The Charm of Wealth and Fame

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Life Among Giants, by Bill Roorbach

I bought this book with fingers crossed. Usually when I buy a book I don’t really know much about or an author I’ve never read, I hedge my bets and buy the e-book version. So buying this one in hardback was an article of faith. But this time my crossed fingers boded good fortune.

Roorbach’s book is primarily the story of David “Lizard” Hochmeyer, a football prodigy who as a young boy witnesses his father and mother being shot by a paid assassin. His sister Kate is there, too, and the siblings dwell on this trauma deep into adulthood; indeed, until near book’s end. Adding to the story’s complications are Sylphide, a renowned European ballet dancer, and her hangers-on, Kate’s husband Jack, a pair of gay restauranteurs, and of course, David and Kate’s parents. The father is a rather enigmatic but eminently predictable figure to the end, the mother a histrionic, self-centered person, and the person (persons) who shot the pair are seen to be threatening Sylphide, David, and Kate as well. To say more might put the story at reader’s risk, so I’ll stop the synopsis there.

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The writing is the charm of the book, Roorbach’s prose (first-person – David), adding his own apparent gleam to all characters, large and small. This is the strong point of first-person narratives, but Roorbach adds what is clearly his own oomph to both story and characterizations. David is, by book’s midpoint, a famed ex-football player and restauranteur, Sylphide is world famous, and yet, contrary to more cliched prose, both are engaging but erring humans, yet with a deep honesty of character.

Roorbach is obviously influenced by the American postmodern fiction I’ve castigated here, but to his credit, he makes that genre work by creating characters with charm. He keeps his narrator harnessed, and he creates layers and layers of subtlety  that David Foster Wallace, Michael Chabon, and others might only dream about. My only complaint is that Roorbach’s skittering back and forth in time isn’t done as skillfully as I’d hoped, and that lack made the author’s fluid prose sometimes seem a bit phlegmatic.

My rating: 17 of 20 stars

 

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A Novel Approach

I’m taking a new approach to the novel I’m now writing, the one I’ve had on my mind for some months.

I’m winging it!

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Just starting with the germ of the idea, not knowing how the next chapter will fall out.

So far it’s working, and I’m amazed! How, really, do you come to trust in the mind’s ability to do this?

 

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Sam’s Place Is Here!

My new book, Sam’s Place, published by Massachusetts house AuthorMike Ink, is officially launched today, March 25, 2013!

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Want to find out more about it?

There’s a great book trailer and an audio version of the book’s first story at my website, linked below. Thanks for any help you can give us to make this book a great success.

Gridley Fires Books

 

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The Hard and Bloody West

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The Ladder of Rivers, by Harry E. Chrisman

 

One of my grandfather’s brothers married an Olive woman, and in digging into that, I discovered that one in the Olive family had a famed but checkered past. Who, you ask? One Isom Prentice Olive, known in his day as Print Olive – a cattle rancher during the brief, freewheeling days of the Midwest cowboy.

This isn’t a book of fiction. Chrisman has done a stupendous, journalistic job of ferreting out almost everything there is to know about Print and his immediate family, beginning with his father Jim Olive and mother Julia.

Chrisman’s tale speaks of feral Mexican cattle that roamed the Texas and New Mexico plains, and the Olives were among the first to round up as many as 10,000 of these cattle at at time. They made fortunes selling them, largely to those in the east, who had developed a taste for beef.

But there were problems. Herding so many cattle at a time to the various markets made their herds targets of rustlers. The Olives were merciless in dealing with such poachers, and their willingness to shoot rustlers landed Print and his sons in jail on several occasions. Too, the family was handcuffed by the increasing westward migrations of settlers, and they have to constantly mover northward, into what had been Indian territory in order to have the free hand in ranching they felt they deserved.

Chrisman is clearly a fan of the Olives, and the sense I get from his story is of one who tells the family’s facts, but who tends to whitewash them as he writes. Clearly, the Olives were controversial characters – they worked hard, were generous to their own, but they avenged even the smallest slights, and hunted down the perpetrators of any theft of what they saw as their property by rights.

The prose here is awkward, unpolished for the most part, but there’s one thing Chrisman does to make his story come alive within his thin writing skills: he imagines dialogues between the characters. Thus a difficult  read becomes  quite a charmer. Too, the author turned up many photos in his research, and a trove of these are included with the text. He even includes a roughly drawn map of the ranching territories.

 

My rating 15 of 20 stars

 

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Book Publishers Scramble to Rewrite Their Future/Underwire

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This is it. This what you have to do to get the book pub biz’ attention”

  1.  You have to come up with a great idea for a book
  2. You have to commit it to the page with excellent writing skills
  3. You have to develop you own cover and publish the book
  4. You have to market it well
  5. You have to make a ton of money from it, really fast.

Then the book pub biz will contact you and want a piece of the action you’ve spent so much time, effort, and money developing.

Wired

 

 

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Make a Living as a Writer – Part 1/Rachelle Gardner Blog

If you’re a writer, you probably don’t think much about “career” or “the long view,” but taking that view is a vital element in success as a writer. Thinking business isn’t why you came to be a writer, but as the link below indicates, it’s necessary.

Write well, and write prolifically!

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rachellegardner

 

 

Visit my website here, and my FB Fan Page here for more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.