Tag Archives: frankenstein

#293: In Which Mysterious and Magical Things Occur

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The napowrimo website today provides a link to Percy Shelley’s “A Defense of Poetry,” where he says most famously that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
His belief is that poetry is magic and that poets are kind of like wizards. I’ll buy that. I mean, I don’t consider myself a wizard by any stretch, but I know the magic literature can work on the soul. I have read poems, and essays, and novels that have turned my mind and heart and my life absolutely upside down. So the assignment today, in Shelley’s honor, is to write a poem in which mysterious and magical things occur. I decide to talk about Percy’s wife Mary, and how her masterpiece worked on me, mysteriously, magically. To this day, Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorite novels.

In Which Mysterious and Magical Things Occur

I read the novel Frankenstein for the first time,
in 2001. I was recovering, as we all were,
from 9/11, but I was recovering further and more
deeply from my own personal crisis, unhappily corresponding
with this international tragedy. I was already shattered.
Mary Shelley’s novel shattered me further,
but in the most mysterious and magical ways.
I saw myself in there unlike I had ever seen
myself in a work of fiction. Both monster and
creator, every page resonated
with my own inner hell, my tumultuous storm
of anger and guilt and ineptitude.
So I did the thing. I wrote a book.
It would take me nearly a decade,
fiction writing as inner work, before
I emerged as something whole and new.
And I did emerge. And I thank Mary Shelley
for that, for allowing Rilke’s dictum to ring
true inside my soul, that maybe the dragons
in our life are really only princesses, and
that everything that frightens us is, in its deepest
essence, something helpless that wants our love.
My monster. My coming home. My battle against an
inside beast. I was, unlike Victor Frankenstein,
ultimately victorious, but that victory was
and always will be bittersweet. So much
gained. So much lost. And I realize that this
is a terrible poem, but nevertheless a moment
that needs to move through me, a record of a
moment of trauma made bearable and explicable
through literature, a dragon that becomes
a princess, something helpless the needs
my help. And I do what I can. I do what I can.

Still.

 

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#110: Shameless Self-Promotion (An Advertisement Poem)

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The NaPoWriMo website today suggests that we try an advertisement poem. That’s an actual thing, apparently.  As an example, the NaPoWriMo curator provides Exhibit A:

Said Farmer Brown
Who’s bald on top
“Wish I could
Rotate the crop”
Burma-Shave

So rather than create a poem advertising Burma Shave or a made-up product or some thing I dig and would like to promote, I thought, why not promote my own bad self and write an advertisement poem for my novel, Monster TalkIt’s terrible  poetry, but I hope it will have an effect–because I could use the revenue.

Shameless Self-Promotion: An Advertisement Poem

My elevator pitch:

the end of Frankenstein
was such a bitch
somewhere I wish that I could find
a story just as rich.
Monster Talk

The creature, in perfect health,
through his eloquent speech
convinces himself
to come back from frozen beach:
Monster Talk

Makes his own bride
and comes to the new world
to begin a new life
with his creature girl.
Monster Talk

Two hundred years later
a child is born of human parents
descended from parents greater
and becomes their heir apparent:
Monster Talk

The story of a boy’s adventure
learning to read and learning to love.
And in these endeavors he finds some danger
and must find the strength to rise above.
Monster Talk

It’s a book you won’t be able to shelf
about a boy who’s less monster than charmer
Don’t you owe it to yourself
to read this novel by Michael Jarmer?
Monster Talk

Click on any of the hyperlinks
in this little poem,
and Monster Talk will be delivered
directly to your home.

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Of Being Tired of Writing About Teaching

I think, at least for now, I’ve exhausted my brain and my “pen” regarding teaching, issues of public schooling, educational crisis, education reform. I know I will come back to it. It’s inevitable. But for the time being I feel like anything I have to say now will be a repeat of something I have said earlier and I run the risk of sounding like a broken record. To sum up: teaching hard, class-sizes too big, public schools good, underfunding public schools bad, standardized testing bad, intrinsic motivation good, extrinsic motivation not as good, cell phones bad, closing schools bad, fire bad, Frankenstein good.  See, already in my summing up I have started to drift away from the topic.

So what else is on my mind?  What’s worth blogging about? Feel free to chime in or to cast your vote.

I’m going to stop beginning every one of my blog entry titles with the word “of.” Of is so on or about yesterday. I want to write about writing.  I want to write, in particular, about what to do with my first novel, which is, in this very moment, sitting in a box. I want to write about reading.  I’m excited about the new book by David Shields called How Literature Saved My Life and I think I could write a blog entry or two about how that has been true in my life as well.  Maybe there’s a meditation on a key book or two.  Hell, I might even write a review. I want to write about music.  Maybe I’ll write about what I said I wouldn’t write about, my band and its endeavors.  Hell, I might even write a review of the new They Might Be Giants record, or the new David Bowie (which I do not yet possess), or the new Eels (which I do not yet possess)  Maybe I’ll write about records I would like to possess.

