Monday, May 21, 2007

About Stoop the Thief

If you scroll down a bit, you'll see my story about a young man named Stupendous Jones. It's an unfortunate name of course. What are schoolchildren supposed to do except pick on him and call him Stoop?

And Stoop is unfortunate in a lot that happened to him as a child - his mother abandoned him in the hospital he was born in, and the man he regards as his father is an addict and a thief and leaves him in the care of others or in no one's care at all.

I wrote Stoop as a kind of response to a story that I thought was not very good. I had just read E.L. Doctorow's short story called Jolene. Thought it was a mess - it tells the story of a young woman who has troubles from early on in her life. This is like Stoop, but I didn't care what happened to Jolene in the end. It was, to my mind, just a recitation of bad choices and misadventures, nothing more. I haven't read the story again. Maybe there was more there. In any event, at the time I liked Stoop better - thought he was more deserving of sympathy though less needy and more capable than Jolene.

Of course, Doctorow's story is being turned into a major motion picture.

There was a part to Stoop's story that I cut - it concerned his skin color. Schoolchildren are bullying Stoop, trying to get him to say whether he is white or black because they can't tell. Stoop doesn't even understand the question and escapes them without the issue being resolved. I cut that scene (probably a half page or so) a few seconds before sending the story to Jennifer Jordan. Apparently, it wasn't much needed because she liked the story as she recieved it. Why I cut a longer blog post.

The story does break a Kurt Vonnegut rule - start the story as close to the end as you can get it. Of course, with any story, you can start it the moment right after the end which means not having to write it at all. Like Dickens in Oliver Twist and David Copperfield, I thought it best to start with the the birth of the hero. How Dickens got as much mileage out of opening, I wish I knew.


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