17 Jul

Dreaming Home

Since I was in my early 20’s (& maybe earlier), I’ve dreamed of our family’s old country home at least twice a year, returning to discover dimensions and qualities and inhabitants that I never found in my 3 dimensional childhood. That home keeps creeping into my writing–sometimes more as a personality or quality than a physical place.

We sold the house when I was 12, after my parents divorced, and moved into the city. 4 years ago (in the physical world) I stopped by on the way back from a country wedding, just to see the changes–something I’ve done every few years when I’m out that way. This time, the changes were shocking and more surreal than any I experienced in Slumberland. I’ll write about them in a future post–it was unsettling in a Ballardian post-apocalyptic way that I can’t describe in a few sentences.

Some dreams stick and don’t need to be journaled–especially those with recurring themes or unique dreams that include sensory experiences like the taste of perfect bread (real dream–a teaching dream) or one’s murder (real dream and thankfully only once, although I did get a small award for the story it inspired).

17 Jul

Jungle Rot

Today’s title*

Leathers in Mozambique: An Adventure Story for Boys, by Edward M. Chrystie

Hodder and Stoughton., London, 1959

Three white guys with big guns in the jungle, the pith-helmeted, querulous-looking one in back clearly waiting to get picked off first.

Clearly the search for the kidnapped girl who would become the magician’s assistant–or, maybe the magician! (Who says the magician has to be a man–more interesting story opportunities otherwise.) Of course, the search is taking place in the wrong place, following a false clue. (She’s been taken into the desert: see the other entries tagged “Title a Day.”)

Resisting (not completely) all jokes about them just looking for a good leathers bar and not really hoping to find the girl.

*From the book of eye opening titles, Scouts in Bondage and other violations of literary propriety, ed. Michael Bell.

15 Jul

Snake bite worse than its bark

Today’s title*

Girls’ Interests: The Vereston Annuals series

D.L.M.S., London, 1937

The front cover shows two cherry cheeked clean young ladies in pith helmets, bright and appropriate simple dresses, white stockings and shoes on holiday in a Middle Eastern bazaar, guardedly curious about the play of a dark but twinkle-eyed snake charmer and his swaying cobra. Their backup is a gent in casual naval officer’s whites old enough to be their father. Everyone in the bazaar, merchants, customers, mystery woman on the cover spine, is watching them.

The girl on the right, who is being held slightly back by her companion, will grow up to become the magician’s assistant. The snake charmer will help her escape from kidnappers and teach her what he knows about magic and illusion while they are trapped in a cave during a sandstorm. (See the other entries tagged “Title a Day” for the magician reference.)

*From the book of eye opening titles, Scouts in Bondage and other violations of literary propriety, ed. Michael Bell.

14 Jul

Come out copper, where I can sees ya!

Today’s title*

Invisible Dick, by Frank Topham

DC Thomson & Co. Ltd, London, 1931

The front cover shows a bicycle speeding away down a country road from a surprised bobby while being chased by a dog. The invisible rider is wearing only a cap and shoes. Part of the TOC is shown; chapters include Dick Finds It, The Vanishing Helmet, Porker Puzzled, Ghosts and Ghosts, P.C. Brett, Crow Pie, and Wizzing the Wizard.

This is likely a somewhat ribald story from the magician’s younger days. (See the other entries tagged “Title a Day” for the magician reference.)

*From the book of eye opening titles, Scouts in Bondage and other violations of literary propriety, ed. Michael Bell.

13 Jul

Something from Nothing

A title a day* helps keep the doldrums away.

Today

Book of Blank Maps, with Instructions

Foulsham & Co., Ltd, London, Undated

Note: Price is One Shilling and Sixpence net

Landscapes that appear before you (or somewhere in the world) as you map them? Perhaps this is how the magician magically transports people or animals (such as nuns or tigers?) onstage in front of a disbelieving audience? Can he use each map more than once, without risk? What happens when he runs out of blank maps? Can he change them? Are they inhabited?

Or is it a metaphor for a human heart (or hearts), following a tragedy?

*From the book of eye opening titles, Scouts in Bondage and other violations of literary propriety, ed. Michael Bell.

07 Jul

I’ll take Eradication for $500, Alex

A title a day* helps keep the doldrums away. As a writing exercise, can you create a story from it?
Today
How to Recognize Leprosy: A Popular Guide, by Dr E. Muir
Publisher not stated, undated
Note: The illustration shows a physician gently probing a lesion/rash on the arm of a blindfolded patient.
Mice, armidillos, and animals closely related to humans can also contract leprosy. I picture a retired third world zookeeper, his leprosy in treatment, tending to the bengal tiger that belongs to a prominent magician.
*From the book of eye opening titles, Scouts in Bondage and other violations of literary propriety, ed. Michael Bell.

A title a day* helps keep the doldrums away. As a writing exercise, can you create a story from it?

Today

How to Recognize Leprosy: A Popular Guide, by Dr E. Muir

Publisher not stated, undated

Note: The illustration shows a physician gently probing a lesion/rash on the arm of a blindfolded patient.

Mice, armadillos, and animals closely related to humans can also contract leprosy. I picture a retired third world zookeeper, his leprosy in treatment, tending to the bengal tiger that belongs to a prominent magician.

*From the book of eye opening titles, Scouts in Bondage and other violations of literary propriety, ed. Michael Bell.

06 Jul

Nasty Habit?

A title a day* helps keep the doldrums away. As a writing exercise, can you create a story from it without nudging and winking?

Today

Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk: What I Have Written is True!

Modern Fiction (London) Ltd, undated

Note: On the cover, Maria wears a nun’s habit.

I picture a magician’s assistant. (Wonder if I’m creating a chain story, starting with Willie’s Ordeal.)

*From the snickery book of real titles, Scouts in Bondage and other violations of literary propriety, ed. Michael Bell.

02 Jul

Scouts in Bondage

A title a day helps keep the doldrums away. From the snickery book of real titles, Scouts in Bondage and other violations of literary propriety, ed. Michael Bell. As a writing exercise, can you create a story from these without nudging and winking, but also without losing humor?

Today

Willie’s Ordeal, by Amy Grey

pub. Religious Tract Society, London, [c. 1924]

I picture a magician. And a tiger.

Note: This song by The Sweet could meet the criteria, but do you really want to go there?

01 Jul

Born on a mad wind

One of my favorite writers, Vandana Singh, visits home outside of Delhi and, even in the grasp of a head cold and the mad *hot* wind called the Loo (unrelated to the porcelain or pit loo, small burrough in Estonia, or Het Loo palace in the Nederlands), makes a suburban town in India sound like an outpost in the land of enchantment, full of exotic life and ways beyond the comprehension of a westerner. Yes, she’s perpetuating myths and, yes, it is bloody satisfying.

http://vandanasingh.wordpress.com/2009/06/27/in-india/