I've finally concluded, and released, Miss Simon's Brute. I've included with this post all the labels to where I've written about the development and history of this story here, but the most important thing for me is that this is a milestone for me. This is the story I was working on two Novembers ago, with the insane wordcount challenge I'd given myself, that I abandoned the day my mother was admitted to the nursing home where she'd die five months later, which began a lengthy writers block I hadn't been able to escape until this year.
Brute is a version of the classic fable of Beauty and the Beast, which is a favorite of my older sister's, and I initially conceived of the project as a favor to her. I set it during the War of 1812 (which has factored into other things I've written), specifically in the aftermath of the Battle of York, which precipitated the retaliatory burning of the White House. The story ties together the lives of an Irish immigrant, an Indian orphan, a Canadian widow, and the eponymous individual, a hulking black man whose lynching motivates the shattered lives of the immigrant, orphan, and widow to find new purpose. During the course of the story, hidden truths are revealed, such as who the Brute really is, which deepen its emotional impact.
Like Sapo Saga and Miss Simon's Moxie before it, Brute is a novella, a shorter work meant to focus my writing and give potential readers something meaty to sample. Writing the earlier stories made it easier to finally work on and complete Brute, besides.
Brute also serves as a tribute to the writer Jerome Charyn, who through the support of Lenore Riegel has become all the more important in my life as one of the giants of literature, despite the fact that awareness of his efforts has remained at a minimum in the fifty years he's been producing his insights into the American psyche, past and present. He often includes characters like the Brute in his stories, although for my version I chose to move the character front-and-center, whereas Charyn usually has him in support (unless he's Abraham Lincoln).
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