Saturday, April 04, 2009

The real life

Rodger Jacobs is a writer's writer.

He's working through a series of "Who Shaped You?" essays that shows just how goddamn difficult it is to earn that title.

As I read Rodger's third installment in the series, "L. A. Noir" (which I loved), my brain set his story next to that of Stephenie Meyer of Twilight fame. Meyer says the idea for the story that spurred her voluminous series and earned her millions upon millions came to her in a dream. The Mormon mother of three says she wrote the draft for the first of four novels in a few months and placed it on it's path to the happily ever after shortly thereafter.

SIGH

If it makes you feel any better, Rodger, despite all the money and fame, you're still a writer's writer and she's still a silly little broad.*

*Note to readers: yes, you could go and listen to Meyer tell her CinderWriteRella story for four minutes (and damn if I'm not getting suspiciouser and suspiciouser about Missy Meyer with every turn o' the page), but if that's all the time you have, I suggest you spend it over at Rodger's place.

15 comments:

Zen Wizard said...

I used to think that LA was a great place for a crime novel--because there is all this surface aesthetic pleasantness, but there is a profound evil that lurks just beneath the surface.

My theory was that you had to be not from there to see it--like Raymond Chandler, who I think was Canadian.

But then James Elroy came along and changed that theory.

I still think LA is a great place for a crime novel. Look at all the interesting crimes that actually happen there...that, like, don't get prosecuted and stuff...

Not sure if that is exactly on topic...

Rodger Jacobs said...

Actually, ZW, Chandler was born in Chicago (1888) and came to California after World War I, spending his entire adult life in So Cal until his death in La Jolla in 1959. He was an oil company exec until he became a professional writer. And, yes, it is that dichotomy between what lurks on the surface in L.A. and what lurks beneath that makes the town ripe for noir morality tales.

Thanks ever so for this kind posting, Erin.

Kirk Jusko said...

Odd that Ms. Meyer is from Utah, as she sounds a bit like a Valley Girl.

Raymond Chandler was born in 1888? The guy who wrote THE BIG SLEEP, a novel where the hero drives everywhere, actually grew up in the horse-and-buggy era? I wonder if Chandler, like Chaplin, wasn't a bit shocked or dismayed at modernity, and that's what accounts for his books' jokey pessimism. Just a thought from a fellow cat owner.

Rodger Jacobs said...

That's an excellent observation, Kirk. Further, if I recall correctly, Chandler was a first-generation American; his family hails from the U.K.

Harry Finch said...

The first large-scale production of automobiles started in 1902 when Chandler was 14.

I grew up in the typewriter era, mastering the keyboard on a huge black manual Underwood. Didn't sit in front of a computer until I was 35.

Chandler would have been 35 in 1923. The Big Sleep was published in 1939.

People who were born a long time ago really weren't born that long ago.

Rodger Jacobs said...

Harry, I taught myself to type on an old black manual Underwood as well before graduating to a monster IBM Selectric. I didn't go anywhere near a computer until 1997and I didn't go online until 1999.

Harry Finch said...

My Underwood, sadly, sits in the garage rusting. Much, I suppose, as Chandler's surrey would have decayed in some Midwestern barn.

John Shannon said...

I believe Chandler did spend his youth in a British public (private, in our terms) school.

The Fool said...

I just had to show my 14 year old son, Codeman, your sweater. He thinks your sweater totally rocks. He also agrees that "Twilight" is way over-rated. Still, he thinks we're both insane because of that CD compilation you sent me...it was the first time he'd ever been subjected to "Blue Moon," and he can't understand why anyone would include "Banana Splits" in a compilation. Any-which-how, since he now thinks your cool (but insane), he's decided to give "Harvey & Eck" a try. I keep hearing repeated chortles of laughter coming from him...so I guess you have a new fan. Perhaps you'll be the next teen hit, at least here in Alaska. Just thought you'd like to know. ;)

garrett said...

Erin, on the topic of genius coming in lots of different flavors, consider this article:

http://www.gladwell.com/2008/2008_10_20_a_latebloomers.html

This is borderline relevant to the blog entry of your'n to which I'm appending this comment...

Cheers!

Rodger Jacobs said...

John, you are correct. Chandler was born in Chicago but his family moved to Ireland and the lad was placed in an English boarding school.

Garrett, Charlie Rose did a great interview with Gladwell on the late bloomers topic last December, I believe it was. Fascinating subject.

Zen Wizard said...

Somebody should try to set a crime novel in San Francisco someday--I don't think that's ever been done.

(Just kidding...)

Kirk Jusko said...

I was under the impression that the automobile didn't become commonplace until the Model T came off the assembly line around 1912 (or until Henry Ford started paying his employees enough money to buy his cars.) But even if it happened earlier, when Chandler was 14, his frame of reference still would have been a world without cars. 14's not THAT young.

I've been on-line less than a year, which is why I find this subject so fascinating. Like a lot of people, I find the internet liberating, but, perhaps unlike a lot of people, I find it a bit troubling as well. I can't help but think Chandler might have had similarly mixed feelings about the "modern times" (which is why I mentioned Chaplin) in which he found himself living.

Zen Wizard feels that Chandler portrayed LA as he did because he was originally from someplace else, that he was an outsider. Well, there's nothing that makes one more an outsider than the aging process. The first great novel of and about the 21st century will be written by someone whose frame of reference is the 20th.

Rodger Jacobs said...

The first great novel of and about the 21st century will be written by someone whose frame of reference is the 20th.

I've had this very same discussion with friends and colleagues over the years vis-a-vis the Great Post 9/11 Novel; after mediocre attempts by Updike and DeLillo and a slim handful of others, some feel it's several decades away but I think the author is alive and with us now and spent most of his or her years in the 20th century.

Rodger Jacobs said...

Somebody should try to set a crime novel in San Francisco someday

Yet there have only been two that were worth a damn: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett and McTeague by Frank Norris.