Archive for January, 2015

Literature: Sometimes it’s a Real Motherfucker

Posted in Uncategorized on January 6, 2015 by C. J. Edwards

PMYesterday I was on Facebook, which I really need to start avoiding, and I came across a post by Alec Cizak, the editor of Pulp Modern. I found it entertaining and decided to spew forth my meaningless opinion on the subject of that post to the world, mainly to have fun, but also because the attitude of the subject matter pissed me off.

Alec has a new story up at Beat To A Pulp called The Ralph’s On Third And Vermont. It’s a good story. You will find the link to it at the bottom of this post. Apparently Alec got word that a certain reader took offense to his rather prolific use of “Motherfucker.” Now I don’t know if Alec engaged in conversation with this guy or if it was all second hand information. I also don’t know who the gentleman is, but I did find his criticism of Alec’s story somewhat ridiculous. Here is the quote that Alec posted and to which I had such a strong reaction.

“I read five ‘motherfuckers’ in one story and that was too much. Your “Work” is of no value to literature whatsoever with language that makes you sound like some homeless, illiterate. I’m not interested in your ‘work.’ It isn’t ‘Work.’ It’s ghetto language. It doesn’t make you sound gritty or tough. It makes you sound illiterate. Offer me something that has some literate value and I’ll read it. Then, maybe I’ll alter my opinion. And change your picture. You look like you live in a cardboard box.

Pretty fucking wow, right? I don’t even know where to begin with this. I mean, Alec might look like he lives in a cardboard box, but I would never tell him that to his face. That’s just mean. It makes me want to offer up a sniffle or two at Alec might be feeling right now. I’ve never told Alec that he looks like a homeless man because I read an article on Facebook or somewhere that said the lumberjack scruffy look was in, so I just assumed that Alec was fashionably ahead of his time. So anyway, Alec if you ever need someone to listen because people are being mean to you, I’m available. You have my number.

Okay, so the real issue here is that the individual who wrote the above quote has a problem with the word Motherfucker. Apparently Motherfucker has no literary value. You know what, maybe so, but who fucking cares. I don’t care if any of my own stories have “literary value.” I just want to write a story people might like to read. What is “literary value” anyway? Isn’t literature in a constant state of change? Isn’t it evolving all the time? Isn’t that what is cool about the arts in general, that expression is always different from person to person? I wonder when the work “fuck” first appeared in serious “literature.” If anyone knows that, please drop me a line. I’d really like to have that little piece of trivia. I know it wasn’t the Bronte sisters, but aside from Victorian lit, I’m not sure where that first f-bomb might appear.

Another thing that disturbed me was the fact that the gentleman doesn’t seem to be able to differentiate between the literacy level of the author and that of the fictional narrator. Maybe he just doesn’t like stories by homeless people…oops slip of the keyboard there Alec…I mean ABOUT homeless people. I’ve interacted with a fair amount of homeless people, and to my recollection none of them used the Queen’s English to communicate. Along the same lines, most criminals don’t talk like most of polite society. To many of them, at least the ones I’ve dealt with, “fuck” and “Motherfucker” are like fucking pronouns and shit. So any realistic story about these kinds of people might have a few indelicate verbiage choices tossed in.

Stephen King in his book On Writing wrote that when trying to tell a story it is imperative that the author should be honest. He also said that you can’t write successfully if you are constantly trying to not offend your grandmother. It just isn’t honest. It isn’t the truth. Should you use “Motherfucker” five times in one story? Is there a Motherfucker rule? I don’t know, maybe the dude who I’ve quoted above will drop in and school me on that particular literary statute. Of course, I would never abide by such a rule. Sometimes a story really needs a few good Motherfuckers, and some readers just can’t handle the truth.

No Alec Cizaks were harmed during the writing of this Motherfucker. If anyone is offended by any of the above material, they are free to drop me a line and let me know how much of an illiterate Motherfucker I am. Oh yeah…buy Pulp Modern. It’s a real badass Motherfucker

The Ralph’s On Third And Vermont

by Alec Cizak

Pulp Modern

The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

Posted in Uncategorized on January 2, 2015 by C. J. Edwards

the-thicket-by-joe-r-lansdaleI started reading The Thicket in mid-December of 2014 and finished it this morning before work. It was one of the best reads of last year and 2015 will be hard pressed to deliver a better one as well.

Joe R. Lansdale has been one of those authors that I keep hearing about and keep planning to read. (There are a lot of you out there.) I finally dropped the hammer on a short story of his included in Rogues.

rogues coverRogues is a short story collection edited by one of my favorite Fantasy authors George R.R. Martin. It is a fantastic read and includes an interesting collection of authors of various genres and some really great stories. His story in this collection featured his characters Hap and Leonard. From Dead_Aim_by_Joe_R_Lansdale_Trade_Coverthere I found his novella Dead Aim also featuring this memorable duo.

While searching for something else to read by Lansdale I heard about Cold In July but wasn’t able to find a copy. It was then that I stumbled upon The Thicket. I am not really big on reading westerns, but when I saw the back description, I knew I had to give it a try.

A tale of love and vengeance at the dark dawn of the East Texas oil boom from award-winning novelist Joe Lansdale

Jack Parker thought he’d already seen his fair share of tragedy. His grandmother was killed in a farm accident when he was barely five years old. His parents have just succumbed to the smallpox epidemic sweeping turn-of-the-century East Texas—orphaning him and his younger sister, Lula.

Then catastrophe strikes on the way to their uncle’s farm, when a traveling group of bank-robbing bandits murder Jack’s grandfather and kidnap his sister. With no elders left for miles, Jack must grow up fast and enlist a band of heroes the likes of which has never been seen if his sister has any chance of surviving. But the best he can come up with is a charismatic, bounty-hunting dwarf named Shorty, a grave-digging son of an ex-slave named Eustace, his constant companion a 600-pound feral hog, and a street-smart woman-for-hire named Jimmie Sue who’s come into some very intimate knowledge about the bandits (and a few members of Jack’s extended family to boot).

In the throes of being civilized, East Texas is still a wild, feral place where oil wells spurt liquid money from the ground. And Jack will soon find out that blood and redemption rule supreme. In The Thicket, Joe R. Lansdale lets loose like never before, in a rip-roaring adventure equal parts True Grit and Stand by Me—the perfect introduction to an acclaimed writer whose work has been called “as funny and frightening as anything that could have been dreamed up by the Brothers Grimm—or Mark Twain” (New York Times Book Review).

One review called it “Hellish and hilarious.” I would have to agree, not to mention anything with a bounty hunting dwarf, a whore, and a giant hog as main characters is something I want to read. Also, the half-black-half-white-half-Comanche Eustace steals many of the scenes in this dark and funny novel.

By the end, you will realize that the story is less about the narrator Jack and the trouble he finds himself in and more about the characters around him and what makes them who they are. As Jack learns their stories, he learns about himself and the how he will mark his own way in a hard and often bloody world where doing the right thing isn’t necessarily the best thing.

For me the best scene is where the unlikely posse comes to a trading post to confront Fatty, one of kidnappers. Eustace, Hog, and Shorty produce one of the most comical confrontations I have ever read.

With The Thicket has produced a story that is wickedly funny as well as being a very dark and violent thriller. It is the story that all big Hollywood Westerns are trying to make and ultimately fall short of. In fact, I learned today after posting that exact comment on Facebook that The Thicket is slated to be made into a movie with Peter Dinklage signed on in the role of Shorty.Peter Dinklage Hopefully the film will stay true to Lansdale’s original vision. If they do, I can’t wait to see it.