Friday, April 25, 2014

Vicarious Future, The Changing Seasons

Might have made more sense to put Virgin Territory in this slot but I wanted a spot for The Changing Seasons and then looking through it I saw the title of this story within the story, so there you go.  Just in case you didn't realize there is a method to this madness.

The Changing Seasons was my first attempt at a John Irving-type story, though it does not use the cradle-to-grave type narration of my later attempts.  It's about a guy named Floyd who meets a pretty girl at college and they fall in love, but then things fall apart over four seasons.  I was using the seasonal metaphor back in 2003, about 6 years before 500 Days of Summer.  So suck it, Zooey Deschanel.  (Phrasing!  Boom.)

Floyd is a would-be writer and his magna opus is called The Vicarious Future.  In the first draft I think I included it a lot more than I ended up using it in the final version.  The story is about a guy and a girl starting in like 1917 or 1918.  They fall in love but then the guy gets called up to the army and shipped off to France.  They of course make all the usual promises about what they'll do after the war--which only means something bad will happen.

And it does.  The guy gets caught up in an explosion or hit with mustard gas or some damned thing that causes him to be badly disfigured--and put into a coma for a little while.  Eventually he wakes up and goes back to America only to realize that by then his girl has moved on with someone else.

The guy ends up moving in to the house next to hers and pretty much barricades himself inside like Boo Radley.  He watches as the girl and her husband raise a son.  But eventually the son on a dare or something decides to go into the creepy house and winds up meeting the guy and like Scout he realizes the scary neighbor isn't so scary.  Eventually the guy sees how happy his girl is with her family and decides it's time for him to move on.

The story-within-the-story is supposed to parallel what's going on with the real book.  It's something Mr. Irving does in The World According to Garp and A Widow for One Year among other books.  Or you could think of the pirate comics in Watchmen.  Like a lot of these stories-within-the-stories at some point I could probably write the whole thing for real if I wanted to.  I've just never felt like it.

Anyway, The Changing Seasons is a deeply personal book but also kind of depressing.  Which sums up this Grumpy Bulldog perfectly.

This and the rest of my books are available at the new Planet 99 Publishing site


  1. I'm not sure if I'll ever attempt a cradle to grave novel. Or if I did, I'd cheat and skip a decade here and there. :)



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