Friday, March 31, 2017

Catskinner's Book: Chapters 21-24

The crowd runs out of the theater. Cobb leads the crowd to safety, while the Blob chases James and Alice. They duck into n Employee Only door, which leads them to an empty kitchen. Godiva's body is on the steel table. James sends Alice outside before he cuts the bonds and plastic wrap from Godiva's body. As the Blob floods the room, James hops on the table and Godiva jerks awake. As Godiva tries to staunch her bleeding and patch her body, she also tries to identify the Blob's weaknesses to kill it. Meanwhile, Catskinner coaches James as he makes a difficult jump to safety.

From their perch, James and Godiva search for things to kill the Blob. While Godiva improvises a pressure bandage, James empties the contents of a liquor cabinet into the Blob puddled below him. A metabolic poison and solvent, the alcohol disturbs the bonds of the Blob, killing it. James then rinses the remaining gray ooze down the drain in the floor. James then tells Godiva that Keith Morgan is dead. She deduces that multiple factions are after James, and it's time to make sure the right one wins.

As Janes and Godiva leave the convention, they run into Alice, Cobb, and a police officer trying to make sense of the crime scene around the convention. Godiva takes charge and blames the chaos on ergot poisoning. The police officer loses his patience, and tells the to leave. Godiva and James drive towards their hotel, until Godiva tells James to drive towards Morgan's shop, to deal with whatever powers flooding into the vacuum made by the man's death.

Inside the shop, Godiva and James find a TV attached to what remains of Morgan's body. The screen turns on, revealing Agony Delapour's face. As the power pulling the strings, she tries to command a deal, but James loses his temper. Tired of everyone assuming that he understands what is going on, he wants answers - or violence. Godiva and Agony fill him in on the machinations behind the events since Victor's death. Adam Chase is so potent a trump card that Outsiders and the humans they ride will conspire to control him. Godiva makes an offer to take over Morgan's job for Agony, a job that would offer information and a sort of protection to James. Catskinner agrees, and a deal is made...

And so Catskinner's Book ends, with a glimpse of even deeper mysteries to come and the revelation that much of the adventure, hurts, and deaths could have been avoided had James and Catskinner not been quite so paranoid and standoffish. But without the adventure and losses, James would have never learned to trust, and Catskinner would have never allowed James to make any binding agreement. Given James's near isolation at the beginning. his growth into a more well-adjusted person only comes through interacting with other people.

At beginning of the month, I said that I typically find New Wave writers to be better essayists than fiction writers. As much as I've utterly enjoyed Catskinner's Book, I am hesitant to say it is better than Misha Burnett's blog. Seriously, give it a read some time. He writes with a clarity and depth of thought that is characteristic of the New Wave when they turn to non-fiction. Much of the criticism and frame of the Pulp Revolution (including my own) comes from his writings, even though Misha Burnett claims New Wave. When he speaks on writing, I listen. Yet, unlike much of Harlan Ellison's stories, Misha's fiction is something that I would reread, not just for enjoyment, but to figure out writing technique as well. With endless podcasts and websites, a certain conventional wisdom about writing and bookselling has gelled, creating a rule set that is more formulaic than even the worst parody of pulp. Starting with the cover to Catskinner's Book, much of that common wisdom is ignored, and it works. The oldest advice on writing that I learned is to first learn the rules, and then learn when to break them. There are few writers breaking rules so thoroughly and successfully as Misha Burnett. And if the considerable brilliance of his fiction does not eclipse his writing on writing, I am happy to read both - and ask for seconds. 

1 comment:

  1. "There are few writers breaking rules so thoroughly and successfully as Misha Burnett."

    I am going to steal that quote. It's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me.

    And thanks for the plug for my blog--I don't think of my essays as being anything special, I just write what I think. But I do think that New Wave as a stylistic movement encourages introspection, sometimes, as you've pointed out, to the detriment of story.

    You were very kind to the ending of Catskinner's Book, and I appreciate that. It has, as one reviewer pointed out "more loose ends than the Flying Spaghetti Monster". For what it's worth, I think I learned from the criticism I received and made the other ones stronger. And, to be honest, only the fourth book has a real ending--The Book Of Lost Doors is one big novel in four sections, although I didn't plan it that way.

    I hope you'll check out the others. The next one, Cannibal Hearts, is probably the weakest of the four. I was so concerned with not screwing up that I took fewer risks and played it safer than the others. (For "exploding toad gun" values of safe.)

    Thank you so much for doing this--I have really enjoyed the commentary on my novel and you've shown me a few things that I had never noticed myself.