Uncle Hyena (unclehyena) wrote,
Uncle Hyena

Sour Grapes, Part 2: "Raiders of the Lost Ark"

Back in the day, several of my friends told me about this wonderful new movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark". My fiancee of the moment lived 400 miles away, so I went to see it by myself. I was at a point in my journey as a writer that made the movie into a nightmare. I could tell, as I watched, that I should LOVE the movie; it was exactly the sort of movie that I wanted to see. But I couldn't get past the critical voice in my head that informed me of every flaw in the plot and dialog.

I was miserable; I realized I had put myself in a position that sucked much of the joy out of my world, and I resolved to fix it. I went back to the theater at the first opportunity (a noon show on a winter Tuesday, so I had the theater to myself) and watched "Raiders" again. I cursed and I fumed and tore the movie into tiny metaphorical shreds. When it was over, I went out to the concession stand, bought a big bucket of popcorn and a giant Coke, and psyched myself up to watch a badly dubbed Japanese rubber suit monster movie. And then I went in and watched "Raiders" for a third time, and I loved it.

That was the day I learned to approach ALL fiction, regardless of medium, with a touch of self-inflicted multiple personality disorder. *I* will myself to fall under the spell of the story, and let my inner critic fume and sputter and curse to his black little heart's content. Usually it works.

This brings me back to Eragon. I WANT to like this book; I was looking forward to reading it right up until the moment I started. But the book will require an investment of somewhere between 12 and 18 hours of my life, and I find that I do not reach for the book with joy, but rather with regret, because the prose is so turgid. I WILL finish it, because I have at least two young nephews who love the book, and I truly hope I will be glad to have read it, and not merely relieved to have finished it. We shall see.

In the meantime, I HAVE moved into full blown resentment of Christopher Paolini. He has been extraordinarily lucky on SEVERAL counts, most particularly in the matter of extraordinary levels of financial and emotional support from his parents; judge for yourselves: He was home schooled, and graduated from high school by GED at 15. He then started writing full time, on his parent's dime. It took him a year to finish the first draft, another year on the second draft, and a third year (now under parental editorial supervision) to finish the third and more or less final version. His parents published the thing through their own printing business, and continued to support him financially as he made the rounds of local (Montana) schools and libraries peddling the book. The step-son of best-selling author Carl Hiasson picked up a copy, and pointed it out to his step-father, who pointed it out to his publisher, who picked it up for its novelty value. It had a good enough story to rise above the mediocre prose, and assisted by its freak show value, it got onto the NYT best seller list.

Ok, show of hands. How many of you got anything like that kind of support from your parents? What do you think YOU might have done, if you had? I simply can't imagine it, myself (and MY parents gave me unconditional love and a fair amount of financial support, though it was mitigated by constant low-grade disapproval).

Uncle Hyena
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