zachbissett

Posts Tagged ‘novels’

Cormac McCarthy

In fiction, writing on 11/14/2012 at 15:19

Head over to and check out my contribution to Alyce’s BEST AND WORST series, a little entry on Cormac McCarthy.

“The Halloween Tree” by Ray Bradbury

In fiction, TV, writing on 10/29/2012 at 16:27

I recently concluded my list of 30 Halloween TV specials (read it here) and featured The Halloween Tree. It’s a great TV special, but it’s an even better book.

“It was a small town by a small river and a small lake in a small northern part of a Midwest state. There wasn’t so much wilderness around you couldn’t see the town. But on the other hand there wasn’t so much town you couldn’t see and feel and touch and smell the wilderness. The town was full of trees. And dry grass and dead flowers now that autumn was here. And full of fences to walk on and sidewalks to skate on and a large ravine to tumble in and yell across. And the town was full of…

Boys.
And it was the afternoon of Halloween.
And all the houses shut against a cool wind.
And the town was full of cold sunlight.
But suddenly, the day was gone.
Night came out from under each tree and spread.”

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How do you arrange your bookshelf?

In fiction, poetry, writing on 10/16/2012 at 18:53

Beautiful books

A few weeks ago I rearranged my room, including moving my bookshelf a few feet to the left. My ceiling high bookshelf containing an elephant’s weight in books. Quite the undertaking.

I had this grand idea that I would replace all the books by how much I liked them; “top shelf” books down to books I have but hate. Then I wondered a beautiful, color-coordinated arrangement would be better. My OCD kicked in and the books had to also work by size as well. A month later and I still switch a book’s place at least once a day.

But the source of most contention involves which books to display, cover facing out, leading me to my question how do you arrange your bookshelf?

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Writing Characters Who Aren’t You

In American Radio, fiction, gay/lesbian, music, writing on 10/11/2012 at 20:43

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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WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: Two fiction excerpts

In fiction, writing on 09/05/2012 at 17:45

First of all please suggest something with more of a ring to it than “Writerly Wednesday.”

Anyways, as a writer of fiction I enjoy both the speculative genres and the more literary efforts. With that in mind, here are two excerpts from projects I’m working on. The first is the introduction to a brief novelette, “Osterville.” The second is part of a short story functioning in a much larger fantasy creation I’m trying to get a hold of. Feedback is greatly appreciated.

Osterville – Prologue
It was Labor Day and a woman was walking down Bay Street with no shoes on. She cut a thin, lavender figure under the rising sun. No disembodied sneakers kicked off in her wake—girls from the college sometimes left their shoes in mailboxes while they swam North Bay—and no little black sandals pinched between her fingers like a certain teenager who liked to walk the line where pavement devolved into the cool, white sand that snowed Osterville’s western shore. Read the rest of this entry »

TOP 10 TUESDAY: Narrator’s in Fiction

In fiction, writing on 08/28/2012 at 15:13

As a writer, I really struggle with first person narrative when it comes to long pieces. It allows the writer to get into the protagonists head immediately, and can be a great tool in short stories, but developing a particularly captivating voice over the course of a novel is a painful, complex process.

Marvel at some of the best, craziest, most unique narrative voices in fiction to date.

10. Holden Caulfield, “The Catcher in the Rye” by JD Salinger

Catcher is a polarizing read, and Holden is the most polarizing element of the book. While his antics can become tiresome, his inner-dialog repetitive and his cynicism pretty far off base (at times, anyway), there is hardly another novel with such an intimate narrative. Holden tells the story from a psychiatric ward, and there is very much a wall between the events of the book and the reader–a wall named Holden Caulfield. Catcher is not a book, but a conversation, and Holden is one of the most dynamic conversationalists you’ll come across.

Holden

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