Friday, December 28, 2007
Chick lit, it’s not, convenient as that would have been for the sake of contrast to the boychik variety. No, what we have here is a full-on rush of ambitious literary fiction. That it largely succeeds as such is no consolation to horny but bookish males hoping for a bit of fluff or a few chuckles while killing time in the airport departure lounge.
Her central character, seventeen-year-old Marianne Cotton, doesn’t have a problem—she has onion-like layers of them—each drawing its quota of weeping as it is rudely stripped off to reveal more of the same beneath. And she seemed like such a nice, bright girl from the burbs, most likely to succeed, even if she’s headed for the success-starved achievements of the liberal arts.
It all starts when Marianne’s godlike grandfather, who is her chess master and father-substitute, croaks. No clean death, this. He suffers a devastating stroke (as she watches) and lingers on painlessly (for him) until his tormented daughter (Marianne’s mother Lily) decides to pull the plug. Except she doesn’t bother to ask Marianne. That’s major life crisis number one (unless you count the time her natural father took a hike when she was three).
To this point, Marianne has been an A-student out on politely competitive Long Island, bound for NYU with a scholarship and earnest plans to major in music. (Grandpa was fond of quoting Wittgenstein to her, so we guess she will also minor in philosophy with no strain.)
Propelled by her grief over the loss of the only sane man in her life, Marianne goes into socioeconomic free-fall. It seems all she has to do is set foot on the Long Island Railroad and inevitably she’s spiraling down into the rock music and drug culture of lower Manhattan. A creepy-sexy harmonica player named Miles is her undoing, and he does a helluva job, deflowering her and getting her hooked on horse, not necessarily in that order (or maybe simultaneously—she doesn’t seem to notice or care).
Life as a junkie and a wannabe groupie isn’t glamorous or fun, although at times Marianne seems to think it’s all she deserves. She delights in high-life sex with Miles, although unfortunately for voyeuristic male readers, we have to take her word for it—there’s no graphic content here.
What follows for much of the book is a whipsawing of agony and ecstasy as Marianne struggles to scrape up enough cash to cop and occasionally also eat. Bukowski comes to mind—no glamorous existence there, either. (Some practitioners of fratire don’t seem to grasp this, fascinated as they seem to be with the puke on their own shoes. Ah, well.)
Oh, it’s an artful whipsawing, in that the narrative respects the rhythms of the reader’s expectations. Just when we think Marianne will get smart and win back some self respect, she gets knocked down, someone dies, she gets a bad dose, she catches her boyfriend in flagrante with the band hag, and so on. (Fiction isn’t life. In its contrived worlds, as in the movies, people rise, suffer, and die on cue, even to a beat. It has to be that way—art is artifice, after all.)
Just when Marianne has been beaten to a bloody pulp, she winds up in rehab, and there begins the arduous climb back toward reconciliation with her mother and the middle class. Late in the book as she starts to spill it in psychotherapy, we begin to appreciate (as she does) what precipitated her fall. Up until now, she’s blamed the inept other men in her life—her father and her mother’s subsequent string of loser lovers, along with the infamous Miles and an all-male cast of criminals, dope dealers, and sleazy employers.
But here comes the epiphany: All along she’s been disappointed by the lack of love and attention from her mother, a self-absorbed painter with a manic-depressive lifestyle. Marianne’s image of herself has been reflected through her mother’s neuroses, and they both have to get through, and past, that core issue.
So, relax, guys. You may be crass, sleazy, opportunistic, and inept. But you’re not at fault.
This time, you'll have to let the women work it out.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Not to mention that e-books are also much cheaper and easier to obtain than traditional books. Many is the time I've departed for a business trip and searched in vain at the airport bookstore (or not had the time to browse) for something to read. With that Kindle wi-fi link (Whispernet, they call it), I stand to be instantly gratified (at least, to the extent that any reading material can satisfy my longings).
However, I don't own a Kindle yet (are you listening, Santa?). So I'm really curious how my product looks, displayed on theirs.
So I will offer a NOT INCONSIDERABLE PRIZE of Rollo Hemphill memorabilia -- personalized and shipped to you promptly at my expense -- to the first person who e-mails me at mailto:email@example.com that you've downloaded Rollo's adventure onto your new Kindle.
Come now -- you don't want him to unwrap his new Kindle only to find Merriam Webster inside!
