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Kurt Vonnegut - The Shapes of Stories

by mayaeilam.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Tom Gething re reading

Gething:  Thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Semicolon:  The pleasure’s all mine; thank you for having me.

Gething:  My interest is in the controversy you have stirred in the literary world.

Semicolon: I’ve done no such thing; those who don’t use me seem to be causing all the fuss.

Gething:  That’s my point. Many modern writers, in particular Cormac McCarthy in his interview with Oprah, have called for your extinction. What did you do to create such a virulent reaction?

Semicolon:  Ask Mr. McCarthy; to my knowledge I did nothing.

Gething:  But you must have done something. He’s not calling for the elimination of the period or the question mark, or even the colon in certain instances.

Semicolon:  No, he seems to have targeted me in particular…and the exclamation mark; I don’t know what we did to deserve such enmity. My purpose seems…

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Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul, by Karen Abbott

2007.  Who couldn’t be drawn to a lurid title above a photo of a madam with a come hither look reclining on a lounge chair in black lace nighty and high heels?  In early Chicago no less.

Yes, the most famous bordello in the country operated for about twelve years prior to WWI on the Levee, a district in The First Ward on South Dearborn Street. Run by the Everleigh (dba) sisters, The Everleigh Club famously treated its ladies and its clients like stars, unlike the other clubs which were mere clip joints where beatings, thefts, and drug-taking ran rampant.

Chicago’s best and brightest and most-moneyed could count on the sisters to keep mum, and the sisters could count on Chicago politicians for protection as long as the money kept flowing along this chain. Everyone made out, and more, until the “White Slavery” movement developed enough support both in Springfield and in Washington. First though the sisters made a name and a fortune.  Even Kaiser Wilhelm’s brother took his entourage to The Everleigh for an evening and launched the national craze of drinking champagne from a harlot’s, er a lady’s, slipper.

Marshall Field, Jr, met an ignominious end at The Everleigh. And many more stories beside. Ever hear of Suzy Poon Tang?

It’s a joy to one who loves Chicago to get a glimpse into this aspect of the past thanks to Abbott’s diligent research. Thanks to the sisters’ photo shoot to promote The Club we get a peek into the sumptuous interior of a building razed in the thirties. And thanks to the diaries and correspendence of the sisters and their clients, plus the high profile campaign by the anti-sex, anti-white-slavery, anti-smoking, anti-drinking, anti-pandering brigades which all saw in the Levee district a target for their anger, Abbott had plenty of material to draw from. (Not to demean her impressive research.)

In the parlance of the day, one went out to “get Everleighed” before the expression was shortened.

The campaigners didn’t stamp out prostitution, smoking, or alcohol. But they did run the sisters out of town and close down the Levee. Watching closely was a guy by the name of Capone.


The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye, by Jonathan Lethem

1996. Seven stories. I feel Philip K Dick muttering in the background.

Lethem is a new author for me. I read this collection of stories immediately after reading The Ecstasy of Influence because I was so impressed with his essays.

As in any collection, I enjoyed some stories more than others. Lethem has a clear voice, and dystopian world view, and I gather is aiming to reflect on our present by dipping into a not-too-distant future. Like Dick.

In “Happy Man” a father commutes to Hell and back to support his family. I guess the message being we all suffer personal Hells while alive since as far as I know nobody has yet come back to report on Hell. Clever story, well-told.

“Vanilla Dunk,” “Hardened Criminals,” and “Sleepy People” for my money are the best stories in the collection. No spoilers here. If you like mild sci-fi, (or are we supposed to call it postmodern? post-modern? post modern?) if you like your sci-fi over-easy with a rasher of dystopia, you’ll enjoy a serving of these stories.

Fun and a good intro to a very good young novelist when he was honing his craft


e Published

May 31 – Put the finishing format touches on Facing the Son, a Novel of Africa, http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/63401 and uploaded it to Smashwords.  After eighteen months of writing, the helpful comments of about a dozen readers, researching, editing, seven rewrites, and a few copy edit runthroughs, it’s done.  The 88,000-word novel is out of my hands now.  It’s as good as I’m going to get it.  And I’m happy with the accomplishment.

So I put it out there for readers on a bigger scale.  Readers who don’t know me, who can tell me if and how the story survives its telling.  I learned a terrific amount about writing fiction by sticking with this project from idea through to final draft.  I have already applied what I’ve learned to the next novel, Coyote Nightmare, which I plan to release – epublish – in September 2011.  That gives me about three months to complete the rewrites and the polish.  The 90,000-word mss. is on my desk.

Smashwords is still “reviewing” my submission.  They need to accept my formatting before passing the work through to their Premium Distribution Status, which is a required step prior to onward distribution to their affiliates such as Kindle, Apple, Sony, Kobo, etc.  In the meantime I uploaded directly to Kindle Publishing, and they too are reviewing my status.  I’m waiting on you guys.

So far about fifty views and one download.  Champagne still on ice.  Other than a feeling of accomplishment, nothing much to celebrate.  Smashwords says most their published authors don’t sell a single copy.  So that’s a possibility.  But I’m planning to do better than that.

Persistence, determination, and grit.  In the end it’s all up to you, isn’t it?