The Moviegoer, Revolutionary Road and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel

I was talking with Quin on the phone the other night and he mentioned Revolutionary Road and what a great novel it was, that it was in the running for the National Book Award (along with Catch 22) the year The Moviegoer won it. So the following blog entry by a fellow named Deucerman caught my eye this morning:

Published when Percy was 46 years old (an encouraging factoid for those of us in our late 40s who remain unpublished), this brilliant and penetrating novel is, more than anything else, a psychological and emotional journey. It is what I would call the South’s answer to Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road. Percy, like Yates, gives us commonplace characters whose uncommon thoughts, feelings, and actions, both large and small, expose an America that is tidy and and prosperous on the surface, but decadent, aggrieved, and desperate underneath. [More here]

I’ll also mention that I was in Barnes and Noble yesterday (sorry small, local independent booksellers) and I swallowed my pride long enough to purchase a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel. (On principle, I tend to prefer the Idiot books to the Dummies series. Being an Idiot is more noble for one thing. Just ask Dostoevsky. The Dummies books are for the rabble, in my idiotic opinion.) I got excited reading the first couple of pages while standing in the bookstore and I’m continuing to be excited as I continue reading it. The author is no one I’ve ever heard of but he seems pretty sharp and he’s published a bunch of novels and a slew of stories.

Like the blogger quoted above, I’m heartened by the fact that my favorite novelist didn’t get published until he was in his mid-forties. The author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide claims that he’ll help me produce a first draft in about six months. My goal is to get that draft completed by the time I reach the age at which Garrison Keillor says the mid-life crisis hits: 44 years, 4 months, 4 days. So that gives me until June 14, 2009. If I fail, then I’ll have even more grist for a whale of a mid-life belly-flop in the shallow end of the pool of respectability; if I succeed, I’ll still be pretty well positioned for a variety of mid-life crisis options. Either way, I’m looking forward to going off on one hell of a bender. (Note to Mrs. McCain: Just kidding, darling!)


  1. Deucerman says

    Okay, now you (actually, Garrison Keiller, I guess) have me wondering what I was doing 5 years, 3 months, and 27 days ago. Oh crap! I think the war made me forget my mid-life crisis!

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