapter without feeling disheartened. These authors mean well, but hold literature to such a high standard, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to start a career using their advice.

Of course not all books on writing will cast self-doubt across your craft, but how do we recognize those that will before we purchase them?

My first piece of advice is to not buy ANY THING until you feel that it will help you. What’s the point in wasting your hard-earned money (especially since we’re all starving, right?) on something that will only make you feel worse about your work? So you’re going to want to talk to other writers about books on writing they’d recommend, and hit up your local library. I checked out SK’s On Writing, and read the whole thing about a year ago, then, just recently, I ordered it off the internet. And you don’t have to read the entire thing to figure out if it’ll help you or not. Pick it up and read the couple first chapters. If after reading three or so, you feel writing is so much more a daunting task than you thought when you opened the book, it’s probably not for you. Of course, the tough love route works well for some writers, and they would be well suited to the type of book I’m warning you to avoid, however they do not work for me, and that’s all I can base my advice off: my own experiences.

The most important thing to remember when reading a book on writing is that not ALL the advice will work for EVERYONE. There is no one size fits all instruction manual for writing. It is an elusive and vastly personal craft, therefore what works for me may not work for you. Remember while reading writing books to not take every single word to heart, you could end up hurting your skills more than helping. Being that we are all different, and our writing as well, for all writers to read and follow the same writing rules would be disastrous. We’d all write the same. There would be no variation, and no one wants a cookie-cutter book. In short, YOU are what makes your writing stand apart from others, YOU are what makes your writing special. Don’t allow the words of a self-important author who finds themself qualified to give advice to get to you. If you don’t like what the author has to say, simply close the book. YOU and YOU ALONE can recognize good advice when you read it.

I’ve just recently purchased a book titled How To Write Horror Fiction by William F. Nolan. I found it while looking for another I believe is titled On Writing Horror (or On Writing Horror Fiction, and I’m not sure who the author is), and being that the first mentioned was quite cheap and honed in on my genre, I bought it thinking it might help me a bit. I have yet to read it (it’s been a busy week), but when I do, I will share my thoughts and feelings about it with you all. That was what got me going on this topic.

What’s your opinion on books on writing? Do you think they help? Do you think they hurt? How have some writing advice books affected you, positively or negatively? Are there any books on writing that you can recommend? Have you read many books on writing? As always, please feel free to share opinions, thoughts, ideas, tips, anything. Again, I love hearing from my readers and appreciate all comments. =]

 

Yay! The moment you’ve all been waiting for; book discussions!

As usual, my warnings for this post/story: SPOILER ALERT. I discuss the entirety of the story, so if you have not read Rosemary’s Baby, I suggest you do so before reading this post. Also, this story contains adult themes and adult situations. It is probably not suitable for children and young readers.

Without further delay:

Overview:

