What Is Myron Reading?

For the past several weeks, I’ve been immersed in the novels of Nelson DeMille, having gotten started upon the recommendation of a friend. Mr. DeMille, a best-selling author, is a true craftsman. So far, I’ve devoured Plum Island, The Lion’s Game and its sequel, The Lion, plus his latest, The Panther (all centered around one of his major characters, John Corey). I’m now in the midst of The Gatehouse.

Plum Island by Nelson DeMille

What makes his novels so readable? First of all, many of them have a strong sense of place, being centered in and around Long Island, New York, an area of the country which DeMIlle knows well — he grew up and lives there. So there is a huge amount of engaging historical and geographical detail. True, the most recent John Corey novel, The Panther, take us to Yemen, but even there DeMille gives us a detailed and engaging background.

Secondly, at least in the novels I’ve read so far, DeMille writes in the first person singular. So we are in the central character’s head, looking out at the world. This gives us a dual level reality; that is, what our protagonist actually says and observes, in juxtaposition to what he thinks and imagines. And what he thinks is generally phrased in sarcastic and humorous one-liners, the kind of zingers we’d all like to spout, but don’t — this makes for an entertaining read.

Next, DeMille writes very well. His prose is tight and descriptive. Ok, I agree that his latest, The Panther, may not be his best — a few too many pages covering a bit less action than we’d like, and he could have placed more emphasis on the unusual twist towards the end, when we learn who our hero’s true adversaries are, but it is still a good read. And the guy has written so much for so long, maybe we can kick back with him on this most recent. Remember the movie The General’s Daughter, with John Travolta, James Cromwell and Madeline Stowe? That was based on a DeMille novel of the same name.

Lastly, DeMille just writes and writes and writes — you could fill a bookshelf with his work, and it ain’t easy to maintain his level of dedication and focus over decades. Reminds me of advice I received as a young man, aspiring to write, from an older mentor: the art of writing is fundamentally the practice of applying the backside to the seat of the chair!

If you want to get started reading DeMille, I would recommend Plum Island or The Lion’s Game, early in the John Corey sequence. Words of warning: these may be stories that appeal mainly to guys, since the protagonists are manly men (yes, I meant ‘manly’, not ‘mainly’) who aren’t afraid of Islamic terrorists, guns, knives, alcohol, bloodshed or political incorrectness; and for some, such as myself, they may become addictive.

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Myron In Prague — Kafkaesque?

Kafka Memorial -- Click To EnlargeFranz Kafka is perhaps Prague’s best known author. He died of tuberculosis in 1924, but his three sisters lived long enough to perish in the Holocaust. Here is a photo of the bronze monument dedicated to him, on the edge of the Jewish Quarter, as enigmatic as Kafka himself.
In one of his novels, a man awakens in the morning to find he has been transformed into a giant cockroach; in another, Josef K. is accused of, and punished for, a crime which is never revealed, neither to the reader nor to Josef, even though he resolutely flails his way through a maze of incomprehensible court proceedings; and in yet another novel, the narrator, K., arrives in a village governed by a mysterious bureaucracy operating from a nearby castle, the purpose of which is never explained nor understood.
The Dancing House -- Click To Enlarge

And so Prague today is a city of resplendent architecture, block after block of Baroque, Art Deco, Cubist, Modern and Post-Modern buildings — like “The Dancing House”, shown here — full of color and decoration above, but tainted at street level by massive graffiti as well as the scourge of contemporary signage and commerce.

For example, the Charles Bridge and its approaches, historical gems, are polluted with trinket shops, pizza parlors, “museums” of medieval torture, street buskers, panhandlers, pickpockets, caricature artists and a never-ending flood of tourists. Kafkaesque? Yes. But like plucky Josef K., we must keep moving forward to focus on the beauty above and not be baffled by the Byzantine hub-bub around us.

Shouldna Parked There -- Click To Enlarge

Oh, by the way, don’t even think about parking illegally — you won’t just get a ticket, but a lift truck will arrive with lights flashing and in a few moments your car will be plucked out of the street, placed on the back of the truck and whisked away, no doubt disappearing into some bureaucratic hellhole of which Franz Kafka himself might have conceived.

