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Found 8 results

  1. It is my fervent wish that no one reads Partners. It starts out innocently and immediately gets worse and worse and worse. The profound happiness of newlyweds freed from hardship and danger, alone together in a remote snowbound cabin is almost too much to bear, given their fate. Do not read this book. The ending is so intensely sad that I find myself unable to write in the future, as if I had crossed some terrible red line, a lifelong moral law against tragedy.
  2. What if men don't read? -- what do I do then? I don't mean girlie men, or gays, or thoughtful students of literature and science. Certainly not sport fans, glued to the tube. Fathers of small children are too busy. No expectation of being read by women, young or old, that's for certain. I need to write the third act of 'Partners.' I resolved to make it a passion play, christlike Kyle betrayed and punished, full of love for his fellow man while he kills. See? About a million miles from Earth, where cosy mysteries and factual accounts of combat in Iraq entertain the few grown-ups who buy books. I don't think young people read any more, and what I do is unsuitable for innocent hearts of any age. It's not a marketing problem, and if it were I can't afford to plunk down thousands for Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, reaching for a lone nut in a haystack of hooey. The traditional method of kicking doors open is to woo an established author, hitchhike on someone else's coat tails. That involves schmoozing and telling lies. I'm not qualified to do that. Not that I'm incapable of lying, but there's something wrong with the way I'm wired, a Frankenstein monster. I can't feign admiration for crap. Probably why I'm so isolated, writing for myself, daring myself to do better in a solo Category of One that no publisher or bookstore needs or wants. The cost in cigarettes and coffee doesn't matter. No matter what I do, the years click along as they always have. Almost impossible to find "friends" on Facebook or Reddit. I tried Twitter, revolted and disgusted by minds (?) that I couldn't delete, flooded like a river overflowing its banks with bullshit. I tried the Alt Right and white supremacists. They don't read fiction. I missed the thriller category by a wide margin, no talent for it. Ah. That must be it, obviously incompetent. Authors should triangulate a known form, play pattycake with plot "beats." If I was serious about being successful, I would attend writers conferences, offer myself as an imbecile, humbly grateful to praise others at random, an interchangeable member of the wannabe collective, learner's permit in the back row. There's a writers group an hour away, meets every month. It chokes me to consider it. I have nothing in common with advertising copywriters, newspaper columnists, history buffs, bible thumpers, and visiting dignitaries, respectable by virtue of selling books -- any kind of anything that has a dust jacket. I should have listened to erstwhile friends in the 1980s, when I was young and fine, making my first few leaps as a director. They logically urged me to change my name, marry a Jewess and convert. But I had been Roarked, no longer part of the world owned and operated by others. Bad enough that directing assignments were projects that someone else conceived. We all start by playing second fiddle in someone else's orchestra, doing old standards and shooting cliches in a barrel. No one else to blame for my aborted first feature. I had a lot to learn about filmmaking, seven eighths of which is playing well with others, hale fellow well met, smiles of pleasure from all concerned, none of which was natural to me. I think back to innocent Janet, the girl who loved me. It was already too late for me at age 14, incapable of ordinary, respectable, sane, sensible life. I yearned for freedom, and I was ready to commit any crime to obtain it. Movies are made with OPM -- Other People's Money, a fact of life -- and dozens of years of experiments with cameras, lighting, microphones and editing benches. My first film was funded by a Catholic priest, Father Ed, who scolded me that the money he gave me was saved from a bicycle newspaper route. Twenty years later, it was a multi-millionaire who scolded me that I cast too many black people. "Are there no whites in London?" he railed, the head of a Dutch eugenics charity worried about gene drift. I didn't care whose money it was. I made shows I liked. I wrote