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The Secret Pleasures of Novellizing
September 18, 2008 |
On Amazon.com some days ago I came across a listing for the Lake Wobegon novel, Liberty. There wasn't much more about the project than some cover artwork. I enjoyed Pontoon immensely, so much in fact that reading the rest of your books became a New Year's Resolution (with my completing of Leaving Home just this week, the goal was achieved), and I'm wondering what else is there about Liberty that I should know?
It's a short comic novel, like Pontoon, and it's the second in a series of short Lake Wobegon novels, the third of which, Pilgrims, will come out in 2009. Liberty is about Clint Bunsen's crisis of faith when he feels that his life in Lake Wobegon is a big mistake and all his work to make the Fourth of July amazing and spectacular is for naught, that the town despises achievement and that he should head for California. He falls in love with a young psychic who marches in the parade as the Statue of Liberty, hence the title. But his wife Irene is stalwart and is not ready to lose him so easily. And there lies the story.
I got to invent some wonderful marching units for the parade, including the Whistling Mothers and the Betsy Ross Blanket Toss and I brought in a drum-and-bugle corps which I named for the late Will Jones, a columnist for the Minneapolis Tribune who was so generous to our show in its early years and who adored drum-and-bugle corps. He also loved Sally Rand and Peggy Lee and Shelley Berman, but he adored marching bands. One of the secret pleasures of novellizing you get to remember the dead I put my old friend Joe O'Connell into every book I write. What else do you want to know? I go to Viking to proofread the final page proofs. I sit in a basement room with a sharp No. 2 pencil and I read the entire book line by line, looking for the elusive typoe, hte fatal error that if I see it in the finished bok will drive me absolutely ntus.