Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Antosha in Prague" status update

I'm calling it Antosha in Prague, at least for now, the collection of Chekhov-inspired short stories which is my work-in-progress. The story for which the collection is named will be the centerpoint of the book, a novella-length tale set in 1901, featuring a famous doctor and a law student. What larks, Franz. The table-of-contents-in-progress for the collection:

"The Connoisseur" (written)
"Defending His Dissertation" (written)
"Under the Limbs of the Silver Birches" (written)
"Setting a Broken Bone" (hypothetical)
"The Suitor" (outlined)
"Ivan Ivanovna" (outlined)
"The Father of the Room" (hypothetical)
"Dressing for the Opera" (written)
"The Storm" (outlined)
"Antosha in Prague" (written)
"Sakhalin" (hypothetical)
"Caspian Terns" (hypothetical)
"It's a long time since I drank champagne" (outlined)
"A White-Crowned Sparrow" (outlined, one quarter-written)

and maybe some other stories to be invented, written and named in the near future. Possibly next week I'll post some snippets, to give you an idea of what this is all supposed to be. We'll see.

This is being an excellent project. The stories are coming along well and easily, and the writing is, I think, some of my best work. I am certain that this is the book, the one that all the agents and acquiring editors will fight for. I have that certainty about every book I write, of course.

11 comments:

  1. As your stories promise to be Chekhovian (if that is a correct characterization of the implied promise because of the inspiration), how would you define "Chekhovian"? Note: This used to be one of my literature class assignments: Define Chekhovian.

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    1. "In the manner of Chekhov." I don't think I want to limit things any further than that. As I'm writing this stuff, I also feel like I'm brushing up against Nabokov, Perez Galdos, Woolf, and other writers. But as a possibly more specific definition, I offer up Chekhov's own recipe for a story: "All you need is a man, a woman, and a reason for them to be unhappy."

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  2. Scott, I love that each new book is your best writing. That must feel great. There are some lovely titles here! I didn't know you were doing this project, and I'm quite intrigued. Two of my favorite writers (Yasunari Kawabata and Banana Yoshimoto) each wrote a book called The Lake. I had this fantasy of writing a book with the same title, but then I read Banana Yoshimoto's book and was not at all impressed. Kawabata's remains one of my favorites, though. I think it has been a big influence on my writing.

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    1. You should write a novel called The Lake anyway, and include a writer who is writing a book called The Lake, who likes Kawabata's novel of that name but is unimpressed with Banana's The Lake. Then I'll write a novel called The Lake that references all three of those books.

      I have begun to see, despite his claims of Kafka influence, that Murakami's stories work like many of the mature Chekhov stories. Maybe more about that later. I still owe you an email, damn it!

      I was just telling Mighty Reader (maybe this was yesterday) that I don't know about "best" so much as each new book expands into a new area. I don't know how far any of it goes; it seems so daring when I'm writing it but not so much when I'm done writing. Maybe that's just how it works.

      I'm also trying to find a word to describe my writing. I think of "realist" novels and decide that I am an "unrealist" novelist.

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    2. Murakami is a very interesting writer. When I read my favorite books of his I get so jealous--perhaps moreso than with anyone else. But then his latest, 1Q84, is so unmemorable. I think part of the reason I'm learning Japanese is so that I can try to find more in that book and in other Japanese books too. I wish I could appreciate Kawabata's works from the perspective of a Japanese person.

      No pressure on the email. Consider yourself liberated! A new thread can begin in the future.

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  3. Maybe I will become an agent, just so I can sell this book.

    Eh, I'd be a terrible agent.

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    1. No, no, this book is the one. I don't think I'm kidding.

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  4. It's nice to have that feeling of "the" book! And I look forward to seeing those snippets. :)

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    1. Soon oh soon!

      I'm a little better than 11,000 words in already. That's a pretty good start, I think. I'm guessing that this book will be about 60K words long. We'll see.

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  5. Those titles sound enticing--as did the snippet you posted later... It's a good feeling, pushing into the unknown. Luck to you. It does take luck, as well as a good book, I think.

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    1. Luck, yes. My luck has not been brilliant with the publishing world. I confess that I am being worn down by it all. But I'm excited by the new project, which is really what matters.

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