Book #3-Torch Lit

Okay. The countdown to The Suicide Collectors release date continues with my third unpublished novel, Torch Lit. Written in the months after Sept. 11th, 2001, I consider Torch Lit to be the worst of the books I've written. It's about a movie cinema owner named Gabriel who lives in the fictional small town of Paris, Minnesota. Gabriel is sort of this driftless thirty-year-old guy who is still chasing one moment from several years ago where he felt he was "truly happy". He's closely attached to his neighbors, a lively, seemingly perfect family. At the beginning of the novel he finds out his neighbors are actually getting divorced and this further rocks his belief in finding a stable, happy existence. My first stab at literary fiction, I can tell just from this summary that the book was doomed from the start. The protagonist never has a clearly defined goal, the plot's paper thin, and the only real drama comes from the family next door, not Gabriel. Blame it on the fact I wrote the whole thing in an overheated, overfilled computer lab in England during a semester abroad, blame it on a 20 yr old writing about divorce, blame it on the rain, or just blame me, this book was so quiet it practically imploded.

From Torch Lit:

Gabriel didn’t mind working with teenagers but there were days he was glad he had Elmer to talk with. Elmer was seventy and the head projectionist at Walker Cinema. Gabriel’s father had hired Elmer in 1969 and the old timer reckoned he had seen over ten thousand movies during the last thirty odd years: “And you know what, Gabriel? Every year the movies are getting worse. Hollywood’s full of exponential crap. Sometimes I think of bringing a bucket up to the booth, just in case I can’t take it anymore. Oh, you want to talk about your feelings, missy? Well BLACH CHOO! Uh oh, I’ve made a mess in my bucket! Talk about that, why doncha?”

Since childhood Gabriel had watched in amazement as Elmer consistently shuffled into Walker Cinema around noon, his small frame bent twig-like by the formidable responsibility he carried with him. Yet if Elmer was steady, the other workers were hobo transients. Higher paying jobs claimed most of the teenagers after a few months and it was only the truly lazy who stayed on for more than two years. As a reward for this lazy loyalty Gabriel would occasionally give his workers a free midnight screening of a new film, encouraging his workers to shout comments at the screen. Gabriel hoped that such a boisterous audience would provide a cathartic release for the theater itself, where the pent-up emotions and whispered comments of a million audiences were churning in the wooden rafters overhead, threatening to gather charge if not released and maybe start a fire or something. The comments of his workers would bounce off the screen like verbal arrows:

“Yeah right!”
“Kiss her, you fool!”
“Oh look at me, I can dodge bullets and jump fifty yards. La de freakin da!”
“What were you thinking, dumb ass? How stupid can you GET!”
“Watch out for that computer graphic. It’s expensive.”
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
“What in the hell is this crap?”
“This sucks. A lot.”
“My god, what was the director THINKING?”

Even if ninety-nine percent of his employee’s comments weren’t all that funny, someone always managed to come up with a good line. This person was rewarded with two free movie passes and given the honorary (yet temporary) title of Head Movie Bitch. Whenever Gabriel won Head Movie Bitch honors he would throw his two free passes into the air and let his employees fight it out amongst themselves in a laughing mass that dispersed only after the passes had been torn apart and the theater’s lights switched back on.

These after-hour showings were often the highlight of Gabriel’s week. Their happy noise made life more bearable when he returned to his empty house with its special, wind-howling-across-a-barren-plain brand of bachelor loneliness.


mikey said...

For all the book's shortcomings, the ending bonfire scene was as powerful as any I have ever read in any book. Replicate that some day my boy - good stuff.

Blogagaard said...

Thanks, man. I guess I'm always a little too hard on this book.

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