Posts Tagged 'Redemption'

As Good As It Gets

Encouraged by some friends I have been writing some fiction. When I say ‘encouraged’ we are talking about it in the male friendship sense of ‘get on with it you stupid bastard’. They are now asking to see what I’ve produced but I’m waiting to rewrite a couple of the stories. Like curries, writing is best left in the freezer and returned to after a few days.

Writing is hard for lots of reasons. It’s easy to get discouraged, especially when you enjoy the good writing of other people. Dipping into Raymond Carver can be dispiriting if you are trying to write a short story. But it works both ways. I wrote one story after reading a particularly poor effort by a guy called Michel Faber. I’d been recommended one of his books by my Kindle, which is a marvellous thing in a number of ways, not least in getting me to look at what it is possible to get published. (Not all of his stories are badly written. But some are).

I’ve also been trying to avoid formulas, but then again a formula is not necessarily a bad thing if you can bring something fresh and interesting to it. I had one of my regular insomniac episodes last night and ended up re-watching As Good As It Gets. It’s not a promising film when you look at its elements. It appears to be a formulaic rom-com with all that entails; a love / hate relationship, apparently unlikeable male lead, troubled female lead, gay best friend, wise mother, thrown together by circumstances, each on a journey, crisis in Act Two, falling in love after all, knowing reference to Edward Hopper. Bish bash bosh.

It is also blatantly emotionally manipulative, not least in its use of a sick child and cute dog. But what lifts it beyond the formula is the script and the performances. It gets away with using a formula because also has an edge. A spoonful of medicine to help the sugar go down. It gets away with the sentimentality in the same way that It’s  A Wonderful Life does, by having a dark heart.

So I am encouraged and the next test will be to see what other people think.

God – the greatest PR man of them all

It seems that anybody’s image can be made over for some people, so long as they claim to have God on their side. According to this article in the New York Times, the Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz is being held up as an exemplar of redemption by Christians in the US.

Berkowitz terrorised New York for over a year from 1976 to 1977, killing 6 people. He claimed variously that he had been commanded to do so by a demon that had possessed his neighbour’s dog and that he was a member of a Satanic cult that had carried out some of the killings. You might argue that the belief in demons and his subsequent belief in God are connected and that the people lauding his redemption should be wary.

But, as is the modern way, a church is hosting a blog for him to pontificate on everything from homosexuality to his fellow inmates’ hip-hop. So, you might also argue that he lost the right to pontificate in public about other people’s taste in music and partners at the time he was busy murdering innocent people. But then sometimes it seems all is allowable if you claim you have God on your side.

July 2020

Desk Jockey