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Whatever Happened To Utopia?

As the author of a dystopian novel, I have to ask why, and when, did Utopia become Dystopia? Growing up, I read all the science fiction I could get my hands on. It wasn’t called ‘speculative fiction’ yet, ‘cause it was written by and for the scientifically minded, based on an optimistic vision of science creating a glorious future for us puny humans. Yeah, I was a nerd, a card-carrying member of the Science Fiction Book Club, reading authors like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and all the rest.

What a vision! We were destined to evolve as a race, get smarter and stronger, master the arts of mental telepathy and teleportation; as science made our lives ever easier, we would zoom into space, build glorious shining cities, enjoy high-tech leisure, and all the rest of the Utopian mindset.

So when did we flip over into dismal Dystopian visions of the future? When did Zombie Apocalypse replace The Jetsons? When did taste in popular music morph from Patti Page crooning “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window” (1953) to the band Anthrax “Spreading the Disease” (1985) or Megadeth assaulting us with “Countdown to Extinction” (1993)?

Pretty radical change in attitude in that thirty-odd years! What the heck happened? Why did pessimism take the place of optimism? Since Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer all began in the early ‘80s, maybe you could blame it on Ronald Reagan. I don’t know.

250px-Jetsons

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Free Sneak Preview For Early Readers!

                                          Free Sneak Preview For Early Readers!

Perfect FingerHere’s the latest news, hot off the digital press! The Booktrope edition of Perfect Fingers, my novel of ‘70s America, will be released in just a few weeks! The book follows a young man – one of the many who gravitated to communes after growing up in suburban sprawl – through that critical time of the Vietnam War and anti-war protests, when our entire country was convulsed by change and obsessed with self-discovery.

I am looking for people who are interested in joining an exclusive social marketing team dedicated to providing feedback and helping spread the word about Perfect Fingers. Your feedback is invaluable, and I am hoping you are interested in joining my team. As a member of the launch team, you’ll not only receive an electronic edition of the book before it’s available to the public but also gain special access to me and all of Team Myron via a private Facebook group. I will also hold a drawing for a free autographed first-edition print copy!

In return, all I ask is that you leave a short, honest review of Perfect Fingers on Amazon no later than 08/31/13, share the release date and your feedback with everyone and anyone, and provide your ideas, via our private Facebook page, on how to reach a wider audience. Interested? Send an email to myronnight@myronnight.com. with your name, email address, and a brief explanation as to why you want to join Team Myron, no later than 7/31/13. Those selected will be notified via email on 8/5/13 and receive their pre-publication electronic edition of Perfect Fingers.

Thank you in advance for your help in launching my most recent novel. Your support is greatly appreciated!

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Creatively and Deliciously Eating Your Words

Hot coffee, sizzling bacon, steaming eggs, melting chocolate, and crisp bread.

Gothic 21 Condensed, Times, Comic Sans, and Courier New.

Until today, I had no idea in hell how these two lists related to each other: food and fonts.

Click-click-click: this is the sound that pours out of my keyboard while I write, well type… Strange isn’t it? I see my words, thoughts, and imaginations pop up on a screen, not in my illegible scrawl, but in Cambria. Have you ever searched through the copious amounts of fonts on your word processor? There are bold fonts, cursive fonts, curvy fonts, tiny fonts, and gibberish fonts. What is the purpose of all these fonts? Surely no human being could ever use them all, or even want to. Apparently, I am not the only loon out there who wastes cranial energy thinking about such things. According to The Huffington Post, a new purpose for this plethora of typed calligraphy is food. Someone looked at all these fonts, and decided they wanted to creatively and deliciously eat their words!

Kotryna Zilinskiene and Migle Vasiliauskaite, and Vytenis Zilinskas and Linas Mikoliūnas created a menu that paired their favorite fonts with their favorite cuisine. They cooked the food, served it, and gave a font history lesson in the process.

Here is a taste of their creativity.

