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Write Angles December 2011

Write Angles December 2011

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cover:
Frank Norris
cover:
Frank Norris

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Published by: California Writer's Club - Berkeley Branch on Sep 18, 2012
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09/19/2012

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Page 0
Write Angles
 
December2011
 
Frank Norris [Benjamin Franklin Norris, Jr. 1870–1902]
Frank Norriss brief life coincided with socialchanges taking place during the Progressive Era of American history. His early career as a journalist forCalifornia newspapers and magazines took him to South Africa to report on the Boer war and later toCuba for the Spanish-American war. His novels followed the literary movement of naturalism, writingin a “scientific” realism. These stories dealt with the effect of industrialization and the need forrealistic economic and social reform, using characters set in California and a turn-of-the-century SanFrancisco.
 
No art that is not in the end understood by the People can live or ever did live a single generation.”
 
 
Write Angles
Page 1
Write AngesWrite Anges
 View from the Mountain Top
–Linda Brown 
I am at home recuperating from early November hipreplacement surgery. While I have worked in a hospital twice inmy life—first as a 16-year-old candy striper and in my early 20sas a dietary supervisor—this trip was my first as a patient.My goal for this new experience was to determine if I have whatall writers are supposed to develop: keen observation skills.My first observation was that I did not have a desire to read thebooks I had brought with me. After a couple of days, I did readthe 11 “light reading” magazines I checked out from the library.I contrasted my experience as a patient receiving care with myexperiences as a worker in Corporate America.My first observation was that some 80 percent of the medical team and support staff spokeEnglish as a second language. It was clear that without this personnel from other countries,the hospital would be acutely short-staffed.On a felt-sense, the collective energy in a medical setting contrasted with what I called thehigh testosterone levels found in corporate corridors.At home, I find myself still competitive. I ask the home health nursing team how I am doingin contrast to other patients, especially those my age. I am pleased that my recovery is at100 percent in occupational health recuperation and in the top 5–25 percent using othermetrics.I am miffed that the stay did not magically make my tendency to procrastination go away.Instead, I have found myself totally enjoying one of my favorite pastimes—reading. I amnearly finished with
Empire of the Summer Moon 
, a nonfiction book published by Simon &Schuster about the fierce Comanches in Texas during the 18
th
and 19
th
centuries, beforethey were forced onto a reservation.I hear we had excellent speakers in October and November. Eva Merrick has a fabulousprogram planned for our holiday luncheon.Looking into next year, the 26
th
annual Fifth-Grade Story Contest kicks off in January andthe awards will be in June. Jane Glendenning did an excellent job lining up speakersthrough May. The agenda time for the speaker will change slightly to allow more socialtime. Workshop prices will go up slightly next year. (Workshops and special events are thesecond source of revenues behind dues).Enjoy the holidays, keep writing, and see you next year.
 
December
2011
contents
Presidents message 1Book Review 2Four Critics 2A Writer’s Christmas Eve 3November Survey Results 4December Survey 5PR Plea 5Volunteer Corner 6Member News & Contest 6Last Word 7
Holiday
luncheon invitation
8
upcomingevents
12/3 Holiday Luncheon
Grand Tavern
2/4 Workshop
: Sascha Illyvich —Writing About Love fromthe Male Point of View
 
2/19
 
Speaker
:
Fred Setterberg
Writing a True Life Novel
Our monthly meetings arefree and open to the publicand feature a speaker, anauthor event, or both.
Oakland Public LibraryWest Auditorium125 14th Street 94612
Entrance on Madison Street
Presidents Message…
 
 
Write Angles
Page 2
Write AngesWrite Anges
 Book Review
 
 A Visit from the Goon Squad 
–John Q. McDonald 
The best novels tackle the Big Questions: life, death, the passage of time. JenniferEgan telegraphs her intent in the opening epigraph by Marcel Proust, the master ofdeep dwelling upon Time and its effects on us. In this deft novel, which won Egan thisyear's Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the author takes us through the lives of a large numberof characters, loosely and tightly interwoven across decades from the early 1970s to adecade in the not-too-distant future.First, we meet Sasha, out on a date with Alex and trying in vain to suppress her kleptomania. We go on to meetSasha's boss, who runs a small record label in New York. We have episodes from Sasha's youth, high school daysspent getting into the Mabuhay Gardens, a San Francisco punk hot spot in the early ‘80s. Then there are big timemusic executives, a safari in Africa, college kids finding their way in New York, and even a strangely convincing andmoving Power Point chapter told from the point of view of Sasha's daughter.The story jumps back and forth in time, and skips perspective from one character to another. Yet there remains nodoubt about the arc of these people's lives. Music and its business are constant features, and certainly the passageof time, from spirited childhood to old age and death.Its tone reminds one of the complex interactions of characters and plot in the works of Armistead Maupin. Egan'swriting is often similarly light and accessible. This is a little deceptive, though. Egan provides a remarkable depthand sensitivity to Sasha’s existence in Time. One can feel the movement of time through the book and sense theconfusion and regret that comes with age, as the world speeds up and inevitably passes us by. Regret, too, as we tryto stay true to the people we thought we would become when we were young, while also making our individualattempts to stay a part of the world, which moves in sweeps of coincidence, feeling and chaos.Many of these chapters were previously published as stand-alone stories, and they read as tidy tales. Yet, Eganweaves them together, adding more material, so that the reader is left with the impression of a community, living ina communal novel, and with frequent notes of brilliance. A beautifully woven novel.
 
McDonald's review of 
Poor, Poor Ophelia
by Carolyn Weston was in James Rosin’s book on the’70s TV show 
The Streets of San Francisco
.
Four Critics
 
—Al Levenson 
When Jay Asher wrote
Thirteen Reasons Why 
, he had a support/critique group whobrought chapters for review to their regular meetings. Every writer I know who isserious about his work has a group of trusted writers who make you open wide and takeyour medicine. The writer does not get to explain or defend the work. After all, thereader tanning on Luquillo beach doesn’t get to ask the writer what he meant.Once the book was completed, Asher took another step somewhat different from what
Jay Asher 
 I’ve heard before. He chose four readers to read the book through and give theirrecommendations. The difference was that he did not ask them to read simultaneously, and he did not ask them toreread after he considered and executed their suggestions. He believes in Fresh Eyes. Yes, of course. He understandspeer editors don’t read the second version with the same diligence as the first.So his final readers are consecutive. Jay chose his first reader to find errors. When you write a book over three yearsand do four or five major rewrites in that time, errors will creep in. The author forgets the hero had a Corvette inchapter 2 when he gave him a Mustang convertible in Chapter 17. His boyhood pet is a collie in chapter 7
(continued on page 3)

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