I’ve been spending October revising a few horror stories, which I will post soon, while my “American Radio” project sits on the back burner of my brain. But it’s there, never fully tucked away. So I decided I’d share one of my ongoing battles with the book.
Creating a unique voice for my narrator and/or protagonist is always a challenge–if I slip up for even a sentence, I’ve started down a path in the company of a voice that is, simply, my own. To me, there is nothing more boring than a forgettable narrative voice.
In an effort to distinguish myself from my narrator, I made Aleks Records (among other things) black and bi sexual. I came to this decision with two good reasons: 1) the narrator needs to be “the other” in every single scenario, so any conceivable definition of “otherness” should be attributed; 2) he is based off Donald Glover and Kele Okereke.
However, I’m unsure of how far my ability will allow me to explore these areas of his person…Zora Neal Hurston was criticized by her peers for not giving enough attention to the struggle of African Americans in White America. Hurston, while proud of her heritage, felt she was merely a writer, and would write about whatever pleased her; she felt no obligation to any cause or race.
At the same, it seems wasteful to write a gay or black character and not give some attention to their place in the social landscape. A novel taking place in the present day, for example, with a gay narrator would surely comment on the current election, which could turn out to be historical for same sex couples in America. But how does a straight author access that place?
Interviews, research, guesswork?
I’ve surrendered to the fact that this book will likely take me four or five more years. It’s natural to want your first book to just be finished, but “American Radio” will not allow it. The book is continuously condensing via layers–shorter and deeper, shorter and deeper. At least I’m finishing a few stories, and have a poem to be published this winter.
Hit the jump for an “American Radio” excerpt.
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