books I liked, after my film career died in a Disney cubicle. I don't expect anyone to agree with my ideas about liberty and justice. No one ever has. Nothing else to do, I returned to a pair of characters that I created as an object lesson for others, a group of 50 screenwriters who thought I was an interesting guru at Zoetrope. Some of them became successful writers; many gave it up after a few seasons, too talented to succeed. I blew a diplomatic fuse, unable to stomach Main Board dominance by villains and LGBT horror producers, literally gay people who made amateur horror movies on a shoestring that were guaranteed to win a festival award, every clumsy child a winner in that category. I couldn't do it, despised horror. Harry and Laura, Janet and Archie, Chris and Peachy, and now, Kyle and Karen. See a pattern? Cis-het adult romance, graphically told, renegades in each other's arms, inseparable after the miracle of finding each other. Not normal. Nothing warm and fuzzy about men who kill. If I added up all the officials and innocent civilians I've killed over the years, it would be equal to every face seen on television, whole stadiums of NFL and college football fans, not quite as many tortured and starved to death by Galt, but a good effort anyway. Being an Objectivist is a serious handicap in creative work. Helpful in every other industry, particularly banking and politics. BB&T, Saxo Bank, Speaker of The House, and Israelis by the boatload. With only a tiny bit of vice, I could have joined the libertarian Lew Rockwell cabal or the Antiwar pooftahs. What would Roark do? More importantly, what did l want to do? For a while it was okay to rant. I had a platform for a couple years. But I couldn't even stick to that script. Instead of making progress as a virtuoso attack dog, I told stories about men beaten by beautiful interesting women, argued that women should be exempt from the criminal law, given an exclusive prerogative of life and death. Men naturally resist such ideas. I like Objectivist Living, however dull it seems. Benevolent MSK ought to be sainted, and I'm fond of his flattering Rand photograph on the masthead. I saw it in Andrea Millen Rich's office when Laissez Faire Books had a floor of operations in midtown Manhattan, 30 years ago. Life is measured in decades. It's been two since I started writing fiction full-time, interrupted by as few day jobs and family duties as possible. If I had pissed away twenty years as a drunk or a drug addict, I might be in better shape. There is no rehab for hundreds of thousands of words, nearing a million, every one of them a crime against humanity. A long time ago, '94 if memory serves, I explained that artistic achievement was more important to me than survival. Soon it will be put to the test. No one lives forever. Assuming that the blockade holds -- 250,000 independent authors on Goodreads, all of them more successful and less dangerous than I am -- my works will evaporate when I die, unread and ignored. Ayn Rand stopped writing fiction when she was my age, too busy with celebrity to create anything more. It happens to all of us, famous or not. We stop. So, as long as my brain and body still function, I'll putter along, do a nice third act of 'Partners' that I cannot rush into from a pat outline. My characters dictate what happens as it unfolds, a chemistry of living, real people who cannot be forced to dance like wooden puppets. All I do is write about it, witness to their bitterness, vulnerability, love and compassion in the face of voluntarily chosen disaster, almost certain death by violence. I write about such things and the women who know and flee from that knowledge, not in fear, but to free their loved ones to fight effectively. The men who went to rescue Galt were willing to fight and die, leaving widows and orphans to mourn them in a remote mountain valley with a gold dollar sign. I like it that Rand's stories are discussed on OL, the only legacy that matters. When I was 22 years old, I met a real life Dominque Francon and laid her, gave her little choice in the matter. She retaliated with all the dismissive hell that one should logically expect. It would take me another thirty years to be worthy of her, and I was married to someone else less challenging by then. I often think of Dominique, both of us nearing 70 now, far too late to dance again. I hope and trust that she found a rock hearted Roark to tame her exquisite beauty. Can you imagine Howard Roark reading a novel? -- naw. Wouldn't need it.
