Hi guys, Crane here. Thought I’d start by addressing a couple of things in your discussions of the last two days. I imagine it goes without saying that I disagree with quite a few of the points you raised, at least to the extent that your troubles with the book were all choices I made intentionally. One place to begin is that the book was never meant to be scrutinized as a novel. It’s a collection of linked stories focused on one character, says “stories” on the title page. Certainly, my intent was for there to be a progression in Charlotte Anne’s life, that her struggles would still ultimately end up propelling her in a forward direction by the end of the book. But at this point, as much as I’d like to write a novel someday, I am still enchanted by the short story form, and that’s what I do.
Also, I stand by all my characters as being completely developed. You can’t see Jenna just as well as Howard? Even characters who make briefer appearances, like the stepbrothers, or the Pink-Park sisters, or Rachel Richmond, or Matteo, or the mom, I believe, are fully fleshed out on the page, although the book is, above all, about Charlotte Anne’s internal conflict. The struggle we have with ourselves is always what’s most interesting to me as a person and as a reader. Sometimes, in teaching writing workshops, I’ll notice that a student will have created some really interesting character, with all kinds of inner turmoil, perfectly well-written, and then suddenly there will be some big external drama that comes out of nowhere because somewhere along the line someone told them that conflict X was supposed to happen on page P, and suddenly I don’t believe any of it.
I also really, really want to make a plea for y’all to consider pioneering with me the complete abandonment of the chick lit discussion. I know some of you have read the two posts on my blog about it from last year (Post 1, Post 2), but I urge you and any readers to read them again. My proposal was that anyone and everyone drop the discussion once and for all. You may have heard folks are talking about that dude who dissed Oprah right now – when that gets boring, I’m sure there’ll be something else right behind it. Meantime, I truly believe there is not one further word to be said on this topic that will illuminate anything, you know, that needs to be illuminated, and that the very discussion takes away from some really good writing simply on the basis of a character being a single female. I will never understand why this in and of itself makes a piece of literature less valuable, why the issues associated with being single longer and having careers are not important ones. Many books out there that some people see in this way, like let’s just say mine, address subjects including: god, cancer, loss, intimacy, friendship, family, work, child abuse, divorce, depression, September 11, identity, alcoholism, sobriety, that’s a short list, and I guess what bums me out is that although it’s true that more women read than men, if you put a book like mine into that category, potentially half of the readers, that being the male half, just won’t read it. Which is unfortunate, because I have a lot of guy fans, and have gotten some of my best reviews from men. More often than not, I find that these reviews tend to say something like, “It’s too bad this book is sometimes categorized that way.”
Speaking of the alcoholism, or lack of it, in the book, this was absolutely considered on my part. I was much more interested in Charlotte’s struggle as a sober alcoholic than I was in telling one more drunk story. Her budding alcoholism is addressed directly, in Famous, and touched on in several others, and it simply wasn’t what I was interested in writing about. There are a lot of books out there that deal with the falling down part of the story. I was interested in the getting up. As I think is clear in Charlotte Anne’s life, that can be as much of a struggle – is it any wonder why she drank, if she’s having this much trouble walking around in the world sober?
Well, I probably haven’t addressed everything you guys have talked about, but I’m going to go answer some of Dan’s questions now for tomorrow.