Monday writing links

For your edification and entertainment: some stories about writers and writing.

Deadspin rounds up the opening lines from all of Elmore Leonard’s novels.

My favorite: “Chris Mankowski’s last day on the job, two in the afternoon, two hours to go, he got a call to dispose of a bomb.” —Freaky Deaky (1988)

Leonard was the master. Every one of his books opens in mid-stride, in the heart of the action, and trusts readers to grab hold and hang on for the ride. And what a ride he always gave us. Now that I’ve read through the list, I’m going to print it out for the students at the writing workshop I’m teaching next month.

Second, in Lit Reactor, Max Booth III summarizes every Stephen King novel in 140 characters or less.

Firestarter (1980)
A 426 page lesson about why children shouldn’t play with fire.

Third, The Toast reveals How to Tell if You’re in a MFA Workshop Story.

You are a young man driving across the country, thinking about the women in your life and the various ways in which they have disappointed you.

You saw something horrifying at the circus.

Sometimes you think about just picking up and leaving this filthy city, but then one morning you wake up and watch the sky turn from narcissus-white to the delicate, throbbing, vein-purple hues of the nodding heads of crocuses and irises, the ones you remember picking from your mother’s garden when you were still young and unafraid, and there above the Gowanus you see a map of your future, your past, and your heart (but not in an overwrought or sentimental way.)

Finally, here’s something of a mystery.

Harry Potter Christian Fanfic Goes Viral.

Grace Ann, the author of a Harry Potter story on a fanfiction site, says that she is a Christian mother who was afraid the Harry Potter series would turn her kids into witches. Her solution, she says, was to rewrite the series in a Christian way. In an elaborate piece of satire, Harry’s aunt and uncle are turned into evil evolutionists, and young Potter, a wide-eyed obedient boy, says the sinner’s prayer and is whisked off by the very manly Hagrid to Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles.

The big question: is Grace Ann’s rewrite actually satire, or for real?

“Christians are people who want to be good,” Hagrid explained wisely; and crouched down so he was on eye level with Harry. “We want to go to heaven after we die. Do you know what heaven is, Harry?”

Harry shook his head; and his big eyes were wide and curious.

“Heaven is a beautiful place where we can be with God.”

Aunt Petunia smacked her hands over Harry’s young ears; and her voice was sickly sweet when she said, “Thank you very much for your concern, sir, but he does not need your religion, he has science and socialism and birthdays. Haven’t you heard of Evolution? I have a very good textbook on Evolution that I could give you on it if you would like to learn things.”

Hagrid laughed wisely. “Evolution is a fairytale. You don’t really believe that, do you?”

“Yes, I do!” Aunt Petunia screeched.

“Well then prove it!”

Aunt Petunia could only stare at him; and her big mouth hung open dumbly.

I think it has to be satire. What do you think?

UPDATE — September 23, 2014: Snopes reserves judgment. “While there is indeed a Christian Harry Potter fanfiction story circulating the internet, it isn’t entirely clear whether the writer’s intent was satirical or straightforward.”

3 responses to “Monday writing links

  1. I’d heard of Leonard, of course, but have not read his books. You caught me by surprise with your opening there. Now I’m thinking maybe I should read at least one of his books! 🙂

  2. It has to be satire. HAS to be. But then, I’ve heard strange and weird and unbelievable things that turn out to be totally sincere. So, who knows?

    And even if it is satire, it’s kind of dangerous, because there are many who would take it for, uh, Gospel.

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