Monthly Archives: March 2012

Great cliffhangers

Black and white illustrations of a scene from "Great Expectations"

Source: google.ca via Ben on Pinterest

When I grew up I want to write like Charles Dickens. Recently I read Great Expectations and was amazed with how good that novel is. But those cliffhangers blew my mind. They never failed to keep me interested. I’m sure it’s not that easy to master creating a good cliffhanger. I remember Dan Brown’s and they are, well, not that good.

Other than the cliffhangers Dickens’ character development is deceptively simple. Pip, Joe, Miss Havisham, Estella, and especially Mrs. Joe seem stereotypes but they’re a lot more complex than it seems at first sight. But I was head over heels for Mr. Wemmicks. He’s all business and no-nonsense at work, and a caring and loving son for the Aged P at home. His overall attitude won me over.

I’m still struggle trying to find what to write, but sure I’m enjoying all this reading.

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Carmilla, Mircalla, Millarca, whatever

Image

Illustration by D. H. Friston

I read this one not because I’ve already read it, but because I wanted something new. To be honest J. Sheridan Le Fanu‘s Carmilla is not the kind of book I want to write.  There are too many loose ends like who is Carmilla’s/Millarca’s mother, who is the black woman in the carriage, who is the tall man in the ball, how come nobody could figure out from the start that Carmilla, Mircalla, and Millarca are anagrams of the same name, if Carmilla needed to rest in her tomb why is she able to travel throughout all Europe, and so forth.

Carmilla might be read as a cautionary tales against lesbianism, a very risqué topic for a 19th century novella. This is the  novella’s only interesting feature and I didn’t even agree with Le Fanu’s treatment of the subject. Other than that it is quite boring. I think I know now what I don’t want to do.

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Who’s the riffraff?

Broadway at night wih lighted billboards featuring George Amberson Minafer

George Minafer's different incarnations (1925, 1944, 2002) in the spotlight where he thinks he belongs.

I’ve just finished Booth Tarkington‘s The Magnificent Ambersons. This is one of the best novels ever written, and George Amberson Minafer is one of the best characters ever created. He is a selfish conceited megalomaniac who’s too sexy even for himself, let alone his cat, and he’s not even a model. Here is the guy who pretty much destroys everyone else’s life simply because he’s always right. He endangers his love interest life, effectively kills his mother, and is incapable to look forward just for the hate of one guy. He’s the best example of an anti-hero.

One of the novel’s themes is everybody’s wishful thinking that he’s gonna get it someday. By the end it happens or so it seems. I’m not so sure that he actually get it, and when he’s at his lowest he’s presumably rescued by the almost killed love interest (a girl so silly that never even realized how self-absorbed he is, and actually feeds his narcissism), and by the so hated guy -the reason why he got stuck in the past, and killed his mother.  The worst part of the novel’s ending is that he’ll marry money and no doubt will go back to his self-centered ways.

That character alone deserved the Pulitzer prize awarded to the novel -back in the day when literary prizes meant something-, but the dialog is just another great accomplishment. I only wish I’ll be able to write a masterpiece like The Magnificent Ambersons.

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