Patreon, now live!

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After two years of deliberation, I figured, why not. I started a Patreon page. I need something to hold myself accountable, and this feels like the right move. It’s felt like the right move for a while, but I was just too scared to go for it.

Mainly, what I’m excited about is that a Patreon page allows me to focus on works I like, rather than working on material OTHER people like. I’ll even go far enough to toot my own horn here a little, I think what I like other people will also. But we’ll see. I’m not expecting to see many people contribute to my Patreon–but hey, consistency builds community, and I know how to be consistent. . . . sorta.

I’ve fallen out of my daily morning pages routine, but the Patreon is a good excuse to get back to it. Furthermore, it makes me more excited to write stuff. Submitting to magazine day in and day out has worn me down and I’m excited to explore a different medium.

So, if you have some time, go check out my Patreon page by clicking this link. There are three tiers to contribute to, and there are 2 goals I have set up once I reach a certain contribution amount per month. I think they’re pretty exciting. Even if you don’t pledge, check back to see my morning pages each day. Some of them might even turn into full short stories.

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A Look At The First 3 Chapters of Murakami’s New Novel, Killing Commendatore

Last Friday, after work, I met my wife at a bar for a drink and cheese. Out of nowhere, she told me she had bought me a book. The new Haruki Murakami novel, though she didn’t know what it was called. She really bought it because it was the only way for her to get a tote bag that she liked which depicts a black cat (like our own black cat) reading a copy of the new book, Killing Commendatore. First, I was thrilled to have the book, and second, my wife loves totes. She probably has about fifteen of them of them. It drives me crazy. “…they’re in my tote,” she tells me when I’m looking for her keys so I can take the car and make a milk run.

My eyebrows raise. “Which tote?”

Things have disappeared. Things have materialized in those totes. Trust me.

See the source imageAnyway, I eagerly sat down with Murakami’s new book and started to read. At first, I was a little put-off. Many of the themes and ideas in this new book are similar to those found in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and while that is one of my favorite books ever, I want to see one of my favorite authors do something new. He did.

I’ve only read the first three chapters (as well as the prologue) because I couldn’t quite tell what Murakami was doing with the chronology of his piece. He has a collection of themes he introduces all of which take place in a different time frame, all in the past, but some more so and some less. I was wondering if there was any kind of rhyme or reason to it. It was clear to me that the narration was leapfrogging through time, then taking a step back, then leapfrogging again. If that sounds confusing, it is. I read chapter 3 last night and then sat down and made a graphic organizer so I could understand what Murakami was doing with time. Here’s a simplified version of what I thought was going on.

Leap frog_ Killing Commendatore

That probably seems confusing. It is, and furthermore, I don’t it’s this systematic. But what I’m trying to get to is that each scene is pushing the story forward, then picking up somewhere in the past, i.e. in between scenes or ideas that you’ve already heard about. Sometimes the narrator even repeats the scene and ideas and some of the same words as the first time you’ve read it.

Below is a table I made to organize my understanding of this book–or at least the first 3 chapters of it, I didn’t even take the prologue into account. I likely will at some point.

COLOR CODED KEY:

Green = Concerning anything the narrator did once he first got to the mountain house.

Brown = Anything about his wife wanting to separate.

Yellow = Anything to do with teaching painting and sleeping with married women.

Light Blue = Anything that came before the immediate story, i.e. flashbacks.

Dark Blue = Anything to do with the narrator trying to escape his own situation.

Red = Anything to do with the narrator leaving his past behind.
Killing CommendatoreAs you can see, the top table is the way this information is presented in the book, the bottom table is the chronology of when and what happens. You may notice that ideas are touched on twice. For instance, the wife tells the narrator she wants a divorce twice, not literally twice, but the narrator tells us twice in vastly different spots in the book. Four sections separate that once instance told twice. More extreme is the fact that he brings up sleeping with two married women who he taught art to in the fourth section, but also in the fifteenth section.

the lack of chronology in this piece makes me think the time isn’t of much import to the narrator, though to the author it was obviously of much importance, as he took a lot of time to mix the timeline up so much.

I’m thinking I will continue this timeline and color-coded method throughout the book. I’m expecting to see a pattern of some kind, but I’ll just have to read on and see.

Big Ideas: Blackwing by Ed McDonald

Last night I finally got through Blackwing, a gritty grimdark fantasy about a doomed and torn city caught in the midst of a war between two factions of undying wizards. Or gods. or demons. You know what, I don’t know what they are, but one faction is called The Nameless (even though they all seem to have names) and the other faction is called The Deep Kings, though what they are kings of and why isn’t quite clear. There’s no map in the book, so getting a sense of direction is difficult for readers–which I think is the point, as 80 years ago Nall’s Engine was activated and it destroyed one of The Deep Kings, as well as his army, as well as the land it rained destruction down on. But that’s not all–Nall’s Engine also broke the sky, carved slits into the fabric of reality, and now the sky wails and whines and screams at odd moments. They call the place where the sky was opened up: The Misery. It’s an apt name–everything and everyone in this book is miserable. It’s a fantastic piece of pessimistic fiction–at least until the very end.

91pne55s6hlThe main character Ryhalt Galharrow (awesome name) in a mercenary known for taking any job, as long as the price is right. When he discovers a couple of dead sympathizers in The Misery with blood running down their cheeks from their eyes, he knows it’s a Darling that has killed him. Then the tattoo of the raven on Galharrow’s arm begins to burn and squirm and it bursts from his arm, a live raven, in a shower of gore. When the raven speaks (of course it does) it is the voice of one of The Nameless–Crowfoot. Crowfoot gives him a mission he dare not refuse. That’s the first chapter.

The whole piece is in first person PoV, which works to make the world ultra real. Galharrow is likable in the way where you admire him but wouldn’t really want to know him because, well, he’s a bit of a dick and he doesn’t mind doing bad things for the right reasons.

The plot takes lots of twists and turns and it’s fun learning about how magic works in this world. It’s not like anything I’ve ever read before–there are matchlock guns, then a thing called Battle Spinners who use light from coiled batteries they use to blow stuff up. Then there are the wizards who have magic that isn’t explained at all because Galharrow doesn’t understand it either.

The book weighs in at 380 pages, short for a fantasy novel, yet near the end of the book I found the book was a bit lagging and thought the conclusion could have come a bit sooner–not by much, but just a little. In the last 100 pages, I think there was a 20-page span or so in which little happened that was essential to the plot or character development.

Otherwise, this is a really great debut novel of dark and gritty fiction. It’s awesome for anyone who is tired of traditional heroes and dark lords and the like in fantasy. For me–I need to take a break from magic and read something a little more literary.

Next up on Big Ideas is Vurt by Jeff Noon, an essential and classic cyberpunk tour de force. See you next time.