Tuesday, September 14, 2010
When a moth-eaten pro tries to get back in the game
It used to be held among big writers gone to seed, that a professional was at least safe among amateurs.
This may have been true in the old days of typewriters-- or among any number of fuzzy-eared incompetents in a creative writing class--but not today.
An idiot on a computer can make a football schedule sound interesting and relevant. Such is the nature of technnology...Just give the god out of the machine an idea, and it'll practically write it for you. We're getting close to Hallmark cards in the creating of fiction. Just give Hallmark the idea. Mark will finish the job.
So the old typewriter pro is no longer safe among amateurs. For them there is automatic thesaurus, spellcheck and Google-goosed ways to go.
So even a raving paranoid can be electronically augmented to actually saying something.
How many bloggers out there now? A billion?....Easy.
And its strange that in this electronic age, where McLuhan said Big Brother moves to the top--everybody still wants to be a novelist.
Well, nice work if you can get it.
Cyberspace, like a Boeing 727, can do anything for you but write your novel.
Keyboard or typewriter. As a novelist you are back to Square One.
Snoopy atop his doghouse.
It was a dark and stormy night.
Strafe marks along the roof and lawn. Curse you, Red Baron!
So when a professional ventures out to join a group of amateurs, or maybe a critique group where all hope to gain sustenance from each other--the unfortunate metaphor of a can of worms comes up--he is just another worm in the jar...and if you don't like what we're doing, get the funk out.
Forty years have passed since I worked for the magazine to which I now write as a supplicant. I used to be a sizeable fish here in the boonies in those days.
Now it's Square One.
Geez, I'm not a journalist any more, but would you take a used novel from this man?....I mean you did in the past. You even serialized my Black Icon novel, even if you left out a chapter or two to save money.
Anyway, here goes. I will thump my tub.
I endeavor, like any ambitious type looking for exposure, to write a news story about myself.
Newmarket's prolific writer, pamphleteer and former teacher Ivan Prokopchuk has written a novel about Bradford, but watch ou! It's pretty Damon-Runyon. Guys and dolls--and some of the dolls have problems.
The Fire in Bradford is a novel along the lines of the antique movie The Professor and the Blue Angel. The professor meets his Marlene Dietrich, and to a straitlaced Prof recently divorced and lonely, this signals trouble right from the word go. Lana is glamorous. Among her other pursuits, she has a job jumping out of cakes at conventions. He is newly divorced and looking for love and identity. It is not a cake walk.
The two personalities clash, there is fire. There is Fire in Bradford, which in the Eighties, was a pretty wild place in some sections, as the call sign then was sex, drugs and rock and roll.
It is into this world that the poor professor is thrust into.
He falls in love with the vivacious, gorgeous Lana, he the mousy Professor Rath and she the racy Blue Angel.
This was not the familiar College, Professor!
This was a world of players, pimps and police and it seems any number could play. Except him.
He was not a weekend man, but a weakened man after separation from his wife. What he wanted was love, understanding, a new start, perhaps a new identity.
He would surely not find it in The old Village Inn environs.
So he is beaten from the start, caught in a menage-a-trois between Lana, her husband-- and even Lana's extra lover.
He soon discovers that five into four won't go.
After years of success and couthness at the college, he is something of a prude, and he just can't keep up with the fast style of Bradford Yuppies at the time.
He is finally dumped by Lana for an apparent drug dealer whom Lana needs to maintain her own supply.
She was not in love with the professor in spite of her love notes and entreaties to him as her possible way out. She was in love with the drug.
And so begins the professor's downfall as he descends into alcoholism and obsession over the lost Lana. "Only you," he cries into his beer at the Bonanza Tavern, while Lana marries the fourth man in what had really been a rectangle, not triangle-- and herself descends into a West End drug existence in Toronto.
But there is something of the Don Quixote to the professor.
He attemps a rescue of Lana, who, of course does not want to be rescued. He botches the attempt and is ever further rebuked and rejected.
Says one reviewer about The Fire in Bradford, "the fire is largely in his pants, Lana is unattainable --and for him and his obsession, there is no exit."
He squanders all his savings, finally travels the world, trying to find in motion what he has lost in space--the unnaturally beautiful but wild Lana--and ends up as a Main Street alcoholic in Newmarket. No exit.
He finally sits near a dumpter at the 404 Plaza where there is at least stale-dated food-- and writes his novel.
Well, what the hell it worked once for me at the Globe and Mail.
Here is hoping for luck at the Strobe and Snail.