Lady Macbeth Cocks an Eyebrow

This comment by Marianne Schaefer Trench posted at The Daily Beast caught my eye and forced me to arch a curious eyebrow of my own. 🤨

The Raised Eyebrow Is the Lazy Writer’s Favorite Cliché

You rarely see a raised eyebrow in real life, but in fiction they are rising, knitting, and furrowing everywhere, or at least if you’re looking at truly crappy novels and stories.

images.jpgI have developed a severe allergy to hyperactive eyebrows in fiction. They have become writers’ go-to lazy shorthand for pretty much any emotion. In novels, eyebrows do all kinds of things. Most commonly they “rise.” Sometimes a single eyebrow rises all by itself, but often both eyebrows rise in unison. Slightly more creative writers make the eyebrows “knit” or “furrow” or “hike” or “tighten” or “pinch” or “wiggle”—or any other verb that might describe a mobile eyebrow (or two).

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Is It a Crime To Take a Break?

download.pngAlthough I tend to eschew science fiction I am not without a certain appetite for mystery novels—detective stories, murder mysteries, police procedurals, suspense novels—whether written by such classic writers as Agatha Christie or possibly by newer authors I might not even recognize as writing such entertainments. The fiction of mystery and detection is both entertaining and still it massages the little gray cells. True, it’s generally not high literature but sometimes you just need to take a break from James Joyce and Marcel Proust.

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All Things Science Fiction

imgres.jpgThe mother planet, Earth, ruined and abandoned, is now a distant and unimportant memory. There is galactic war between galactic factions (presumably humanoid although who knows for sure). A new power source is being used to operate space ships and even to control planets … it is the Mind.

Wait, wasn’t that a Star Trek episode from the 1960s?

How about the once important person escaping from pursuers who creates friction with the local power structure but in the end is instrumental in saving the planet’s Mind from forever wandering and saving the locals from sure destruction.

Do the two antagonists kiss and make up or do they both recognize the value each brings to the galaxy and go their separate ways into an unspecified future?

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Epitaph For a Novel

MarksonOne of my favorite authors is David Markson. I was introduced to Markson’s work while taking a creative writing coursetaught by Peter Marcus. Marcus gave me the image of Markson hoarding shoe-box after file cabinet stuffed with little slips of paper and the odd gum wrapper or two with carefully collected factoids written neatly on the available white space. Look at these titles for Markson’s later fiction:

  • Reader’s Block, 1996.
  • This Is Not a Novel, 2001.
  • Vanishing Point, 2004.
  • The Last Novel, 2007.

Here is where all those factoids ended up, carefully arranged and, although seemingly random, telling a story about the life of the writer in four novels. If you are of the stodgy old school that thinks a novel must have a plot and characters, dialogue and at least one theme, then Markson might be problematic. Still I highly recommend that you at least try one of the novels: start with Reader’s Block (they’re all fascinating but function best when read in order).

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