Rosemary and her husband, Guy, had just signed a promissory note on a lease when they learn that there is an open apartment in the Bramford building, where they have been on a waiting list for the apartment since they first got married. After looking at the apartment, the couple decides that it’s perfect and they want it. So they concoct a lie to get out of the lease on the other place, and move in after having the place fixed up a little. A friend of Rosemary’s, a man she calls Hutch, tells the couple of terrible things that have happened in that apartment building, and urges them to find somewhere else, though she won’t have it. Shortly after moving in, Rosemary meets a young woman who is a recovering drug addict. The woman’s name is Terry and she lives with Rosemary and Guy’s neighbors, the Castevets. Rosemary is delighted to have found a friend in Terry, and is shocked to find upon returning home from a night out, that Terry had leapt to her death. Outside of the apartment building, Rosemary talks to the Castevets, trying to comfort them in their loss. They soon become friends, and Rosemary and Guy go to Minnie and Roman Castevet’s apartment for dinner. There the couples discuss religion, and Mr. and Mrs. Castevet make their strong feelings against religion known. Guy takes a liking to Roman and decides to go back to visit him the next day, something Rosemary finds a bit strange, but brushes off. Minnie comes to visit Rosemary and gives her a necklace Terry had shown Rosemary. The necklace has a strong odor, a herb Minnie calls “tannis root”, which is supposed to be good luck. After wearing it for a little while, Rosemary decides she doesn’t like it and stashes the necklace away in tinfoil to keep the smell down. Rosemary begins to see a change in her husband, he becomes more quiet and reserved, and one night he gives Rosemary tickets he got from his vocal coach, Dominik, for a play. She goes with a friend, and upon returning home, finds that Guy is back to himself. One day the phone rings. Guy answers it to find that Donald Bumgart, the man he’s been competing with for a part, has just gone blind (since Guy is an actor), and he now has the part. Rosemary and Guy discuss the future and whether or not they should begin trying to have children, which is what she’s always wanted. They agree and set a night for a romantic dinner. That night Minnie sends over extra chocolate mousse for the young couple. Rosemary doesn’t like the mousse and thinks it’s chalky, but Guy makes her feel bad for not eating it, so she eats a little more, and hides the rest in her napkin. Shortly after, Rosemary begins to feel dizzy. She blames it on the alcohol she’s drank and goes to bed early, only to have a strange and vivid dream where the Castevets and their friends are doing some sort of ritual and she is being raped by some huge leathery beast. Rosemary wakes in the morning to find scratches all over her body. Guy tells her that he had gone along with their plans for the night, even though she was passed out. Rosemary is angered and a bit hurt, she can’t understand why her husband would do such a thing. She leaves for a week and stays in Hutch’s apartment. Shortly after returning home, Rosemary finds that she’s pregnant and is overjoyed. She signs on with Dr. Hill, but is referred to a Dr. Sapirstein by Mr. and Mrs. Castevet, who are good friends of the doctor. The doctor tells her not to read baby books or talk about pregnancy with her friends “because each pregnancy is different” and he doesn’t want her worrying about her pregnancy. He tells her that he doesn’t trust prenatal pills, so he has Minnie make Rosemary a fresh herb shake every day. Rosemary develops a pain in her abdomen. Dr. Sapirstein tells her it’s normal and should cease in a few days. It does not, and Rosemary has to deal with this pain day in and day out. Hutch comes to visit Rosemary and is shocked by her appearance, she seems to have lost weight and he thinks she’s sick until she shares her baby news with him, and assures him that she’s fine. Roman happens to stop by and meets Hutch, who is intrigued by the “tannis root” necklace, as well as the Castevets themselves. He mentions that he will research “tannis root” since he’d never heard of it. He calls Rosemary that night and asks her to meet with him to discuss something he won’t mention over the phone. When Rosemary goes to meet him and Hutch doesn’t show up, she calls around and finds that he’s mysteriously slipped into a coma the previous night. Rosemary is confused and saddened. Her pains continue, and another strange symptom develops; Rosemary’s craving for raw meat, to which her doctor says that she should give in to her cravings. One day, she decides to throw a party for her friends, and doesn’t include the Castevets and their friends. A few of Rosemary’s friends are concerned about her appearance. She tells them about the pain she’s been having and how her doctor doesn’t do anything about it. They urge her to get a second opinion, and after the party Rosemary brings this up to Guy who becomes agitated and doesn’t like the idea. Then suddenly, as they’re arguing, Rosemary’s pain lets up and goes away completely. The baby begins to kick and move, and Rosemary’s pregnancy seems to finally settle into normality. She feels better than she has yet while being pregnant and is overjoyed. Guy performs in the play he’s been working on and receives praise despite the play’s poor quality. Life continues on and Rosemary prepares for the baby. One day she receives the news that Hutch has died. She goes to his funeral and meets the woman who told her on the phone that Hutch had slipped into the coma in the first place. The woman tells Rosemary that Hutch came out of his coma in the end thinking he still had an appointment the next day with Rosemary, he demands a certain book he was reading when he slipped into the coma get to Rosemary, and says it’s of extreme importance, then dies. The woman gives the book to Rosemary and tells her it’s about witch craft. Upon reading the book at home, Rosemary finds that Roman Castevet is the son of a famous Satanist who claimed to have brought the devil to the Bramford and was killed for it. The book also mentions using the blood of an infant for rituals, and Rosemary fears that the Castevets have befriended herself and Guy to get at their baby.  Frightened by this find, and unable to convince Guy, she goes to Dr. Sapirestein with her suspicions. He tells her that Roman is ashamed of his past, and that it won’t matter soon any way because Roman is dying and plans to leave on one last trip around Europe. This relieves Rosemary, and she and Guy bid the Castevets good-bye. Yet, later, Rosemary is certain she’s heard sounds coming from the Castevet’s “empty” apartment. One day, while out and about, Rosemary bumps into Dominik, Guy’s old vocal coach, and she thanks him for the tickets for the play. He says that he never had any tickets to give and that it must be a misunderstanding. Rosemary begins to see correlations between what she read in the witch craft book and some of the strange things that have been going on lately. She begins to believe that Guy has joined the Castevets coven and used their powers to get Donald Bumgart out of his way for the part and plans to give the coven their baby in return. Rosemary ditches the “tannis root” necklace, which she now believes to actually be Devil’s Fungus, and which she’d begun wearing again after her pregnancy pain ceased. She’s so frightened she wants to cry, and is unsure where she should go or what she should do. Rosemary thinks Guy and the coven may be responsible for Hutch’s death as well. She goes to read the witch craft book again, only to find Guy had thrown it away because he thinks it was upsetting her. So she packs a bag and goes to see her doctor. In the waiting room, Rosemary gets talking to the receptionist, who notices the lack of “tannis root” stink around Rosemary. The woman then comments that the doctor occasionally smells like it as well, and Rosemary realizes Dr. Sapirestein is in on it too. She leaves without seeing the doctor and calls Dr. Hill, insisting on meeting with him to discuss what’s been unfolding and why she needs him to deliver her baby. He agrees and meets her at his office. Rosemary tells her the whole story, and Dr. Hill reassure her and tells her not to worry, he will get everything in order at the hospital and that she should rest. Dr. Hill comes back later with Guy and Dr. Sapirestein who take Rosemary back to the Bramford. There, she escapes from them and hurries up to her apartment. They get in and hold her down, ready to give her a sedative when they realize she’s going into labor. The whole coven is there as the baby is being delivered, and Rosemary faints. When she comes to, they tell her she’s lost the baby. A member of the coven sits with her each day, and they give her pills that keep her docile. Rosemary grieves the loss of her baby and pumps the milk she is still producing, and hands the milk over to coven members. Then one day, she hears a baby crying. Rosemary asks a coven member about it, who replies that there is a young couple who just moved in on the next floor up with a baby. Rosemary doesn’t believe this and suspects her baby is still alive. She pretends to continue taking the pills, but hides them away instead, and one day she drugs the coven member watching her, goes to the kitchen to get a knife, and finds her way into the Castevet’s apartment through a hidden doorway in the linen closet. She’s surprised to find Guy in the Castevet’s apartment, as well as Minnie and Roman themselves. Rosemary goes to the bassinet in the room, threatening to kill any one who tried any thing. There she looks upon an adorable chubby face. Then the baby opens his eyes, they’re completely yellow with a long black slit running down the center. Rosemary is startled and screams at the coven, demanding to know what they did to her baby. They tell her they did nothing and that the baby has his father’s eyes. They explain that the father of the baby is satan himself. Guy tells Rosemary that he did it for them, and that in a few years they’d be living in Beverly Hills with a bunch of kids running around; she spits at him. The coven calms Rosemary, and they allow her to rock the baby’s bassinet. She fantasizes about throwing the baby out the window and jumping after herself, but then decides that the baby can’t be all bad, he is, after all, half her. She demands the baby’s name be “Andrew” rather than the already chosen “Adrien”, and the coven allows it. The story closes on Rosemary talking lovingly to the baby as the coven suggests she stick around to mother the child.

