Posts Tagged ‘Novel in Stories’
We have another awesome guest post from author James Dorr, as he shares with us the inspiration for TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, which releases in May. I have to be honest, it has been a true pleasure reading James’ insightful posts, and I am definitely excited to read TOMBS! Without further ado, let’s turn the time over to James!
So begins today’s blog from Heidi Angell, with one small correction: TOMBS is listed by Amazon for release on June 1, though that’s close to May (and if you would like to see for yourself, or perhaps pre-order, one can press here). But given her next sentence, how can I resist quoting exactly the words she uses? This, then, is the second guest essay on TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH on Heidi’s blog, the first on “What Is a Novel-In-Stories?” posted on February 9 (for which, below, see February 13). While the first told about the structure of the novel itself, this one, titled “It Began With a Map,” is more on the structure of the world depicted within the novel and how it was developed. To quote myself: The original planning for TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH began with a map — different areas were defined in terms of the people who lived there. More or less “normal” people lived in the New City and the Tombs; ghouls, the eaters of the dead, were in the Old City; boat gypsies lived on the river — they were mostly normal, but prone to disease from the river’s poisons, thus leading short but more intense lives; more or less normal people again lived in the Port City, far down the river, but had a higher proportion of mutants. . . . And so I continued by wondering what various people did for their livings, social relations between males and females (some of which may seem a reflection on where we might be heading now), and end the post with a sort of portrait of a “typical” night in the Tombs itself, the necropolis just to west of New City across the great river. Or, better, read it yourself by pressing here.
So, probably around the end of April/beginning of May I hope to have a third essay for Heidi, hopefully ramping up interest in the book itself when it’s out in June. And I might mention also that this series really began with Heidi’s interviewing me at the start of the year (cf. January 10). Those late to this blog can catch the interview by pressing here, or if interested in the novel’s structure, my first guest essay can be found here.
These things have a way of sneaking up on you! The essay was actually published on Thursday, February 9, as advertised last week (cf. February 4), but in the circuitous way of the internet at times, word finally only caught up with me last night. So it goes.
The essay, anyway, pertains to my upcoming novel, TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, but is actually about novel structure. That is, TOMBS isn’t structured like a majority of novels, as pretty much a continuous narrative, but rather is what is sometimes called a mosaic novel or a novel-in-stories. Say what? That is, like Amy Tan’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB or Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. Or what about Bradbury’s THE ILLUSTRATED MAN? Or John Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy. Novels pieced together from parts, the parts sometimes short stories in their own right — but not necessarily always. And anyhow why do it that way at all?
Well, now we have an answer, courtesy of blogger Heidi Angell who, as of Thursday, has published my “What Is a Novel in Stories” as a guest blog. And did it really start with Edgar Allan Poe?
To find out, press here.
Just a quick note, that Weldon Burge has announced a Kickstarter campaign for for the upcoming Smart Rhino Publications anthology ZIPPERED FLESH 3: YET MORE TALES OF BODY ENHANCEMENTS GONE BAD, scheduled for launch next Tuesday, January 17. In conjunction with this will be his interview with me (cf. January 8, below) with remarks on short stories, novels-in-stories, structure of novels, and TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH: “I’ll be sending out the e-letter once the campaign has started, so you should see your interview posted next week as well!” Also mentioned in the interview are THE TEARS OF ISIS and “The Poetic Principle” by Edgar Allan Poe.
As for ZIPPERED FLESH 3, my part in this is a strangely muted (given the promise of some of its stories) science fiction tale called “Golden Age,” reflecting a future history of worn out, or otherwise damaged body replacements (see September 9), a reprint originally published in MINDSPARKS in Spring 1994.
Another interview lurks in our future. Completed just now, this one was rather a quickie as well, the contact coming from Smart Rhino Publications Editor Weldon Burge just last week: James, would you be open to a short interview for the January Smart Rhino newsletter? It would only be three or four questions, short and sweet. But I’d need a pretty fast turnaround, if possible. Please let me know. Thanks! My connection here is having stories in two Smart Rhino anthologies thus far, UNCOMMON ASSASSINS and INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS, and in a third to be coming out soon, ZIPPERED FLESH 3 (cf. September 9, et al.). So, “sure,” I sent back, and we set things up to be done this weekend.
More, such as a tentative date, will be noted here when it is known, but I will say now that, while short, it’s one of the heavier ones I’ve done in terms of writing and writing theory, even including a quote from Poe from his essay “The Poetic Principle.” Why that essay? Because I think Poe intended it to apply to fiction in prose as well, perhaps then explaining his own predilection for the short story form, and hence, by extension, mine. This is for a question having to do with my own short story collection, THE TEARS OF ISIS. But then, from there, a question on TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH brings up a discussion of form, in addition to content, and novels-in-stories or “mosiac” novels (see also, October 20), and why that form might be chosen over traditional narrative for telling certain kinds of stories. And also, why the mosiac form might answer Poe’s dictum that effective “poetic” writing be kept short.
A mosaic novel is a novel in which individual chapters or short stories share a common setting or set of characters with the aim of telling a linear story from beginning to end, with the individual chapters, however, refracting a plurality of viewpoints and styles. So says Wikipedia, adding, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins is a very early example. Or then there’s OXFORDREFERENCE.COM which simply says a book of short stories that share a common setting or characters and which taken together form a larger narrative. This last of which taking in what I might call a “novel in stories,” as with my own TOMBS, upcoming next year.
But it can get complex — I think myself Of John Dos Passos’ three-volume USA. But still, back to the idea of “novel in stories,” I think as well of Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES and THE ILLUSTRATED MAN. Then for more examples there’s today’s email and TOR.COM, bringing us Angela Slatter with “Five Mosiac Novels You Should Read,” who also explains: A mosaic novel, you say? What’s that when it’s at home? How’s it differ from a common or garden novel? Well, my favourite explanation is from the inimitable Jo Walton: “A normal novel tells a story by going straightforwardly at it, maybe with different points of view, maybe braided, but clearly going down one road of story. A mosaic novel builds up a picture of a world and a story obliquely, so that the whole is more than the sum of the parts.” And for more of which, one is invited to press here.