OLD NEWS IS AN OXYMORON

 But here’s some old news anyway, for posterity’s sake if nothing else.

The following article about RESET appeared Dec. 16, 2011 in the Cadillac Newspaper, prior to our second Saturday at ENTITY. It included a graphic of the front cover, and directions to the place in a sidebar.

It was an honor to be interviewed and written about by Jeff Broddle. He has a talent for getting the story.  Brian

“Mann did the book’s illustrations, drawing the rich landscapes Cool envisioned in his escapist story of an archetypal journey on a parallel Earth.”

 LeRoy sci-fi author hosts book-signing in Marion

BY JEFF BRODDLE   CADILLAC NEWS 

MARION — Art, writing, publishing, the end of the world — any topic will be up for discussion as some of the creators of the fantasy science-fiction novel “Reset by Marian Evans” welcome the public to the ENTITY art gallery in Marion Saturday.

Although the book is titled “Reset by Marian Evans,” it was authored by LeRoy resident Brian Cool, who has been selected as ENTITY’s Artist of the Month for December. This self-published novel is subtitled “a post-apocalyptic dream where prophecy meets legend.”

Meet Cool and one of the book’s contributing artists, Steve Mann, at ENTITY, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Explaining the title, Cool said, Marian Evans is a creation of his own mind, based on an author who lived 150 years ago. Hint: Marian Evans is the real name of the 19th century English novelist George Eliot. The mystery of Marian Evans’ identity is one of the threads of the novel’s plot.

Mann did the book’s illustrations, drawing the rich landscapes Cool envisioned in his escapist story of an archetypal journey on a parallel Earth. Cool also gives Linda Smith credit as part of the “Reset Crew” for creating the painting that became the book’s cover.

The book begins with a woman being drafted into the Army in a civil war set in the modern-day United States.

She is nearly killed, and after going AWOL, finds work in a mining camp. A passing comet causes a nuclear winter, leaving the woman as the sole survivor.

As the story progresses, readers discover a mythical island, a hidden race of human beings and the unfolding of a prophecy.

“This book is, in a way, an introduction to my world,” Cool said.

The novel also is available on Amazon.com in both print and e-editions.

Connections or Coincidences in Marion–Who Can Tell?

What does the word ‘entity’ mean to you? I had to look it up tonight after realizing what a lame definition I’d given ma the other day when she asked. This is of course in relation to last Saturday’s event in Marion at ENTITY.

Mom thought it meant a ghost. I was thinking along those same lines, venturing that it meant the soul, whether within the body or without. Well, live and learn. Although, I am not sure that a dictionary definition can do justice to this word entity, especially after spending the day at a place by that name.

entity — a real being; reality; existence; a material substance.

Entity, Susan Hall’s place on Main Street, which as far as I can see, combines several parts to achieve the whole–Molly’s A New Day, Sue’s Artist of the Month program, her sales of her photographs, her SO Photography studio, and so on–has a certain something about it. It is a fixed place, yet on the move, existing to achieve its potential. It was a good spot to spend the day–big, bright. Pretty things about. Though, I do think a frame shop in one corner is in order—worth looking into I’d bet.

I signed and sold a few books there on Saturday.

I already knew how I wanted to sign my book–that is, unless people requested something specific. Above my scrawl of a John Henry I penned this, “to envision is to invite change” or alternately, “to envision is to create change”. It means something in relation to the story, as well as to the publishing of it. It was inspired by none other than Ralph Nader, and his new novel.

Novel?  ‘Utopian handbook’ he calls it . . . no really. It has actual people for its characters; Warren Buffett, Ted Turner . . . no really it does. He said so. The title is about as bombastic as it is preposterous, Only the Superrich Can Save Us–and yet, possibly possible. He was interviewed on NPR the other day.

Ralph talked about his newest work (a hard thing for writers to do sometimes, as you just said it ALL in your book, right?), and then, then he mentioned what it was that he wrote when he autographed a copy. I took note, as I hoped to be signing some books myself soon—it was this,  “To imagine is to envision.”

. . . and I thought, Ralph, I love ya bud, but that says nothing. It’s redundant. More than me just saying, “it’s redundant”. Unless there’s some hidden meaning, available only to those who read the book . . .

Anyway, thank you for your endless optimism, and of course for your ceaseless activism. And thanks Ralph for writing the book that will finally inspire the rich folk to divide up their riches amongst us, and thereby save us.  I’ll be optimistic with on you on that for a day or two, a week at most. Long as you don’t mind me mooching off your line a bit. I think I know what you meant to say.