 

Overall, I found this story intriguing. It was an easy read as well. However, throughout the story, I can’t help but wonder why Rosemary didn’t connect the dots earlier. I found it apparent that something strange was going on, and in similar circumstances, I think I would have done things differently, though how, I can’t quite say.

The thing that makes this story so powerful, emotionally, is not only the terror and the mounting feeling that something is wrong, it’s also the desire and need that Rosemary feels to have a child, and the fact that it is in jeopardy. I think another reason this story hits home is because Rosemary is betrayed, not only by her friends, but by her husband who is supposed to protect her and help her and love her unconditionally. I wonder, was it just the fame that convinced Guy to do something so terrible to Rosemary, or were there other factors, such as problems in their relationship? What would it take for someone else to endorse betrayal of that level? The worst part about what Guy did, to me at least, is beyond the hurt Rosemary must feel, it’s about trust, and she trusted him throughout most of the story. I wonder, how is it possible to hurt someone you love so much?

The part of the story I found most frightening, was when the baby was growing inside Rosemary, and the side affects were not normal. I kept wondering if that possibly inhuman baby would irreversibly damage her insides, and what would happen during delivery. The part of the whole pregnancy that surprised me the most, was Rosemary’s craving for raw meat, and the fact that she gave in to it. Raw meat plays host to all sorts of parasites and illness, and I’m honestly surprised that Rosemary would expose her child to it. I also cannot understand why Rosemary didn’t object more to Minnie’s shakes and take the pills any way. I mean, this story takes place in the ’60’s, it’s not before the dawn of medical treatment, so why would Rosemary go against the norm?

I think most of my problems with this story all lead back to Rosemary being naive. She seems to take what people tell her to heart, and believe them totally. For example, Dr. Sapirestein makes me leery throughout the story, from the time his name is first introduced untill I was thinking, “I told you so,” when Rosemary found that he occasionally smelled of “tannis root”. I can’t help wondering why a doctor would tell a pregnant woman it’s perfectly fine to eat raw meat, as well as him being leery of the pharmaceutical industry, and I wonder as well, how Rosemary cannot see this. She trusts him enough to go to him with her concerns about Roman, at which point I kept wanting to scream at her, “BAD IDEA!” Rosemary also trusts to go to him when she believes that his friends (I mean, come on, duh!) and her husband are against her, even though she finally realizes she’s made a mistake in who can be trusted.

Overall, I thought this story was interesting enough, but I had a hard time with the characters. I find Rosemary hard to identify with, which is not great considering I’m a young woman wanting to have children as well. Other characters, I felt, were better done, such as Guy, the traitorous husband, and Minnie, the mock-concerned next door neighbor. I wonder, though, if this book had been written recently, would it be easier for me as a reader to connect with the main character. Throughout the book, I sympathized with Rosemary, but I felt that she didn’t react properly to some instances.

However, I’d like to focus on the little things. By this I mean the parts where the reader can tell something that’s not quite right is going on, but Rosemary seems not to notice or easily able to dismiss it as nothing. These are the parts that make the story, the parts that give it the sense of foreboding and make it a somewhat frightening story. I tried to detail as many as I could without being tedious in the overview, but I’m not sure I included enough. Closer to the beginning, there is the whole “Terry” thing, and that Rosemary notices the Castevet’s food doesn’t taste quite right as well as her noticing that there were bare spots on their walls where it looked like there should be pictures hanging. But even before that, when she and Guy are looking at the apartment for the first time, there is a large wardrobe/closet type piece of furniture pushed up against a linen closet, and it is easily dismissed as the previous tenant, an elderly woman, becoming senile, yet the reader senses there’s more to it. These “little things” build up throughout the story, and I’d found that they were peppered in perfectly. When something happens and we know that there has to be more to why, it adds to our unrest and holds us, pushing us to read on, since we all want to know the answers to these little mysteries. We feel this mounting trepidation for Rosemary, even though she seems blind to it herself.