Kindle Version ASIN:B000NY14KI My Inflatable Friend: The Confessions of Rollo Hemphill
Thursday, December 6, 2007
We begin in a fearsome jungle -- Hollywood -- where we get an insider's view of studio grinders. We fear for main character Cassie, an English major just off the bus. But in Candland's steely take, the young woman is neither star-struck nor naive. She knows what she wants and she's willing to work relentlessly and patiently. But independent of mind as she is, Cassie can't help but fall for the guy with True Grit, godlike director Jeff McConnell, who literally rides a tall horse, keeps his hurts to himself, and glares meaningfully as a substitute for dialogue. But it's not to be, or not right away.
We segue from Day of the Locust to The Devil Wears Prada as Cassie must cope with the female studio exec from Hell. Then, with both the career and the love plots suddenly in suspense, we find ourselves in the real jungle of Brazil researching a romance about some rare stones. Another handy, helpful guy (named Bill Cody with unexplained irony) figures in this subplot, but not too much, just long enough to convince us that independent-minded Cassie is never outside the gravitational pull of a male, even if she doesn't always let herself be drawn in. Then back to Hollywood and the rest is her-story.
This book clarified something for me about chick lit and about the legacy of Jane Austen. Today's circumstances and social structure are undeniably different -- but the ultimate goal remains chillingly the same: The clever, resourceful female -- who is portrayed as (and may well be) smarter and more cunning than her male counterparts -- still regards herself as lost in polite society unless she's the better half of a power couple! Brava to Candland for her commentary on sexual politics, and here's expecting Cassie's next exploit could take her into uncharted waters...
Friday, November 30, 2007
The premise of this novel is full of potential and in the main it has been very well executed. Although the back story takes a little too long to establish itself, the concept of the novel as a written confession is implemented well. Another clever invention is the way that Jones intersperses Rollo’s confessions with occasional chapters from his parole officer – this provides another perspective on the story and really helps to keep the plot intrigue ticking away nicely. The pace quickens when the inflatable doll capers commence in earnest, and the story builds to a worthy climax with a string of unexpected turns.
Jones has succeeded in taking one simple, yet original, idea and expanding it into a creditable novel. While the laughs may be spread a little too thinly for ‘My Inflatable Friend’ to be classed as an out-and-out comedy, it certainly packs enough mystery, intrigue and anticipation to keep any reader thoroughly entertained.
Craig Alan Williamson is the author of college comedy novel ‘A Foreign Education’. Download an exclusive preview at www.CraigAlanWilliamson.com
Thursday, October 25, 2007
– a well established genre of writing, usually written by women for women and dealing with issues such as fashion, shopping and men. The female lead character, always good looking but she rarely knows it, stumbles from one no-good guy to another, before falling madly in love with Mr Perfect. Mr Perfect proves stubborn at first, but then comes to his senses, sweeps the girl off her feet and takes her for a romantic weekend in Paris aboard his private jet where he proposes mid-orgasm while conceiving their first set of triplets.
aka Boychik Lit, Guy Lit, Dick Lit, or Fratire
– a new breed of novel, usually written by men for men and dealing with issues such as drinking, vomiting, and sex. The male lead, never good looking and he always knows it, stalks one unobtainable girl after another, before falling madly in love with a keg of beer and numbing his pain on a nightly basis. Just when all hope seems lost, he finally finds a girl who will drop her knickers in his presence and wipe the crusting vomit from his face in the morning. His life is complete.
With the definitions out of the way, we can now get down to the nitty-gritty. Let us first consider the market appeal of each of these species of book. More women read novels than men, due no doubt to their inherent capacity to multi-task. Women are freely able to read books whilst simultaneously performing activities such as bossing men around, telling men they have small penises, chatting about loser-men to their girlfriends, and boasting about how much better they are at multi-tasking than men. Being aimed at women, Chick Lit therefore clearly has the advantage in market appeal. This is particularly true as men are too busy playing video games and browsing ever more depraved pornography to even consider picking up a Lad Lit novel.
Maybe, then, we should consider the potential for multi-million dollar movie spin-offs. While gross-out comedies clearly have their place in the market, their box office pull is dwarfed by that of the chick flick. It’s not too difficult to drill down and analyse the reasons for this, which all revolve around the fact that men need sex more than women. You see, men are so desperate for a good dose of sweet lovin’ that they will happily endure another vomit-inducing Anne Hathaway movie on a Friday night. They will even put up with a tortuous 4 hour Legally Blonde DVD marathon if there is the merest sniff of some panty action to be found at the end of the night. Women, on the other hand, would much rather go without sausage for eternity than watch a Will Ferrell film or yet another sequel to American Pie.