  3. latest romantic adventure with Chris and Peachy available $0.99 on Kindle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075KDPRJ6/
  4. Hi, A few words about my latest, the second in my series with Chris and Peachy, a modern Nick and Nora Charles. Sometimes authors use images to help them see the characters, or waste time while facing another blank page. 200 blank pages is sort of a big deal, though not as big a deal as The Fountainhead, right? The mind boggles what Rand might have looked at. The Tar Pit is 80% less sex and 100% more crime mystery by popular demand. Anyway, meet Chris Cable It would be swell to have a review on Lulu or Amazon. The cheapest is Lulu, if you'd like to buy a paperback.
  5. Hmm. Money Map Press started a radio advertising campaign, overblown 30s on the Mark Levin talk show. I almost went to work for them. Their HR gal phoned me. Some people think I'm a business writer, specialized in the energy space. The Money Map office is in Baltimore, part of the Agora empire. I was vaguely disposed to apply, because Agora bought Laissez Faire Books, the venerated national bookseller that sold Rothbard, Freidman, von Mises, and a bunch of latter-day free market morons. LFB was previously owned and operated by Andrea Millen Rich, a gal I liked very much, an Objectivist. She liked me, went to bat for me with the late Bill Bradford, who I reviled. Ancient history. Nothing to do with Agora bunco. Anyway, living in such a remote location with very spotty cell service, weather permitting, I never got to talk at length to the Money Map Press babe, and was thus saved from selling my body and soul to a ridiculously absurd gang of hucksters in Baltimore. Every time I think the word, it sends a chill down my spine. Baltimore. Fifty times worse than Boulder. I am grateful to not be sold into bullshittery. I did it four months at Hart Energy, enough to last anyone several lifetimes. Corporate writers author ridiculous hokum and rubbish, not a word of truth in it. I am extremely grateful to be unemployed, for that reason. It would have killed me, six figure income notwithstanding. There would have been no Chris and Peachy. I am transcendantly satisfied with Chris and Peachy. To understand them, you have to consult A Portrait of Valor, where they meet and - WHAM - fall hard for each other. Chris is forced to propose marriage to get her to safety, sending her away, because he and Nick are about to go into action at a nightclub, an extremely dangerous operation. Chris makes it a condition of marriage that when shit comes to holler, Peachy has to obey him without discussion. It fails to work that night. Peachy shows up in the middle of a gun battle, and explains: "We're not married yet!" defying Chris's order to stay away. I think A Portrait of Valor is misunderstood. It's not a detective story. It's a love story. Funny, I don't regret being a bad writer, or rather incompetent to write as beautifully as Scott Fitzgerald, who I admire very sincerely -- although I do regret the fact that Fitzgerald went to bat for Hemingway, got him a debut at Fitzgerald's publisher Scribners. I despise Hemingway, every word. We all have weaknesses, and it's easy to blame Fitzgerald for being cheerful. He was drunk most of the time. And the mood of the time was Naturalism. It's not inexplicable that Fitzgerald thought Hemingway was interesting. WWI and heavy drinking informed the mature Scott Fitzgerald, although it's odd to call a 30-something author "mature." See? -- something else to be happy about. I'll be 67 soon. I outlived Scott Fitzgerald, and I'm not chained to Naturalism. Rand freed me to write about heroes and heroines, folks who are better than I am, or you are, or anyone has any right to expect from life; truly exceptional in terms of courage and genius (his and hers, respectively). What a duo! -- and how natural they should fall for each other, WHAM. Hot water seeks its own level. I know that to be true from personal experience. It happens in reality. Chris is a war hero, likewise happens in reality. Peachy made her own way in the world, a highly intelligent babe. I know such women. I believe Chris and Peachy will find an audience. I had a creative thought today, that I need a publicist. More than I need a car, or a job, or food, for that matter. Maybe I'll launch another Kickstarter project, to fund publicity. There are such services. I've researched it. Nice people who do it professionally. Selling my car could pay for it. To hell with the electricity bill. Bottom line: I am very happy to be fiercely devoted to Chris and Peachy. Go, Tar Pit, go. I will summon the same ruthlessness that Chris's father was famous for, frontal attack, all forces.