Another factor of the story I thought was done quite well was the questioning of Rosemary’s sanity. There are a few points she brings up that don’t make sense, and when she does, others dismiss it and tell her there’s nothing to worry about. Rosemary never finds any solid proof (until the very end) that what she believes is going on is actually happening, this makes the reader question her sanity, as well as Rosemary herself. Throughout the end when she’s become nearly certain that there is a plot against her, Rosemary has nothing more than a lot of conjecture and some mild circumstantial evidence. As the reader, we wonder if there is really nothing going on, and if she’s imagining it all, or connecting things that are purely coincidence.

It’s funny how the subjects of the two paragraphs above work against each other throughout the novel, creating this delightful push and pull, a back and forth feeling as to where we think the story is heading. It does its job quite well and was able to hold my interest, despite the disconnect I felt regarding the main character. Overall, I think this story easily achieves the “Thriller” category, and only crosses into “Horror” because of the supernatural and sci-fi elements.

Now let’s focus on the supernatural and sci-fi elements. They are few and far between, but the supernatural elements in this story are powerful. One example being that Rosemary learns in the end that she actually had sexual relations with the devil. This packs a strong emotional wallop, and leaves us feeling not only sorry for Rosemary, but mildly disgusted as well. There is also the death of Hutch, which we don’t know for sure is supernatural, but we are pretty damn sure once he’s passed, that it has something to do with witch craft since he died trying to get a book on the subject to Rosemary. When Donald Bumgart suddenly goes blind, we are also left feeling that there was something strange about it, but our suspicions are unconfirmed until Rosemary reaches the realization herself. I love how these supernatural events can easily be dismissed as coincidence or a strange dream, only to be confirmed as truth in the end. It works well to hold our interest and keep us reading. Also, by each of the supernatural events being something terrible, we feel a sense of sympathy, and loss especially in the case of Hutch’s coma and death since he and Rosemary were so close.

Now for the ending. I have to say that I’m not thrilled with the ending. It’s one of those oddly ambiguous endings that leave us feeling that maybe things have been resolved, but maybe they haven’t. The problem I have is that I’m left with so many questions. What happens to Rosemary and Guy’s marriage? Does Rosemary join the coven? Will the child grow up to be evil? Will Rosemary stick around to care for the baby? What about the coven? What happens with their plans, since surely they have a destiny in mind for the baby? Will Rosemary steal her baby from them? Would she leave without the child, never to look back? It doesn’t help that Rosemary is a somewhat unpredictable character, I felt. It seemed to me that throughout the story, I kept thinking, “I know what she’ll do now,” and she didn’t do it. Yet, I understand why the author chose to end the story there. When you pass that point in the story, there are so many questions raised, but when it’s ended there, we know nothing else will be answered, and it is, quite simply, what it is: the end of the story.

Overall I enjoyed the book. Though, knowing what was coming, I found the beginning somewhat slow to build. I’d give the book a three out of five, but I might add another star simply because of easy readability. The language in the book is simple, almost reminiscent of a youth novel geared towards a twelve-year-old’s reading level, though the situations make it an adult book. However, I do enjoy a challenge, as far as vocabulary goes, so I guess I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the reading level.

And I did it again. I rambled on in a ridiculously long post. I’m starting to think I should giveaway a prize for the first person who can post a comment pertaining to the story and discussion points in this post (because as previously mentioned, if you read all of this, you should get a medal), but as of yet, I have no prizes. If I do get that going, I’ll let you all know so that you can have a chance to win—uh, something, I’m not sure what yet.

Have you read this book? Share any thoughts or comments on it, please. Let me know what you thought about the “little things”, the suspense, the supernatural elements, the characters, or the story overall. How did you feel about the ending? What do you think of how Rosemary reacted to finding everyone around her was plotting against her?

Have you ever had that stroke of genius that felt so perfectly amazing that it got you really excited about writing? Have you ever started working on that idea, only to find it’s not working like you’d hoped?

This has happens to me occasionally, and I’ve often wondered where I went wrong. I believe it’s poor story planning on my part. I have this problem with failing to sit down and figure out my story line before I write. Generally, I get an idea and I run with it (once it’s fully or even partially formed in my mind), leaving my story one or two-dimensional with massive, gaping holes. Why do I do this?

I think it has something to do with my getting too excited over a project before I sit down to do it. Not that writing a story without planning it out always ends disastrously, but it has its disadvantages. I’ve been trying a little harder lately, to find the storyline in the jumbled mess of ideas I call my brain. Two of my more recent short stories, I had actually sat down after writing a paragraph and thought about where I wanted the story to go and how I wanted it to end. One of them I got great feedback on, the other is still waiting to be read.

