Monday, October 03, 2011

Brock Brower on the Resurrection of THE LATE GREAT CREATURE

Author Brock Brower reflects on the reissue of his National Book Award-nominated novel The Late Great Creature:

On the Eve of the Resurrection

Tomorrow is pub. date for my second novel, THE LATE GREAT CREATURE, the second time around. Hard to believe, but forty years ago, Atheneum (long since gone) first published my maunderings from old horror films about one “Simon Moro,” whom I still lovingly call my Creature. I turned 40 myself that very year, 1971, and will be 80, come this November. And how do I feel about this sudden... shall we say, abrupt resurrection? Wonderful, grateful to Peter Mayer’s Overlook Press, 'umbled, delighted, yet aghast, a bit blitzed (from re-calculating the odds/life spans/my meds), and my favorite catch-all—weird!

Why weird? Over those four past decades, I have heard many kindly words from you fanzines (honored on my page here) as the author of a perverse “Hollywoodcultbook.” But here is what is weird. When I initially launched my Creature after three years of Frankensteinian lab work done down cellar in the late 60s, I did have another purpose: to let Simon loose, on his last horror picture, to apply his brand of shock therapy to the American Dream. Recall that we were then headed into the 70s, with Watergate barely behind us and Jimmy Carter’s “m.e.o.w” speech (favoring the “moral equivalent of war”!?) looming dead ahead. We were bound to run into monstrous trouble with what was being called fiscal “stagflation”—a strapped economy/staggering inflation—and Simon kept trying to say, “Do whatever you can to stop this horror.”

Only guess what even Bigger Trouble we find ourselves in right now, today? What is really weird is that I’ve hardly had to change a word in the entire book. My Creature is still talking his bizzaro common sense that seems so startling these parlous days, among a great people who used to know how to recognize and confront a horrible situation, once faced with one. I hope you will take note at how my Creature came to understand his country—through the medium in which he triumphed but never through any resort to despair or violence on his own part!

When I started proof-reading galleys a few months back, I was amazed how quickly, even vividly, Simon Moro came back to life for me again. Gosh, I’d forgotten he said that. Where on earth did he get any such ideas, and who are these other characters who speak so ill of him? That is the magical existence of a fictional character: He never changes, but he always surprises you. Not just the reader, even his own creator.

Great writers, like Tolstoy or Dickens, crowd their books with such characters. The rest of us are lucky to cross one or two in our farthest attempts. Hope you find my Creature not only resurrected but redeemed. - Brock Brower, October 3, 2011

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