So should Lad Lit authors resign themselves to the fact that there just isn’t the market out there to sustain a living from their smut-filled pages? Yes, we should. But in the absence of that kind of common sense, we should instead focus on making our work more chick-friendly. Love, romance and premenstrual should no longer be regarded as dirty words, and women should no longer be treated as slabs of meat to be rated, ridiculed and drooled over. Well, at least not on even and odd numbered pages. This is a new world order, where proud owners of titties and todgers are all welcome to enjoy the delights of the modern Lad Lit novel.
Craig Alan Williamson is the author of the chick-friendly Lad Lit college comedy novel ‘A Foreign Education’. He welcomes all sexes to sample the opening chapter of his book at www.CraigAlanWilliamson.com or buy the paperback from Amazon using the links below.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Ross's story isn't American Pie or even Salisbury Pasty. (Okay, one character saves fecal samples from the jock villain in jars, but thankfully no details emerge. And be glad that the manner of collection is also left entirely to the imagination.) In short, you might expect CU life as observed by a too-polite Brit to be a gross-out, but it's not. In tone, it's more like Goodbye, Columbus than Portnoy's Complaint.
In fact, the happenings in dorm Cheyenne Arapaho are so verisimilitudinous, so mundane, that one wonders if we're not reading an autobiography helped by a cleverly cached digital voice recorder (one of those geek techno-tricks).
The subtle attraction of A Foreign Education stems from its literary heritage--the Victorian romance. You know the plot--if either of the lovers could manage to form the words "I love you," there would be no story. Ross lusts after the luscious April but just won't blurt it out, and their courtship is pretty much pathetically Platonic until, well, it's not. (Don't tell me you didn't see that coming.) So I guess you'd call it justice--Bridget Jones updates Jane Austen; Ross Cooper dusts off the corpse of Edith Wharton and gives her a good shagging.
Don't get me wrong. This book has courage--the boldness to describe collegiate sexual angst as something other than a feverish quest for the slam-bam conquest. Early on, Ross actually turns down freely offered sex, not because the partner is repulsive, but because she's attractive and yet he has no feelings for her. His roommate Jak suffers a chronic, inexplicable case of E.D.--inexplicable until you realize that performance anxiety might not be all that uncommon in a generation confronted by STDs, identity crises, competitive stress, and endless commercials for duration-prolonging pills.
This book is wry, wise, and touching. If you start it thinking that's a chicken-shit way to approach a sex comedy, you might end up rethinking what it is to be a "real man."
By the way, these days Craig works as a research scientist, lives in Salisbury with his wife and his laptop. Seems like he got his priorities sorted. (And I'm really curious whether his wife is American and has green eyes!)
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Think again. The biggest objection so far is--it's been done!
Mind you, these other stories bear only superficial resemblance to Rollo Hemphill's pathetic misadventure. The first of the recent ones is The Valet (La Doublure, 2006), a French movie about a hapless car jockey at a luxury hotel in Paris who gets involved in a phony love triangle. Except in this case, the real-live femaleness of the woman in question is not at all in question. She's a doll, but a fleshy one, runway model lookalike Alice Taglioni. I'm one of the five people in the U.S. who saw the movie, and I have no worries that I was ripped off or vice versa.
However, apparently the Farrelly brothers thought the story was sufficiently zany and commercial to produce an English-language remake, also titled The Valet, which some say will be released this holiday season. I can't get much advance information about its plot but unless they've squared the love triangle with a rubber doll, I doubt they ripped me off.
A lump also came to my throat when I learned about Lars and the Real Girl, a movie premiering this month starring Ryan Gosling as a lonely guy who has a delusional relationship with a lifelike silicone dummy. Turns out they used a silicone-and-steel babe from the same manufacturer I cite (with permission) in MIF. There the similarity ends.
And... at least two episodes of Boston Legal have also featured synthetic females. (From the same source I suspect: Do you see a strong resemblance between the doll Jerry had in the car to Lars' main squeeze? I do.)
But remember the magic formula of Hollywood, which could well be a Goldwynism:
Kid, gimme a new idea that stood the test of time!
There are plenty of antecedents. Closer to Lars' story than to Rollo's is the movie Mannequin (1985) in which a love affair with a fashion dummy results in a transformation to live flesh with an attitude.