When you go to write a story and have really no clue how it may end or what may happen, you are basically feeling around in the dark. Turn on a flashlight. Take a pause from your writing, look at all your ideas and give them the time to fully develop into the beauties you know they can be. Who wants to go out for the night after only getting ready part way? Think of your stories as you would your outfit, makeup (for women), and hair before you go out on the most important night of your life. You want to be prepared for anything, right? Why should your stories be any different?

Next time you find that AMAZING idea, give it time, allow it to grow, to blossom into something beautiful, before you send it out to the dance with no shoes and flat hair. There’s no formula for how long you have to think on an idea, and really it’s not like you absolutely HAVE to, but try it out, wait it out a bit, and when it’s right, you’ll feel it. Your story will have its high heels buckled, its hair perfectly curled, makeup perfectly done, a gorgeous dress on, and it will be ready to dance the night away, if you’ll let it.

Please, share how you feel about developing ideas. Do you tend to get a strand of an idea and run with it, or do you take your time to allow the idea to mature? Moreover, how much time do you allow yourself to ponder an idea before you put your pen to the paper?

Yay! It’s Here

Posted: October 8, 2012 in Discussions, On Books
Tags: , ,

I hope you’re as excited as I am for this week’s book discussion. Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby came Saturday. I’m a good third of the way through the book already (yes, it’s very short, 218 pages, think RL Stein’s books length). So far it’s been a pretty easy read, though a little slow in the beginning, and there are what I’m guessing are slang terms from the late sixties that I’m not entirely sure if I know what they mean (like a piece of furniture called a “secretary” which I’m guessing is like a wardrobe, but I really have no clue). However, the story line is intriguing.

For those of you who don’t know the story, or who may need a little push to pick it up and start reading it, here’s what I know about it:

Rosemary and her husband Guy have been on a waiting list to get an apartment in the Bramford building since they’d gotten married. When finally an apartment opens up, they go for it, despite having a larger apartment already lined up. Guy is an actor with some notoriety, having done TV and radio commercials and mostly on stage work, but is hoping to get his big break and get into movies as well. Rosemary was raised in a religious family, and had gone to a Catholic school as a child, however she no longer views religion as her family had. More than anything, Rosemary wants children, and she want to have them soon. Shortly after moving in to the apartment, Rosemary makes friends with a young woman named Terry. Terry is a recovering drug addict who was taken in by Rosemary and Guy’s neighbors, the Castevets. The night after the women meet, Rosemary and Guy return home after a night out to find Terry had leapt to her death. The suicide shocks Rosemary, especially since when she spoke with Terry last she seemed optimistic about her future. Through Terry’s death, the young couple and the Castevets become friends. The occasional odd occurrence, and the Castevet’s behavior point to there being something strange going on, and Rosemary can sense it, though she often seems to look the other way.

I know quite a bit more about the story, actually, but I’d rather not ruin it for someone who wants to read it. The point I’m at in the book, right now, is just as it’s beginning to get interesting, like wildly interesting and kind of crazy. There’s devil worship, and weird old people, and so much more, coming up.

If you haven’t read this book, you’ve got till friday to do so and join this week’s book discussion. I’ll try my hardest to not let that discussion run as long as last weeks. I didn’t even realize there was so much there until I was done.

Any way, keep reading and writing. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Rosemary’s Baby.

When writing a story, whether it’s a short one or a novel, it’s easy to get caught up in the story line and the numerous details and forget to wrap something together nicely and put a bow on it. As authors, we must tie loose ends. Not doing so, can ruin a story, in most cases. (Of course there are exceptions.)

But how do we go about doing so?

I have two quite obvious, but nonetheless important, tips for you: rereading, and sharing your work with others. While rereading is the most obvious, it’s often the least successful. Why is this? For me, it’s because when I reread, I know the story already, it’s fresh in my mind (remember my post about putting your work away for some time?) and I find I’m able to gloss over any issues, including loose ends. This is why I find it EXTREMELY important to allow someone else to read your work. I know I have posted about this at least once before, but I cannot stress to you how important it is.

For example, I recently finished writing The Sick Man, the ghost story I’d posted about some time back. I broke my editing ritual this once, and was quite happy and surprised with the results, and got insightful feedback. Instead of writing my second draft before sharing, I handed over my first draft, spell checked, to my Mom.

As I’ve mentioned before, I know that I can trust my mother to be objective and honest about my work, simply because I know that she would not want me to send out a story that isn’t the absolute best I can do. She pushes me to make my stories better, and that’s why I can trust her opinion.

I’d asked her if she read the story yet last night, and she said she had it right then and was about to. I asked her to let me know what she thought when she finished it, but to take her time, no big hurry. I wanted to make sure that she gave it all her attention.

This was the text she sent me about her thoughts on my story: “That story is totally fricken awesome! I only have ONE question. You didn’t answer it in your story. Why was the house cold? Was the heater out? If it was the poltergeist, you need to make the couple a bit leery about why it was cold…like everything was checked out by the heater guy, but was fine. Or tapping the thermostat to give the impression that something was funky. You know? Beautiful story tho! I loved it!!”  (Word for word, that is exactly what she wrote in her message.)

