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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Blogging the Struggle, part 2

I'm usually reluctant to blog about the actual content of what I'm writing, and all the more so with this novel: it's such a huge undertaking, so difficult to fit all in my head at once, that the fear of premature input from outside is even greater than usual.

Still, as I noted before, I think I may have swung too much in the direction of hermetic seclusion, closing myself off to outside support; so, following up on the toe I have already dipped in these waters, I thought I'd blog a little about the content as well as the process of the book.

Some of you may know that for a while I was vacillating between writing a core-SF novel set in the far future, and a semi-autobiographical literary book, perhaps in the nature of a roman a clef of high school. At one point -- perhaps at Worldcon in Anaheim? -- someone suggested unifying them, and the idea grew on me.

The book is organized around a seminal text, core to my experience as a young geek -- namely, the Howard the Duck Star-Wars parody issue, with Man-Thing as Chewbacca. The comic -- one I pored over until only shreds remained -- plays the role in my own internal soul-cosmogony of Proust's madeleines, or the graffiti tags and streetball games of Lethem's 1970s Brooklyn in Fortress of Solitude. The novel thus takes place on two levels; as a retelling of that issue of the comic, re-imagined as Strossian hard science fiction (is there a more posthuman character in the Marvel canon than Howard, or "Siob" as I have renamed him here?) and as the tale of my own readings and rereadings of the comic itself, and the events surrounding those piquant years -- in particular, in exactingly accurate recountings of the sensory experience of reading the Howard the Duck Star-Wars parody issue, in a kind of Warhol/Cremaster esthetic of slow time.

I'm excited about this as a postmodernist epic. What figure better exemplifies late twentieth century anomie (and my own precariously poised relation to existence) than the duck "trapped in a world he never made"? And what better way to continue the metafictional explorations of the zeppelin story than to imagine the real me, able by a quirk of fate to not merely read about, but also travel to the world of the Stan Lee's feathered Portnoy? And what more fittingly tragic evocation of my own dread and terror at mortality, than my own ultimate immolation at the hands of Man-Thing -- "for whatever knows fear, burns at the Man-Thing's touch?"

In other news, does anyone else find April Fools' day a really cognitively demanding holiday?

Posted by benrosen at April 1, 2007 05:48 PM | Up to blog

B said: "In other news, does anyone else find April Fools' day a really cognitively demanding holiday?"

Why, what did they do to you?

Posted by: susan at April 2, 2007 02:14 AM

That was supposed to be the tip-off that this was a joke. :-)

But Aviva and Noah did fool me several times. (It's pretty easy to fool parents. "Help, I have a splinter... april fool!")

Mostly it's the having to be on guard all day, carefully evaluating whether everything you hear is true. It's kind of exciting, but also exhausting.

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at April 2, 2007 12:10 PM

*I* thought it was funny, Ben. :-)

Posted by: Mary Anne Mohanraj at April 3, 2007 08:45 AM

You know, the disadvantage of finding an April Fools' joke on April 3rd is that you're no longer on your guard.

I read at first with increasing horror your post, but I've found myself warming to it. The good news is that if you end up getting stuck on The Story of Siob, this would not be an altogether horrible backup.

Ok, maybe it would. But horrible in a good way.


Posted by: Matt Hulan at April 3, 2007 10:41 AM

Greetings. This lurker, for one, went "Dang!" upon rumbling the gaff. What can I say? I bought it! I was all ready to read it with great enthusiasm! Please reconsider.



Posted by: jan at April 3, 2007 11:18 PM

I am never on my guard. My kids tell stories like "Mom, a giant pink elephant just landed on the balcony!"

Sorry about your grandmother. She sounds like she was a lot of fun.

Posted by: susan at April 4, 2007 02:45 PM

I got up to Proust and thought, not "this is fake" (because it's the 5th!) but "when is Ben going to make this clever?" I was all excited to see what super-weird twist was coming up. ("pored over until only shreds remained" was also a pretty clear stylistic divergence, but I figured you were doing it on purpose.)

Uh, not that the April fool's thing wasn't clever. I meant, make the book clever.

Posted by: JessieSS at April 5, 2007 10:17 AM

I think it sounded like a pretty good book.

You should at least do a short story.

Posted by: Jamey at April 16, 2007 02:29 PM

Don't scare me like that.

Posted by: David Moles at April 17, 2007 06:55 AM
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