Today’s post brings good and bad news. The good news is that I don’t have any desire to talk about John Saul, or books at all for that matter, today. The bad news is that I did yesterday, and while I completely forgot to post it, I am just gonna throw it on the bottom of this page since I have all but run out of issues to tackle.
Let that be a lesson to all of you who are thinking about starting your own website, especially if you are palanning to try to put up news with your own opinion or snark, don’t start in an election year! For the first six or eight months that I was doing this site I could easily find some news item to go off about, yet now it is all politics. Actually it really isn’t so much about politics as it is about which candidate says what about the other, and which one made the most weird faces in the last debate. Is that what politics has come to?
I was watching some show on TVLand the other day, possibly MacGyver, and they showed an old commercial (That is one of the things that TvLand is famous for, they air old commercials for lots of products, I can remember seeing a Parkay margarine commercial from the ’70s and a Shake-n-Bake commercial from around the same era. They are really pretty nostalgic to look back at.), when an old, black and white commercial came on the screen. The only thing in the entire commercial was a picture of rain falling on a random street, with a voice-over saying something like, “It may rain this November Eleventh. If it rains, get wet. It is that important.” (again that is not actually a quote but the best I can recall and I can’t find that commercial anywhere on their website, or anywhere else on the internet for that matter). The screen then flashed up a ‘Vote for ___’ logo. I don’t remember the exact candidate, nor do I know the year the commercial was released, so it is difficult for me to try to find the damn thing. At any rate, I think you will see the point here. Political advertising used to be about spreading the name of the political candidate, now it seems to be about conveying the worst ‘half-truths’ about the opponent.
I am certainly not a political pundit, but I do know a bit or two about us grunts that actually work for a living. Not a damn one of ‘us grunts’ really care what the presidential candidates were doing in the early ’70s. ‘Us grunts’ would like to see the war in Iraq ended with the fewest possible casualties on all sides, but that is not all that we think about. ‘Us grunts’ are also a bit concerned about a couple of policies. You see, most of ‘us grunts’ weren’t born horribly rich (George W.), most of ‘us grunts’ didn’t marry horribly rich (John Kerry), most of ‘us grunts’ don’t give a damn about taxes for the richest 1% of the population, hell most of ‘us grunts’ don’t give a damn about taxes on the top 20% of the population. ‘Us grunts’ are looking for a bit of substance in the presidential claims about policies that actually involve ‘us grunts’.
Health Care is a really big ‘for instance’. ‘Us grunts’ don’t really have a lot of options; Making too much money to get free health care, yet not making quite enough money to actually afford the care that we do have. Despite that, laws are being passed to keep us from trying to obtain medicine at lower prices, ‘us grunts’ don’t care for that at all.
Another thing that ‘us grunts’ just can’t seem to understand is why buying a huge, gas-guzzling SUV can get you a tax break. It seems like the price of gas has been going up awfully fast lately, ‘us grunts’ are looking for the most fuel effecient automobile that our meager income can buy. Of course ‘us grunts’ might be able to afford those huge, gas-guzzling SUV’s were it not for the fact that minimum wage is at its lowest point in thirty years (adjusted for inflation), yet I doubt that ‘us grunts’ would buy them anyway… Why waste a precious resource that is already nearly drained?
I would really, really like to care about which candidate has better hair, which candidate did what in the ’70s, which candidate’s daughters have been arrested on the most drug charges, but I just can’t. There is more at stake here than just a figure-head for our country. There are lobbyists, albeit on both sides of the coin, that are willing to give millions or billions of dollars to whoever comes out of this thing as the leader. I have had almost four years to watch what one of them did with that power, now I would like to see anyone else in his position, to see what that power might bring. Damn me for being partisan.
PostScript: I know that the term ‘us grunts’ is not grammatically correct, but nothing else I ever write is either. I used the term ‘us grunts’ only because it starts with two letters that are important to me.
First off, and much to the great relief of everyone here I’m sure, I am not written off of the christmas card list of the friend who sent me the John Saul novel that I have been bitching about so much. In fact, said friend also has his own copy of the novel and was not able to make it through the first few chapters before he realized that he had basically read it in other Saul books. That means, at the very least, that anyone who reads and is also capable of retaining knowledge will know that Saul just keeps recycling the same story. The only explanation for this (why people still buy the books I mean) is that I think a lot of the readers are adolescent and just looking for a quick read with an easy to follow story.
My mother also read this book, my copy in fact, while my wife and I were on vacation, and she thought that it was pretty good, yet, it also seemed oddly familiar. I am now beginning to think that the way Saul is able to have continued success (31 novels worth) is that there is absolutely nothing remarkable about anything he has written. You certainly can’t walk away from the book with a fear of any one person or thing, within a couple of days you wouldn’t be able to name any of the main characters even if threatened with torture. I guess I should just call his work ‘disposable fiction’. Then again, all of the Saul that I personally own is in hardcover, and while I never paid cover price for any of it it is still far too expensive to simply throw away, yet that is what your mind tries to do with it.
If anyone other than John Saul were to send a John Saul novel to a publisher in the hopes of getting it printed they would likely be laughed right out the door. Mind you, that could be said for a lot of authors today. In fact if you start looking at the novels that are called ‘classic’, there are very few authors that have more than one in that category.
Interesting thought, that. Perhaps all of the authors that we consider great today only ever had one good novel, while the rest was mindless dribble, or at least very derivitive of their initial work. That is an unimaginable idea however, since most of the great authors of the past never made a single cent off of their work. I suppose that it would be really great to know that your story has outlasted you, but they never knew; It takes a century or so to see if the story can transcend to that status.
I seem to remember that Edgar Allan Poe (take this test, its fun) died penniless, in a gutter, none of his work ever made him a penny. Yet, some of Poe’s stories are required reading a hundred and fifty years later. On that same note, I somehow doubt that any John Saul will be ‘required reading’ in the year 2154, I could be wrong. (if you happen to be in the year 2154, and are reading this, and John Saul is required reading, please shoot me an email so that I will know that I was in error.)
When I was in my teens, even into my early twenties, I thought that my writing was going to change the world. Of course I have since sobered to the reality that I am likely never going to get a single word put to print before I die. I am not capable of writing with correct grammar, nor do my ideas do more than stem off of the fiction that I have read. The few, truly original, ideas that I have had work well in my head but do not seem to do well when put to paper (computer screen in this case). I do enjoy writing, my friends and family enjoy reading what I have written, yet I don’t seem to have that ‘it’ that is going to make me rise above every other guy in the world who tries to write anything. My ‘fan base’ could be counted on one hand, my grammar is horrible, at this point I am just hoping that someone within the family tries to get the hundreds of short stories in my file cabinet put onto paper someday. The one thing that I do have is really screwed up dreams, that is where the short stories come from. I never have a dream long enough to work itself into a novel though, and that means that what I write is just as forgettable as every other book you have read in the last few years.
As if that is not enough, I just went to the bathroom to find out that I have been wearing my underwear inside-out all day! Life Sucks!