A few more words from David Kalish, a writer of short stories, plays, and the new novel, The Opposite of Everything.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Series Shocker: I'm not telling!
Don't look at this if you haven't seen Planet of the Apes
If you’ve managed to live your life without going to a movie theatre, watching a DVD, downloading a flick, or buying a book, read no further. I want to warn you right away that today’s post involves an extremely sensitive topic that may cause you to blurt out, “I can’t believe Darth Vadar is Luke Skywalker’s father!”
I’m talking about spoilers. Cinematic history is littered with ‘em. An old girlfriend of mine once bragged how, upon exiting the movie The Crying Game, she shouted to the people on line: “The chick’s got a —- !” It’s true. She is a he in that movie. And Bruce Willis was dead, all along, in The Sixth Sense. Rosebud was his sled, in Citizen Kane. Then there’s the famous line of dialogue, “Soylent Green is people!”
Though spoiling can be a cruel sport, I know most people won’t get mad at me for revealing these endings. They’re imprinted in the consciousness of people. Everyone knows, upon seeing the half-sunken Statue of Liberty, that Planet of the Apes is set in a future earth.
All of this is a long, long way of saying that the four-part series I’ve posted these past three weeks – extracting sections of my forthcoming novel and converting them into real-life cliffhangers – is formally over. For now, at least.
Unlike the movies I listed above, my darkly comedic novel, The Opposite of Everything, is not imprinted in anyone’s memory. It’s not even printed yet. When it comes out on March 11, my novelwill start fresh, a babe on the bookshelf. All of which is a way of saying I hereby decline to spoil it. The four episodes I posted – about my humorous journey as a cancer survivor to find love in this crazy world — represent a small part of my 250-page book. I’d like to keep it that way.
My posts differed in crucial ways from the contents of my novel. First, my book is fiction, not fact. I dramatized my real life, gave everyone different names, made them do wacky things that their real-life counterparts wouldn’t dream of doing. As I say in my book acknowledgment, any resemblance between my novel and real life is coincidental to my goals as a novelist to create a fully realized dramatic story.
Still, the events depicted in recent posts are structurally similar. Devoted readers of The Ruminator learned a lot about my quirky pursuit of the woman who would become my future wife –a tough Colombian doctor who’d been through a battery of personal problems that rivaled my own. This storyline also runs through the novel.
My post on Monday of last week – the final episode in the series — ended on a pivotal moment. I invite Ingrid, for our first date, to hear me read publicly from my memoir-in-progress, in which I reveal details of my cancer and checkered emotional past. I’m afraid she’ll reject me, thinking I’m a head case. So after I finish reading, I delicately approach her.
“What did you think of what I read?” I asked.
Her fingertips circled the glass brim of her beer. “Was your story fact or fiction?”
“Fact,” I mumbled.
Ingrid started looking around, fidgeting. “Where are you … going?” I asked.
“I drove for two hours to get here, and I just drank two cups of coffee.” She smiled with embarrassment. “Do you know where the ladies room is?”
And that’s where things end – with the implication that Ingrid, despite or because of everything she’s been through herself – is cool with my meshugas.
And yet, several questions still dangle. Will my pernicious disease behave itself? Will we marry and have a child? Will we stumble across a half-buried Statue of Liberty and discover that our lives are actually set on a future earth?
Well, I’m not telling! At least for now. I leave myself the option of resuming this series, mining my novel for more material. I walk a fine line between spoiling the book and my impulse to write stories about my life in new ways that capture your attention.