Bringing a novel to light – revealing the form and cadence, shadows and demeanor of a protagonist constructed from thin air – linking scenes and synchronicity across translucent time – holding up a glass brimming with chilled, never-tasted liquid, then sipping from it with intoxicated focus – allowing lovers to make a perilous mess of things, fall apart and nakedly come back together again – looking through conjured windows deep into someone else’s snow-bound solitude, feeling utterly alone yet being all-connected: this is not writing. It’s world-creating.
It’s raw, exposed dreaming. It’s humbling. At first too personal and intimate to share, it evolves like a child into a life of its own until I have no say in what comes next.
It’s what I wake at 4am to say Yes to, the spinning possibility of a new story relentlessly commanding me to write it down so it can whirl in your experience.
Here are the ten most viewed original art pieces posted in 2016. Synkroniciti is so proud that you like viewing the things we make! We look forward to producing many new things in 2017 and the years beyond.
Beloved’s Journey will be returning soon and Becoming Euridice, our first large scale collaborative project, will begin taking tangible form in 2017.
These are the ten most viewed articles written in 2016. I am excited that many of them involve experiences and works from our synkronicitiOpen Mics, which were happening once a month until our house flooded in April. I am looking forward to starting them up again sometime in 2017. I miss my tribe!
When Don Quixote went out into the world, that world turned into a mystery before his eyes. That is the legacy of the first European novel to the entire subsequent history of the novel. The novel teaches us to comprehend the world as a question.
Our second year went by so quickly! Here’s the first look back, featuring our most viewed original art of 2014.
2014 was a great year at synkroniciti. We held two successful Open Mics in the Houston area and saw growth in readership, artistic interaction and community building. We’ve begun to archive original poetry and art, and last week we posted Chapter 1 of Beloved’s Journey, the first novel to be serialized on the site. I am continually surprised and excited at the new developments and turns and awed to see synkronicitiencouraging and changing the lives of people who come in contact with it.
Thank you for being part of all of this and Happy Holidays! I look forward to sharing 2015 with you.
Here are the most viewed works made by synkroniciti and featured on the blog in 2014. Please click on the images to view the blogposts. I look forward to featuring some collaborative pieces next year!
Have you ever wondered what novels Charles Dickens might have written if he possessed a sunnier disposition? Meet Wobbly Barstool.
Jane Lowy‘s Wobbly Barstool puts a clever spin on the Victorian novel. The plot shares common elements with Dicken’s classic Great Expectations, including hidden and mistaken identities, adults scheming over the lives of their children, thwarted lives and passion, rough changes of fortune and jaw dropping revelations. Wobbly, Lowy’s hero, lives in the same world as Pip, but, due to his happy rural upbringing, he interprets that world far differently.
He’s a solid, simple lad, far from stupid, but not at all brilliant, raised by two solid and dependable parents, Horace and Nelly, in the pleasant hamlet of Restinstump. Some of you townies might find it dull, but Restinstump provides a calm and relatively idyllic alternative to London, which remains as Dickens painted it. The most heartbreaking moments of the novel concern a trip to London in which Wobbly’s father, Horace, has to work hard not to let the rough conditions of city life, especially that of poor children, drag him into depression.
Seven Dials, by Gustave Dore, 1872, depicts a busy London street full of shoe shops and swarming with children.
The Barstool family is ebullient, taking on whatever life gives them with laughter and twinkle in the eye. When Wobbly makes friends with an unfortunate orphan, Tobias, who is residing in the woods with a band of dogs, they take in the newcomer (and dogs) with open arms, as we know they will. This happy friendship and familial closeness will shape the bulk of the novel even as it is tried and tested.
Life gets most interesting for Wobbly, and for us readers, when the attractive and intelligent Prunella Baddonschilde appears in Restinstump, along with her best friend, Marigold. Wobbly is smitten with Prunella from the beginning, and he doesn’t waste much time in telling her so. She’s been raised in London and her mother has groomed her to marry into the moneyed class. Pru, as she calls herself, is far from thrilled at that prospect, but she’s not ready to rush into anything with an awkward coutry boy a few years younger than herself either. Echoing the desire of Pip for Estella in Great Expectations, Wobbly vows he will make something of himself so that he may win Prunella’s hand. A great many twists and turns ensue. There is even a sea voyage that culminates in several folks plunging overboard. Between unexpected events and extremely lovable characters, Wobbly Barstool is quite a page turner. I guarantee that there is at least one revelation you won’t see coming. Not everything is as clean and tidy as it seems.
The charm of the novel lies in its humor. Wobbly’s employment woes are hilarious, especially when a lonely older woman comes on to him, encouraging him to practice kissing her so that he’ll be an expert by the time he kisses Prunella. Unfortunately, her husband comes home unexpectedly and Wobbly is forced to escape, aided by a disgruntled goat. Humor can be very difficult to put down on the page and often falls flat, but not Lowy’s. Her dialogue positively sparkles. It is the comic qualities of the protagonists that are most endearing, from Wobbly’s almost empty-headed good humor and naiveté to Prunella’s terrible attempts at writing poetry. Many of the character names are worth a chuckle, including the Irishman Fewan Farbetween and, my personal favorite, the loathsome Harry Backanall. This is a book you read with a smile on your face.
While humor is the hook that kept me reading, the strength of the book lies in its characters, particularly Prunella, Wobbly, Marigold and Tobias. They suffer disappointments and betrayals, but are able, ultimately, to hold on to their faith in one another and make decisions that keep them from disaster. They do something that Dickens was loathe to let his characters do–succeed through self determination. Their definition of success is different from what many people of their era, or ours, for that matter, might espouse, having little to do with the grasping for social status or cash that so often motivates Victorian characters and leads them to their ruin. Turning their back on London and the Industrial Revolution, our heroes choose the farm life of Restinstump, where they feel a connection to the community, a cast of wonderful supporting personalities, people who inspire faith in the human race. It is the hint that we can make the same choice that gives the novel its power.