Then I asked her if there were many grammar mistakes that she caught, to which she replied: “No. It flowed very well.”   (Yay! =])

Now, you could imagine my surprise that I would get such a reaction from a first draft. A FIRST DRAFT?! Yea. You guys might think that maybe my Mom glossed it over a bit, or made it sound better than she really thought it was, but, because you don’t know her, I have to tell you all that she understands that to do so would be to sabotage my writing.

My point being that you have to find your own person (like my Mom) in your life to objectively read and give opinions on your work so that you can tie up those loose ends, like the cold house in my story. If it wasn’t for her reading the story and pointing it out to me, I probably would never have thought about it because as I was writing it, it seemed to explain itself to me. I know now that I should detail a little more on why the house was cold, since it raised a question with my reader that was unanswered.

Tying up loose ends ensures that the story doesn’t leave the reader feeling disappointed or unfulfilled after reading. Think about the last story you read that left something hanging (figuratively of course). How did you feel after reading it? What would you have done differently to achieve the effect that we all want as authors, for the reader to enjoy the story? Doing this, analyzing how loose ends effect a story can not only help you to see the importance in making sure no stone is left unturned but can also help you to notice the holes in your own work.

How about that D-list character you introduced in the third chapter of your novel? Where is he now? What is he doing in the end? How was/is he important to the story? How can you resolve the character within the story without seeming tedious or straying from the storyline? Remember all your characters, situations, and all points raised. Hell, write them down on note cards (that’s what I do when I’m working on a novel), that way they’re easy to access and a great reminder for anything you may have forgotten to address.

Tell me, do you have someone who helps with your editing process, someone who helps you tie up those loose ends?

As promised, and on time this week, here’s the discussion for Stephen King’s Survivor Type.

Now, this story is a bit more complex than last week’s, so I’m hoping this doesn’t turn into a record length post and take half my day to do.

SPOILER ALERT: I cover the entire story in the overview and discussion, so if you would like to read this story for yourself, do so first, then read my discussion on it.

One more thing, this story is not acceptable for young readers. It has gruesome details and adult situations and subject matter. Please use discretion while reading or for sharing/re-posting.

Overview:

Richard Pine (or Pinzetti, before he changed his name) begins telling his story on January 26th, by saying that he’s been on the island for two days already. He mentions that he has no shortage of matches or heroin, and neither are of any value on the island. Richard then goes into a spiel about his life. He tells us that he grew up in New York’s Little Italy. His life-long is to become a surgeon, something his father doesn’t agree with, and Richard begins playing football to get an athletic scholarship to get him into college until he could get his grades high enough to get a full academic scholarship. After completing college, Richard begins his residency. That is when he gets into illegally selling drugs. It begins simple enough, with Richard selling blank prescription pads as well as copies of actual doctors’ signatures for forgery reference. He mentions that the hospital drug room was poorly monitored, before ending the passage for the day. Richard takes inventory on what he has. Four gallons of water, a sewing kit, a first aid kit, the life boat inspection book he’s writing in, two knives, a spork, matches, and of course $350,000 worth of heroin. He has no food and is becoming increasingly hungry. The next day, Richard spies a sea-gull and throws a stone at it, wounding it, before he rushes over and breaks its neck. In the process, he manages to twist his ankle. He eats the bird raw out of desperation, and refuses to allow his stomach to vomit the only food he’s had for days. Richard then gets back into his back story, and explains how he built his practice on his own, and then began performing operations that weren’t exactly necessary. He tells us that he never did a surgery against a patient’s will, and never once had he had a patient who looked at their prescription and said “I don’t want this.” Then what Richard refers to as “the tax people” got to an associate of his named Lowenthal. The “tax people” threatened Lowenthal with five years and he gave up a dozen names, including Richard Pine. He was then watched, and confronted, at which point Richard threw a few people to the wolves, as he put it. He remarks that it was no one who didn’t deserve it, and mentions his hunger again. Starving, he kills another sea-gull on the island and eats it. He then begins hearing voices, including the man he bought the heroin from, telling him to “take a thnort” (as the man had a lisp). Richard seems to consider this, but then remarks that he’s never done drugs before, not even sleeping pills. He returns to the story of how he ended up on the island by telling us he wanted his surgeon’s license back, and some people he’d talked to said it could be done for a price. Richard had $40,000 in a safe deposit box, and decides to try to double it. He goes to an old friend from his old neighborhood named Ronnie, a loan shark, who sends Richard to Henry Li-Tsu and Solom Ngo. Henry is a drug dealer known to sometimes give people fake drugs, and Solom is a chemist who will test the product for a fee. The next day, on the island, Richard remarks that he has seen an airplane. He ran after it, trying to flag it down, and twisted his ankle in the same hole as last time. Only this time, he fractures his ankle. Richard lost his balance and hit his head, knocking him unconscious. He wakes shortly after dark and finds that he has hurt his ankle, scraped his head, probably had a concussion, and is extremely sun burnt from laying in the sun. The pain in his ankle is excruciating. The next day, he makes a “HELP” sign on the beach out of rocks. He notes that his ankle is extremely swollen and increasingly discolored. It is at this point that Richard mentions that he may have to amputate his foot. The next day he tells us that his ankle seems to only have gotten worse, and details a little of how he plans to amputate, should it become necessary. He has knives, matches for sterilizing, needles and thread for closing the wound, his shirt for a bandage, as well as the heroin for pain medication, and his own surgical skills. On Feb 4th, Richard decides he must amputate his foot. He has had no food for four days and believes that if he doesn’t act soon, he may faint mid-operation and bleed out any way. It is on this note that he tells us that he will finish his story, incase the surgery goes awry. Richard had flown to Saigon as a tourist where he met up with Henry and procured the product which he then took to Solom who tested it and found that it was high-grade. For three weeks, Richard stayed in Saigon, then booked a ride back to San Francisco on a cruise ship called the Callas. Solom had made a deal with customs agents on Richard’s behalf in order to smuggle the drugs on board. From there, the plan was to put the drugs into a waterproof container with a red dye packet attached to a timer, which would be tossed over by someone Richard was looking to pay for the job, shortly before docking. While Richard was trying to find the person for the job when the Callas sunk. During a storm, an explosion began the unfortunate events, rocking the boat from side to side. Chaos broke out, and people began running everywhere. Richard went to his room, got the bags of heroin, and went to a lifeboat. After getting it into the water, he rows, knowing that the suction from the sinking Callas could pull his lifeboat under. He fights the waves, and is eventually lost in the dark of night and the storm. The storm dumped him on the rock covered island with no vegetation. He tells us that this may be his last entry, but he believes that if he survives it, with the help of prosthetics, he could be good as new. The next day, Richard writes that he did the operation. He explains how he used heroin as a painkiller, and half way through he wanted more, but held off for fear of fainting during the surgery, at which point he would bleed out. Richard tells us that because of his skills and use of the drugs, he was able to remove his foot. Then he reminds us that he has had nothing to eat for four days, and tells us that no one will know. He will destroy the book before he leaves the island. Richard has eaten his own foot, but he does not come right out and say it. The next entry tells us that he has pain in his stump, and an extreme itch that is nearly unbearable. Richard fantasizes about ripping his bandages off and digging his fingers into his stump to quell the itch caused by the healing process. He has been “stoned” since doing the amputation and mentions that the heroin staves off his hunger somewhat. Another plane had flown by, but Richard was unable to signal it. He daydreams about food, making himself more hungry. After trying to kill another gull, and it escaping he is left deflated and low on energy. Richard continues to consume the heroin, and notes that when he gets home, he will gladly go to rehab. The next day, he amputates his other foot, due to the lack of food. He tells us that he was drooling throughout the operation, just as he had been while he stalked the sea-gull. Richard eats his foot by telling himself that it is “cold roast beef”. Having broken his watch while chasing the last sea-gull, he begins to lose track of time. It begins raining, and he creates a small shelter out of rocks. He stays inside his shelter, eating the one spider he’s found, and snorting heroin. After two or three days the rain stops and Richard crawls around the island and finds boards from his lifeboat have washed up on shore, along with some seaweed he eats. With luck, he finds a crab and eats it after cooking it over a fire. His “HELP” sign had washed away in the rain, and he spends a day fixing it. A few days later, Richard takes off his right leg at the knee, then cooks it over a fire, dreaming about roasted pork. After a few more days, he removes his left leg from the knee down. He wishes he had stayed in the old neighborhood where he grew up, and tells himself that with prosthetics and therapy, he could be as good as new. Later he finds a dead, rotten, stinky fish and eats it. He reminds himself that he “will survive”. By this time he has lost complete track of his days, and only knows that it is February. Richard contemplates how he will be able to tie off his femoral artery so high up on his thigh. He has already marked where he will cut his leg with his pencil, and cannot stop drooling. One passage is entirely Richard’s ramblings about a Big Mac from Mc Donalds. Later, he tells us that he has looked at the reflection of his face in the water and saw nothing but a skin-covered skull. He contemplates his sanity and writes that he is a freak with nothing left below his groin. Richard tells us that if we are what we eat, he hasn’t changed a bit. After having a nightmare about his father, Richard tells us that there is nothing left of him to cut off. He has already taken off his ear lobes. Richard finishes his journal entries by rambling about his hands, and telling us that they taste like “lady fingers”.

It’s reasonable to assume that Richard had been stranded on the island for over a month. In that time, he reminds the readers that a patient can withstand trauma simply through their will to survive. Richard, apparently has that will. It seems to me that he does things most people wouldn’t ever consider, simply to survive. He is overcome with his desire to survive, to the point where his sanity is absolutely questionable.

Throughout the story, he shows little remorse for what he’s done so far as selling drugs. His only regret seems to be that he has landed on the deserted island as a result. He writes openly and honestly about selling drugs, and I believe this is simply because there is a chance he may not live. The question as to why he got into the illicit business is quite simply put: money. If he never began selling drugs in the first place, it would be reasonable to assume that he would have never end up stranded on the island. For this reason, I find his lack of regret hard to understand.

