Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Green Eggs and Ham: A Fresh Look at a Dark Book

I've been between book edits recently. This can be a productive "down" time if I use it wisely, taking the opportunity to work on the never-ending house projects that seem to be . . . well, never ending. Living in a house built in the 1920s can do that. More often than not, though, I find myself anxious for the next round of edits to begin, whether with a new book or second-round revisions of a current WIP. I would much rather be editing than washing windows or decluttering (as my windows and clutter will attest).

Homeschooling provides me with numerous editing opportunities; the disadvantage to this is that my kids refuse to pay me for my services. Huh. 

In honor of not really having anything new to say, I thought today's blog post could feature my 18-year-old son's most recent English paper . . . kind of like when that Family Circus cartoon guy lets his son, Billy, take over. Without further ado . . .

The Real Green Eggs and Ham
Many consider it to be a normal children’s book, with little purpose other than to entertain with its rhyming, humorous illustrations, et cetera; any deeper meaning that may be found is generally cast aside, or perhaps watered down to a simple moral: “You never know you don’t like something until you’ve tried it.”  This is, of course, not the entire meaning that Seuss intended, and to say so would be an insult to the Doctor’s intentions.  The printed version of Green Eggs and Ham is a very selective telling of a much darker story, of harassment and kidnapping.
In the beginning of the book, a nameless character (assumed to be the protagonist) expresses an extreme dislike for a character named “Sam,” and rightly so, for Sam is notably narcissistic, parading about with a sign which reads, “I Am Sam” and, on the opposite side, “Sam I Am.”
 In the particular incident recorded at the start of the book, Sam has been riding strange animals through the protagonist’s house, waving his signs shamelessly, while the protagonist is minding his own business, attempting to read the morning paper. It is at this point that he expresses his dislike for Sam, and Sam, seeking further attention, inquires as to whether the man enjoys eating green eggs and ham, offering a plate of the stuff.  The protagonist, understandably enough, states that he does not, and refuses the offer. He does not mention a reason for disliking these foods; no doubt he assumed there was no need to do so. I mean, would you eat ham that had sat out long enough to turn green?  And there’s no knowing what was added to the eggs to cause them to be such a color.
Sam, of course, does not accept such a simple answer, and inquires further, asking whether he might enjoy them in a different location. The protagonist explains that the location makes no difference: it is the food to which he objects. Sam, undeterred, continues with his questions, asking if he might like the food better in a house, or perhaps with a mouse. The protagonist explains again that it is not the location, nor the company kept during the meal, but the food itself which puts him off from such a thing.
After this, the story begins to turn dark. Sam asks if the man would eat his food in a box, with a feral canine for company, and the man, not understanding the veiled threat, declines again. It is at this point that Sam abducts the man, throwing him into his car and driving off recklessly, all the while continuing to offer the food. He is quoted as saying, “Eat them! Eat them! Here they are.”
The man continuously begs Sam to let him go and leave him alone, but Sam does not heed his pleas. He drags the man onto a train—no doubt to escape the authorities more quickly—and from the train, to a boat, all the while urging the man to eat the food offered to him. It should also be noted that Sam keeps a live goat in his car, and it may be best not to speculate as to why. Shortly after they board the boat, it goes down—a direct result of Sam’s recklessness—and they are left swimming toward the nearest land mass; yet even while swimming for his life, Sam holds the eggs and rancid ham aloft, telling the insistently refusing man to eat it, because he may like it, if only he would try it.
The man is tired: he has been harassed, threatened, kidnapped and terrorized, and it has been the longest day of his life. He asks Sam if he will be released and left alone if he eats this food which Sam is so obsessively eager to share. Sam tells him that he will let him go if his conditions are met, so the man eats the food and pretends to enjoy it so as not to anger Sam by disliking what is apparently his favorite food. He even goes so far as to thank Sam for putting him through all this. After counseling, the man is able to eat normal ham again; however, he cannot bring himself to try eggs in most forms. 

Sam disappeared shortly after the incident and has not been heard from since.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

D.R. Shoultz Has Started Something Good

After reading the first chapter of Melting Sand on D.R. Shoultz's blog, I was eager to find out more about Miles Stevens, and expectant of good things.

I'm very happy to tell you I got those good things and more. I just finished reading Shoultz's novel and am already looking forward to whatever he has in store for Miles in future books.

Melting Sand isn't your typical time-travel book. I love a good time-travel novel if it's done well. So many of them are based on something magical happening to cause the travel through time, and that's fine, as long as certain things aren't overlooked which cause consistency errors (such as nobody noticing or questioning someone's wristwatch in Ancient Egypt). Melting Sand is different in this aspect: the time travel is scientific and purposeful, with all details attended to.

Miles Stevens and his partner, Terri, are CIA agents who work for the Department of Historic Intervention. They've been sent back 23 years on a mission which, if executed correctly, will prevent a major war in the Middle East. Unfortunately, they're not the first team to have been sent by the DHI on this same mission, and they need to figure out how to work in such a way as to not botch the job like the previous team. They're in constant danger, as one would expect, due to Iranian subversives expecting their arrival and trying to stop them (thank you very much, previous team, for blowing the whole mission that completely).

Although there are specific events which need to be altered for the mission to succeed, they never happen in quite the direct way one would expect, and I like that. No simple "stop this and the war won't happen" kind of things in this book; everything is intertwined and non-linear.

Being me, of course I was pleased that there were very few editing issues. Less than a handful, and most likely things the average non-OCD person would never notice.

When all is said and done, it's not a tidy ending, just like regular life, with the hope of better things in days to come. Excellent read, plenty of action, and a likable hero. Great job, D.R. Shoultz.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I'm in Love!

It must be love. It simply must be. Why else would I forget to eat, get very little sleep, and hyper-focus to the exclusion of all else around me?

Oh, yeah . . . I'm editing a great book. I guess the emotional state is pretty similar. <sheepish grin> Don't get me wrong: the hubby comes first in my heart, yesterday, today, and always. But a lot of my "symptoms" are remarkably familiar.

As I've been working my way through the latest manuscript from a favorite author, I've realized what I'm doing each day seems less and less like work and more like sheer enjoyment. I look forward to that point in my day when I can sit down and relax with Ol' Greenie and get to work. I'm almost resentful of the day-to-day things that get in my way, delaying that moment. (What? Someone needs me to drive them somewhere? Well, shoot. Sleep? Oh, I guess it is three a.m. and I probably should think about it . . . but I'm not done with the chapter yet.)

I think one of the thrills for me is not only do I get to read something terrific, but I have the privilege of seeing something which has only been revealed to a handful of people. And yep, it is a privilege. I become emotionally invested in the characters and what happens to them. I get to tweak things to make sure everyone gets to enjoy the diamond. I get to rejoice when someone's happy with my work, and ultimately, when readers are happy with the author's work.

I'm slowly but surely settling into a season of life in which all the pieces are falling into place to create a pretty phenomenal picture.

I guess I really am in love—with my life.