Shamelessly Blatant Author Fantasies

Stand back, readers, I’m wearing my rantsy pants today!

Sometimes, whilst merrily consuming media, I will stumble upon a scene that clearly spells out one of the author’s cherished fantasies. Sometimes it’s glaring enough to kick holes in my suspension of disbelief. Examples, you say? Examples you shall have:

 

Sophie’s Choice. In the film, Stingo’s friends Nathan and Sophie take him out on Brooklyn Bridge with a bottle of wine to toast him, saying…

“On this bridge, where so many great American writers have stood and reached out for words to give America its voice, looking toward the land that gave us Whitman, who from its eastern edge dreamt his country’s future and gave it words, from this span where Thomas Wolfe and Hart Crane wrote, we welcome Stingo into that pantheon of the gods.”

Quite the toast, eh? Screenwriter/director Alan J. Pakula wrote it, not novelist William Styron. Many people love this scene, but I found it… well, you know. Shamelessly blatant. It forcibly reminded me that this story was Written By Someone, and that someone ached for glory.

And golly, we’d better start reading Hart Crane if he’s on par with Stingo!

Another Author Fantasy appears in the film AND book. After a night of especially sexy sex, the especially sexy Sophie leaves Stingo a letter bidding him goodbye and declaring him a “great Lover” AND “beautiful Lover.”  But…. that was Stingo’s First Time. How much prowess could he have, really? Even if he were a natural of some kind, how often does ANYONE get a letter about their boot-knocking skills? (Wait, does everyone but me get those letters? Uh oh.) This sounds like a Fantasy to me, and knowing Styron wanted [former Bond Girl] Ursula Andress cast as Sophie makes it that much more Fantastic. If I were in a charitable mood, I might interpret Sophie’s use of “lover” as “romantic partner,” not “sex partner,” but they weren’t together long, and the sex scene is pretty… um… indulgent. There are a TON of good points about sexuality in Sophie’s Choice here, but it’s a long read.

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Dirty Old Man – a pithy, obscure song-snippet by Harry Chapin

I’ve had pretty women in my day
Yeah those long-haired beauties simply ran my way
I treat ‘em rotten, they just love me more
And when they gave me trouble, I just showed ‘em the door
I’m a dirty old man / and I don’t give a damn

One of my favorites. At least Chapin is up front about his motivations, right?

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Homer and Langley — E.L. Doctorow. A highly, highly, fictionalized tale of the Collyer Brothers.  I found it hard to believe that some sweet, lithe young hippie babe showed up in Langley’s life and volunteered to have sex with an aging, blind, compulsive hoarder who doesn’t bathe. Surely even free love had its limits. Is E.L. Doctorow hoping this chapter will inspire some nubile hippie to appear in HIS bed? Let’s hope he bathes.

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(Image source)

Lots o’ Stuff by Christopher Nolan. Wowie shazaam, this guy sure loves beautiful, dead women who inspire his heroes henceforth and forever. I hate to call that an Author Fantasy, but… this article features some mighty fine overthinking on the subject, plus serves as a good intro to fridge stuffing.

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Play Me by Neil Diamond

She was morning
And I was night time
I one day woke up
To find her lying
Beside my bed
I softly said
“Come take me”

A likely story, Neil Diamond. If you keep writing immortal lyrics like “song she sang to me/song she brang to me,” ain’t nobody gonna to welcome you to the pantheon of the gods.

In other news, I seem to have magically inherited Neil Diamond’s hair and fashion taste. Anything you’d like to tell us, Mom?

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Speaking of Mom… she once wrote a book about a young, single Mormon mother who takes up with a handsome Jewish man. And possibly a handsome Buddhist. Need I mention that she was a young, divorced, Mormon mother with an unending love of world religions? I won’t lie, it was a great read. We ate it up.

Also, my (dimpled!) little sister once wrote a story about a certain “Sugar Dimples” who shared our last name. She claims this was satire. I call shenanigans.

Clearly, Shamelessly Blatant Author Fantasies run in the family. Why else would I have this blog?

Off with my rantsy pants.


Have you read/seen/heard any Author Fantasies lately? Tell the world!

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Comments

  1. Pakula knew the only book his audience had ever read was Sophie’s Choice; Sophie was lying to him; ah, Harry Chapin – I’d say that was not a glorification but an indictment; hippies didn’t bathe either; can’t comment on Chris; Neil’s stuff was so formulaic at that point he could’ve said anything – consider the audience. As for handsome Jewish men – they are disappointing……

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  2. Mr Jaunty says:

    You’re right about Nolan. Lots of dead women.

    We’ve talked about Any Rand’s The Fountainhead, which I found very enjoyable to read. Even inspiring. That is until the hero Howard Roark gives a courtroom speech about the evils of redistributionism and how the country is becoming one full of parasites. Ah yes, and Dominique’s acceptance of rape at the hands of her superior man is clearly Rand’s fantasy.

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  3. I was ruminating on this very topic last night, listening to President Monson’s birthday celebration on BYU TV. Grandma blared the television extra loud so that I was required to hear every word even with my bedroom door closed… thanks Granny.. How wonderful it must have been for President Monson to have 21,000 people throw him a birthday party.

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  4. Rapunzel (aka Mom) says:

    Oooh, I love this post! In love author fantasies, and suspect without them There Would Be No Authors! Now I am going to have to read Sophie’s Choice, rewatch the movie and read the whole piece you linked to. Homework. (Good for the ol’ melon though.)

