Showing posts with label E.L. Doctorow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label E.L. Doctorow. Show all posts

09 June 2009

chapter ones

Writing has been focused on the first chapter most recently. And although I would love to report that it is going "smashingly," it has been a decidedly un-graceful process. Chapters 2-5 evolved the storyline so that the first chapter no longer included any of the right markers—the Wildish boys lived on the east side of Bellevue, then the west, then Factoria area; a pregnancy was in, out, then in; Pops was drunk, then...nope, still drunk. Not to mention the original premise of the boys' complicated genealogy.

Solution: return to the muse, sans super-massive black hole.

Chapter Ones.

Billy Bathgate (E.L. Doctorow)

He had to have planned it because when we drove on the dock the boat was there and the engine was running and you could see the water churning up phosphorescence in the river, which was the only light there was because there was no moon, nor electric light either in the shack where the dockmaster should have been sitting, nor on the boat itself, and certainly not from the car, yet everyone knew where everything was, and when the big Packard came down the ramp Mickey the driver braked it so that the wheels hardly rattled the boards, and when he pulled up alongside the gangway the doors were already open and they hustled Bo and the girl upside before they even made a shadow in all that darkness. And there was no resistance, I saw a movement of black bulk, that was all, and all I heard was maybe the sound someone makes who is frightened and has a hand not his own over his mouth, the doors slammed and the car was humming and gone and the boat was already opening up water between itself and the slip before a thin minute had passed. Nobody said not to so I jumped aboard and stood at the rail, frightened as you might expect, but a capable boy, he had said that himself, a a capable boy capable of learning, and I see now capable of adoring worshiping that rudeness of power of which he was a greater student than anybody, oh and that menace of him where it might all be over for anyone in his sight from one instant to the next, that was what it all turned on, it was why I was there, it was why I was thrilled to be judged so by him as a capable boy, the danger he was really a maniac.

Keys of the Kingdom (A.J. Cronin)

Late one afternoon in September 1938 old Father Francis Chisholm limped up the steep path from the church of St. Columba to his house upon the hill. He preferred this way, despite his infirmities, to the less arduous ascent of Mercat Wynd; and, having reached the narrow door of his walled-in-garden, he paused with a kind of naive triumph—recovering his breath, contemplating the view he had always loved.

Behold the Many (Louise Ann Yamanaka)

The valley is a woman lying on her back, legs spread wide, her geography wet by a constant rain. Waterfalls wash the days and nights of winter storms into the river that empties into the froth of the sea.

Another Roadside Attraction (Tom Robbins)

The magician's underwear has just been found in a cardboard suitcase floating in a stagnant pond on the outskirts of Miami. However significant that discovery may been—and there is the possibility that it could alter the destiny of each and every one of us—it is not the incident with which to begin this report.

The Wapshot Chronicle (John Cheever)

St. Botolphs was an old place, an old river town. It had been an inland port in the great days of the Massachusetts sailing fleets and now it was left with a factory that manufactured table silver and a few other small industries. The natives did not consider that it had diminished much in size or importance, but the long roster of the Civil War dead, bolted to the cannon on the green, was a reminder of how populous the village had been in the 1860s. St. Botolphs would never muster as many soldiers again. The green was shaded by a few great elms and loosely enclosed by a square of store fronts. The Cartwright Block, which made the western wall of the square, had along the front of its second story of row of lancet windows, as delicate and reproachful as the windows of a church. Behind these windows were the offices of the Eastern Star, Dr. Bulstrode the dentist, the telephone company and the insurance agent. The smells of these office—the smell of dental preparations, floor oil, spittoons and coal gas—mingled in the downstairs hallway like an aroma of the past. In a drilling autumn rain, in a world of much change, the green at St. Botolphs conveyed an impression of unusual permanence. On Independence Day in the morning, when the parade had begun to form, the place looked prosperous and festive.

You Can't Go Home Again (Thomas Wolfe)

It was an hour of twilight on a soft spring day toward the end of April in the year of Our Lord 1929, and George Webber leaned his elbows on the sill of his back window and looked out at what he could see of New York. His eye took in the towering mass of the new hospital at the end of the block, its upper floors set back in terraces, the soaring walls salmon colored in the evening light. This side of the hospital, and directly opposite, was the lower structure of the annex, where the nurses and the waitresses lived. In the rest of the block half a dozen old brick houses, squeezed together in a solid row, leaned wearily against each other and showed their backsides to him.

It's like returning to safe harbors. My heroes always restore my faith in the process.

The Wildish Boys (working title)

Church was not over, and we were walking home early. Ma had herded all of us boys out before Father Andrew began Confiteor after Sawyer called Lenny "stupid as Esau." Lenny said at least he had a birthright, and Sawyer punched him in the eye. Right there in the third row of pews.

"Onward," says every rejection letter I've ever received from Howard Junker, editor of Zyzzyva.


15 February 2008

More Juggling

"I was juggling my own self as well in a kind of matching spiritual feat, performer and performed for, and so, entranced, had no mind for the rest of the world as for instance the LaSalle coupe that came around the corner of 177th Street and Park Avenue and immediately pulled up to the curb in front of a hydrant and sat there with its motor running, nor of the Buick Roadmaster with three men that came next around the corner and drove past the warehouse doors and pulled up at the corner of 178th Street nor finally of the big Packard that came around the corner and rolled to a stop directly in front of the warehouse to block my view, if I had been looking, all the boys slowly standing now and brushing the backs of their pants, while a man got out from the front right-hand door and then opened, from the outside, the right rear door, through which emerged in a white linen double-breasted suit somewhat wilted, with the jacket misbuttoned, and a tie pulled down from his shirt collar and a big handkerchief in his hand mopping his face, once a boy known to the neighborhood as Arthur Flegenheimer, the man known to the world as Dutch Schultz."

- Billy Bathgate, E.L. Doctorow

It's my favorite sentence.