  6. Long shadows crept across the valley. Big yawn. I flexed a few muscles and carefully arched my back against the trunk. Sitting in a tree sucks, no matter how nicely trimmed and dressed with a machete. Oh well. Another half hour and I can wrestle everything down, walk over to the quad and go home empty-handed again. Danny and I have been doing this every Wednesday, waiting for the beer truck to wallow over Quebrada Bridge. Danny has it worse than me. He was draped in camo under the bridge like a troll. If they came up the dry gulch, which we expected, Danny would be a sitting duck if they saw him and started shooting. I was 30 yards away with a carbine, supposedly backing him up, which was total bullshit and we both knew it. He put me in a safe position. I could sweep the road but couldn't see under the bridge. The gulch was a long black pit. No use arguing with him. Dan's hard as iron. Ex-cop, ex-MP, cheerfully silent and inscrutible like a brick wall. Volunteered to risk his life for $50 an hour that the Civic Association is reluctantly paying to do something about armed robberies on this stretch of road, mostly commercial trucks who carry cash, but also two carloads of tourists who got held up at gunpoint last month. The cops patrolled this stretch at sundown for a while, then somebody shot one of them dead, picked him off a slow motorbike. No more patrols. Another big yawn rattled my shoulders, trying to stifle it. I got up early this morning to answer the phone. A girl at the beach called to tell me that Andre was back in town. Made some coffee and drank a cup, dunked a roll in it for breakfast, then strapped on my steel asp and headed for the beach mad as hell. I drove that stupid fucking junkie out of town yesterday, gave him money for a room and something to eat, and told him emphatically to stay put until I got in touch with the consulate to ship him home. Seventeen years old and stoned every day, on the run from a father who beat him and blackened both of his eyes, he was persona non grata in Cristo for breaking into cars, panhandling the tourists and talking shit to the Great and the Good, who long ago formed the mistaken idea that anything to do with Russians was my personal responsibilty and I was supposed to fix it, free of charge. Tabby was waiting for me at Olga's. Very strange chick, maybe 30 years old. I met her for the first time in one of the comfy old suites above the Iguana Restaurant, smoking pot with a vacationing grower from Michigan, a guy we ultimately had to throw out for being such an asshole. Maybe Tab was sleeping with him to get high. Couldn't blame her if she was. He had a big bag of big green buds. I smoked a lot of pot that year. Everybody did. It was one of those golden dry seasons when the beach was dotted with strong bronze surfers, pale stockbrokers and airhead supermodels from New York, trading big smiles in skimpy attire with live music and seafood at the resorts every night, drinking and smoking and laughing and nuzzling til dawn. Tabitha was a mystery I never bothered to unravel. She spoke with a whistle, like an old guy with false teeth. Not bad looking, buxom, thick brown hair that she kept behind her ears and spilled over soft muscular shoulders. A little plush around the middle. Not my type, but she kept popping up wherever I went, always asking if I knew anyone who could give her a job. She wanted to stay. So I took her to Rick and she handled board rentals and sold trinkets for a while. Then to Olga's for the wet season, serving beer and washing dishes. She was shacked up in one of the squatter ranchos, a dirty palm leaf hut full of mosquitos. No running water. I didn't like it, but Tabby was pretty stubborn and got her wish to stay more or less permanently. Illegal of course. There were plenty of expat beach bums who came on three-month visas and never went home. When the Immigration Police made a desultory and predictable sweep at the end of the tourist season, they ran for the hills or hid out in somebody's closet, unless the bum in question wore out his welcome and was dutifully tossed to the Migration goons. Like this asshole. Tabby lifted an eyebrow and pointed at him with her nose. He was slumped over a table in the sun with a half dozen empty brown bottles, two of which were horizontal in a puddle of buzzing flies. I flicked the asp open and strode over to his table. Andre must have heard me crunching gravel and looked up. "Tex..." he mumbled stupidly, "I couldn't stay there, so I came