12.15.2006

HH Com 28

Why does Stan Garland do nothing while his father starves himself to death? The psychological mystery 'To Starve' explores this question. The only time Stan ever admires his father Jack is when the old bastard decides to commit slow suicide by starvation. Only Stan believes Jack will actually do it - but he desperately needs to understand why. As Stan searches his
amphetamine-damaged memory for answers, he comes to understand that the man he knew as his father was an emotional chameleon - and that behind the chameleon's face, the real Jack Garland stared out at the world with flat, unblinking eyes. Meanwhile, Jack lies curled in a fetal ball on his deathbed, reliving memories of a ruined marriage, a lost career, strange
pickups in hotel bars and an endless string of drunken alibis. At the very end of his life, Jack finally confronts the childhood horror that splintered his soul and shaped his life - and, through him, the life of his son.


Any time I see a novel that says "it explores this question" I want to scream. Novels are stories. They can illuminate and explore all sorts of things but first and foremost you need characters we care about (even if they are bad ass fallen angels like my pal Satan in Paradise Lost) and a plot.

There is no plot here.

This might be a great novel. Dog knows there have been great novels out of weirder ideas, but you're not describing it in a way that makes me want to read it. That's the essence of the hook.

Try again.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Though this is not my entry, I suspect I'll suffer a similar fate. Lesson. Learned.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of "Big Fish." The father's dying, but not from starvation. The son wants to reach some accommodation with him, but is not amphetamine-damaged. An excellent book that became a Tim Burton movie.

HawkOwl said...

Exactly what Miss Snark said. Great potential in the idea, but you wrote it up badly, so do I believe you're gonna execute the whole novel well? No I don't. But great concept, though. Good luck with it.

Anonymous said...

Oh well. Like the lady said, time for me to "try again." I'll have to get this query letter dope-smacked into shape before I waste any more postage sending out this query. :-(

The author of #28

Angus Weeks said...

Author, I saw a version of this on EE a while back, and I still find this sentence terribly ambiguous, have you realised the meaning is not clear?

"Only Stan believes Jack will actually do it - but he desperately needs to understand why."

Do you mean; "Stan is the only person who believes Jack will have the balls to do what he says." Or do you mean; "Stan thinks Jack will do it but doesn't care one iota to try and save him."

It's important to make it clear, because it says something about the sort of person Stan is. And right now, I just can't tell which one it's supposed to be (or if it's a third meaning that I don't get at all).

Secondly, what is Stan trying to understand in this sentence? Is he trying to understand why Jack wants to kill himself, or is he trying to understand why he himself believes Jack will kill himself?

Hope that helps some.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that "needs to understand why" sentence just keeps sitting there, bumping into things, like an unruly puppy. ;-) I'm thinking he'll get tossed in Query v3.0. Thanks for the comments, all.

"I am Number 28"

wonderer said...

Don't forget that Miss Snark reps thrillers, which of course are all about plot. An agent who reps literary novels might be more forgiving, especially because your use of language, even in the query, is interesting.

Anonymous said...

"Jack lies curled in a fetal ball" does anyone see something wrong with this?

ac