Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rob Rereads, part 3

(in which I revisit one of my favorite literary relics from my misspent youth -- Old Glory and the Real-Time Freaks by Ralph Blum.)

Well, I'm only on page one, and I see where my memory has failed me once again. His name is not Quentin Ells, as I remembered -- it's Quintus Ells. I'd also forgotten his nickname -- Fiver -- not sure how he got it since he's 6'6''. I was right about how much he loves his grandfather.

"If you don't have a grandfather, go adopt yourself. Almost any old man who has really lived a life will do. But every kid should have a grandfather, and preferably one like mine."

And here are some words of wisdom from Quintus's grandfather: "I am all but convinced, Quintus, that our life is actually the container in which we keep our death."

Obviously, I remember the format very well. Here's how Old Glory and the Real-Time Freaks begins: I'm 17, fighting a case of the munchies, and trying to crank out an opening page to someone who won't read it for a hundred years.
And here is how my first novel A Bridge to the Moon Begins: Dear Son,

Happy Birthday!
I wish I could be there with you at your party and all, but I'm afraid I won't be able to make it. You see, I'm trapped here at 2:27 in the morning twenty-five or thirty years ago.
About the only thing I can do is send a senile old buzzard with my name there in my place. It won't be the same, I know, but I'll try to make sure he brings you a nice present - like a new Porsche or something. A Porsche and this letter.
You can go for a ride later. You can even do us both a favor and run over the senile old buzzard wearing my name if you want to. But first you gotta read this letter. It's important.

pg, 18 -- OMG, I'm even more of a plagiarist than I thought. QED gives himself a deadline to finish this letter -- his 18th birthday 38 days away. My protagonist Todd Burwell gives himself a birthday deadline too -- his 15th coming up in a few days.

I had also forgotten that QED was rich -- although if I'd thought about it, I might have wondered what he was doing on Air Force One. (Actually I'm still wondering about that -- haven't got to that part yet.)

And QED -- one lasting impression that the book left me with. I had never heard of QED in its original Quad Erat Demonstrandum sense -- Hey, I went to school in South Carolina, we don't cotton to a lot of Latin and suchlike. The first time I did see it that way, I totally thought the ancient Romans were ripping off Ralph Blum. And to this day, every time I see QED, I think of Quintus Ells and hope he's not deceased.

Almost all of my literary heroes are romantics and QED is no exception: I love Laura a lot, Grandson. I do that best. It's the only thing I do half right. (That last statement is false modesty, by the way, Quintus is a very self-confident young man.)

Later he says, I walk behind Laura whenever I can. Her hips kill me. She has this sway to her walk, a kind of stately way of moving her ass that practically puts me in Zone 99.

And, Kim, if you've ever wondered why I usually let you go up the stairs first, it's not because I'm a gentleman. I just love how you send me to Zone 99.

pg. 25. Now I know why he was on Air Force One. His father is some sort of diplomat and they were headed out to San Clemente for a meeting with President Nixon. You don't see many books with protagonists as wealthy as QED -- I mean, this guy is loaded, his family's been in the banking biz for a long time. But I don't think there many in 1972 either. Rich folks are so rarely heroic.

More later


Mr. Big said...

Is your book finished? It sounds interesting, plagiarism notwithstanding, lol.

Norrin2 said...

Thanks. It is finshed in the sense that it has a beginning, middle and an end, and enough words to qualify as a novel. But is has several flaws that make it unpublishable in its present form. Maybe I'll revise it during NaNoWriMo. http://www.nanowrimo.org/