Monday, March 8, 2010

Craig McDonald

From the introduction and first exchange of Craig McDonald's interview with John Kenyon:

Print the Legend is the third of seven books to follow Lassiter, a pulp and crime fiction writer who is chums with Ernest Hemingway. In Toros & Torsos, the two get wrapped up in a series of murders that are tied to the surrealist art movement. In Print the Legend, which picks up where T&T ends, it is five years after Hemingway killed himself, and Lassiter is in Idaho looking into some questions about Papa's remaining unpublished work. This is a crime story, however, so there is plenty of intrigue and action along the way.

The genius of these books is that McDonald has created a perfectly believable world in which Lassiter interacts with real people, reacting to actual events (and occasionally bringing them about), and does so in such a way that he doesn't affect what truly took place. He does so with impeccably researched details that add to the verisimilitude without intruding on the story. It's intriguing to read about Hemingway (and I learned more about the man here than in any textbook), but the story would be just as compelling if it were about a fictional character.

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You've obviously fully absorbed Hemingway's work and done considerable research on the man. But writing in his voice is still quite a challenge. How did that work, and did you get it right the first time?

It’s really up to the reader as to whether I pulled off writing a lost chapter of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, or in drafting Hemingway’s alleged suicide note. In terms of the actual writing of the “lost chapter,” I reread Hemingway’s Feast, then wrote the chapter in a single sitting without very much revision. The suicide note was also written in a single pass.

I think if I’d really gone over and over those pieces, they might have come out as over-thought…over-cooked. Hem’s voice in his letters, which I used to write Hem’s dialogue in my novels, is pretty far away from Hem’s formal fiction prose, so I shot for that tone in the suicide note. Feast had a narrative voice all its own…longer, more interior…not so laconic and stripped down as the prose style most think of when they think of Hemingway’s writing. So I think trying to capture that voice from the memoir, you’re less apt to veer into something that might come across as...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Toros & Torsos.

Writers Read: Craig McDonald.

The Page 69 Test: Print the Legend.

--Marshal Zeringue