Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Leopold's Concentration

The fifth chapter of Monorama is "Leopold's Concentration," which is roughly the same length as "Lost Books of Tomorrow," but features a cohesive narrative and is in fact a novella.

As with "Roadkill Cafe," it is a story that attempts to bridge the gap between the human experience and the greater animal kingdom.  The title character experiences a fall (another of those recurring motifs, and a suggestion at one obvious way I could have manipulated the earlier "Falling Man" into something that would have more conventionally matched the sci-fi theme of the collection, rather than leaving the main character in a miasma of his own making) and learns that he can hear the thoughts of animals.  His subsequent journey is juxtaposed with an astronaut who comes back from space with the same ability, and tries to juggle professional and personal responsibilities with his need to understand what has happened to him.

The concluding chapter in "Leopold's Concentration" (fifteen shortish chapters in all) features a variation on the original version of this story, something I worked on in high school, and eventually radically reworked in "Roadkill Cafe" for a more abstract feeling.  The chapter concerns many of the same scenarios, but a character who has been driven insane, after the world has blocked his ability to formulate resolution to his strange experiences.  It is an irony that I stopped working on "Leopold's Concentration" following this chapter, because it forces the reader to question whether or not this is the fate of the two characters they've been following to this point, and perhaps also if "Roadkill Cafe" is itself a feverish delusion, no matter the insight that may or may not be derived from it.

The link I've included this time is a Goodreads page created by Patrick Dilloway, who also provides the first official review of the collection.  He has mostly positive things to say, but does note that there doesn't seem to be a lot of conclusions in the book, which is was intentional on my part, and half the reason why I nearly went with Lost Books of Tomorrow as the title of the whole collection and not just one chapter.  These are fragments, as any story ought to be, especially if it's a short story; the only thing I've done differently than other writers is make it more deliberate.  If there is no ending, then the reader has that much more space to play with.  What I aim to offer with this collection is a chance to reclaim the reader's right of interpretation.

Dilloway had to create the Goodreads page for reasons that still somewhat confound me.  I don't know if this is common for CreateSpace publications, since my two other author listings on the site populated themselves, which for someone given to laziness was much easier to handle than the prospect of populating everything for himself, even if given all the tools to accomplish it.  I would like to thank him for these contributions to a meager cause.

On a concluding note for this brief look at "Leopold's Concentration," I would like to acknowledge that I just confessed to creating a character who is driven insane by a lack of resolution while talking positively about a whole collection that shares this same problem.  I assure you, I am not committed to driving my readers crazy.

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