Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Human nature is so weird

And no matter how much you think you're beyond doing what others do and no matter how much you think you're original, you're really not.


I'm reading Chuck Palahniuk's Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories. The middle section of the book is about other people -- actors, writers, artists, musicians -- and the "stories" are basically dissected interviews with these people. Except in the case of his story on Amy Hempel.

I've read Amy Hempel, and I honestly didn't realize she had such an affect on the minimalist writing, a form of writing I love and wish I could perfect some day. He wrote about her short story "The Harvest," which I have not read, so I searched the internet, found it published on an online magazine, and read it. It is, in fact, a superb representation of minimalist writing. It tells more in its shortness than a 500 page novel could ever convey. And in the end, it leaves you wondering. It makes you want to force someone else whose opinion you respect to read it so you can just talk about it. And believe me, this is a story I could talk about. Almost to the point of being really annoying.

When I was taking classes towards my creative writing minor at San Jose State, I took a class with a professor who was all about the minimalist fiction. He actually knew Denis Johnson during Denis Johnson's drug phase. Read or watch Jesus' Son (Mr. Johnson is in the movie, which I've always found amusing.) to be floored by wonderful minimalist fiction. Anyway, that's when I first realized there was this whole other genre of fiction out there that really spoke to me. I discovered Raymond Carver through this class. I lived and breathed the concept of telling a story without overloading the reader with too many details. This is not an easy thing to do. Admittedly, I only wrote one short story that was close to the minimalist style. Then I ruined it by listening to the same professor too much. I tried to change my story to please his style instead of leaving it as it was. I've never tried to write another minimalist story again.

Anyway, back to my first thoughts about human nature and never being truly unique. After I read "The Harvest," I went to to look up Amy Hempel to see which book I did read from her (I identify better with book covers than with names of books -- same thing with CDs).

Like the misspelling fool that I am, I typed in "Amy Hemple."

When you type in that, Amazon suggests "Amy Hempel" and "Chuck Palahniuk."

Which leads me to think that anyone who has read Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories, at least the part about Amy Hempel, has gone onto Amazon and searched for her and has also misspelled her name. And Amazon is sooooo smart, it's figured out the connection (It's called search inside feature or something -- unless they got rid of it. Now I think they're trying out tags.). So therefore, I am not original, and I probably did what millions of others have done.

Have you already tried this yourself halfway through reading this post?

No comments: