#59 Crapometer

Genre: Literary fiction,


Love is an illogical dynamic for a family who uses a windfall to start a restaurant in Melbourne. (that sentence is meaningless) Working together, they reason, will serve everyone’s needs—especially Moses, and even though the money was sent to him, he is not consulted about its disposal. When a rapid turnover of chefs necessitates finding the right person, Bonbon is hired to make the restaurant successful. (is he hired as a chef?)

When Bonbon left his palatial home in the foothills of the Himalayas, the last thing he needed was to become part of a family, least of all, one that did not wish to know anything about his missing wife, Hibiscus, who is also sibling to Moses. The villagers who knew her say that she has turned into a fearsome goddess. His presence in Melbourne is the result of his desire to write her biography—a change of career for someone who has been a drug dealer and gun-for-hire.

Villagers? surely you don’t mean people in Melbourne? Missing wife, wants to write her biography, ex gun for hire. It’s like you’re throwing every element of the story at us here with no context, and this is only paragraph 2.

Bonbon would prefer to go back to his old life but has begun a self-serving relationship with Lillith—he still hopes to change old patterns of behavior, ones that he believes to be the root of his being abandoned by the wife. (this sentence contradicts itselt completely) He takes on a position as chef in the new restaurant to further uncover Hibiscus’ past but experiences hostility from family members. (since they hired him this doesn’t make sense) When everyone takes advantage of Moses’ supposedly delusional nature, (huh?) Bonbon feels duty-bound to intervene. (why)??Self-taught expertise in herbal medicine is put to use in ‘healing’ but Bonbon pays little attention to his own growing headache.

The power of the eccentric matriarch ElsieMaw is limited by her daughters, strong women—the alcoholic Anu and the love-victimized Lillith.(love victimized?) There are the twins as well, one of whom seems to have inherited the DNA of the mysterious Hibiscus—represented as a vibrant character whose story weaves through the novel as a first person unreliable narrator, and whose version of events creates more mystery than it explains.

If Hibiscus is the main character you might want to give her her own paragraph and talk about her.

Bonbon’s distaste for city living and the demands of the whacky opinionated family drive him to breaking his own code of conduct (which is?) and he exploits his discovery that Moses’ wife has an underground life as a prostitute by using it as a lever to stop her husband being declared insane.(wtf??) The family does not thank him for his contributions—Anu has gone on the wagon with his help—and blames him for everything that goes wrong. On the brighter side, he sees in the older twin, Kia, a potential artist in the same class as his lost wife.

I’ve stopped reading here. This is a jumble of events without context or flow.

When an anonymous complaint to the police results in Moses being beaten up, Bonbon feels responsible. He decides to go back to India for a holiday and to rethink his involvement with the family. However, he collapses enroute and is diagnosed as terminally ill.

the police beat Moses up?

When the family do not hear back from Bonbon, they assume he is not coming back and the smooth running of the restaurant starts (to) fray. Anu leaves her husband and starts drinking again; Moses’ wife broadcasts her intention of suing them for monies stolen from her husband—owing to her in the event of an impending divorce. The twins leave home and when Kia sets up as an artist, she is visited by troubling co-incidences that draw her to the relative she has come to know as Hibiscus.

Since his mother taunts him with police involvement for a runaway wife, Moses is rarely home. During his meanderings he meets a ‘spirit’ called Hibiscus who leads him through various adventures, one of which is a surreal killing of his mother.

After this emotionally-freeing adventure, Moses becomes a happy vagrant and survives as a street comedian. He falls in with a group of women who take him on as a guru. When he is accused of seducing a young girl, this venture ends up badly and he has to leave his temporary ‘paradise’.

Meanwhile, the family have received an expenses-paid invitation from Bonbon to visit him in India (I thought he was terminally ill) and as part of their travel itinerary, the twins take Moses bicycling on mountain paths in the Himalayas. They find that he has changed and shows no signs of needing medication.

The family are happy to be welcomed into a haven of financial security even though this is tainted by Bonbon’s rapid deterioration and Moses’ intention to stay on in his new home. For a man who is a loner, Bonbon finds himself in debt to the family that gather around him and amid rumors that the goddess is seeking human blood, it is Kia who he asks to carry out euthanasia.

It will have become obvious that the goddess Hibiscus and Kia are somehow merged, and while Bonbon’s death might seem to the whim of a bloodthirsty goddess, at journey’s end, Bonbon has arrived at a kind of satori and a deeper experience of being human. He has also left Kia with the means to continue, under the auspices of the goddess, an exploration of the connection between art and reality that was begun a long time ago.

Furthermore, the moral framework of the novel examines the sacrifices made for love and the extent to which deviations from what is considered normal behavior are tolerated in its name.

You’ve mistaken listing a lot of detailed events for “what happens”. What happens (I think) is that the unfortunately named BonBon a former criminal wants to redeem himself by writing about his wife who has become a spirit. Along the way he meets a troubled family in Melbourne. And so on..

You have to give us a framework for the events you mention or it’s just a list.

You mention Hibiscus only in passing but it’s clear she’s a major character.

You've got sentences that contradict themselves, and what was said before.

This is a mess. It might be a good novel but this sure doesn’t show it.


Anonymous said...

OK enough with the flowers and chocolates.

All those in favor of raising Ms Snarks commission another 10 % say aye!

David Isaak said...

I have to both agree and disagree with Miss Snark on this one. I agree that the opening sentence ("Love is an illogical dynamic for a family that uses a windfall to open a restaurant in Melbourne.") makes no sense at all.

On the other hand, since you are trying to sell lit-fic here, I'm not so sure that not making any sense at all is a drawback. I mean, hey, that sentence kinda makes you think. You find your self muttering under your breath, "Is love a logical dynamic if you use a windfall to start a restaurant in Sydney? Or a car dealership in Alice Springs? What is an illogical dynamic anyhow? Or even a logical one?"

After a bit of this, some readers might convince themselves this means something ineffable--and although most readers like to eff things, being obscure has its advantages.

The problem here is that you immediately drop the ball. Most of the rest of the synopsis can be followed (and isn't that interesting). You need more gnomic pronouncements, and preferably some recurring stylistic glitches, plus a whole slew of peculiar metaphors. Now THAT'S literary!

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding, David? I can't read your tone.

On the off chance that you're not, and you really think that "sounding confusing" is the goal of writing literary fiction....uh, it's not.

Literary fiction (a term I hate by the way, because it sounds unneccesarily pretentious) just indicates a greater focus on language and characters. That means that the writing has to be top-notch...and while it can be thoughtful, it can't be "fake" thoughtful. Agents/editors/readers aren't going to fall for that!

OK, carry on.....

David Isaak said...

I would have thought that the discussion of Alice Springs would have made it clear I was kidding, but just to clear up the record:

Opacity is not profundity.

Anonymous said...

good, good, glad to hear it, David.