Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


So I'm reading this book about Northern Ireland and the socio-psychological effect of the Troubles on children in the first few years of the conflit, and ideas are popping into my head about the story...and out of nowhere comes one that changes everything.  But it's so radical, even Brendan is taken aback by it.  Just to see what will happen, I follow it to its logical end...and decide to drop it.  Because it makes the whole last chapter a Hollywood-style of story and I do NOT want that.  Nor does Bren.

I've seen SO many movies and read a few too many books that try to MAKE YOU FEEL by setting up ridiculous dramatic conflicts -- like having a man handle the formal execution of his brother at the end of "The Wind that Shakes the Barley."  I hated that because I didn't believe it.  Same for a book I read...whose title I can't recall.  But it was about a father trying to find out why his son was killed and it turns out the kid got involved with smuggling arms to the IRA but crossed the wrong people and the explanation of it felt so contrived and laid the blame on the father for telling stories about the glory of rebellion in Ireland, it ruined the book for me.  Same for the ludicrous "Patriot Games" -- the IRA reduced to stock bad guys with no redeeming value or sense of honor in comparison to an Irish-American MAN.

It harkens back to my dislike of what I call "set-up" movies -- where the mechanisms in place to tell the story are so damned obvious, you can't get into the characters or suspend disbelief.  My biggest one for years was "Sophie's Choice" (movie; I didn't read the book).  I saw that "choice" coming a mile away and it was so blunt and simplistic, I just shrugged.  Same thing for "Mystic River."  The non-stop contrivances and coincidences just irritated me throughout the film.  And "Schindler's List" was close to perfect until Spielberg had Liam Neeson break down at the end.  It was completely wrong for the character AND the story (and probably cost Neeson the Oscar).  And do NOT get me started on "Philadelphia" or "Saving Private Ryan."

I guess that's why I'm not a fan of "It's A Wonderful Life."  It's the ultimate in set-up movies, where God himself is telling you you're a nice guy because of how you lived, and the symbolism is so heavy-handed...I can't even watch it, anymore.  Sacrilege, I know.

Anyway, the problem I'm having with this new idea is...well, there's a kernel of truth behind it.  And that won't go away.  So I took a nice long walk and decided to slip it in, just not make it blatant or take it as far as I initially thought.  Instead, there will be hints and if they're caught, great.  If not, big shrug here.  What matters is, Brendan wouldn't be willing to accept this bit of truth anymore than anyone else would, and that gives him something uncomfortable to have to deal with as the book comes to a close.

He's still not completely happy with it, but this time I think I have the upper hand.  Because the sole criterion in this whole project is to be as honest as possible, and this is something that has to be faced.  It's something that has historical basis.  So that's all there is to that.

Now let the psychosis within begin.

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