Monday, September 8, 2008

My Father. My Brother. My Father. My Brother.

I'm just back from haircuts and lunch out with my mother.

Ordinarily that would be noteworthy only to myself and my mother. But since the last time we did it, my mother fell in a pothole and cracked a rib, I thought it blogworthy.

Also the woman who cuts my hair marvelled I'm getting more and more blond rather than more and more grey. I felt you should know that.

And because I like to be the first one to announce these things, I got my October TCM magazine and their star of the month for November is Charles Laughton (their star of the month for October is Carole Lombard, and I really hope they show Bolero because I've always wanted to see that, but I haven't had the time to look through the listings, since I wanted to be the first to let you know about Charles Laughton, who would look very silly dancing to Bolero or most anything else).

Since my editor seems to be losing interest in a third book, I spent a couple of minutes last night trying to come up with a plot idea for something completely different. It's hard though, when you've killed off all humanity not once but twice, to find a story that doesn't seem anticlimactic.

So I did what I always do under those circumstances, and thought about previously published works that I might use as a starting off point.

I began with the Bible. A number of years ago, I wrote a story with the best title I've ever had, "Cain And Abel Double Date." It was about Cain and Abel double dating, in case you're wondering.

So I played with expanding it to a book. But I immediately fell into that what do you call the parents problem.

"Hey Mom, that smells great," Cain said.

"I baked another apple pie," Mrs. Adam replied.

Crossing the Bible off the list, I went to the other great work of early YA literature, Antigone, to see what I could steal there. But I ran into other problems.

First of all, there's that nasty business of Antigone's family. The odds are your average twelve year old isn't familiar with the Oedipus story, and every time I tried to figure out how to explain it, I started picturing Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway in Chinatown.

Then there are all those (no insult intended to the ancient Greeks) ancient Greek names. Frankly, if I didn't know better, I'd pronounce Antigone like antifreeze. For some reason, I keep getting Antigone mixed up with Electra, and to make matters worse, I have it in my head that Electra's father was named Richard (he wasn't even named Richard in Mourning Becomes Electra; I checked three times just to make sure).

"You must be King Oedipus," the man said. "Antigone's told us all about you." Realizing his faux pas, he immediately added, "I'm Electra's father, King Agamemnon, and this is my better half, Queen Clytaemnestra."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Your Majesties," Antigone's dad replied, sticking his hand out in their general vicinity.

"The pleasure is all ours," Electra's dad said. "And none of this Your Majesties business. All my friends call me Richard."

"They would if he had any friends." Mrs. Agamemnon muttered.

Hmm. Maybe if Cain and Abel double date with Antigone and Electra this might all work out. What a family problem/problem/problem novel that would make!


Anonymous said...

As you've told me, stick with it.

(Personally, I'd love to see you do a Harry Potter type story - or maybe you could write an issue of Spider-Man.)


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Anonymous Glen-

Funny you should mention Spider-Man. Last week, Louise Gluck won the Wallace Stevens Award, and I meant to congratulate her in my blog. Not that I know Louise Gluck, although I knew and liked her younger sister Tereze in high school.

But Louise Gluck gave a talk to my high school creative writing class. And so did Stan Lee.

I don't remember much about either talk. Mostly what I remember about Stan Lee was that he was very sexy.

Oh, and now that I'm being nostalgic, I'll mention that when my brother was in college, someone in his dorm would buy all the latest Marvel Comics and leave them downstairs and all the guys in Alan's dorm would race down to read them and while they were out of their rooms, the guy who bought the comics would break in and steal stuff.

I guess it wasn't a foolproof system, or else they wouldn't have known it was the guy who bought the comics.

But it's stories like that and the power of my memory that keep me from writing my memoirs!

Anonymous said...

Funny that you should entitled this blog as you did. Funny that you should mention Cain and Abel. Why? Because I think you and yours, fictionalized, or not, would make several great stories.

Why is Cain and Abel a funny thing? Because, though not a bible reader, I couldn't get the words Cain and Abel out of my head last night.

But maybe my hoping for some stories about you and yours, and Cain and Abel, also ties into Meghan McCain's appearance on The View with her kids book, "My Dad, John McCain." A similar Pfeffer book would be much more humorous.


Anonymous said...

And a satire about how Marty Scorsese patterned his life and movies after yours.

Fun would be a good thang.

Linda Jacobs said...

This cracked me up! I teach Antigone and, invariably the kids call it anti gone!

The right story will happen for you as it has many times before!

Anonymous said...

I'll have to restart the computer to get the sound, and I'm sure you've seen these cool YouTube videos about Life As We Knew It...but

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi to the Anonymi and to Linda Jacobs-

It's incredibly hard to write humor and I've only succeeded a couple of times, so the odds are if I do another book, it won't be funny (at least not intentionally).

Right now I'm just letting my mind relax and I'm focusing on other things (like shopping).

Thank you for the links to YouTube LAWKI videos. In my current shopping mood, I've even let some of my self-absorption slip (and we can't have that!).

Anonymous said...

I just learned that September 24 is National Punctuation Day. These folks have a registered trademark, so it's a business. A business built on colons and apostrophes. It is National Punctuation Day because the founder says it is. So, you can go ahead and proclaim a day, or days, National Pfeffer Shopping Day(s), with, or without () punctuation

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello Anonymous-

I think it's very nice that punctuation gets its own day. Commas and question marks and exclamation points deserve some attention.

Periods, on the other hand, get days all their own monthly.

Anonymous said...

Not any more!

Did you see that there are 2 YouTube videos? I think you have every right to claim that you have two movies out about Life As We Knew It.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Anonymous-

I'll happily claim to have as many movies about LAWKI as there are (or ever might be).

It'll be fun when they start making dead & gone movies. Rats! Corpses!! Elevators!!!