I fell victim to the hype of Stranger Things (Duffer Brothers) which isn’t so much of an homage to the 1980s as a compilation of derivatives. Truth be known it is nothing more than bits of E.T. (Misfit kids on bikes) glued to Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Crazy parent who knows the truth), Poltergeist (Portal to monster world) and Minority Report (Innocent conduit in water). To say nothing of Little Shop of Horrors (Man-eating plant-faced monster) and Under the Skin (Pitch black other-world). The worse of all though would have to be setting it in Hawking, Indiana, a tip of the hat to the father of alternate universes? Can the eggs get any more rotten than this? (No.)
I titled my second trilogy All In, long before General Petraeus’ ballyhooed biography, Chris Hayes’ tedious MSN programming or the latest Marvel extravaganza. The first section begins on the Christmas Eve of 2001, a man teetering out of control following the loss of his brother on 9/11:
There’s just these bits of blackness, and that makes it hard to put everything together. I can see the building on fire and the back of the plane melt in, gone, just sucked in like that, like nothing, and the windows down and the glass and water and me. It is all wall and window, nothing below. I am coming up, all of it hard. I want it. This is what I want. I am in hard. I am not half folded. I am not waiting. I am not holding to anything.I am of this wall, and it all comes down on me, not small or big, not anything, all in my head arched back, my whole fucking body out in light, gone through me, gone through everything, high, released, out from her, not for anything, but hard. I don’t know how much I can really take of this. I’m stuck out. Yes, it’s a story, and, yes, he’s here with me, and this is it. I was going to call Robin, and then the phone rang. I wasn’t going to answer. “Hello?”The second section follows the daughter, the third section, the widow, as everyone drifts toward isolation until a Christmas dinner one year later.
Trilogy is not a four-letter word despite the plethora of modern-day abasements – The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Spider/Iron/Super/Bat/X-Men. The format goes back to Ancient Greece where trilogies of plays were performed as the standard, including Sophocles The Oedipus Cycle and Aeschylus’ The Oresteia.
My work has little in common with the Greeks or Superheroes, and is more akin to Evelyn Waugh’s The Sword of Honour Trilogy – where there is no honor at all – and Francis Bacon’s harrowing triptychs. Yes, I dare to dream, and in three parts.
You know that moment where you are at the cusp of something real, where you are wonderfully comfortable and still, where everything seems almost as it should be? You know that clear sense of purpose where you know what you need to do, where you know exactly who you are, where you think there could be nothing more to life? And then you know that shift, where it slips, where the edge is not as it was, that was just there and then not? And you know how you are suddenly out of it, where you are just as you were, as before, not sure about anything at all, least of all who you are?
Yeah, well, I get that from time to time too.