Reporter Randy Johnston came in to talk to Steve and me. That’s three, in as many days. She came to get a story for the Osceola Pioneer newspaper, having seen the recent article announcing the Artist of the month. That’s ME. Marian Evans—and under her umbrella; Linda, Elaine, Steve, and myself.

It was good to meet Randy, and talk with her about a writing group she attends. She too is writing a book. I was thrilled that she made the connection between George Eliot and the quasi alias in RESET’s title.

I’m on a roll here, having gone to the Cadillac News on Friday, just to drop off a flier, and giving an impromptu interview to Jeff Broddle. It was good to finally meet him. I did some reporting for the Waterfront in Lake City, and I will carry that with me always. Newspapers do well to give us these people, who will long be remembered in their community for the way they give of themselves to each story, year after year. Jim Creese, Myrtle Holmes, Jack Batdorf, and Bob Redman, my old boss up in Lake City, are just a few names that come quickly to my mind from papers close by.

I will do as many interviews as I can, not just to promote book sales, but for the chance to meet another writer.

Steve drove. He picked me up on his way. It was a 25 minute drive northeast of home. On our way back home, we stopped at the Shell station in Marion to pick up the latest Marion Press. We both wanted the paper for a copy of Thursday’s article about the book. It’s a publication with roots a hundred and twenty-two years deep, with Jenny Gray at the helm. And what a writer she is!

Later at home, Karen and I were going through the paper–she loves a newspaper too–and she pointed out that, in the story on Christmas doin’s around Marion, Butch and Kate Ruppert were giving horse drawn wagon rides,. We’ll be seeing them soon to help set up lights at the pavilion in LeRoy, and then again next Saturday at Christmas doin’s around town when we will be setting up the LeRoy Farmers’ Market for a holiday sale–they are giving rides there too. What fun! And the article’s byline? Randy Johnston. She writes for three papers!!

Then, Karen pointed out an old familiar name, and we were suddenly saddened to learn of the death of the man who spent a week at our place milling the 10,000 board feet of lumber for our house. Bill Hower died in 2006, but on the anniversary of his death his family had remembered him in the paper, and so now we remembered him again too. A good man there.

And then there was the following article.

ENTITY PRESENTS December Artist of the Month: Brian Cool

MARION — Brian Cool, an author from LeRoy, is ENTITY’s artist of the month and will appear there on Saturdays, December 3 and 17, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Cool has written his debut novel, “RESET by Marian Evans.” It’s a true northern Michigan creation. Photographer/designer Elaine Edstrom of Traverse City produced the cover.  Artist Steve Mann of Reed City penciled the interior illustrations.  The painting on the front cover is the work of Traverse City artist Linda Smith.  So, one might think that Cool’s book, has something to do with the tip of the Mitt.  It’s actually a work of science fiction—an adventure in another time, on another world, but the story poses universal questions.

The author and his wife live and work close to the land, on their family’s sprawling centennial farm. Their home, which the couple built, is a round house of cordwood masonry with a sod roof. “Occasionally we let the goats up there,” says Cool.

Cool is a self avowed Jack of all trades: Master Citizen Planner, woodsman, gardener, Market Master for the LeRoy Farmers’ Market, clerk for the LeRoy Planning Commission, and amateur builder. So when does he find time to write a book?  Come to ENTITY and find out.

On his blog (www.becool2112.wordpress.com/) Cool says, “this is a chance to promote the talents of my illustrator Steve Mann, and the artwork of Reset cover painting artist, Linda Smith, as well as the work of cover designer Elaine Edstrom, all of whom contributed invaluably to make this a work to be proud of. We are all excited about this opportunity,”

Some of the “Reset Crew” members also plan to attend.

The article was accompanied by a picture of the front cover.

It is not lost on me that my first outing to promote this book with a public appearance and all, is in Marion, and there is a scene in the book that was in part inspired by an interesting and controversial true story from near Marion, and the title includes the name of a fictional author, Marian.

I should have been a day or two quicker on the fliers, because what was also not lost, is what a slow day it was, except for one burst of everyone-all-at-once. All of which I was prepared for, since I was prepared for almost anything.  Sue had said it was common for the place to be empty for long stretches. She’s got a few ideas to turn that around.

Me too, next time I’m there–free homemade cookies and gourmet coffee! I will offer a free workshop on self-publishing–I’ve learned a few things that others may find helpful. So why not pass it forward? And I’ll offer a printed pack of my Tools for Writers, for sale.  I made the tools in an attempt to write better, and keep organized. The first set, MS Tracker tracks all of the important aspects of publishing each story. The second set, Identity Builder, helps flesh out the character skeletons in your mind. I’m working on a third set called Place Builder.