I’m afraid, but I would like to write about religion–and, being afraid, that’s probably the sign that I should write about religion.

You get the picture.  It’s time to transition.  It’s time for a change-up.  It’s time for a new conversation.  I don’t know if this is true or not, that topic consistency might be a selling point for a blog site, the thing that makes people keep coming back, but I think I’m going to risk losing a reader here and there in order to sufficiently entertain my own bad self.  I hope you all stay along for the ride.

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Monster Talk: Of a Race of Devils

Wherein Michael Jarmer reads an entire chapter from his novel in one take with only two negligible errors; wherein the author taxes the attention span and patience of his readers/watchers/listeners with a 12 minute video blog; wherein he learns never to do that again; wherein Michael Jarmer uses the natural lighting to freaky advantage; and wherein, finally, he gets his hair to look right.

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Monster Talk Prologue: Of the Children of Monsters

Wherein Michael Jarmer reads the two epigraphs and the prologue from his novel, Monster Talk; wherein he struggles with the natural lighting, producing an unintentional but potentially appropriate ghostliness; wherein he informs us once again where one could procure a copy of his wonderful new novel; after which, he wonders whether or not video readings are distracting, whether or not it would be more effective if performances like these were audio only, hopes that readers, listeners, and viewers of his blog might weigh in on the issue. 

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More Reasons Why You Will Love My Novel: Adventures in Self-Publishing and Self-Promotion Part Two

Let’s recap, why don’t we. I do not have a history of being a very capable or enthusiastic self-promoter. I have difficulty asking people, cajoling people, insisting that people come to see my band play a show, for example, or buy our records.  It’s not that I don’t think we’re worthy of their patronage, but that I feel somehow like I’m imposing on people. It’s awkward.  It’s immodest.  It’s uncomfortable telling people how great you are.  But now I am turning over a new leaf. I am so pleased to be publishing a novel and feel perhaps more confident in myself as a fiction writer than I do in myself as a musician, I hereby vow to shout my barbaric yawp across the rooftops of the world, to impose a little, to tell people how great I am in order to get people interested in my new book, Monster Talk.

In part one of this two-part blog entry, I established three initial reasons why you, dear reader, will love my novel.  I gushed about the cover, the art, the artist who created it, the lovely picture of myself on the back and the flap, the effective, succinct, and tantalizing synopsis on the other flap, and the engaging sample on the back cover of the hardback.  Reader, you are too smart to believe that a cover makes a book good, but you are also wise enough to know that good cover art and compelling cover text are both important aspects of the successful marketing of a novel, that, in fact, we judge books by their covers all the time.  Okay.  Monster Talk has a nice cover.

I also insisted that if you love Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, you will also love this novel, as its premise comes from that beautiful and so often misrepresented English classic.  And finally, I argued that whatever your predictions or preconceptions about a novel by me about a subject like this might be, you would probably be pleasantly mistaken.  In other words, I think, dear reader, that you will be surprised.

So for what other reasons will you love my novel?

#4. You like smart children and like them as main characters in stories.  You like novels that are respectful of the wisdom, intelligence, and perspective of young people.  And you like your child-main characters to be believable.  They don’t have to have magic powers; they don’t have to be wizards in training; they don’t have to be vampires–and they don’t have to be monsters.  

#5. You may not be a huge science-fiction fan or a lover of what we call fantasy fiction, but you love stories in which the super-real crosses over or connects with the fantastic.  You might enjoy magical realism as a genre.  And why is it, exactly, that this kind of thing turns you on whereas interplanetary travel,  space aliens, dwarves, elves and schools called Hogwarts leave you feeling unsatisfied? It might be, dear reader, that you read often for a higher purpose; you distrust literature that is purely escapist.  And while you know that ALL fiction to some extent allows us to momentarily escape the confines of our daily lives, you have an expectation that the fiction you read reflects or illuminates some aspect of reality, some issue that is relevant, something that you recognize and can identify with.  And you know that real life is often fantastic–the journey you’re taking in this life on this planet is often remarkable in the way that even a fire-breathing dragon can’t equal.  So you’re totally down with the metaphoric power of magical, unnatural, supernatural elements in an otherwise realistic piece of fiction .  Monster Talk is a realistic novel with a fantastic premise–and you’ll love that.

#6. You love serious fiction that makes you laugh.

#7. And finally, you love the fact that you are supporting an independent publishing venture.  You understand that small press and independent publishing is often where our literature is richest, and you value the democratizing effect that new technology has made possible in the world of the word. So, for all these reasons, you will love my novel.  Thank you, in advance, for your support.

