The Infinite Echo

B. Thomas Cooper is a freelance journalist, photographer, blogger and historian. Topics include Political Commentary, Satire and History

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Book Review -John Steinbeck-Tortilla Flat

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

John Steinbeck, the voice of American conscience, and a true literary genius. His work has grown increasingly important in these modern times, these devoid of his ceaseless grace and passion. His words hang like crystal chandeliers in a world inhabited by shadows. John Steinbeck is more than a novelist. He is our reflection.

Tortilla Flat represents Steinbeck’s first critical and popular success as a novelist. Comprised of seventeen ‘episodes, Tortilla Flat documents the events surrounding a group of ‘paisanos living on the fringes of society in the fishing community of Monterey, California nearly a century ago.

It is a story of Danny’s house, and Danny’s friends. It is a story of loss and redemption, and more loss. It is a tale of meaningless triumph, of alcoholism, of loneliness and of friendship. Steinbeck warns the reader of such impending peril, and delivers with great sadness. Such is the fabric of Tortilla Flat.

Ultimately, Tortilla Flat confronts the basic tenets of morality, steeped in a shadowy broth. Sometimes humorous, but always painful in it’s analysis, the story tumbles and slides down the slopes of humanity. Blood and wine are equally spilled, and the loss is communally shared.

The story ends as it begins, full circle, cryptic and proverbial. It is Danny’s house and these are Danny’s friends. Like the candle that burns in the evening, and by morning, was never there, Tortilla flat tells us of a world that existed once, but only within the bounds of it’s own jurisdiction. With Tortilla Flat, John Steinbeck does not create a world we wish to share, but instead shares a world with us created by others. A world created by Danny and his friends.

Born February 27th, 1902 John Steinbeck grew up in Salinas California, and much of his writing is centered around these peoples of the coast. Perhaps best known for his depression era masterpiece, Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck wrote several unforgettable novels, including Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, East of Eden and The Pearl. Steinbeck passed away on December 20th, 1968, but his writing lives on.

“Now it is over”, remarks Pilon, friend of Danny’s and fellow resident of Tortilla Flat. “Now the great times are done. Thy friends will mourn, but nothing will come of their mourning.” Perhaps Pilon was correct all along.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Welcome to the Paradigm

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Welcome to the paradigm.

Publishing, as we know it, will never be the same.

With the explosion of the internet, information of all nature has become available at the touch of a finger-tip. Conversely, newspapers, magazines, and other print medium have seen a sharp decrease in circulation, as more and more households go online. For aspiring writers and journalists anxious to break into the business, it is understandable there would be uncertainly as to which team one should hitch their wagon.

The answer of course, is quite simple. Diversify. Each project should be approached individually. Just as a painter might use multiple brushes, it is reasonable to consider your options.

Obviously, the internet provides endless opportunity for writers of all styles, with few of the stumbling blocks normally associated with an established publishing house. An author can reach a large audience immediately, and can interact with readers in a way not available to print authors. However, having your work published online should not be the end all. Publishing is still a business, and as such, your writing must retain a high level of quality if you wish to be taken seriously.

As a freelance writer, I have found the internet to be artistically satisfying, but financially less appealing. A six hundred word article written for the Daily Planet usually pays in the neighborhood of fifty cents to a buck per word. Online publishers however, often pay little if anything.

As with any endeavor, success is determined by work ethic. There is no free lunch. As such, one can only expect to receive as much as one is willing to give. Creative writing is indeed, a gift to be shared, but as with any craft, one must constantly be learning and practicing, or risk atrophy.

Enter online publishing. Think of the internet as the shallow end of the publishing pool. Jump in, get your feet wet. It's really not so bad, once you get a feel for it. You'll know when your ready for deeper waters.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

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Monday, July 14, 2008

William Faulkner, American Literary Icon

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

William Faulkner is without question, one of the most unique and influential American literary voices of the last century. His works have influenced many of the giants, including literary legends John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway. Still, no-one would be taken aback more by all the fuss than William Faulkner himself, who wrote to live, and lived to write.

Underwood Universal Portable typewriter,
similar to those used by William Faulkner.

Faulkner, Born William Cuthbert Falkner, September 25th, 1897, cranked out literally hundreds of short stories, novels and novellas during the 1920s and 30s. He was a tireless writer, wearing out countless Underwood Universal Portable typewriters, which he purchased second hand. Still, he remained virtually unknown until 1949, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. Although his real last name was spelled without the u', a misprint (typo) by his first publisher led him to adopt the new spelling. Faulkner wasn't one for formality. For William Faulkner, it was all about the characters and the story line. Let the critics say what they may.

Just as John Steinbeck wrote of the west during the depression era, Faulkner preferred to write about his home of Mississippi, whose people and culture he understood all too well. His tales of the south's soft underbelly, the hapless pursuits of the poor and the poorly educated, are piqued together through pride and prejudice. They leave behind haunting and perhaps painful shadows with which the reader must cope. Faulkner stands tall alongside other monumental writers of the south, including Tennessee Williams, Flannery O'Connor, and Mark Twain. Faulkner's legacy is one for the ages.

Faulkner is perhaps best known for his novel, Sanctuary, a classic tale of betrayal and tragedy, steeped in a surly broth. Violence seems not so much tolerated in this story, as accepted, almost as a form of currency. And human life, or any form thereof, is rendered incidental, as is exemplified by the child behind the stove. Some things cannot be explained, so much as indemnified. These were dark days for the south. Dark days, indeed!

"Better for her if she were dead tonight, Horace thought, walking on. For me too. He thought of her, Popeye, the woman, the child, Goodwin, all put into a single chamber, bare, lethal, immediate and profound: a single blotting instant between the indignation and the surprise."

William Faulkner died July, 6th, 1962 at age 64. He was buried in Byhalia Mississippi. His works are too numerous to list here. See Wikipedia for a more complete listing of his works.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Sound Foundation Entertainment - National Newswire - The Infinite Echo - Impeachment Now! - Sound&Recording - Skate the Razor - Skate the Razor Blog - blogment

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