The first thing Richard eats while on the island is a sea-gull. The last thing we know Richard eats while on the island is his own hand. This shows us the vast change in his circumstances while stranded. Under similar circumstances, how many people would be able to do the same? It takes serious cojones to consume one’s self when faced with starvation, yet, can you say that you would not do something drastic for a chance at survival? I wonder what others would do in the same position.

Richard mentions his poor relationship with his father, and how it impacted his life. It seems he pushed himself harder when his father scoffed him. When Richard mentions his father’s death, it is with no remorse, sadness, or grief. Yet in the end of the story, it seems his father is the only other person he can think about. Richard writes about his father similar to how an angry teenager might. Had his father not died, would they have been able to mend their relationship? I think not. It seems to me that Richard is a self-righteous sort of man, and beyond anything else, he is stubborn. It is this stubbornness that drives him to survive, and I think it stems from his poor relationship with his father. It’s likely that were it not for Richard’s father, the stranded man may not have had the will to survive so long as he did.

In the end, we don’t know that Richard dies on the island, yet it’s reasonable to assume such. We are left feeling shocked and appalled by what this man did to himself in the name of survival, though we feel that he is a stronger man than most simply because of this. At this point in the story, we assume that Richard is so far gone, mentally, and literally that he could not lead a normal life even if he was to be rescued and brought home. He would be crippled and disfigured for the rest of his life, as well as being unable to operate as a surgeon because his hand is gone. But before Richard reaches this point, he tells himself that he could return to his life as it had been, and continue his practice as a surgeon, though he would need the help of prosthetics and therapy. Is he reaching a bit though? It seems to me that between his drug use, the amputations, and his mental state it is unlikely that his life would be what he expects. Is it possible, that perhaps dying on the island is the best thing for Richard?

It’s strange, to me, that Richard pushes himself so much to live. When you think about it, he has nothing to go back to besides the slight possibility that he could get his surgical license back. At this point in his life, Richard’s parents are both dead, he has no siblings, he has no wife or girlfriend, and no children. Besides all that, he had lost his practice and had to save his own skin when it was discovered that he was peddling drugs. So why does he go through all the agony to live? This story, at its most base point is about the human will to survive. It’s about how far one man will go to return to, quite frankly, nothing back at home.

Cannibalism is a taboo subject as it is. Stephen King takes it a step farther by making the subject of cannibalism the main character, and having that main character eat himself. There are real cases of people eating human beings in order to survive, yet none are as appalling as this fictional story about a man who consumes himself when faced with starvation and death. Superstition and abhorrence surround the subject of cannibalism, making it something that is widely unacceptable in most places of the world. Yet, it still happens, in extreme circumstances and even in some tribes that remain largely unchanged by the outside world. I watched an interview with Stephen King once, where he mentioned that this is one of his least popular stories, and I believe he said that he was unable to publish it outside of the collection of short stories it calls home. Is this because of the cannibalism? I think so. As a society, we have come to the decision that it is wrong. Yet I am working on a novel titled “The Hunger” in which after unknowingly consuming human flesh, a man is consumed by the desire to eat more. He slowly changes, becoming a monster in more than one sense of the word. I have yet to figure the ending, and am only in the beginning stages of writing it. So I wonder, will my novel be unpopular due to the cannibalism? However, there is a form of cannibalism that is accepted by the public, it is that of the fictional creature, the zombie. How is that much different from a healthy human being eating another? It is simply because the zombie is known to be a monster, and we can see that it is, whereas the man who secretly eats people in the comfort of his own home is a monster we cannot see, he is the more terrifying of the two. I think this is why fictional stories of cannibalism are unpopular. I will, however, finish my novel (some day) and I’ll let you guys know if it’s hard to sell or not, though I can only assume it will be.

Please share your thoughts on this week’s book discussion. Did you like the story? How did you feel about Richard as a character? Do you think what he did to survive was acceptable? What would you have done differently in the same position?

I hope you all enjoyed this post. I apologize for any mistakes because this post was so long, I really don’t have the time to go back through and reread the whole thing to make sure it sounds alright. If you have any suggestions for next week’s discussion, please comment and share it with me. As of yet, I have no ideas, but if the book I ordered, titled Rosemary’s Baby, by author Ira Levin, comes in the mail soon, I’ll try to get it read so that I can discuss it with you faithful readers of mine, though I’m not sure how long it is, or when exactly it should get here.

Open To Suggestions

Posted: September 29, 2012 in Author Updates, Discussions, On Books
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A reader of my blog mentioned that maybe it would be nice if my readers could suggest stories or books for my weekly discussion. I am very happy to take any suggestion, but as I’d mentioned to the reader, I can’t always get the books or stories. So if you mention something you’d like discussed, please allow me a couple of weeks to procure the literature and read it so we can discuss it.

Also, I’d like to apologize for not keeping up on my blogging lately. I’ve had this terrible cold, and I’ve been extremely lazy because of it. I do plan to get back into the swing of things as of Monday, since generally I post every day Monday through Friday. I look forward to more engaging conversations and discussions with my beloved readers.