    I like it that Chapin figured out what people would rather listen to. Life is such a learn-as-we-go project.

    RE: Neil Diamond- Yes in fact there is something I’d like to tell you.
    I do not know where you got your fashion taste,you are unique. Your hair is a wavier variant of mine, my color but more your Grandpa Dick’s texture, His childhood nickname was “Wavy”. Your big blue eyes are like my Mamaw’s.
    Neil Diamond is NOT your father here and now, but I believe in a parallel universe somewhere out there he is the adoring father of you and the rest of our twelve perfect sparkly and effervescent children. In That universe I am taller and slimmer and he never wrote Longfellow’s Seranade.
    In my teens I so adored the man that I used him as the ruler by which to take the measure of the boys I dated (or refused to date). In general the teenage lads of rural Michigan suffered from the comparison.
    Ahhh, Neil Diamond was the first of a looooooong line of crushes on mysterious and talented Jewish boys, most of them not at all famous and one of them such a fabulous kisser I was inspired to name my dog after him.

    In the never to be published book of which you speak the mormon mom not only takes up with a handsome Jewish man, she also has several well behaved children who keep their rooms tidy, get along harmoniously with each other and who cook and refinish antique furniture. Yep, author fantasy in spades.

    Around the time we moved to Fox Farm Road (my 16th move) I wrote a novel (long since cremated) about a nanny and a widowed musician. He lived in a house in rural England that was built by his great, great, great grandfather. He’d been in the same band with the same two other guys for about 27 years. Author’s fantasy of a more stable life, I suspect.

    Oddly, none of the heros of my writing are ever tall, dark, brooding, arrogant, or blatantly wealthy. Apparently I don’t fancy the Romance Novel type of guy. I should research this further!

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  5. Jean – HA! A possible entry from Sophie’s diary: “Dear Diary, it’s a good thing I’m committing suicide soon, otherwise Stingo might want to have sex again. And here I thought all my worst choices were behind me!”

    Mr. Jaunty – I’ve been intending to read The Fountainhead. You’ve just persuaded me to put it off for another five or ten years.

    Jen – Something tells me that was one of the Least Entertaining TV Specials Ever, even by BYU TV standards. I hope those 21,0000 people got birthday cake, but cake for 21,000 probably isn’t frugal.

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  6. Rapunzel – I don’t know if Sophie’s Choice is worth reading AND watching. There must be more rewarding homework out there.

    Your description of life in a parallel universe made me laugh loudly. It also made me curious about Longfellow’s Serenade, which I’ve never heard. Sounds like I’m lucky that way, eh?

    Neil Diamond was Ultra Cute, and I’d happily be his parallel universe daughter… assuming he doesn’t use the word “brang” over there. Here and there, he’s probably easier to get along with than my actual father. Many people are.

    Do you still have ‘Loaves and Fishes’? I liked it a lot, and still remember parts. At long last, your children have grown up to get along harmoniously, cook, AND have tidy bedrooms. Your dreams are all coming true! Surely antique furniture can’t be far behind.

    I never got to read ‘Troubadour.’ Life is hard.

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  7. I don’t remember the sex scene in Doctorow’s book, but now you’ve got me thinking about author’s fantasies. Interesting topic. I often tell my CW students that writing fiction can be a way of changing the past…

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  8. Rapunzel (aka Mom) says:

    I just looked in the file drawer and I do indeed still have the original (and only) draft of the still unfinished ‘Loaves and Fishes’, all 105 pages of it, with a not in the back reminding me to “pare household to the bone”….which is clearly a longstanding fantasy of mine.

    As for Longfellows Seranade, the chorus includes the unfortunate sentence “Ride, c’mon baby ride, let me make your dreams come true…” which reads very badly and doesn’t, in my opinion, sound very well when sung either. Unless perhaps I am misunderstanding the meaning and the song is being sung by either a horse or a unicorn.

    It is too bad I cremated my brilliant novels(cough, cough) you’d have loved Calvin, he was a sweetheart. I wonder where I ever got the idea that I had to choose between being a loving mommy person and being a writer/artist? Or where I got the corrolating idea that I’d never be able to find a good real life partner if I was a writer? Dumb ideas these, I regret them heartily.

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  9. MY MOST-NOTED/LEAST FAVORITE AUTHOR FANTASY – at least when it comes to movies is those “hilarious” movies that are often written by former cast members of Saturday Night Live, and make up a genre I endearingly refer to as “SNL FLICKS” in which a completely idiotic, stupid, and all-around often socially worthless male (no job, no aspirations etc.) somehow manages to snag the most beautiful, smart, and talented woman in the film!
    Although I do understand that women have a similar fantasy in reverse, which appears in many romance films: socially awkward, down-on-her-luck, average woman somehow snags the hunkiest, or wealthiest man in the film. Ah well…

    RE Mr Jaunty — I actually really like a lot of Ayn Rand’s political ideas, but anytime a character just starts ranting about any political or social ideas (whether I agree with them, or not) it just takes me out of the book. Honestly, I am of the school of “SHOW ME, DON’T TELL ME” So authors, make your points more delicately. Make people think about the issues your interested in based on what happens to your real and honest characters, not based on what they say.
    RE Christopher Nolan — interesting article, but neither of you take into account that many of the movies discussed were co-written with his brother, Jonathan Nolan. And that the movie “Momento” was first written by Jonathan as a short story. So, perhaps author fantasies are more genetic then previously thought!

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