back." I ordered him to get up, and when he opened his mouth to spew another paragraph of bullshit excuses I wapped him on the thigh and the top of his head for good measure. We marched over to my car and I shoved him in the back seat. He had enough sense to keep his mouth shut while we drove to the Rural Guard shack in town. "Lock him up and keep him here until the bus comes," I growled at the dope on duty and threw a $20 bill on the desk. The Consul agreed to pick up Poor Little Lost Andre on the other end and fly him home to his mother in Moscow. She was worried; he belonged in school. Once in while these comic soap operas turn out halfway right, but I had more important things to do today, like getting shot at. Bang - THWAP - a chunk of bark hit my head, another loud bang stung my upper arm and I jumped for the ground, a disorganized, flailing leap of eleven feet with a rifle in my hand that ended in a hard bellyflop that smashed the wind out of me and broke my glasses, which is all I remember. I woke up with Danny ripping my shirt apart and pulling my pants down. "Are you hurt anywhere?" he asked angrily. I said I was hurt everywhere. He picked me up in a fireman's carry and started running. "Put me down!" I tried to shout. He was bouncing my guts, making everything hurt a hell of a lot worse. So I smacked him in the kidneys, to no effect. He kept running. We got to the hillside where the quads were hidden and he flopped me down on the ground, out of breath and gleaming with sweat like a racehorse. "Can you drive?" he panted. I nodded and pulled myself up fumbling a key in my hand. Danny opened my rifle case and slammed it shut. "Follow me!" he yelled as he gunned his machine, heading straight up a rough jungle path over the hills to the beach. I began to get the idea we were in trouble and had to be elsewhere pronto. We raced across wet sand with the tide coming in. In an hour our tracks would be gone. At Rock Point, Danny stopped, ran and threw his Sig-Sauer and Steve's .45 in water that was too dangerous to surf or swim. He waved me in the direction of town, like a stern traffic cop at the scene of a car wreck, then spun around and went the other way. That was the last I saw of him. A week later, they called me to pick up his quad, one of four in the company fleet. It was parked upside down in the river near Tres Gauchos, about twenty miles away, out of gas. I watched Danny disappear into the jungle and sort of melted slowly into a pile of sore bones and trembling flesh across the steering bar of a red hot machine that was starting to sputter. It took a long time to find the reserve tank knob. I burned my hand on the engine with a wrong guess. In town I decided I needed a drink and pulled into the little lot at the front of The Dice Bar. It took a long time to stand up and throw my bad leg over the saddle, switch the motor off. I could barely walk, just limped through the wide front arch. It was Happy Hour, fifteen or sixteen lazy drinkers and loud music. I stumbled against a table and made it to the empty end of the bar near the back wall. Tony grabbed the Dewars and poured a drink for me. I asked for more ice and fished a couple cubes out of the glass with my left hand and pressed them against the rip in my sleeve near the shoulder. "You okay, Tex? You look like shit," he worried. Unless my eyes were playing tricks on me in the dim light, the bar owner was sweating and shaking. Tony was the one who looked like shit tonight. "Never mind me. What's up with you?" His hands twisted a bar rag as he leaned over to talk privately, like it was an emergency. "Jesus, Tex, I gotta have a gun. Can you get me one? There was three guys in here a little while ago. Never saw 'em before. They were casing the joint, and I gotta stay open til 2. It's a game night." I nodded and unbuckled the fanny pack around my waist, laid it on the bar, fumbled with the zipper, got my cuffs out and put them in a back pocket. "It's single action," I explained. "You have to cock it every time. Loaded with .22 magnum. Do yourself a favor and get some .22 shorts. Kicks like hell unless you hold the barrel down with your other hand. Can you remember that?" Tony nodded. "Yeah. Thank you. How much?" "Nothing. If anyone asks, I was in here about 4 o'clock and had lunch." I drove through town in second gear somewhat inaccurately and made it home, got off and started to fumble with the gate latch. My wife came running across the patio in that cute way girls have of tiptoeing at top