Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sample Prose

Williston.  A small town suffocating under the weight of the greatest boom in American history and it’s torn between burning the witches and resignedly saying, “More weight.”  And I’m the problem: I’m one of the bad boys of the Bakken.
Furthermore, I get to tell strangers that I work for Savage.  “Oh, you’re going to CNA School?  Congratulations.  I work in the oil fields for a company called Savage.  Yeah, last winter it hit about minus seventy degrees Fahrenheit, but by May it was above zero again, and come July it was a hundred.  But by mid September it starts to get a bit nippy, say, twenty below.  No, only about ninety hours a week, but we’re allowed to work extra shifts, so it’s not too bad at all.”  The trick is to say it nonchalantly then change the subject.  Because if they ask, they will eventually find out that I glance down at a hundred grand a year doing a job that requires the intelligence of a whack-a-mole game and the stalwart courage of a vole of retiring disposition catching sight of a tail twitching above the grass (that would be "none;" do try to keep up...).  Mostly I push buttons.  I also sometimes glance up from my book to watch the thing that the buttons are on.  Plus, we have our own personal heaters and forty minute breaks every hour.  Seriously.  But we usually have to work two out of every three weeks and there are no outlets to charge our phones in our booths, so I guess it evens out.
Savage sounds like a pretty brutal name for a pretty brutal company, but turns out it’s just the name of the family that started it. Yeah, it’s a family business.  And they’re Mormon, to boot: the company actually has a no profanity clause in their employment contract, which is about as effective as putting up a chain link fence to keep out the mosquitoes: we’ve only got one supervisor that doesn’t cuss, and he’s a Catholic with nine kids and the ability to work thirty hours a day while remaining oblivious to dry sarcasm.  He actually believed me when I told him “lol” stood for “lots of love,” but I couldn’t maintain it for fear of him sending someone a text reading “Heard your dad died, lol.”

The Craft is all I Love

At the Mountains of MadnessAt the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm beginning to realize that if I keep track of which people recommended which books, my holiday shopping will drastically change.

I'm rather bemusedly reminded of the time my Lordship professor informed us that he'd accidentally assigned us four times the amount of reading that he was allowed to (this in a school whose first year reading list book stack was taller than I was), so he told us we only had to read the odd-numbered pages (but quizzes and tests would include information from the even pages as well). I'd have liked this book more had I only read every other page. It was well-written: very well-written. But that's half of the problem: why was it written at all? If someone wants to inflict this kind of thing on humanity, at least he could have the decency to write it like a Pakistani immigrant attempting to compile a phone book so that no one would ever read it. I grant you, the concept was interesting. Actually, it was downright brilliant. But it was entirely the wrong genre. We have one hundred pages of suspense for half a page of rather dry revelation with the shock value of seeing trouble with great legs walk into a private eye's office in a noir film. Is it Chinatown, Jack?

If we cared at all about the character, or any of the characters, then there might have been some tension. My favourite "person" was the dog and he died, or rather, was dead when I started to posthumously like him (I figured that a dead dog, on top of being worse than a live lion, had more of an excuse to have no personality than all the other characters did). But we know the narrator lives, as it's his memoirs, and we know that a lot of people die, as we find them, well, dead, about page thirty, and we never really cared to begin with: they're just the girls dropping their tops to start the horror film (not literally: I'm talking motifs here), or whatever no-name actor is standing next to Harrison Ford. The problem is the utter lack of Harrison Ford.

All in all, it was erudite and sophisticated, and would be a fantastic twenty-page story. Sorry Lovecraft, but you're going to gather a good bit of dust over the next few decades.

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