Tag Archives: technique

New Peter Malae Book, Link about Technique

Malae has a new book! Just ordered it from Better World Books cause I’m a liberal do-gooder nonprofit chump. In a bouncy singsong I repeat to myself: “Can’t wait to fucking read it…”

For you simpering simpletons don’t know Malae, I recommend starting with What We Are and then joining us on the ride for Son of Amity, which just came out this month. Be the first on your block to read it!

What We Are, besides being the Sanjoseest-ass book ever written, is a tight piece of prose from the point of view of a man who grasps his own masculinity and desperately wants to put it to use in service of his family and community, but can’t, and so jacks it off with dumb violence and relationship-ruining. Along the way the author makes some hilarious satires of Silicon Valley, of which we can never do enough.

To the end of reading, appreciating and contextualizing Malae, I’ll just leave this essay here from when What We Are came out, in which Fiction Advocate weighs the whys and wherefores of how Malae and Junot Díaz use so-called ‘high and low’ language juxtaposition (hello —deja el show. Have you read Dos Passos, pendejos?) but the latter gets a Pulitzer for it in Óscar Wao. As a huge fan of Óscar Wao myself, particularly Achy Obejas’ fucking killer Spanish translation, and as someone who also put down the last page of What We Are and wondered how the hell this didn’t get any awards, I’m only too interested in continuing the argument begun in the article. Not to encourage it, but the comment string is pretty salacious too. Read, read and argue away!

Write in the Dirt

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Lessons for Outlining Next Book

On the topic of writing, did some heavy outlining on my next book today, which is tentatively titled “Byebye and Shlort.” It’s about how no matter how X-Men special you are, no matter how well your psychic powers work, no one will listen to you if you’re poor, because in the USA it’s a crime to be poor and poor people are blamed for their situation without any question. It takes place in San Jose!

The outline is now huge and messy, but it’s as complete as I want it at this phase. The last few years “outlining” has really evolved for me. My organization method started as a sludge of paper food boxes, ATM receipts, notebook pages and so forth scattered on my desk or in my backpack or wherever else I could keep things depending on my living situation. It was like this for almost ten years, and was a step up from carrying ideas around in my addled adolescent head and losing all the great ideas over and over.

Then those notes started to get typed into the top of the computer file in which I type the story. One lesson I learned was to tell myself what each sequence or chapter or whatever has to do with the themes, characters, plot, etc. But this didn’t stop me from being a nervous neat freak and deleting notes as they went into the story. Stupid! Thank heaven for Google Drive and other backup techniques.

Now I’ve got the outline and page numbers for where each piece of notes goes into the manuscript. If I move it, the mark can change. I’ve also broken the outline up into two documents: the short THEMES document that tells me what I’m writing about, and the outline telling me what order the story goes in. This satisfies my need not to have everything in my face at once, and also allows for the establishment of a symbolic marking system so that the themes document can explain what I’m doing to me, with marks for when such thing happens, so I’m free to forget what the hell I did yesterday.

I think this story will come out, therefore, with very little fat, with digressions and extensions distinguishing themselves, and with an almost poetic focus on the presence of the themes in every word. Did you like Meat Ladder to Mars? Wait’ll you read Bybebye and Shlort, it’s gonna blow your fragile mind.