speed. I got back on the quad and she opened the gate, then latched it shut behind me. "What happened?" she wanted to know. I let her help me inside, into a bedroom, into bed, where she took off my clothes. There was a little cry of anguish when she saw the deep red groove on my upper arm. I vetoed the doctor idea and asked for crema blanca. "Just treat it like a burn," I mumbled and then blacked out, safe and snug behind a perimeter wall and cameras, with a partner who was better and faster with a long .38 than I was. I think I slept a night and a day and another night before I hobbled around a little and sat on the couch a while to eat soup and a sandwich. The next day I felt good enough to putt putt putt downtown for a newspaper. The crowd at the grocery store froze and gave me a wide berth at the checkout. The store owner asked politely if there was anything Mr. Tex needed. I gave him a buck for the English language paper and opened it. It was there, page one. Four dead, all of them known to the cops, two out on bond pending trial for robbery. A beer truck driver saw bodies in a field near Quebrada Bridge, called 911 and got detained for questioning because the cops found a 9mm pistol in his cab that "may have been recently fired and reloaded." He was booked for resisting arrest. And there was another police item, continued on page 8 with a photo of a rental car in a ditch near the new suspension bridge that put the ferries out of business. Friends said that Tabitha Oberlin was on her way to see a baby doctor in the capital. She was five months pregnant. They shot out her tires and stole her belongings, leaving her for dead. But she wasn't dead yet. Broken vertebrae bounced in a Red Cross ambulance eight or nine hours to a government hospital where she died from infection after surgery. It still makes me sick whenever I think about it.
  7. Vince Flynn died yesterday from prostate cancer. His thriller novels are "hard line" American values of freedom versus totalitarianism.(in particular, radical Islamic-based terrorists). According to fellow thriller author and Objectivist, Robert Bidinotto, who interviewed Flynn for an article in The Atlas Society's magazine, The New Individualist, several years ago, Flynn expressed admiration and inspiration from the novels of Ayn Rand. http://www.today.com/books/best-selling-author-vince-flynn-dies-47-6C10378919
  8. I very much enjoyed the opening sentence from the new English edition of Il cimitero di Praga. I note that Wikipedia touts its sales "The book is a worldwide bestseller ... that sold millions of copies as of 2010." **Amazon gives a blurb that perhaps explains its appeal: Nineteenth-century Europe—from Turin to Prague to Paris—abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Conspiracies rule history. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian republicans strangle priests with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate Black Masses at night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat. But what if, behind all of these conspiracies both real and imagined, lay one lone man? What if that evil genius created its most infamous document? Now, Philip Coates does not find the opening sentence agreeable or effective. Chacun a son goût and all that ... -- please speak for yourself, Phil. By the time you got to the verb, you yourself may have been lost. Not me, not Ninth. To my eyes, and speaking only for myself, the sentence does several things at once. It locates me the reader in place. It locates the reader to time. It gives a brief background to the place Maubert, salting the plain information with tidbits of a darker, violent history over the years: Place Maubert is dangerous in 1897 ("risk and peril") Place Maubert is in the 4th arrondisement. Place Maubert has a slang reference: the Maub. Place Maubert was once a Middle Ages centre of university life. During medieval times, students flocked to the place from nearby faculties. The faculty of Arts, for example, was found in the Roman-named Vicus Stramineus (in French Rue du Fouarre) After the Middle Ages, place Maubert was the site of public executions for apostles of free thought such as Etienne Dolet. Place Maubert is/was one of the few places in Paris that were not devastated by the urban schemes of Baron Hausmann under Napoleon III. (more information is implied, of course, if one is familiar with the history of Paris) True enough, if one needs to count such things ... I differ in my analysis, as can be seen above and below. I also disagree in part that the sentence is a longwinded pretentious train wreck. Train wreck, no, pretentious, yes, but -- the but to signal that Eco may be riffing on conventions of 19th century literature (consider only Dickens extremely long introductory paragraphs); longwinded ... again, yes, but. I counted place Maubert, the Faculty of Arts in Vicus Stramineus, a tangle of malodorous alleys, the course of the Bièvre, and the bowels of the metropolis. Just five for me ... 