Except for some nebulous considerations, Tonton Jim and I are identical in our genotypes. So, for that reason alone, I feel free to exploit for the sake of a good story Tonton’s older half brother’s racial identity. His name was Marvin, and he, being Nicaraguan on both sides of his parentage, was of purer stock than Tonton or me. Marvin was a mix of Central American native and Iberian Peninsula. Tonton and I, on the other hand, are a mix of a double handful of genetic origins. Hence, the mongrel certification… which entitles us to what exactly? Probably nothing much. But we will wave those certificates in the face of anyone who accuses us of cultural appropriation for what we write. Not that Tonton has much to worry about since he writes mainly about toads, moles, rats, and badgers. Continue reading
Or: It was the Pomp That Killed Off the Western
Before I return to the actual topic of this two-part post, let me say that as sad as it was to hear the lack of Authentic Frontier Gibberish in the westerns of the fifties and sixties it was the pomp hairdo that foreshadowed the death of the genre. Now as anachronistic as was Elvis Presley’s pomp in the seldom mentioned Love Me Tender (a western taking place just after the civil war), there is another actor whose pomp was taller and even more greased (they didn’t have gel in those days) and that was Dale Robertson in a less than a B movie called, Sitting Bull. It’s kind of a toss-up because while Dale had the taller pomp, Elvis had fenders. Continue reading
After putting the Part One post online, some not entirely unrelated thoughts popped into my conscious mind, presumably from the swamp of my unconscious mind. So, before I continue with Part Two’s earnest but amateurish effort at linguistics here are those vaporous thoughts, rather like quagmire gas which often gets the blame for paranormal sightings in swamps. Continue reading
Writing Dialogue for American Historical Novels.
Cassandra once told me that I wrote dialogue well. At the time, content to hear praise, I didn’t bother to ask myself if what she was saying translated into: Your fictional dialogue is a notch above average and your prose isn’t.
My wife was a highly educated teacher of English and an accomplished linguist, and she loved me. So, I’m going to judge these two prime factors influencing her judgement as counter-balancing and declare myself as a mostly good writer of dialogue. Anyway, for me, prose, purple or plain, is just a means to an end. I view it mostly as the stuff that screenplay writers use to set the scene and maybe give stage directions to the actors’ movements.
A posit: Two examples of successful recreations of western American dialogue: True Grit by Charles Portis; and Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. A second posit; The most anachronistic dialogue for the genre is heard in the television series, Deadwood. Continue reading