Steve left his portfolio up there at Entity for people to peruse. He will take orders from it for prints. Or, he will render a portrait, based on photos. He’s very good at re-creating an old faded photograph of some lost loved-one, enlarging it or changing it as requested. Uncanny.

One of the most common questions I get on my book is about the title.  Of course I’m not the first to use such an odd kind of title.  There is a long-standing–though rarely used–tradition in the field of fiction, especially sci-fi, to do what I was attempting. I wondered if the technique had a name. I couldn’t find one, so I made one up (until someone smarter tells me otherwise). The Latin name quasi alias, sounds as good to me as anything else might, meaning roughly ‘fictional author’, or, ‘as if written by another’.

The title RESET by Marian Evans is like, Pandora by Holly Hollander a novel by Gene Wolfe, or I am a droid by C-3PO by Mark Cerasini, or Rules of the Universe by Austin W. Hale by Robin Vaupel. These works are clearly only titled as written by another, as the true author’s name appears on the cover.

A similar case would be Washington Irving’s Rip van Winkle “taken from the posthumous papers of historian Diedrich Knickerbocker”. Knickerbocker was the name originally used by Irving as a sort of gimmick to present his satire.  These are not quite pen names.  But they are another tool in the writer’s bag of gimcrack and gnoodlery to use to invite the reader to suspend belief, and give-in to the story as early as possible.

Rained all day.

There weren’t many people out walking the streets of Marion. Driving either. We’ll stir up a bit more of show next time I‘m sure. I’m just glad to help in my own small way, to add to ENTITIES identity.

Brian

The Name Mary Ann Evans

The name Mary Ann Evans, like the name George Eliot, is one of those we don’t hear much of anymore. Most people only dimly recognize either one, and most are interested to learn that the two are one. How did such a brilliant star fade to the fringes of our collective memory?

Do the following excerpts lend a clue? Today’s something old comes from the Grolier Society’s encyclopedia set for children, collectively titled The Book of Knowledge–circa 1922 (Not quite a century old, but close enough).

It’s from an essay/article called Great Fiction in Its Full Tide.

“It [the mid-Victorian wave of literature] reached its greatest height between 1845 and 1865, when British fiction had a range and power never attained before or since.

Dickens and Thackeray, whose striking personalities and works we have already read about, cannot be taken as sufficient for an age which also included Lytton, Disraeli, Charles Reade, and Charles Kingsley, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Anthony Trollope; George Meredith and the beginnings of Thomas Hardy, besides such individual stories as Cranford, and Lorna Doone. In the quarter of a century between 1845 in 1870 all these writers were writing, together with Dickens and Thackeray. It was an age resplendent in fiction, as in other forms of literature.”

The essay goes on to study each of the aforementioned lesser-known authors in turn, using an odd but workable style of overlapping one author with the next. In the next excerpt, the article leads from Brontë to Meredith and Hardy, while keeping the focus on Eliot.

“Two years after the death of Charlotte Brontë, Mary Ann Evans, a Warwickshire land agent’s daughter, born and brought up in that delightful county before it became industrialized, wrote, under the name of George Eliot, her first book of stories, Scenes from Clerical Life.  Thus she began, in the form of tales, a series of descriptions of the people of rural England, which remains the supreme study of quality in country character.

How George Eliot lost her way in the world of books.                           In later years George Eliot wandered in her tales away from the company into which she was born. With that strange longing to write something new and great which spoils so many poets and novelists, she tried to shine in alien surroundings.  Her snares were historic Italy and the Hebrew population of London. Laboring hard to compile ambitious studies that would display her versatility she lost her way as a writer. Her Ramola and Daniel Deronda of those formal heavy days will be forgotten; but her stories of the people she knew from childhood remain a rich literary possession. 

The Scenes from Clerical Life, Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Felix Holt (though marred by an unconvincing plot) and Middlemarch present a wonderful array of thoroughly English character. How faithful and unforced as the character-drawing, how rich and natural the humor, how tender the humanity, how direct the simple parts of the narrative! It is true that as the years went on George Eliot’s writings became burdened with intrusive reflections. If, instead of being urged to show herself a profound philosopher, her pen had been followed by a relentless blue pencil, her tale-telling would have been quickened and lightened. She knew too much and thought too much to be able to empty her mind of reflections on the story page.