1) a passerby crossing the place; 2) Baron Haussman; 3) Etienne Dolet; 4) Faculty of Arts; 5) criminal circles ... I agree that some of the references might escape first reading, especially if one knows nothing about the history of Paris, or if one is uninterested in the history of Paris. I believe it is indeed a rich (for some, over-rich) confection that pays dividends to the engaged reader (me). I am quite sure, me, though you may not be, Phil. It is clear to me that place Maubert was a place of execution. Rue du Fouarre is French for the latin Vicus Stramineus (vicus stramineus means, roughly, street of straw. In french, fouarre means 'straw' or "paille de toutes sortes de céréale, paille pour empailler les chaises" (chair-stuffing, straw of all kinds of cereal crops). Georges-Eugène Haussmann. His 'devastations' are a result of the rebuilding of Paris in the mid/late 19th century, under Napoleon III. This is a famous reconstruction, or at least famous among those interested in the history of Paris, or more specifically urban planning ... See the Rebuilding of Paris for a brief overview, if interested. Yes, you kind of have to know what Haussman is (in some circles) famous for. Phil, if you become familiar with Haussman and his famous projects, you will understand that for many people, the meaning of the word is quite clear. From a warren of Roman, medieval and other streets and alleys, Paris was transformed into the city we know today -- a city of grand boulevards. You can understand that clearing old warrens and ancient streetscapes required great destruction of the existing urban fabric. Moreover, once you know this, you understand that Eco is pointing to 'the Maub' as a neighbourhood that was not slashed through with boulevards and reconstruction. This ancient sector was unscathed in 1897, with all that this implies. I understand your point of view, Philip, but I was ravished by the opening sentence. I hope you understand that some people (me) can take different things from this excerpt, without denigrating your reaction. Phil, you are incorrect with regard to French capitalization conventions. See the French-language history of place Maubert and its present day Metro station. In French, there is no convention to capitalize place in this context. I suspect that the Bièvre will indeed play a part in the story. You may not be aware, Phil, but the Bièvre springs at Versailles and emptied into the Seine in the area of Gare D'Austerlitz. Over the course of the centuries, and especially after the mid-19th century, the Bièvre was relentlessly confined, roofed-over, buried in conduits, re-routed into Paris sewers, and so on. At the time of the story, however, there was still an flowing route of commerce, disposal, sewage, chemicals, and more ... in the neighbourhood of place Maubert at the time of the story, la Bièvre was very much a vital part of the neighbourhood. Here is a couple of pictures at Bievre.org: These show this urban stream as it was in late 19th century (in 1912 the urban reaches of the stream were put completely underground, though last year plans to resurrect la Bievre reached fruition). Yes, this was the last bit of the flow of the Bievre in central Paris that had not been covered and conduited. The bowels of Paris has a nice, redolent connotation, to my nose! I can understand your perspective, Phil. On first glance, the sentence can appear to be a grotesque overreach of authorial intentions. But for me at least, the sentence is alluring, enticing, promising of deep riches, historical detail, of Paris sewers, criminals, danger, catacombs, hidden rivers, intrique, death, conspiracy, etcetera! I will post this also to my Friends and Foes blog here at OL. Hope you will respond there, Phil! ________________ ** [this is from my last mention of The Name of the Rose) I was looking at the world's top best-selling books list at Wikipedia today, and was sobered to realize that Eco hit 50 million with Il Nome della Rosa and Rand did not rank at all. Link