“Tribal Malfunctions” – The Book. The Movie. The Video Game. The Dessert Topping.
Back in 1988 I had a weird idea for a book.
It involved a terrifying, smarmily benevolent corporation with a plan to kill the homeless with a fake Mars mission and a social inept protagonist and his hot asian girlfriend overthrowing the corporation’s undead vampire CEO.
In short, I predicted the Trump Presidential campaign.
Seriously, it was a weird story and I’d work on it on and off during the summer of ’88 when I could stand to sit down and write. See that was way back when as a lad that my ADD hadn’t been diagnosed and I found sitting still incredibly difficult. I filled a notebook or two with stuff then let that notebook shift into the background until it eventually perished in a flood.
But the germs of the idea remained.
A couple of years ago – 2009, maybe? – I decided to write a story about one aspect of it for kicks; this weird gang of guys who wore these strange heavy coast that bloated their weight to impossibly huge proportions. That story got some legs, people liked it and it even ended up in the Trust & Treachery anthology. How cool is that?
Then people asked if there was more to this world that just that story. I hemmed and hawed and said something about a novel begun in ’88 that provided its genesis and they asked where that was to which I replied something about aliens, the Lindbergh baby, Judge Crater and having to go call my mom. Finally, I got so tired of my own excuses and wrote an entire novel about these weirdoes in their suits and the women that loved them, among other things.
I finished that novel in early May of 2014 during a shit, shit shit time of my life. The last quarter of it was so bad that I considered quitting the writer’s life for good. I left it alone for a couple years until someone pestered me about it and I picked it up and began to read it and… You know it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was.
I mean it wasn’t good but it wasn’t that bad.
So for the last few months I’ve been editing it during lulls at work when I have some time here and there. It’s the first time since I took up writing “perfesshunnaly” that I haven’t been able to devote the majority of time to revising and editing so I’ll be taking it slow. I’m hopeful that this process will allow me to create a really good novel that will contain everything I hope to put in it without being bloated, purple in prose and sack in nature.
We shall see.
The two templates I’m using for style and portrayal are pretty divergent but ultimately will work well together if I can pull it off. One is Hubert Selby’s “Gangs of New York” which was made into a mediocre film by Scorcese which is not surprising given that the book has no real narrative and is really at best a catalogue of all the weird and wonderful fans of lower Manhattan during the time of the draft riots. It’s a rather insane book rich in detail which I think will be useful to consult when portraying the many gangs at play in the city of Boston in Tribal Malfunctions.
The other is the writing of William Gibson. I know, I know, I know. Yet another middle aged white male SF writer emulating another older, whiter male SF writer. But he’s become extraordinary lately, especially with his most recent novel to date The Peripheral. He’s become a master of a very sparse, precise and deliberately dry style of writing that allows a reader to fill in the gaps they find while maintaining the power of narrative. And the guy tackles friggin’ time travel in that which is about as hackneyed an SF concept as they come but he does it so well.
I figure if I can ingest the vibrant lunacy of Selby’s descriptions of the actions of gangs while employing the sparse selective words of Gibson’s prose I might be able to bring off what is really a completely insane idea for a novel that could easily tip over into a river of shit at any moment.
But the only way to find out is to write the damn thing, yeah?
So here goes. Expect to hear about its outcome sometime in Q4 of 2016.
Back to you, Nancy!