Monthly Archives: January 2013

A Heapin’ Mass o’ Humanity

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Been walking the streets and riding the subways here in New York City, where there are people coming out of people, oodles of gobs of them, scads and scads. Everywhere you look, there’s a face. Which one is Eddy’s? Sparky’s? Beth’s? Spencer’s or Doris’ or Raymond’s? The pic was taken yesterday on the F-Train, transporting Deb and me via subway from lower Manhattan to Mid-Town, where we’re staying for the week.

Quote of the Day: “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” Elbert Hubbard

Bridges and Cigars

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Ah, the Brooklyn Bridge! Iconic, right? But watch out: A bridge in a story could mean a symbol is in play. Or not. As they say, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and, therefore, perhaps a bridge is just a bridge. Read Chapter Four of TK, and you be the judge.

Quote of the Day: “If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that’s read by persons who move their lips when they’re reading to themselves.” ~Don Marquis

Knotty Gun

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I’ve known guns all my life, having grown up in a family of deer poachers and shot-gunners. High-powered rifles helped provide lots of venison for the dinner table and, conversely, my  older brother’s friend accidentally shot him in the face with a .22 pistol. I mopped up the blood. In Trout Kill, a 45-calibre pistol appears, and throughout the story it plays an important thematic role. In fiction as in real life, guns are impossible to ignore. And here in NY City, when Deb and I visited the UN building yesterday, it was impossible to ignore the sculpture by the Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd. Dubbed The Knotted Gun, it was created after John Lennon was shot and killed in 1980. Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono, asked the Swedish artist to create a tribute to John and his vision of a more peaceful world. The sculpture was later donated to the UN by the Luxembourg government. In TK, the .45 is not so much a symbol of violence as it is of attempted reconciliation. In Chapter One, for example [Attention!: Spoiler Alert!], it’s passed from father to son as sort of an act of contrition and mercy. As far as my personal view of firearms is concerned, well, a picture is as good as a thousand words.

Quote of the Day: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

Around the Sun

My wife and I flew from Portland to Kennedy Airport in NYC yesterday, and for most of the flight we jetted along at about 550 miles per hour at 35,000 feet. From Montana to New York, I worked on my second novel, Trout Run.  Or more precisely, I worked on two troublesome paragraphs. I rewrote the first of these from Montana to North Dakota, and the second from North Dakota to New York. I kept track of our flight’s progress on the virtual map Delta Airlines provides on the back of the seat to your immediate front. Novels are supposed to be long. By my estimation, those two paragraphs lasted roughly two thousand miles. And by my further estimation, completing the entire novel will require about one hundred trips around the sun.

Quote of the Day: “Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.” Sholem Asch

How Old Are the Bones?

So, if three years ago a geologist told you a dinosaur bone was 100,000,000 years old, does that now make the bone 100,000,003 years old? I pose this question because, when I write, I’m constantly fiddling with the details and calculating their effects, such as conveying a crisp visual image while, simultaneously, keeping a brisk narrative pace. Imagery vs. Pace. I want the story to move forward at a certain speed, yet provide the details that permit you, the reader, to easily visualize the scene. For example, yesterday I fiddled with this sentence: “He’d gained her trust, then smothered her with the blue pillow while she slept.” But I had just mentioned “the blue pillow” a few sentences before, so I ended up (for now, at least) deleting that phrase: “He gained her trust, then smothered her while she slept.” This deletion exemplifies my lean, relatively minimal style. In other words, in most cases I trust the reader’s imagination to fill in the blanks with remembered details. But wait! How about, “He gained her trust, then smothered her”?

Quote of the Day: “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” William Wordsworth

Dirty Water

“Water which is too pure has no fish.” — Ts’ai Ken T’an

And, I believe, stories that are too “pure” have no life. By “pure” I mean neat and tidy, all conflicts resolved, all characters explained and, perhaps, a happily-ever-after ending. Real life is dirty, messy. TK is that way. It’s got characters you might like, and those you may dislike, just like in real life. Not all conflicts are resolved, and just because a gun may appear in one chapter doesn’t mean it has to fire in the next.

Quote of the Day:

Growing Up in a Small Town

I grew up in Sutherlin, Oregon, a town of about 1,500 in 1960, when I was ten years old. As kids, my siblings and I, the “Dage kids,” had the run of the town, and nearly everyone knew my older brother, my younger sister and me. And they knew our parents as well: Helen, my mother, who was a “housewife”; and my father, Emmit, the “logger.” One of the themes in “TK” has to do with buried secrets: How can the residents of a fictional town, Oak Creek, where Eddy and Em grew up, keep silent about horrific “secrets” like child abuse, which everyone knows about?

Quote of the Day:

“Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.”  E.L. Doctorow

Another TK Reader Weighs In

Here’s what Jaime from California says about Trout Kill:

Awesome!

Wonderful Stephen King-like character development and suspense. This complex story had me hooked early and I couldn’t put it down! Bravo Mr. Dage!

1/17/13

So far in the comments I’ve heard, suspense is a common theme. One reader used the phrase “page-turner.” Funny, when I wrote the darn story “suspense” wasn’t a big part of my thinking. I just wanted to develop a storyline in which Eddy acted on his impulses. True, he acts in quirky ways, which is another aspect of his character I’m hearing about, along with his unpredictability. One reader told me, “I sure didn’t know what was going to happen next.” And now this Stephen King comparison blows me away! Mr. King is the master of building and sustaining suspense, and I’m thrilled to even be mentioned in the same breath with him. Thanks, Jaime!

Quote for the Day: “A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote.” Mignon McLaughlin

What Readers are Saying ….

So, you readers are now weighing in with your thoughts about and reactions to Trout Kill. I’m telling everyone I know who reads the book to send me their comments about it. Thank you, Readers! I really appreciate your taking the time to give me feedback. Here’s a sampling of just two. To see more reviews, go to Amazon at this link and scroll down to “Customer Reviews.” 

Shirley G., 1/7/13 (Email Review):

“I am on page 100 on my 2nd read of TK.  It is like reading an entirely different book.  It was such an emotional tug of war the first read because I related to so much of Eddy’s life that I now realize I missed a great deal the first read.  This time I am not having to lay the book down to gather my thoughts as often and enjoying it even more than the first read.  This may be the only book I have ever read twice.  Interesting to me is that I highlighted, dog eared, and underlined so much during my first read that now I find myself going…oh yeah…now I get it.  So much more clarity this read.  What I like most about Trout Kill is that it forces me to think outside my comfort zone, deal with some personal buried shit and makes me curious about all the characters. Off to the coast where I will finish my Trout Kill read sipping a good bourbon at Jerry’s, my favorite little pub.”

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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­La Diva Loca, 1/17/13 (Amazon Customer Review)

“Page-Turner”

Spoiler alert: it isn’t about killing fish. Which would be legal. However, there are plenty of illegal activities and transgressions in this book and some mightily damaged characters. Just when things seem hopeless, they get even worse. There’s a nice glimmer of humor, though, despite some of the gruesome goings-on. One of my favorite chapters had 2 characters building a rock wall; the rhythm of the prose was beautiful. This is the first book of a trilogy, apparently, and one assumes there will be less angst in the subsequent books. But the angst drove me onward to find out what was going to happen and how these characters were going to become un-stuck. By the end of the book, the glue was just starting to dissolve, hooray! I’ll be curious to see what goes on next for the title characters, and how many more mysteries about their past will be revealed…legal or not!

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And you, too, can weigh in with your comments and opinions. Send me a message via the “Contact” Page or go to Amazon at this link.