Book written by Christopher Moore
Stephen King has Maine and H.P. Lovecraft had Arkham. There’s Bloom County and Port Charles, too. Many artists create their own little worlds. Some simply work within an overarching theme, although critics are always happy to impose a plan on an artist. “Clearly, so-and-so always returned to eggshells as a metaphor for the fragility of human endeavor, which is why the chicken can be seen hovering in the background of every painting.” No form of art can escape interpretation.
But storytellers are the ones who create literal worlds. William Faulkner and Kage Baker seem practically embedded in their universes. Others are perfectly happy poking around the edges. Mysteries have a long reputation for enumerating the lives of their protagonists. More often than not, the lead characters never age, though some have made dramatically leaps in time as their authors have suddenly seen retirement or death approach.
It can be difficult not to be enamored of the very idea of “Easter Eggs” in DVD’s, where surprises are hidden behind items that are not expected to be selected. Artists have been guilty of the same temptation. After all, that’s not too far afield from the symbolism built into medieval paintings. “Ooo, did you see that halo on the third guy from the right? Doesn’t that mean it was really Paul and not just some random dude?” We love being in on it, whatever it might be.
Moreover, as a writer, you spend a lot of time with the people and places that you create. It’s nice to revisit them. They were good to you. Why not be good to them? Christopher Moore has a wonderful locale, called Pine Grove. He has wonderful characters that occasionally reappear, most notably in his holiday story. Other books follow other paths, but he really is a master of the continuing narrative.
All of this
leads to what I really wanted to discuss- audience reaction. Once word gets out that someone starts dropping in the winks, naturally, readers start looking for the internal references within the artist’s work. In some ways, this almost instantly downgrades the estimation of the work by critics, especially those who never read Faulkner or James Joyce.
But then the audience starts demanding the continued life. Moore has not explicitly revisited Pine Grove in a long time. As a fan, I miss it. I was happy when he continued the story of his funky vampires, so much so that the last one sits on my waiting-for-the-necessary-moment mental bookshelf. Even worse, I was dismayed when he began exploring Shakespeare (the book was brilliant). That was daft of me, but there you have it. I’m part of the audience and I have started making demands of the artist.
I don’t know anything about the sales figures for Moore or King. Mystery writers tend to have an audience for their character more than anything else. I suspect that we are more forgiving when the stories are about a place and capture a mood, but it can still be hard out here in the audience.
What’s it all about?
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 136 more to go.
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