You heard me right… those of you who know what the hell I’m talking about… I’ve reached the 10,000 word mark in my new novel, Daughter of a One-Armed Man. (It’s a working title – what can I say?) You may know that I use 100,000 words as the benchmark for novel length and this puts me 1/10th of the way through.
This is also the time when I usually tell you what the hell this is all about and when I look for readers to see what kind of response the book elicits. My stock of readers is running very weak right about now. I have Jenn proofreading Climbing Maya for me – and, at the rate she keeps conveniently losing her copy, I’m not feeling particularly good about that one. Vicky’s proofreading A Grand Canyon – Part Two. (It’s like an industry, I tell you!) What I need to do is kidnap some literary critic and chain him up in my basement.
… What I need to do is build a basement…
Oh well. I’ve just gotta find someone.
Meanwhile, what the hell is this book all about, anyway?
As with all of my books, I’m trying to do something just a little different. First of all, this is definitely a “Big Message” book. So, to keep people focused, I’ve decided to write without any of the seven or so words people sometimes find offensive. (Though I’m still allowing myself to use words such as “war” and “peace” and “science” and “global warming”.) I don’t want to hear people telling me that the book is no good because the word “shit” appears in it, which is what those who wish to avoid the argument so often tend to do.
So, what’s the argument about?
This book, in its own round-about way, is a book with a question at its core. At the core of Climbing Maya was the question, “What is success?” At the core of Daughter of a One-Armed Man lies the question, “What is love?” (What can I say? I decided to give myself a little break after Climbing Maya.)
What is love? How can anyone who claims to love their child allow them to fight in a war? How can anyone who claims to love someone allow them to be bamboozled by religions that promote intolerance and war? Could I really say I loved Vicky if I was ambivalent to global warming, something that’s going to make her life quite difficult in coming years? How can anyone tolerate capitalist greed and claim to love their children?
Do people believe that oil spills don’t affect the quality of the world in which they live, the quality of the world in which their loved ones live? Wouldn’t the eradication of the bees and the frogs and the polar bears have some affect on the life of your loved one?
How can we be willing to say, “I love you but could care less about the crappy world in which you live?”
It seems to me that our fundamental understanding of the concept of love is faulty, just as our understanding of the concept of success is – as mine was before I wrote Climbing Maya. It needs to be corrected… and I have nothing better to do.
Is this a serious, philosophical novel? Yes… it also includes a cab-driving polar bear in Bermuda shorts named Peanut Butter… and a godlike fisherman who refuses to admit to being god… the daughter of a wood nymph who travels to Los Angeles to find her true love… and the ultimate answer that is bound to have a lot of readers disagreeing. What? Where’s the philosophy, you ask? Well, there are also arguments about overpopulation, plants the bring power and power plants, saying goodbye to the birds and bees and frogs and so much else, the usefulness of hemp, the death of coral reefs, Wal-Mart guilt, cell phone waste, whatever happened to brotherly love, Las Vegas logic, what could be gained by simply not being so goddamed greedy, and so much more…
This book also holds a special place in my heart. In the 15 years I was with Rosa, I wrote seven novels. By writing this book, I’ll have completed eight in the three years I’ve been with Vicky. (Which is to say that maybe, then, I’ll take a little break…)