Monday, March 19, 2012


I made a big deal in December about not finding motivation for my work.

Well, that is over now. Recently, I have been not only highly motivated but almost obsessed. That is how you have to be to get any real writing done, at least for me.

I've been working like a fiend on my current novel, "The Prince of Newport," and on a long short story, "Alien Love," and on a memoir, which I am writing under a pen name, for legal reasons. More on all those later. I have five current projects and almost a dozen others in the works. Wish me luck.

Anyway, I made a big stink about not wanting to do it. Now I don't want to do anything else.

And that, for a writer, is a good problem to have.

-- Roger

Copyright © 2012, Roger R. Angle


The other day, I had a hankering to read some intelligent literary criticism. Maybe gain some insight into my favorite writers, to enhance the quality of my favorite pastime, reading.

So I got from the L.A. Public Library a book by the noted and widely published critic Harold Bloom: "How To Read And Why." OK, sounds instructive. Perhaps a bit arrogant. But we can forgive that, can't we?

So I waded through as much of it as I could. Turns out, it's mostly bloviating, the over-done expansion of one's own opinions.

Let me give you one example: He says that "Crime And Punishment" by Dostoevsky, "remains the best of all murder stories...."

Yeah, right. That might be true if it wasn't so damn BORING.

I got about 90 pages into this famous Russian novel, as I recall from many years ago, and, after the killing of the old lady, a distant cousin of Raskolnikov comes riding into town on a train. What possible relevance could this have? None that I could see. The story comes to a screeching halt.

The book is a chore and a snooze, in my opinion. Reminds me of "Lolita," the book that made Vladimir Nabokov famous and rich, not a bad thing for a writer. Trouble is, most of it is boring, too. There is a long travelog that is soporific at best. And the seduction scene has the wind taken out of it by the way the girl actually seduces the old lecher. He wants her and he wants her, and she was easy all along. What a let-down.

Oh, but far be it from me to even have opinions here, since I am not a famous literary critic. Of course, my lowly status means nothing to me, as it probably means little or nothing to others who feel they have a right to their own opinions.

I do agree with Harold Bloom that "As I Lay Dying" is Faulkner's greatest novel and that "Blood Meridian," by Cormac McCarthy, is the best novel published in America since WWII.

I also agree with him that the main characteristic of great literature is originality. That is what is so bad about modern thriller and mystery novels: There are two or three hundred talentless hacks writing and rewriting the same two or three books, over and over again, ad nauseam.

At least the big Bloomer and I have some agreements. But I have to keep looking to find a literary critic to enjoy. Next on my list: Philip Stevick, with whom I used to correspond. I loved his work and found it enriching. We'll see how he holds up after all these years. More on that TK (to come, in news jargon). Note: Well, I did find a couple of his books at the library, and they were a snooze, too, sorry to say. Too academic for me.

-- Roger

Copyright © 2012, Roger R. Angle