Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book Talking, Reading, Walking

      You may not believe it, but the characters in a play are supposed to be real people. They are supposed to do things for reasons of their own. If a man is going to commit the perfect crime, he must have a deep-rooted motivation for doing so.
      Crime is not an end in itself. Even those who commit crimes through madness have a reason. Why are they mad? What motivated their sadism, their lust, their hate? The reason behind the events are what interest us. The daily papers are full of reports of murder, arson, rape. After a while we are honestly nauseated with them. Why should we got to the theater if not to find out why they were done?
      A young girl murders her mother. Horrible. But why? What were the steps that lead to the murder? The more the dramatist reveals, the better the play. The more you can reveal of the environment, the physiology and the psychology the murderer, and his or her personal premise, the more successful you will be.
      Everything in existence is related to everything else. You can not treat any subject as though it were isolated from the rest of life.

                                                                       - The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri

On our trip up into the interior, Tim Lash and I had a lot of time to talk books. The craft book that he recommended the most was Lajos Egri’s The Art of Dramatic Writing. I’m only about forty pages in, but so far it’s been a good, thought-provoking read. It’s focused on playwriting, but is applicable to any narrative form.

With this book I started experimenting with a new way of reading: reading while walking. For the last week and a half I read while I walk between my house and work (10 minutes). This has added a full 40 minutes of reading to my day as I walk home for lunch as well.

The walk home with the mansion lurking.
The stretch of road I walk is one of the oldest streets in Juneau. It takes me past the Governor’s Mansion (yes, where Sarah used to pretend to live), past Cope Park, across Gold Creek, and home. It’s the main evacuation route for the downtown area if the highway is ever closed off by an accident, so it’s a bit wider than other streets and more cars drive it at higher speeds than they ought to.

The reading while walking is going well. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to focus on my reading, that the walking part of the equation would prove too heavy. Weirdly enough the opposite has been true. Two activities of such high focus are all my brain can handle and there is no space left for wandering thoughts. The only time I lose focus is if I start paying too much attention to how close I am to the edge of the sidewalk. I’ll spook myself into thinking that I’m about to fall off and I’ll miss-step, bring my foot down too hard with my knee locked and give myself a jolt.

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