Monday, August 29, 2011

More Book Stuff, The Abyss

Hello everyone.

First things first: Here's an amazing book report of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, written by a high school student a few days after 9/11. Click on the link and read it, now. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Now that you're back, let's get to it:

Rob Happenings

The past several days have been all about spending time with friends. We had a couple of friends from Oregon visit and stay the night with us a week ago. Then we reconnected with some old friends who live up here in Idaho last weekend. Then a couple of other Oregon friends stopped by last night. So the past week or so has been tons of fun and a great way to break up some of the monotonous solitude that's typical with rural living. Plus it was just great to see everyone.

The two friends who were here last night were among the ones I'd sent copies of the first 50 51 pages of my book to.  It turned out one friend only read the first few pages (which means she's either really busy or my book is really awful), but the other managed to make it through all 50 51 pages. After some beer, a little prodding on my part, and a lot of "please don't take this the wrong way" prefacing on his part, he gave me some solid criticism. Here's what I took from the conversation:

1. My writing often reads like college composition, not fiction. This is definitely true. After all, I was a college student for five years until quite recently, and that's where I honed my writing chops, so to speak. I also tutored students in college writing composition for three and a half years, so I'm finding it tough to break the habit. But that's stuff that can be fixed when I go back and edit. On the other hand:

2. My main character (a Christ-like character) is alternately brilliant and stupid, and I need to pick one. Either he knows everything or he doesn't. If he knows everything, he doesn't grow or change throughout the book, so what's the point?  If he's an idiot, he's just not believable.  I tried to get around this with a cheap plot device, but I just don't think it's working. Which means I'm going to have to reconsider my main character and his motivation. That's a much tougher one to get around.

3. There are a couple scenes and secondary characters that I might need to eliminate. I envisioned them coming back later near the end of the book to tie things together, but I'm not so sure now. I'll have to think about this one.

I don't enjoy criticism (not that I know anyone who does), so it stung at first, but I needed to hear it, and I'm glad I did. This particular friend is one of the most intelligent people I know, and he's not one to blow smoke, particularly about something like this.

All this is a reminder to me that writing is hard work, and I shouldn't expect to be a pro at it right from the get-go. For a brief moment earlier today, I considered scrapping the book and doing something else. But it's too late for that, so I'll just have to fix it. What would Kurt Vonnegut do?

Beer Happenings

As mentioned above, beer was consumed last night, including a special treat, a 2007 vintage The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery out of beautiful Bend, Oregon. Like a dumbass, I forgot to take photos of the beer as we sipped it, so here's a shot I took today of the empty bottle:

The Abyss is an imperial stout brewed with licorice and molasses, with 33% aged in oak and oak bourbon barrels.  I usually hate licorice, but I love beer, and this one has got to be near the top of my list of all-time favorites, if not right up there at the top.  My cousin bought me a case back when it first came out in early 2008.  When we were kids he must have done something horrible to me that I've since blocked from my memory, and now he's trying to atone.  No one could be that cool just because.  This bottle is number eleven out of the case of twelve, and if you're not a math pro, that means I'm down to one bottle of 2007 left.  I might not ever drink it.

I've been keeping my Abyss stash aging in dark, cool closets or basements of various placed we've lived over the last almost-four years, and like a fine wine (except better because it's beer) The Abyss only gets better with age.  Last night, I scraped away the wax coating Deschutes puts over the cap to ensure the seal and opened the bottle.  After it breathed for a minute or so, the initial alcohol burn (it's 11%!) evaporated away, and in its place was thick, chocolatey, coffee-ish, sweet-but-not-too-sweet goodness.  I couldn't really taste the oak or licorice flavors in this one as I had in some of the ones I'd tried that hadn't aged as long, but I didn't miss those flavors at all.  It was perfect.  It was like an orgasm in my mouth.  Except my own orgasm.  In someone else's mouth. 

Anyway, if you love beer, particularly big, dark beers, you owe it to yourself to try The Abyss if you can get your hands on it.

In Closing

Here it is, your moment of Tucker, taken last March at the Oregon Coast:


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Anonymous notexactlyhuman said...

A new post from Fred today, what might be of some interest to you.

6:45 PM, August 29, 2011  
Blogger Rob said...

Thanks "not".

7:25 PM, August 29, 2011  
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