That idea was nothing new at all. In the ancient myth, Pygmalion, a sculptor, falls in love with the lovely statue he calls Galatea, and his passion brings her to life. George Bernard Shaw borrowed the story to craft his Pygmalion, from which Lerner and Loewe created My Fair Lady. Somewhere along the line the girl's transformation began as a street urchin rather than a statue.
So expect the new cable-TV series (aimed squarely at the Entourage audience and the guys who didn't care that Flight of the Conchords was lame) The Misadventures of Rollo Hemphill -- I just can't give you a date. We're waiting to see whether the dummy goes SAG and holds out for Web residuals.
And if the Hollywood truism holds true, also be looking for a remake of My Fair Lady with Eliza first seen in remarkably realistic silicone and steel.
You read it here first!
Friday, September 21, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
What's it all about, Alfie? Well perhaps it is about Alfie. If Chick Lit is a term used to denote genre fiction written for and marketed solely to women -- shallow, girl searching for Mr Right while shopping for the perfect diet and shoes--then I guess boychiklit or fratire would be exactly the same thing but written for and marketed to young men. So, cliché being what it is, boy avoids Ms Right while shopping for beer and sportscar. Don't all men want to be like Alfie? Don't all women want to be like Carrie? Only on TV surely. Is the gender divide so clean? Are we always so true to our stereotypes?
We're all from the same species after all, so surely I can enjoy a good, lusty read about boy things. Many of my favourite all time writers are male: Salman Rushdie, Umberto Eco, James Joyce, Cormac McCarthy, Peter Carey, Julian Barnes. Barnes'
Or is there something else behind the notion of a genre designed specifically to denote a book that is not substantial: maybe a bridge between a magazine, a TV show, and a book.
This is probably the time to admit that I haven't read all that much in this genre. Nor do I want to reveal just what a quality snob I am. It may well be an affliction associated with my gender (I do after all like shopping for shoes), but give me a book with too many girl-chasey gratuitous boob scenes (
Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader. Her stories, poetry, reviews and articles have appeared in many printed anthologies and journals, and have won several awards. She is the author of The Art of Assessment, Quark Soup, and Sleep Before Evening.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Brother Cain has choice words about My Inflatable Friend.
It's not yet a rousing debate about what's fratire and what's not--but we're getting there!
Tucker Max, you dog. Where are you?
Monday, September 3, 2007
Quentin knows how to construct a sentence, spin a yarn, and engage an audience. So I'm suspecting he's not the dropout he claims to be. I read Notes from the "G" Spot: The Uncensored Diaries of Slick F. Worthy, and it is indeed a slick, sick, and funny hunk of prose. Never mind that Slick not only has the predictable predicament of searching desperately for the legendary spot--but also, like most of us most of the time, he has a hard time just describing what he thinks it is. It's the pursuit of that ration of individual happiness the Constitution guarantees us the unrestricted pursuit of. That it evades Slick's detection isn't so much a surprise as the extent of sexual suffering and kink twisting he's willing to endure to find it.
You will want to peruse these Notes, particularly if: 1) you are a ninety-five pound weakling who dreams about being an NFL almost-ran with no money whose rough charm keeps him barely out of trouble, 2) you are bedridden and can't take a road trip just now, 3) you avoid casual sex for fear of STDs or because all your pickup lines fail but you're curious about what might happen if you actually went home with a hooker, or 4) if you wonder what sense Jack Kerouac might make or not make of post-digital society.
Quentin promises another Slick novel sometime soon. But he might also do well to brag that he's descended from that other Cain (not the Bible guy--James M.). Then he could do a noir story and call it The G-Man Never Asks Twice.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Rollo Hemphill is a slacker, a failed hacker with a rap sheet, who gets embroiled in a really improbable case of identity theft. My Inflatable Friend is the first book of his confessions and misadventures.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Comments encouraged on the theme of: "Why a Fat Tire Is My Inflatable Friend."
Book copies of My Inflatable Friend: The Confessions of Rollo Hemphill now on sale at a shockingly low price for your end-of-summer reading pleasure at our new eBay store LaPuerta Books and Media.
Think of LaPuerta as a micro-brewery for books, and don't forget to check your pressure every now and then.
Friday, July 13, 2007
I'm just beginning to realize, however, that the audience is even bigger than that. In My Inflatable Friend, unlike either Entourage or the fratire novels, Rollo Hemphill is a lovable loser.
Who loves lovable male losers more than women -- of any age? That material instinct, along with the drive to procreate, is probably the most powerful force on earth!
