Sunday, December 5, 2010

"The Life to Come"

In the space of less than two weeks, I wrote a new short story, "The Life to Come," in response to an anthology (which shall remain nameless for now) request. Once it was finished, but before the final run-through (every sentence said aloud), I sent it to my friend Berry, who heaped it high with praise or tossed it atop a heap of praise or praised it heapishly or something. He found one dud line that had been a line that stuck out to me as well. All right then. Cleaned it up, sent it off, and now I wait. I think it's solid and does what it's supposed to do. I had a hard time judging it, since I knew where it was going from the outset, and since it's short--a little more than 3K--it doesn't contain the number of surprises for me that my recent longer works have contained. Still, I think it's properly packed and concise and sounds good throughout.

I had been reading Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories for a few weeks. I have a giant compendium from the library. Struck the other day that I'd had the book out for so long, I checked my library account: the book isn't signed out. Guess somebody's electronic scanner wasn't working right that day. Anyway, if you read them, I suggest spacing them out. Early on, Bertie Wooster himself concedes the formula of the tales: if a problem arises, tell Jeeves and he'll sort it out. That's pretty much the length of breadth of the business. Jeeves serves as a kind of deus ex machina for the stories, so that, as with many a Sherlock Holmes tale, the fun is in the setup more than the resolution. Holmes always notices something no human would have noticed to solve the case; Jeeves always knows somebody who gives him a piece of information that resolves the difficulty. Priceless, though, is Bertie's voice, slangy and marginally self-aware of his purely comedic self and absurd world.

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