1 kava-maz (1)coffee

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Looking Into The Future

Do you ever wake up and think that new scientific developments and new technologies are taken right off the pages of sci-fi novels or the latest futuristic films? That is how I feel today. I was catching up on the news and came across articles that threw me into the 21st century. Today I read that scientists have developed a bionic eye! Now I feel like I am in Terminator. This bionic eye is a contact lens that can zoom in and out. However, this is just the tip of the spaceship. Last week, astronomers announced they found three more planets that they think are likely to be habitable and contain liquid water. I was excited when I read that there were three life sustaining planets out in the cosmos, but today my mind was blown when I read this: “Thanks to clouds, some 60 billion planets are habitable in the Milky Way.” I had a hard time wrapping my mind around this. That is 60 billion possibilities in our own galaxy for life. Soon, I may feel like I am in a Robert A. Heinlein novel, like Citizen of the Galaxy, dealing with the species of planet Gliese 667C.  

sunset_gliese667c

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Let’s Talk About Words

Rhetoric: “the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the capability of writers or speakers that attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations.”

Being a writer, I am no stranger to rhetoric. I have spent years honing and applying rhetoric to my novels, plays, and even this blog. Rhetoric is a bewitching art that gives shape and meaning to language. However, I read an editorial today that made me think about rhetoric in a different way. If you own a TV or a radio, you are constantly hearing rhetoric. Whether it’s a politician begging for your vote or an ad convincing you that your dish soap is just not good enough, rhetoric is everywhere. When it comes to politics and policy making we, me included, tend to take in good rhetoric without thinking. Look at Obama’s speech that I blogged about. While I agree with his ideas, he uses a lot of rhetoric and not a lot of scientific facts. The article I read today focuses on this lack of hard evidence in public discourse. “To make the best policy decisions we need to start with all the evidence that we can gather. It must be presented openly and honestly, particularly recognizing any uncertainties.” This article makes a good point. I prefer the the fire and passion of rhetoric, but when is the last time you heard a politician admit uncertainties? It’s probably been awhile… I really don’t enjoy sitting down and reading a mundane and long scientific report on climate change; however, these often dull reports are the key to developing a position on issues like climate change. Whether you’re an adamant supporter of things like coal plants and GMO’s, or holding a protest sign against them, we should all take a minute to look at the boring hard evidence and leave the fiery rhetoric asidetemporarily of course.

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Hardboiled

Hardboiled fiction: “Although deriving from romantic tradition… hardboiled fiction deviates from the tradition in the detective’s cynical attitude… conveyed through the detective’s self-talk describing to the reader… what he is doing and feeling. The genre’s typical protagonist is a detective who… witnesses the violence of… crime… while dealing with a legal system that has become as corrupt as… crime itself. Rendered cynical by this cycle of violence, the detectives of hardboiled fiction are classic antiheros.”

“Hardboiled” accurately describes detective Adam Twist, the protagonist of the novel Twist. Caught in the brutal, corrupt, survive-at-all-costs dystopian world of Wichita in the year 2075, he manages to maintain his ethics, empathy and compassion. The hardboiled detective lives by his code, founded on civilized human rules of law, justice, mercy, fairness and protection of the weak, even while surrounded by pre-human influences of vengeance and cruelty. You could say that he and his female ally, Kit, symbolize a parental unit, and along with the wayward girl, Dora, manifest the values of a family – cooperation, caring, and dare we say love?

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Open Your Mind

Whether I’m reading or writing, I have always enjoyed literary fiction. Escaping into a different world, a different mind, and a different person has always been something I relish. Whether it’s writing about being a private detective in the the future or reading about Scout Finch, there is something wondrous about escaping into the world of fiction. Scientists have recently done a study showing that there is a lot more than pure enjoyment when it comes to reading fiction. According to a recent article, “Exposure to literature,” the researchers write in the Creativity Research Journal, “may offer a (way for people) to become more likely to open their minds.” The next time you are reading and start feeling guilty about neglecting other responsibilities, just remember that with every page you turn you are opening your mind and improving your thinking!

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