Tag Archives: reading

(Python Diary) The Great Personalty Switch of 1981

I have gotten to the point in Michael Palin‘s 1980-1988 diary, in the vast, viking-riddled, uncivilized wasteland of 1981 England, where John Cleese (the doing-it-for-the-art guy who briefly disbanded the group in 1972) and Eric Idle (the loner musician who always seemed to be doing it for the money and who was often out for a fast buck) switch roles.

Cleese wants to push forward with the script for “The Meaning of Life”, despite artistic concerns and a lack of direction, because he needs the cash quickly, and Idle is throwing up red flags, saying he doesn’t want to move forward unless they keep their artistic integrity.

It’s like a great stop-motion space ship full of clay aliens has come down and switched their brains. The entire world has reversed itself! Gravity now pulls up, and you better get off the toilet, and quickly!

This is the most novel-like element to the the Diaries, where we get to watch two characters grow, change, and, eventually, come to embrace positions they previously found abhorrent (for a couple of minutes, anyway). The best part is that this IS a a diary, not a biography, so it’s mostly devoid of the “sense” people tend to make of their lives, the “story” they spin. To quote Palin himself, “It is a narrative in only its most basic sense,” meaning that events happen in an order, but there is no meaning. You see real, day-by-day change, as close to the real thing as possible. Really fascinating.
Amazon links:

What I am currently reading

"Writing the Breakout" Novel by Donald Maas.

Good info about the book premise, which I, personally, really needed.

Also reading:

Three of the 4 classics of Chinese literature:
-"Outlaws of the Marsh" (aka "The Water Margin") by Shi Nai’An
-"Romance of the Three Kingdoms" by Luo Guanzhong
-"Journey to the West" (aka "Monkey") by Wu Cheng’en

"A Handbook of Chinese Mythology" by Deming An and Jessica Anderson Turner

"Chinese Mythology" by Claude Helft and Chen Jiang Hong

"Story Structure Architect" by Victoria Schmidt

Plus:

All of John Brown’s fabulous posts on writing (especially plot-related)

All of Jim Butcher’s posts on writing (especially plot-related)
Dan Wells’s "7-point Plot System" lecture on YouTube

And I have read a vast amount on Wikipedia about the 8 Supernatural Races of Indian/Chinese Buddhist mythology, as well as huge swathes of material on the Mara and Hanuman/Sun Wukong

As you may be able to tell, this reading list is very focused on two different things: Plot and Chinese Mythology/Literature.

There’s a few reasons for this, and I’ll go into them later. 😉