Friday, January 12, 2018

Girl With The Blue Tattoo Cover Final

January 12, 2018
   Thanks to Andy Sansom for posting old news items from the Mohave County Miner. This is from the January 2, 1957 edition, reporting on my 10th birthday party on December 19, 1956:

What I remember about this birthday party is that one of these guys, I think it was Dennis Poulson, made Charlie Waters laugh so hard, that Bugs stuffed napkins in his mouth to try and stop. Yes, it seemed weird even at the time, but I have to say, we all did some serious laughing. The legendary Kimo Cafe is today Mr. D's, which is across from the Powerhouse Museum.

   If you are following along on our Olive Oatman cover controversy, here is our final choice which uploaded last night to the printer in Liberty, Missouri:

Now to shift gears and lay out the book. I have been studying the masters. In the case of writing creative nonfiction, with sound structure, there is no one better than John McPhee in his new book, "Draft No. 4." Here are a few of my notes from his process:

"You must build a strong, sound and artful structure. . ." and "you can build a structure in such a way that it causes people to want to keep turning pages."

"There is considerable tension between chronology and theme. You must develop a thematically dominated structure." And "Readers are not supposed to notice the structure. It is meant to be about as visible as someone's bones."

"A piece of writing has to start somewhere, go somewhere, and sit down when it gets there. Beginning, middle, end. Aristotle, Page 1."

"If you want to get to a place where the writing lives, imagine you're dead."

—Bono, quoting a poet friend of his in Rolling Stone magazine

"The lead—like the title—should be a flashlight that shines down into the story."

"A lead is not good not because it dances, fires cannons, or whistles like a train but because it is absolute to what follows."

Buy "Son of The Morning Star" by Evan S. Connell, and read the sequences that lead to the bio of Gall. According to McPhee it is masterful and he taught a semester at Princeton on the subject.

"A thousand details add up to one impression."

—Cary Grant

Olive will begin and end with flashbacks: swimming in the Colorado.

"Fiction must stick to facts, and the truer the facts the better the fiction."

—Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

The efforts to get it right is daunting. As John McPhee puts it, there are "errors of misinformation from flawed books or living sources, items misinterpreted or misunderstood." Amen.

Breasts On Water

John McPhee writes about riding on a thousand foot barge down the Illinois River, reporting on everything he sees for an article that will appear in The New Yorker. The barge churns down the river past a cabin boat McPhee notices is "drifting idly on the eponymous Illinois while a vessel longer than an aircraft carrier bore down upon it sounding five short blasts, the universal statement of immediate danger." As the barge grinds and glides past the cabin boat, McPhee sees two men and two women on the boat, and the nearest woman "seated left rear in the open part of the cockpit—is wearing a black-and-gold two-piece bathing suit. She has the sort of body you go to see in marble. She has golden hair. Quickly, deftly, she reaches with both hands behind her back and unclasps her top. Setting it on her lap, she swivels ninety degrees to face the tow boat square. Shoulders back, cheeks high, she holds her pose without retreat. In her ample presentation there is defiance of gravity. There is no angle of repose. She is a siren and these are her songs."

McPhee, who is waxing lyrically on fact checking and its many perils then adds, "It was my experience, my description, my construction, my erection."

"In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed—but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock."

—Attributed to Graham Green, but actually written by Orson Welles

1 comment:

  1. ...the ultimate advantages of a productive neighborhood, -one can enjoy the efforts of each, not having to exclude one for the we have both the sistine chapel AND the cuckoo clock.


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