The naiveté of the young residents of Restinstump, as they seek a balance between their dreams, many of which are quite modern, and their love for their traditional community and peaceful existence, makes their choice possible. How many dreams do we deny daily out of a sense of practicality, out of a jaded view of the world? Life is a combination of our projections meeting reality. Sometimes we short change ourselves by expecting too little. That being said, if anyone else had tied the knot during the course of the novel I think I would have been overcome by the immense rosiness of outlook. But what a sweet way to be overcome!
If hot were cold and cold were hot
And time ran backwards too-o-o
I’d give a shrug and say, “So wot?”
For I’m head over heels for you.
If cats should bark and dogs meow
And horses start to moo-o-o
I’d think it just their usual row
For I”m head over heels for you.
from Wobbly’s Song
Wobbly Barstool, a winner of the BRAG Medallion for outstanding self published books,is a splendid first novel, one that makes you ponder human nature without realizing it. Houstonians, Jane Lowy is a local talent. You can catch her and her husband reading around town and, of course, at Synkroniciti Open Mics. For the rest of you, Wobbly is available as e-book or in hardcover.
I wrote a great deal of a novel, Winter’s Tale, on the roof of a Brooklyn Heights tenement on Henry Street. I was a technical climber, and now and then I would put down my manuscript and get up to walk along parapets and climb walls and chimneys.
The Shining contains themes of abuse, addiction, insanity and manipulative evil. What actually makes this story tick in the imagination?
I grew up watching horror movies on my father’s knee. The Shining was one of those films. I distinctly remember the eerie music playing as the little yellow Volkswagen Bug crept into the mountains.
Most novels easily surpass any film or theatrical adaptation, but Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining gives Stephen King a run for his money. It is an excellent film, perhaps largely because Kubrick was willing to stray from the original story in ways that allow the film to have a life of its own. Even so, there are things missing from his retelling which create a richer and scarier landscape in the novel. Many of these things are due to differences in medium. Visual and auditory elements work well in films, while psychological elements, such as internal monologues, do not. Characters like Tony, Danny’s imaginary friend, are difficult to portray and putting them onscreen forces Kubrick to make definitive choices which we are not forced to make as readers. For this reason any film adaptation will make our own imagination “wrong”. This is why they produce such strong reactions.
Kubrick altered and added to the story, creating intense images that make the strongest impacts in the film, such as the blood pouring from the elevator, the ghostly sisters, and the hedge maze. He also managed to de-emphasize one of the central tenets of the story: that a place, or a supernatural inhabitant of a place, could be inherently evil and manipulative by feeding off the energy of its human inhabitants. While it isn’t devoid of supernatural elements, the movie plays up the more explicable side of the story, a man going insane who projects his insanity on his wife and son. The Jack Torrance of the book does a much better job of holding things together, and, as much as I enjoy watching Jack Nicholson play crazy, I wonder if seeing his insanity develop would have been more satisfying.
The most disappointing portrayal in the film is that of Wendy Torrance. Jack’s wife in the novel is a heroic female, torn between a husband and a son who are both behaving incoherently. By the end of the book she is operating extremely clearly in a way that anyone who has ever been through a traumatic situation will recognize. Hollywood wasn’t ready for that in 1980 and I’m not sure they are now. The horror genre has long been enamored of the screaming female and Shelley Duvall is quite the victim. I don’t fault her acting. The problem lies with Kubrick’s direction. His cruelty and meanness toward Shelley Duvall during filming is legendary and inexcusable. Jack’s rampage scene is made more horrific when you realize that Kubrick worked her into a state of mental and emotional panic. She isn’t acting; she’s coming apart before our eyes.
There is a chapter in the book which deals with a clock in the East Ballroom of the Overlook Hotel. This is one of my favorite chapters. It is absent from Kubrick’s realization.
Here in the Overlook all times were one. There was an endless night in August of 1945, with laughter and drinks and a chosen shining few going up and coming down in the elevator, drinking champagne and popping party favors in each other’s faces. It was a not-yet light morning in June some twenty years later and the organization hitters endlessly pumped shotgun shells into the torn and bleeding bodies of three men who went through their agony endlessly. In a room on the second floor a woman lolled in her tub and waited for visitors.
Public Domain Image via Pixabay
In the Overlook all things had a sort of life. It was as if the whole place had been wound up with a silver key. The clock was running. The clock was running.
He was that key, Danny thought sadly. Tony had warned him and he had just let things go on. — The Shining, Chapter 37, The Ballroom
For me this hints at what is most terrifying about the Overlook Hotel: that the forces behind the place are able to subvert time. They hold on to certain people and replay them over and over, never allowing them to rest or be at peace. Even worse, they are able to alter and control events in the present through these replays, by intimidating and even touching the living. The terrifying lady in the bath tub nearly strangles Danny, leaving marks. Kubrick doesn’t portray this onscreen, leaving us to wonder if Jack, or perhaps Danny himself, is responsible.
It strikes me as odd that Kubrick deleted so many of the elements that spoke overtly of the predatory evil of the Overlook Hotel. Was it that he didn’t believe in these elements or was it that they symbolized something he himself wasn’t willing to deal with: that there might be inhuman evil that could turn a man into a monster from the outside? Regardless, both the film and the novel are masterpieces, albeit masterpieces that tell different stories.