Sunday, July 10, 2005

Conf 74 How To Write A Novel

One night Mack lay back on his bed in the Palace Flop-house and he said, "I ain't never been satisified with that book Cannery Row. I would of went about it different."

And after a while he rolled over and raised his head on his hand and he said, "I guess I'm just a critic. But if I ever come across the guy that wrote that book I could tell him a few things."

"Like what?" said Whitey No. 1.

"Well," said Mack, "like this here. Suppose there's chapter one, chapter two, chapter three. That's all right, as far as it goes, but I'd like to have a couple of words at the top so it tells me what the chapter's going to be about. Sometimes maybe I want to go back, and chapter five don't mean nothing to me. If there was just a couple of words I'd know that was the chapter I wanted to go back to."

"Go on," said Whitey No. 1.

"Well, I like a lot of talk in a book, and I don't like to have nobody tell me what the guy that's talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. And another thing - I kind of like to figure out what the guy's thinking by what he says. I like some description too," he went on. "I like to know what colour a thing is, how it smells and maybe how it looks, and maybe how a guy feels about it - but not too much of that."

"You sure are a critic," said Whitey No. 2. "Mack, I never give you credit before. Is that all?"

"No," said Mack. "Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. The guy's writing it, give him a chance to do a little hooptedoodle. Spin up some pretty words maybe, or sing a little song with language. That's nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don't have to read it. I don't want hooptedoodle to get mixed up in the story. So if the guy that's writing it wants hooptedoodle, he ought to put it right first. Then I can skip it if I want to, or maybe go back to it after I know how the story come out."

Eddie said, "Mack, if the guy that wrote Cannery Row comes in, you going to tell him all that?"

Whitey No. 2 said, "Hell, Mack can tell anybody anything. Why, Mack could tell a ghost how to haunt a house."

"You're damn right I could," said Mack, "and there wouldn't be no table-rapping or chains. There hasn't been no improvement in house-haunting in years. You damn right I could, Whitey!"

And he lay back and stared up at the canopy over his bed.

"I can see it now," said Mack.

"Ghosts?" Eddie asked.

"Hell, no," said Mack, "chapters..."

Sweet Thursday, sequel to Cannery Row
by John Steinbeck

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.


genevieve said...

So let's hooptedoodle away...That's great, thanks!!

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