Sep 30, 2008

Ask Rooked

Dear Rooked,
I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for the past few weeks. I love your “voice” and the way you put things. I was wondering if you might have any advice for a young writer trying to develop her own Narrative Voice.
Check out my webpage @ (DELETED)

Anxiously awaiting your Wisdom,


Well, it has long been my experience that the Narrative Voice is, more often than not, the voice that runs non-stop in your head and tells the story of your own life even as you live it. Most people will call this your “Inner Monologue,” but most of those people are wrong. After all, we all essentially live out the story of our lives as if they each possess the classic, grand scope and great sweep of the True American Novel; and we are all our own protagonist. Anybody who confides in you that they think their life would make a great book is almost certainly going to be a dull and tedious drain on your life and you should kick them in the stomach and move away as quickly as possible; and, whenever convenient, try to put a cigarette out on their neck as you leave.
So the idea is to listen to the voice in your head when it tells you what is transpiring. If it sounds insipid and dull, well…I suppose that leads to bigger problems than your Narrative Voice. The Voice is never wrong and it has a strong proclivity to Tell It Like It Is, so to speak. It says many things we don’t want to hear and so we tend to tune it out most of the time. That’s what creates bad writers.
But far be it from me to cast aspersions on anyone’s creative endeavors. Besides, you come from Buffalo and that seems strange to a calm and quiet country gentleman like myself. Things are different here in the South, especially at the very end of Summer; the tension can get very thick any place where men sweat twenty-four hours a day. We walk a dark and bloody earth here and it’s filled with the vague recollections of things long past and mysterious; a gothic landscape peopled with ghosts that can still seem to call your name on those long and lonely nights when the wind is still and the cicadas sing their somber songs in the ditches. Yes. You should head down here sometime and get a Real Taste of what it’s like. We’re not as backward as most people think and we are still very stringent about out-dated concepts such as etiquette, chivalry and the best Whiskey money can buy. There are very good reasons that some traditions die hard. The food is always good and the songs are always about heart-ache.
Well…I really didn’t mean to write a novel here, but I tend to drift once I get started. After I received your message and perused your pictures I developed a keen and overweening desire to examine what might be in your head as well. So I’ll let the above invitation stand. Things get weird sometimes below the Mason/Dixon Line but we always know just when to pull back from The Brink, as it were. And if you ever get the wild urge to head down our way, well…I know a few out of the way places where I’m sure we could find all the late-night, road-side privacy we’ll need to get to the bottom of your Narrative Voice and settle whatever other hash may lie between the North and the South. Sure. We live with a lot of proverbs down here but I’ve never been all that anxious to take at face value that bastard Keats’s admonition that Truth is Beauty and vice versa. I like to decide these things for myself. And, I suppose, it never hurts to have a partner along for the ride. But I’m sure that you’ll see what I mean, once we get off the Road and into the trees.
So I’ll end this bent séance and let you get back to whatever happens in places like Buffalo. But be careful, especially when you post pictures like yours. The world is fraught with peril. Trust me, I know people.


Freakcreep said...

Tell her she should just be a stripper.

C.S. Perry said...

Well, I’m not morally opposed to stripping, such as it is. But I might confess that there may yet be, no matter how unlikely it may seem, some stripper out there who might actually have something to say.
And I don’t just mean about the strange experiences one might have while disrobing for cold, hard cash. Perhaps some stripper might possess some vital insight into human nature that they could share with the rest of us and maybe shed some light on what it means to stalk our lusts in the darkened halls where naked women parade around twenty-four hours a day without shame or remorse.
But then, I guess, it would all tie in to stripping, eh?
Still…it might be worth reading. Especially if the would-be authoress were particularly good at it. Writing I mean, not stripping. But perhaps the story might be more engaging if she were good at both vocations. But that’s hard to visualize.
Still…you never know.
What the hell? Maybe I’ll write it myself.
Sure, why not? I think I’ll call it “G-Stringer.”

Purest Green said...

Damn fine post. Bent séance. I want one.

Coquette said...

Why does it have to be The Great American Novel that we're all the protagonists of? Why not The Great Pan-European Novel? Or the Great Post-Postmodernest Novel?

C.S. Perry said...

If you really want to enjoy a Bent Séance, get yourself a Ouija Board and dip it in water. Then bend it and allow it to dry in that position so that it warps accordingly.
And Bango! There you have it…a Bent Séance.

Well, after all, we all like Burroughs and Kerouac (but not all the “Beat” writers) and I’ve always had a weakness for Vonnegut. But I’ve never developed the kind patience I need to really enjoy the “Meta-Narrative.” So any pleasure I can find in Post Modern novels is limited. But that genre (for want of a better term) has always been rather difficult to define. The breadth of its inclusion is wide and many different works fall under its umbrella.
And, while I’m not a classic xenophobe, the “Pan-European” novel isn’t something that piques my curiosity overmuch. But I really think that it’s the very compartmentalization of works and the labels that get attached to them that bothers me.
I like books…and, if a book is good, I like it. But some books defy these parameters. I love “Lolita” and even though it’s arguably Nabokov’s master-work, I still consider it an American novel. Largely because he wrote it (beautifully and lyrically) in English and because it deals with a completely American experience. (Even though it’s told through the eyes of an “Old-World narrator.)
But I have a penchant for deeply American work and perhaps this prejudice just came through. America gets a bad rap at times. It can be just as fascinating and mysterious a place as any more exotic location; but you have to have the sight to see what it makes so. I enjoy writers who can take the most mundane of circumstances and make you want to read about them. And if that’s not American, I don’t know what is.

Coquette said...

Okay, you've made the case for the voice in YOUR head to be The Great American Novel. But the voice in Ms. Buffalo's head could easily be something else. (Harlequin Romance?)

But I DO like the idea that the voice you hear in your head is your narrative voice. It's certainly true for me. And the more you listen to it, the louder and bolder it becomes...

C.S. Perry said...

Careful...if the voice in your head told you to jump off a cliff...well, I guess there are cliffs and then there are Cliffs.