Monday, July 2, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The touch I noted was that spooky, hairy eyeball from the Johnny Sack character, as if the NY mob were saying, "Don't go there, little lady."
Hey, no worries. As David Chase has assured us, the Feds are so busy chasing down rumors of terrorist plots that practitioners of good, old-fashioned home-grown crime and corruption need not worry.
Is Hillary saying, if she were in office, she'd do an RFK on those guys?
Monday, June 11, 2007
So in the movie (which I'm thinking is a remake of All the Kings Men), Tony gives major bucks to the party and runs for office. Too preposterous, you say? Obviously you never studied much U.S. history!
Another model for the movie would be Get Shorty, in which juice-loan enforcer Chili Palmer goes to Hollywood and finds that his highly refined criminal techniques make him exceptionally well qualified to succeed as a movie producer. (I won't belabor the parallels.)
And there's another reason I think Tony's karma will take him to Washington: No self-respecting producer would allow all that asbestos to just sit there!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Secondly, she's not inflatable. His first attempt was a gasbag, but she didn't convince anybody, and she wasn't exactly a keeper. The one he ends up with is a high-tech, lifelike, silicone-and-steel replica with articulated joints. Custom made, cost a few grand, not available at your local party store. (If you're a fan of Boston Legal, you've seen two of her sisters.)
Thirdly, the inflatable aspect stays with him. His swelling ego, as it turns out, is no friend.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Tony will survive at least two more attempts on his life. He will become increasingly friendly with the Feds. Ultimately, he will offer to make a large financial contribution to a major political party. After a cursory sanitation of his background files and several visits from the spin doctors, he will be prepped as a candidate for junior senator from the state of New Jersey. Same game, higher stakes.
The theatrical feature plot takes off from there and is basically a remake of All the Kings Men.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Consider an upgrade, buddy. RealDoll dot com. This is not a paid promotion, but they did give me permission to use their trade name in the book.
My Inflatable Friend
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Tony won't die at the end of the series. The anonymous powers that be will decide to run him for the Senate. He wouldn't be the first crook to be washed clean at the ballot box.
And he would hate his life, even more than now. Karma? You bet.
And, man, would I love to write *that* movie!!
Friday, April 20, 2007
I'll be in Independent Writers of Southern California Booth # 428 on Saturday from 11AM - 1PM and on Sunday from 10AM - Noon.
Drop by and get the skinny on the SoCal writers' mafia (and mutual protection society), along with scare stories from the POD Wars!
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
And don't say Pride and Prejudice, even though it meets all the core criteria of looking for "Mr. Right."
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Helpful Hint: Today millions of men will be subjected to the time-honored Mind Reading Test. Remember that it's strictly Pass / Fail, and you get only one guess. So take the advice I got from old Uncle Bob -- if it doesn't sparkle or smell, YOU GUESSED WRONG!
Here's hoping your Valentine is a live one!
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
So might be Hamlet, for that matter--if only the Prince of Denmark had been able to run away to Spain with Ophelia and start a new network marketing company...
Friday, January 26, 2007
P.S. Take another look at my picture. Overnight does not belong in the same sentence as success, when it comes to describing anything I've ever done or attempted.
Monday, January 22, 2007
One might suspect, therefore, that a boychik is someone deserving of a lecture. Moreover, he is a young male who, in treading on the borders of manhood, must be put in his place by the dominant male of the household. The boychik tests limits. He is an upstart, a smart-ass, a tyro, and a doofus. He is, in short (although he's heard size doesn't matter), one of us.
So, recognizing that the boychik is not yet, or might not ever become, the ball-scratching, remote-clutching stereotype of wannabe jockdom, let's follow the hapless Rollo as he ventures into the she-lion's den, there to tempt her to embark on life's adventure... [click to view PDF]
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
In the boychik-lit story…
- The male main character is looking for sex and is bewildered by emotional entanglements.
- He is a slacker and a hacker (a shlacker). He is clever and resourceful but chronically lazy.
- He’s a dropout who can’t hold a steady job.
- Far from being the hero with a single tragic flaw, the boychik is riddled with worrisome flaws, with one or two possibly redeeming qualities.
- The tone is observational and witty, sometimes sarcastic.
- The boychik tells his story in a confessional, first-person narrative.
- At the end of the novel, the hero has almost managed to undo the complicated mess he’s made in the course of the story and thinks he has learned important lessons, which may or may not be valid.
Examples? I just happen to know of a new one...