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Posts Tagged ‘David Terrenoire’

I’ve always been a fan of the short story.  I grew up reading the classic short stories of  Guy DeMaupassant, O. Henry and Edgar Allan Poe, all beautifully crafted and plotted.   There are short stories by other authore that are lodged deeply in the fabric of my memory, which helped shape how I view the  world.  The will to live of the man struggling against nature in Jack London’s To Start a Fire or the way that love and art changed the lonely characters in Who Am I This Time? from Kurt Vonnegut are two varied examples.

A short story is very much like a painting to me.  They are often complete views of an event or a moment but there is still a lot of room for the reader to fill in the spaces with their own imagination, to allow their own emotional understandings to become part of the tale.  They can be taken in quickly yet often, as I have noted above, the memory lingers on.  Again, like the glance of a painting that stays with you in a haunting way.

I was pleased to come across such a piece of short fiction recently from writer David Terrenoire, a friend I met several years ago through my work.  It’s called After the War and is the story of two lonely souls who momentarily find one another in the area of the steel mills around Pittsburgh of 1948.  I would call the story a poetic tragedy. The writing is spare and direct, giving the piece the feeling of the fable that it is. 

Just a damn fine piece of writing that will stay with you for days after.  And maybe longer.

After the War is available  from Amazon for e-readers.

 

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sandals2I stole the idea and the photo for this particular blog from one of my favorite blogs, A Dark Planet, from David Terrenoire.  I hope he doesn’t mind my theft but i’ve had this rolling around in my head for a couple of days now and felt like sharing.  Sorry, David.

In his post, David talked about coming across this tiny pair of sandals in the office park where he works, a place not frequented by children.  He wrote about how this sparked all sorts of speculation.  It was basically the start of a story which reminded him of what Ernest Hemingway had written when challenged to come up with a story in just six words:

For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.

It’s a stunning use of six simple words and nine syllables.  It conjures up all sorts of storylines involving all sorts of human experience- love and marriage, tragedy and loss, etc.   It’s like the spark that sets off the explosion that creates  a new universe. A Big Boom of ideas.

I found other examples.  For instance William Shatner came up with this:

Failed SAT. Lost scholarship. Invented rocket.  

Then there’s this from author Margaret Atwood:

Longed for him.  Got him.  Shit.

And Augusten Burroughs wrote:

Oh, that?  It’s nothing.  Not contagious.

To his credit, David Terrenoire came up on short notice with:

A mother, now childless, seeks divorce.

There’s a website, Six Word Stories, that has a running log of such stories,to which anyone can submit.  Some are pretty witty.  Some very creative.  A few recent ones:

No thanks, Eve.  I prefer oranges.      – from Ruth Polleys

And from Brian (just Brian):   

Five zombies.  Four bullets.  Two zombies.

There are many more but I still haven’t found one that has that completeness of idea and emotion that Hemingway brought with his six words.  I keep running some through my head, kind of like trying to put together a puzzle.  For me, it’s like composing a painting. I’m trying to create something that has a sense of its own world with the fewest elements, paring away detail but trying to find an iconic image that carries all sorts of meaning, needing no other words.  I always seem to find myself in a dark, kind of noir setting.  

Greyhound into Reno.  Cuckold fingers pistol.

Okay, it needs work.  I never claimed to be Hemingway or even a writer.  I paint pictures!

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dsc_0343-smallIn a comment from yesterdays post (Out Into the Wide World) there was a comment from David Terrenoire  (his entertaining blog A Dark Planet can and should be reached from my links list) where he thought he liked the shown painting because there an implied narrative.

I think there is something to this comment  and I think it’s central to some of the attraction that my work may hold for some viewers.  I may have addressed this before so if this seems familiar, excuse me.  

Years ago, Cheri, my wife, described my paintings as blank sentences.  By that, she meant that I was giving context, some detail and a bit of direction but the actual narrative of the piece was left to be filled by the imagination of the viewer and the experiences that they brought with them.

I immediately sensed the truth of her words.  It also explained a few things.  My writing had always lacked narrative depth.  I was more concerned about creating mood and emotion with the words rather than the story construct.  As a result, most of my writing centered around describing silence, ephemeral moments and wide open spaces.  Pretty limited stuff and it left me feeling as though I were missing the mark somehow.

I wanted to create an environment where someone could see the things in my writing- silence, space and moment- but in a way where I was not filling in every detail.  The viewer would add an actual element to the painting.  The narrative of the piece might be implied but was only there if the viewer so wished.

Maybe I’m off-base here or maybe I’m blathering on in the artspeak that I so detest.  I just don’t know.

The piece above is a new painting tentatively titled  Above Canaltown.  This might be a good example of what I’m trying to say here.  For me, this very much about shapes, color and creating a certain emotional rhythm with the placement of the buildings, paths and canal.  However, I can see where there is room for narrative and I may have my own for this scene.  But if this piece is to succeed and have a life of its own, the sentence will be completed by someone other than me.

That okay with you, Dave?

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george-baileyIt’s that time of the year  when you hunker down on a cold, snowy night and watch a holiday classic.  One of the most beloved is It’s a Wonderful Life from director Frank Capra.  It has long been one of my favorites and it would be easy to go on and on about its message and how the final scene with the redemption of George Bailey makes me tear up just thinking about it.

But yesterday David Terrenoire  wrote in his great blog, A Dark Planet, about how he secretly preferred Potterville, George Bailey’s bizarro world version of his hometown, to the original Bedford Falls.  Potterville was a rockin’ town.  Strip clubs.  Hot music.  Bedford Falls was, by contrast, a real snore.

George Bailey Close-upHe cited an article by Wendell  Jamieson in the NY Times that made his case for the same thought.  Jamieson even goes so far as to state that George Bailey would be facing prison time for the loss of the 8000 dollars, regardless of restitution.  

Just before I had read these two articles I had come across a video entitled Bad Bailey.  It’s put together as a movie trailer and using eerie music and a drastic realignment of the movie’s actual scenes make for pretty disturbing viewing, especially for lovers of the movie.  It made me realize how much darkness there was in the film which, I think, probably made it so powerful.  Just shows what a little editing can achieve…

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A Dark Planet

Yesterday, I heard from writer David Terrenoire who writes a blog, A Dark Planet, the only one that I read on a regular basis.  It’s smart, irreverent with a hard edge,  and timely and I encourage anyone, especially those with any fondness at all for noir fiction or film to check it out.  I often find myself laughing out loud (sorry, no emoticons here.)   How can you not like a guy who lists The Big Lebowski as his favorite film?   The Dude abides…

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