A remarkable novelist of a somewhat later period, George Meredith, who had great skill in the analysis of character, made the same mistake in overloading his books with mental display that did not rightly belong to his story. He never won, and will not win, the popularity that his cleverness deserves. The true value of his writing lives too deeply buried for the average reader to dig it up. But his works will always appeal to the literary expert.

Thomas Hardy and His Word-Pictures of Life in Western England Thomas Hardy is the novelist who next to George Eliot, has most completely pictured English rural character. He has avoided George Eliot’s tendencies and Meredith’s cryptic style….”

Thoughts anyone?

Today‘s something new is an assignment. Read Marian’s Middlemarch, along with Team Middlemarch.

And not just read; experience it, as it was originally published—in pieces.  Each successive chapter was initially released individually.  Intriguing.  I’m in.  Brian

 

Introductory Post to The Real Marian Evans.

It’s Thanksgiving day here in America, and it is in the spirit of giving thanks that I offer this. Part tribute, part educational project, here’s my contribution to the Marian Evans Memorial, which is embodied in the totality of information about her to be found in print and on the web.  There is no definitive source, and that is as it should be, so this is not an attempt to be that.

Don’t expect scholarly.  I’m just a common guy.  I’ll include something old and something new about Marian with each post.  Old as in, from before a century ago—new as in, anything I might find interesting.

Here’s a bit of both, for starters.  I’ve already mentioned a certain old book left me by my father–a century old copy of Silas Marner— The Weaver of Raveloe, that belonged to my aunt Marian when she was a schoolgirl.  Here’s an excerpt from that book.  It’s taken from the introduction, page 18, and is written by Cornelia Beare instructor in English, Wadleigh High School, New York City.

George Eliot began her literary work as a translator, essayist, and editor—novel writing was at first a side issue.  When she did take it up, her habits of thought were already formed; the translator’s exactness, the scholar’s careful and minute analysis, the critic’s care for perfection of form are all found in her work.  Brought up as she was among the middle class and with plenty of opportunity to know the working class from her father’s position, she is at her best in presenting to us the thoughts and lives of the workers.  No other writer has quite her gift of entering into the personality of the character and interesting the reader in the seemingly trivial details, the sordid tragedies and comedies of peasant life.  Nor is this all.  Her works deserve to rank as classics to be placed among the truly great examples of modern art, because they never lose sight of the fact that literature, fiction, though it may be, has a higher aim than merely to entertain—its true purpose should be to teach and guide, to put before us the working out of the great truths which shape life, that, by seeing this, we may guide our own lives aright.”

That was from Merrill’s English Texts, published in 1908.  This is what my aunt Marian was reading as a 10th grader!  Wonder what they’re reading these days?  More from that book in a later post.  I promise.

Here’s an excerpt from the afterword to my recent book, Reset by Marian Evans.  Keep in mind that I was not trying to portray the Marian of my title as being the one, the only, the real and true Marian of Victorian England, but yes, she is definitely the inspiration. Quirky title and all, I hope it helps to introduce more people to the work of the girl that was George Eliot.

“Yes, my name really is Cool. German immigrant ancestors adopted the spelling because they thought it would be cooler than K-u-h-l. 🙂

“I originally wrote and planned to publish this story using a pen name, Marian Evans, for several reasons, but decided to publish it under my own name for several others. The perceived benefits of using a pen name, compared to the real complications involved, are hard to balance. Growing up with a name like Cool, I knew it was likely that some people would think my real name a pseudonym anyway. I mostly wanted to avoid any limelight that would inevitably follow someone who writes as well as I hope to. I also wanted to avoid any controversy provokeable by the uneasy thoughts I might put on paper. 

‘So, I created Marian, and she wrote Reset. I think she’s good, if a little strange. But alas, “words weren’t made for cowards,” says Happy Rhodes. Heeding her advice, I must take the credit, the blame, and any fame, if people recommend this story to others. 

“—What’s that? Umm . . . Marian asks me to note that she was NOT conceived and created by me.

“Fine fine–I don’t think I need to point out that (shhh) her initials are M.E. In return, she may be kind enough to refrain from explaining, yet again, that it’s just as likely that she created me, and that I am but a crazy dream of hers.

“Her name sounds like another writer, whose name and works are as liquid on the page, who was obliged to publish as a man, that her words might sell. I always wondered what that says about a man, which is all I meant to point out through the similarity to the late great Mary Ann Evans-Cross (one spelling). She had skill and grace with the written word that far exceeds my own.”