And here are some quick links to on-line retail channels:

http://www.amazon.com/Monster-Talk-Michael-Jarmer/dp/1475915950/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338234633&sr=1-1

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/monster-talk-michael-jarmer/1110919984?ean=9781475915969

http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000540199/Monster-Talk.aspx

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Why You Will Love My Novel: Adventures in Self-Publishing and Self-Promotion

I’m telling the truth.  Yes, I will indeed tell you why you’ll love my novel, Monster Talk, available to the on-line book buying public very shortly, a week or two, perhaps, after the publication of this blog entry, and available immediately, like right this minute, at the iUniverse bookstore. But I want to begin by talking about self-publication and the unavoidable weirdness that follows, that of self-promotion.

So, if you’ve been following the blog you already know this, but if you’re just popping in for the first time, I’ll give you a short recap.  I’m publishing my second novel first through iUniverse because I don’t have the time on the planet to exhaust like I did on my first novel–trying to find an agent who will then try to find a publisher who will then make me do what I have to do anyway as a self-publisher:  promote my own thing.  I just re-read that last sentence, the part about not having time on the planet.  I don’t want you to misunderstand: I’m not dying–any more or less than anyone else who is about my age and health.  It’s just that I found that publishing through the conventional means might take me the rest of my life.  I have dismissed the illegitimacy issue.  I have looked at my work and decided it is good.  It is worthy of readers. I have embraced the brave new world of do-it-yourself-with-the-help-of-a-company-that-provides-everything-your-book-could-possibly-need-plus-the-means-to-get-it-into-the-marketplace technology. I have decided that, in the end, there is nothing different about publishing your own novel than producing and selling your own music recording, which is what musicians have been doing from time immemorial. That was the process and those are the subsequent conclusions.  Now, having fulfilled my new year’s resolution in just 5 short months, as of today I have a book out that people can hold and read or use as a coaster, paper-weight, door-stop.  It’s so good, though, I’m pretty certain people who buy it will be reading it.  You, especially, will love it and will want to share it with others.  More on this later.

So now I have to promote.  Promoting your own work, promoting yourself, trying to make your thing desirable to others, creating a kind of personal brand, is a strange, awkward, uncomfortable business.  On the surface, it’s really no different from writing an entrance exam or an essay, written or spoken, for a job opening.  You are a product, a product that has a variety of positive characteristics that someone else will want to take advantage of in exchange for some monetary or material reward.  As strange as that sounds, it’s pretty normal.   In the case of a work of art or a piece of music or a novel, there are some distinct differences.  I am not my novel.  My novel is not me.  It is an  artifact  that came from me, a collection of many moments moving through me over time.  You would think that would make it easier!  But alas, not all of us are adept at separating the art from the artist, and our babies are kind of like babies.  If someone hates our baby, we feel hated by proxy.  And that’s scary.  But despite that, if we want anything like success for our creative endeavors, we’ve got to get out there and shout our barbaric yawps over the rooftops of the world, saying, in essence, this thing I made is awesome and you need it and will love it and please give me money for my thing.

This thing I made, a novel called Monster Talk, is awesome and you need it and will love it and please give me money for my thing.  There, that wasn’t so hard.  Let’s see if I can keep this up for a while.

Why You Will Love My Novel:  

#1.  Look at this cover.  Lovingly created by my friend Curtis Settino, it is a quirky, inventive, and fitting illustration.

The novel’s main character is not someone who has a heart-shaped head–but the heart-shaped head captures an element that might be something else, beyond the cover, that you’ll love about my book.  More on that later, perhaps.  I want to talk more about this cover.  There are other things about the cover that you’ll also love, I think.  There’s a handsome picture of me on there.  You’ll love that, I’m sure.  I’m no beauty queen, but I’m no slouch either.  You’ll also love the text on the cover.  There’s a short little author biography, which you’ll love; there’s an excerpt on the back cover from the second chapter which, while setting up nicely the premise for the novel, thereby creating interest for you, the reader, will probably also make you laugh;  and on the back of the softcover and on the inside flap of the hardback, there’s a lovely little synopsis that will pique your interest without giving anything away.  I think you’ll really love this cover, and while they say you should never judge a book by its cover, all of us do anyway, and if you judge my book initially by its cover, you’ll probably end up wanting to read the thing and in the end you will end up loving it.

#2.  You will love the fact that my novel was inspired by another novel you love.  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is about the best, most underrated, most under appreciated, most misunderstood because of a history of cultural misrepresentation, most influential novel of 19th century English literature. And if you’re not down with the preceding, Monster Talk will help you get down with the preceding. You will love that.  If you are already down with the above, you’ll love it even more, because Monster Talk honors but doesn’t copy its predecessor. Except where it copies it.  A little bit.  You’ll love all of that.

#3.  There are so many things you’ll love about my novel, I could go on and on, but I’m going to try to stop at my usual 1000 word or so blog entry limit.  So let me just share one more thing you’ll love about my novel:  Whatever predictions you may have about a novel by Michael Jarmer inspired by the great gothic genius of Mary Shelley will likely be wrong.  And you’ll love that.  You are a beautiful and intelligent reader and you like surprises.  That’s all I have to say on the matter at this time.  Onward.  Yawp.  Please go to the following link:

http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000540201/Monster-Talk.aspx

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