Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
I’ve been dipping into Lit Hub recently for news I can use in matters literary, but if you spend too much time there you start getting a kind of icky feeling, that being “literary” is a lifestyle choice or something. Like Goth. And it seems like every time I check a writer’s byline, it says so and so “lives in Brooklyn with his wife and dogs.” As a lot of you may know, I’m weary of Brooklyn. It’s the same with indie bands. Nine times out of ten you get “The Smell of Kitties is a Brooklyn band whose latest EP is entitled We Love Brooklyn.” Or similar.
But this item was apt for me, all about how to use period details in fiction to achieve what Proust achieved with his famous madeleine passage. As I mentioned earlier, my upcoming novel is set in 1973, and I’ve tried to sprinkle it with plenty of details that evoke the time, especially since Watergate was in full swing. So there’s Bing Crosby Minute Maid orange juice commercials on TV, and Timex watches. Geritol. And there’s a classic Cadillac ambulance on hand, with tail fins. And the music – God, the music. Pink Floyd was huge that spring and summer – Dark Side of the Moon. Steely Dan. Slade. McCartney put out “My Love,” which I thought sappy at the time but now appreciate because it sends me back to that year in a flash.
As the piece cautions, though, you can’t overdo it, and you have to be accurate. Someone will notice a mistake. Don’t over-salt the soup, says the writer. In fact, think of these details as pepper instead.
We were walking along the American River the other day when a helicopter came down so low I thought it was going to clip the treetops and come spiraling down on us. It hovered over something we couldn’t see for a couple of minutes, then rotated and slipped away. I hope there’s not a time coming in America when you have to be afraid of getting strafed by one of those. It’s a real menace in some places, where it’s usually us doing the strafing. Sometimes it’s comforting to know I won’t be here when the shit really hits the fan.
I’ll be going back to St. Louis near the end of July to help my mom during her cataract surgery. She had one eye done last winter, but the doc botched it and she can’t see well out of that eye at all now. The new surgeon said, “Man, that guy must have had some problems with it because he left four stitches in there. I never have to use stitches.” Wait, what? And those stitches had been left in there for months. I wish my mom had the stomach to pursue a malpractice suit, but she’s just too darned nice for that.
And with that in mind, thanks to the travesty that is TrumpCare, I think I’ll steer clear of doctors until I’m eligible for Medicare. Apologies to at least one doctor I know in blogland (Hi, Carrie!), but every time I’ve gone in with a problem, they haven’t been able to find a cause of it and it wound up getting better on its own. What’s up with that? And it’s become clearer every time I go to the doctor that they basically plug symptoms into a computer and it spits out a differential diagnosis. “Aha! You have hockey lung!”
“Is there a cure for hockey lung?”
For this you coughed up a $100 copay. At least you were able to cough something up.