I finished reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco the other day, and as usual, what I read affects what I write. There was once where I stayed up the entire night to finish The Road by Cormac McCarthy, only to be unable to sleep before my shift at the coffee shop and writing a rather visceral scene in which our heroine, Gwennie, beats up some rival vampires, eats a young French aristocrat and then goes into a stupor from her poisoned blood. Another time I read a novelization of the second Care Bears movie and proceeded to write a scene in which our one-legged hero, Doc, goes to summer camp and finds out that there’s an evil camp counsellor possessing kids, or something. I might have blocked out the ending to that movie from my childhood because it was rather traumatizing, though I was totally cool with seeing Se7en when I was eleven. Except I can’t eat SpaghettiOs anymore.
Achnyway, Mr. Eco sort of has the same problem I do. And I quote: “The dialogue created another problem for me. In other words, as I was writing the book, I realized that it was taking on an opera-buffa structure, with long recitatives and elaborate arias….but the dialogue? At a certain point I feared it would sound like Agatha Christie, while the arias were Suger or Saint Bernard” (Eco 517). Well, strip me naked, send me to the past and call me Kyle Reese! I have the same problem as a respected Professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna. (Just call me Professor MK Sauer. I teach Vampire Literature at the University of Blogna.) I don’t even know what semiotics is, but that’s unimportant. What’s important is that a dude who wrote an entire book about monks murdering monks, who then goes on to say that if you read his book solely because you want to read about monks murdering monks then you’re stupid, had the same problem as me. Wait a tic…I think that kid might be the Avatar.
What problem is this, you ask, because you’re astute, not unlike Brother William of Baskerville, the Holmesian hero of our holy, yet hugely highbrow history? We both like fedoras. No, I mean, really like fedoras.
Think of Indiana Jones in Temple of Doom when he almost loses an arm trying to get his fedora. Almost there. Now replace Ilsa from the Last Crusade with that same fedora, and then you catch my drift.* No, I jest. At least about Mr. Eco, as I’m sure any relationship he has with that really good lookin’ hat is purely Platonic.
No, the problem we both have is that our dialogue and our narration have seemingly two different voices! My blog post about polyphony covered that and I just wanted to let you know that this is a legitimate concern for writers and that the first step to overcoming voices in your head trying to fight for the narration wheel is to admit you have a problem. Hi, my name is MK Sauer — (Hi, MK) — and I’m constantly trying to reconcile two completely different moods for my novel.
(Hey, wasn’t there an episode for Forever Knight where Nick the Vampire was trying to treat his blood-drinking like an addiction and he went to an AA-type of meeting and met Ms. Trinity-before-she-was-Trinity-and-all-impaled-and-junk and she was a sex addict? Is that a stretch? Well, I guess vampires are the recurring theme, so we’re clear. )
*I can only say a German accent when saying, “This is how we kiss in Austria.” Unfortunately, I have to play out the whole scene and continue macking on air and then say, “And this is how we kiss in Germany,” and the smack the air, and then become rugged and handsome and tired and say, “I liked the Austrian way better,” and then do my best Sean Connery accent and say, “So did I.” Usually by the time I’m done, if there are witnesses who don’t know me, I’ve accumulated a few stares and/or phone calls for help.
On a somewhat related note, Brother William is played by Sean Connery in the 1986 movie version of The Name of the Rose with a very, very young and very naked Christian Slater, who was in Interview with the Vampire. So that just goes to show that everything in my blog is connected. EVERYTHING. Which is why I have a game called Six Degrees of Count Dracula. Now all we need is Kevin Bacon to play Dracula.
Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose. Harcourt, Inc, 1984.
God, I’ve been out of school for two years now and I still have to quote properly. What’s next? Taking notes on a Dostoevsky novel when I don’t have to? Wait, I’ve already done that. What’s next, next? Reading up on my 17th century New England history by watching The Libertine? God, that movie’s only good if you want to see someone die of syphilis.