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Write what you know. I know me and I'm talking to you, reader, in the first person, not the anonymous third person, because when I write I write about me and the world that thrives around me.
I wrote decent poetry in college, I couldn’t get the hang of short stories. I finished my first novel so many years ago writers were still sending their works to publishers instead of agents. My first novel was rejected by everyone I sent it to. The most useful rejection, by a Miss Kelly at Little, Brown, said something like this: “You write beautifully, but you don’t know how to tell a story.” Since then I've concentrated on learning to tell a good story. The writing isn’t quite so beautiful but it will do.
Life intervened. Like the typical Berkeley graduate, I went through five careers and three marriages. Since the last I've been writing like there’s no tomorrow. I have turned out twelve novels, a smattering of short stories and a little poetry. My latest novel is the third in a series about a man who is not my alter ego, he’s pure fiction, but everyone he interacts with, including the women, are me. My title for this trilogy is The Libertine.
Writers who have influenced me include Thomas Mann, Elmore Leonard, Albert Camus, Graham Greene, Kurt Vonnegut and Willa Cather. I don’t write like any of them, but I wish I did.
I'm currently gearing up to pay attention to marketing. Archery isn’t complete if there’s no target. I've neglected readers because I've been compulsive about putting words down on paper.
Today the balance shifts.
on Nov. 28, 2011 :
----First of all, "The Day's Vanity, the Night's Remorse" by Angus Brownfield, is a book for grown-ups, one of the few serious works of literature I have encountered in the eBook jungle. It's a book for women and men mature enough to excavate their own almost-forgotten attributes: the joys and sorrows within their pasts, the abilities that lie dormant, the paths not taken... then to ask the painful questions, "Who am I now? Where did that onetime can-do idealist go? Can I ever reclaim the rich possibilities that were my absolute birthright?"
-----Brownfield's title "The Day's Vanity, the Night's Remorse" is taken from a poignant poem "The Choice" by William Butler Yeats, who learned the hard way that the consequences of The Choice are permanent and often severe--perhaps the deepest existential question of peacetime moderns. As a reader of serious literature, you no doubt carry enough IQ points that The Choice has forced itself upon you: Violin virtuoso or devoted mother? Research physicist or small-town dad?
-----In Brownfield's book, we do not approach The Choice from the viewpoint of a Yeats-like successful poet and dramatist, but from an intelligent, successful, decent bureaucrat (Byeford Pritchett) who makes a very strange decision: During the exact years when middle age is giving way to old age, he chooses to walk away from his present life and stake claim to the path he didn't take. But that's not the story. The story is the price that is paid, the complications that ensue: such as homelessness, temporary confinement as an insane person... and most of all, his agreement to return the decomposing body of a deceased bum to its own Valley of Peace. Beneath it all is his innate determination to love those around him more than he could ever love a balls-out drive toward personal fulfillment.
-----The storytelling, from multiple points of view, is intelligent and insightful. The descriptions of towns, friends, thoughts, hopes, motorcycles and the endearing plumpness or thinness of the various women that still tempt the protagonist... all are enthralling. This is a fine novel: Herman Hesse's "Steppenwolf" crossed with Hemingway's "Islands in the Stream."
(review of free book)