Live Forever

Live Forever Offer

I do a lot of silly things to encourage people to write reviews of my books, but this whole get your name in the next book tactic seems to work the best. You know, aside from cold hard cash, which, by the way, should not be delivered as an Amazon Gift Card unless you want to get 20-30 reviews deleted in a single afternoon. I don’t know why it’s such a struggle to get reviews (even bad ones), especially when the book is selling and plenty of people seem to be reading it. I used to think I could impress upon people the importance of leaving reviews, but no. Bribery is pretty much the only thing that works.

Last time’s winner was Curtis, and since it’ll be a while, here’s a preview of where he ended up in the zero draft:

“Identify yourself,” said Jake.

The man stepped back and looked up.

“Ho there,” he called. “Don’t see many people up this way. What brings you to Challis?”

“Identify yourself!” Jake stepped to the railing and pointed the rifle over it.

The man’s hands went up. “Easy, stranger. My name is Curtis.”

“Curtis what?” asked Jake. “What’s your revision?”

“My revision? What do you take me for, some kind of Lassiter drone?”

“You’re not organic,” said Jake.

“Now that is true. I am not an organic human. But I am a person, just like you.”

“I am a sixth generation Vinestead synthetic,” said Jake. “You’re nothing like me.”

“They’re up to Six now? Interesting.” Curtis stepped back several feet so he wouldn’t have to crane his neck. “Well, Mr. Six. Seeing how you’re hunting organics and I’m not an organic, I don’t see that we have any quarrel.”

Jake considered the offer, shook his head. There weren’t supposed to be any other synthetics. If there were, who did they follow? What was their purpose?

“What are you doing here?” asked Jake.

“We have some monitoring equipment up there,” Curtis replied, gesturing with an outstretched arm. “Helps us keep tabs on who comes and goes in the valley. We picked up a whole mess of activity in Arco day before last, so I came down to make sure everything’s in good working order here.”

“You’re tracking our movements?” His finger trembled on the trigger.

“Yours. Humans. Animals. Anything that moves. Gotta know who’s walking in your backyard, am I right?”

“This isn’t your backyard,” said Jake. “This is Lassiter’s domain.”

That made Curtis chuckle. “Lassiter doesn’t exist in this world, pal. He may reach out to you from VNet, but he can’t walk here. Funny how that works, huh?” He adjusted his jacket. “Look, I’m on a schedule here, so if you’re not gonna come down, I’ll just come back another day. Safe travels, Mr. Six.”

He turned to leave. Jake raised the gun.

“I’m not done with you,” he warned. “This gun will tear you in half.”

Curtis shrugged, didn’t look back. “You’d be doing me a favor. I was never a fan of this sleeve anyhow.”

If you’d like to join Curtis in Hybrid Mechanics, you can buy / review my most recent book, Por Vida, here.

See you in the Vinestead ‘Verse!

Live Forever

Recommended Reading: The Introduction to Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer

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I had only ever heard of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer (and the sequel Tropic of Capricorn) from that one episode of Seinfeld where you heard of it. Not once was it ever mentioned in high school or in the many classes I took as an English major at UT Austin. So what was this book? Context suggested it was erotica, on par with Lady Chatterley’s Lover. After all, the version I bought on Amazon has a preface by Anais Nin. Not that I haven’t read Delta of Venus front to back and sideways, but as a Science Fiction author, erotica isn’t really up my alley.

The introduction to Tropic of Cancer was written by Karl Shapiro, an American poet who died in 2000. At first, I misread and thought the Intro was written by Anais Nin, which is the only reason I read it in the first place. I’d read her work, so I was curious to hear what she thought of Miller. Two pages into the Intro, I sank into a deep depression.

Here is a quote from Shapiro’s introduction:

I call Henry Miller the greatest living author because I think he is. I do not call him a poet because he has never written a poem; he even dislikes poetry, I think. But everything he has written is a poem in the best as well as in the broadest sense of the word. Secondly, I do not call him a writer, but an author. The writer is the fly in the ointment of modern letters; Miller has waged ceaseless war against writers. If one had to type him one might call him a Wisdom writer, Wisdom literature being a type of literature which lies between literature and scripture; it is poetry only because it rises above literature and because sometimes ends up in bibles.

There is a type of writing that I learned about throughout college that I’ve long forgotten. It’s easy to read the classics and then break away from them in favor of what is easy, marketable, and universally appealing. When I sit down to write a novel, I ask myself, will anyone find this interesting or entertaining? I’m starting to wonder if that’s how art is supposed to work. Who, ultimately, are we writing for?

I also got the sense from the Introduction that one of the greatest thing modern indie writers are missing out on is a sense of community.

Orwell has written one of the best essays on Miller, although he takes a sociological approach and tries to place Miller as a Depression writer or something of the sort. […] Orwell adds that the Tropic of Cancer is almost exactly opposite! Such a thing as Miller’s book “has become so unusual as to seem almost anomalous, [for] it is the book of a man who is happy.”

I can just imagine all these writers, poets, and artists getting together to critique each other’s work. Okay, maybe not getting together, but being on a level were Orwell is critiquing you? Please. Imagine having insight like that to help you understand your writing.

Still, as I reread some of the Introduction, I can’t get over how Shapiro speaks of Miller. It’s less an introduction and more of a glimpse into a literary world that most of us will never visit, and perhaps no longer exists. That was the world I wanted to be a part of when I started writing in overlong, self-reflective sentences that seemed to wind and zag with no rhythm but somehow ended up in exactly the right place. Now that type of writing only shows up in dialogue as a character flaw.

It’s not every day that you realize you’re no longer writing honestly, that you’re more concerned with the number of reviews on Amazon than sharing emotion straight from the heart. It’s nice to have a reminder now and then, and if you haven’t had one in a while, pick up this book and feel shitty about yourself for a day or two. Then pick up your Mac and get back to work.

Oh, and as for Tropic of Cancer itself, I’m only 40 or so pages into it, but it’s excellent. Much like the introduction, it’s a whole ‘nother world. I could see the style being applied to Tech Noir, with a seedy, neon city replacing Paris. I don’t know if some of Miller’s language will appeal to you or whether his blunt description of lady parts will send you running for Harry Potter, but the writing, the stream of consciousness, the thoughts that come at you from left and right… it all fits together very well. What a shame I’m only discovering it now.

Grab a copy. It’s the best $9 you’ll spend today.

EDIT: You know what it reminds me a lot of? The Ijon Tichy books by Stanislaw Lem, that same kind of rapid-fire narration. Check those out too.

Recommended Reading: The Introduction to Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer