Posted by Kevin Kerrane
I suppose that there's a bit of the writer in every reader. This is at least true in my own case, where an all but overwhelming desire to write is very nicely balanced by an utter inability to produce any really readable fiction.
This is really too bad, you know, because I'm sure that creating characters (albeit paper ones), and making them do what I want them to do, would give me that tremendous feelings of gross power which I so sincerely desire, desperately need, and richly deserve.
At any rate, I have tried writing fiction – everything from vignettes to the great American novel. But I have – fortunately, perhaps – been found lacking. This article contains several stories, of one type or another, that I never quite finished – usually because I had neither the energy nor the heart to do so. After each story a short criticism follows. The criticism is offered to me, but of course you may profit from it too.
You may notice, incidentally, that in some cases the criticism is longer than the actual story reprint. This conclusively proves what has been a major contention of mine for some time now: namely that critics make things grow. How? I think that any farmer knows what makes things grow.
The first story that I never quite finished was written at the tender age of 13. It was, I think, intended to be an Anglo-Saxon epic. It is called "Sir Gawain Rides Again" or "Carousel." It runs as follows:
"Geez," said Sir Gawain, as the poisoned lance pierced his armor, entered his chest, and poked one hell of a hole in his back. "The dirty red…"
This manuscript, found recently, reveals several writing faults, some of which border on the sadistic. First of all, the plot has become somewhat limited in scope (and length) due to the probable early demise of the protagonist. The story poses some interesting questions:
- Is this some kind of sequel?
- If so, what happened when Sir Gawain rode before he rode again?
- Is this a suicide attempt?
- Does the use of the word "Geez" denote Stoicism?
- What is the reference to dirty red in the incomplete sentence?
- Does it attempt to describe Sir Gawain's blood? His socks? The fact that he was a communist?
- What in the name of God was I like at 13?
The whole thing, however, does have its good points. To deny that it is vivid would be like saying that Margaret Sanger was a fan of the Dionnes. It must also be admitted that this is not the idealistic stuff that one would expect from the "average" child. Since the writer seems to arouse some interest, next week we'll examine another one of his works.