Early August: You know it’s bad when even John McCain, he of the infamously rubbery spine in the last decade or so, has a few epithets for the Tea Party crowd. (Though his quoting of an article that referred to those folks as “hobbits” was a little off base. Hobbits are the good guys.) They gambled for their cause with the very economy of the country as their chits. And now we see the consequences of brinkmanship, as the nation’s credit rating begins to be downgraded and the stock market tanks, investors turning their fond thoughts to places like France and Canada as real rocks of solid return.
As a writer, it’s hard to mine this material, for the villains here are so cartoonish in their malevolence and their distortions and naked greed that they would make for less than believable characters. The impulse is still there; you have to use your particular skill somehow for the greater good, yes? Is that not a familiar theme? But how do you hoist these zealots by their own petard?
Late August: I wrote the above a few weeks ago and forgot about it. Since then, satire has shown itself to fail in the face of these absurd antagonists as well. The Onion put out an article from Michelle Bachmann’s point of view that is easily one of their weaker efforts. It just sounds angry and frustrated, rather than sharp. Maybe the mushy brains of the Tea Party have an enmushening effect on even their critics. Party on.
I have to say, Jane and I have done pretty well so far at squeezing every succulent drop out of summer. We’ve gone camping twice and to the beach numerous times (it helps to live on the seacoast!), not to mention family barbecues. I’ve been burned at least a few times. And there’s a block party tonight.
But you, gentle reader, are not as interested in what I’ve been doing as you are in what I’m thinking, I assume (if you’re interested at all). Summer, then, has been on my mind, as fiction setting and/or device. In the horror series I’m planning, which is set in the fall (as most of my horror attempts end up being set), the recently bygone summer is like a lost world, when all the tourists were still in town and before the trouble started. In other story drafts, summer is a skipped-over period mid-story, like in those TV shows that in their fall season premieres come up with some hasty sketch of what happened to the characters during the summertime (usually not much).
Sometime I’d really love to write a book that captures summer, because it can be a compelling setting if done right, particularly for adventure. Summer itself always seems to slip away imperceptibly, but an individual day or night during that time can stretch on forever. The physical dimensions of a summer night seem infinite. Maybe, when I feel that I’m finally up for the task, I’ll put on the Clientele’s God Save the Clientele album, refer back to Crowley’s Little, Big for instructions on how to cast a seasonal spell, and dive right in.