The Lives and Death of Alexander McDougal


Alec McDougal—named for his father, Alexander— has traveled thousands of miles to escape his father’s legacy. Even though Alec grew up under his father’s roof, Alec never really knew him. But when Alexander died, he left Alec a journal explaining why. Alec learns for the first time the great secret his father uncovered—magic—and the terrible secrets behind his father’s discovery: McDougal the elder had come face to face with an evil he couldn’t understand and which he didn’t know how to fight; and so he did questionable things, dark things, in the name of good. And, still, he failed. Now, the father’s burden has become the son’s.


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McDougal Cover

Alec,

My son.  Forgive me.

I wanted those to be the first words exchanged between us.  I have so much to be sorry for …I wanted to protect everything I held dear.  I tried lying.  I tried killing.  But I should have tried trusting.  I should have trusted you.  I should have trusted your mother.

There’s magic in this world, Alec.  And I’m not talking about some metaphorical garbage.  Leave the metaphors to the poets, Alec.  You and me, we’re not poets.  We’re fighters…

I’m trusting you now.  It’s the only way I can save you.  I’m saving you now by trusting you, by giving you the tools you need to save yourself.  To save this world. To avenge the lives the old man has stolen or ruined otherwise…

I’m defeated.  But you shall be my redemption.

Trust me.  And forgive me.

Forever your father, whose love for you is everlasting,

Alexander McDougal

McDougal Press Release – Copy


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Truth is His Violence

Truth is His ViolenceI’ve spoken a bit about violence before.  Flannery O’Connor, for example, believed that violence is a channel through which we can find out who we really are.  I think she was largely speaking of physical violence.  But violence can take many forms.

Truth is His Violence

The word is starting to spread about Manny Kant: He’s smart. He’s relentless. He won’t stop until he gets the truth. In short, he’s good at what he does. Manny knows that there’s something violent about his Will to Truth: He’s good at what he does because he’s willing to hurt himself – and let others suffer – to find what he’s looking for. But when an old friend calls on him to investigate the disappearance of the man she loves, Manny’s going to find that the truth is sometimes stranger than you can imagine. Stranger than you want to believe. Yet Manny believes. Now, he’s got to face his toughest challenge yet — is he willing to keep hurting the people he cares about in order to satisfy his Will to Truth?

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Lon K. Montag Says: An Update, Plus Something for the Artist to Remember Now and Forever

I recently had occasion to re-read parts of John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, and it reminded me that though the world moves ever onward, some things don’t change.  That’s especially so for the artist.  And that’s something to keep in mind as time continues its inexorable march forward.

John Gardner“To write with taste, in the highest sense, is to write with the assumption that one out of a hundred people who read one’s work may be dying, or have some loved one dying; to write so that no one commits suicide, no one despairs…so that people understand, sympathize, see the universality of pain, and feel strengthened, if not directly encouraged to live on…every writer should be aware that he might be read by the desperate, by the people who might be persuaded toward life or death…

“It does not mean…that writers should lie.  It means only that they should think, always, of what harm they might inadvertently do and not do it.  If there is good to be said, the writer should remember to say it.  If there is bad to be said, he should say it in a way that reflects the truth that, though we see the evil, we choose to continue among the living…The true artist chooses never to be a bad physician.  He gets his sense of worth and honor from his conviction that art is powerful–even bad art.”

John Gardner, The Art of Fiction

Though we lost Gardner before my time, his words ring through my mind with every word I write. (I’ve had occasion to write about Gardner’s fiction before–I’m hoping, this year, to write more on his philosophy of art, possibly as a sequel to a prior article I wrote a while back.)

And on that note, it’s time to reveal some details about my book McDougal; here’s the blurb:

McDougal CoverAlec,

My son.  Forgive me.

I wanted those to be the first words exchanged between us.  I have so much to be sorry for …I wanted to protect everything I held dear.  I tried lying.  I tried killing.  But I should have tried trusting.  I should have trusted you.  I should have trusted your mother.

There’s magic in this world, Alec.  And I’m not talking about some metaphorical garbage.  Leave the metaphors to the poets, Alec.  You and me, we’re not poets.  We’re fighters…

I’m trusting you now.  It’s the only way I can save you.  I’m saving you now by trusting you, by giving you the tools you need to save yourself.  To save this world. To avenge the lives the old man has stolen or ruined otherwise…

I’m defeated.  But you shall be my redemption.

Trust me.  And forgive me.

Forever your father, whose love for you is everlasting,

Alexander McDougal

Winter 2014

Stay tuned for more details about McDougal.  And Happy New Year.

– LKM

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Lon K. Montag says: The Radio Silence is Over

So, first of all, you’ve got a new story out.  What’s it about?  The blurb–which seems pretty unconventional–obviously implies there’s some kind of story being told, about an investigation, maybe.

Let me put it this way: Imagine you’ve got something you really want to know–or someone you’re looking to find…You’re about to hire a private investigator you’ve never heard of before.  And before you seal the deal, you obviously want to know a little bit about the person you’re giving your money to.  How’d he get into the business?  Why is he doing what he does?  And most importantly, can you trust him to relentlessly hunt for the truth until he finds it?

In other words, you want to know why Manny Kant should get the gig.  Well he’s got an answer for you.  That’s The Will to Truth.

That sounds pretty hard-boiled.Will to Truth bookshelf

I intentionally wrote it to be hard-boiled.  If you know my writing at all, you know I like to blur the lines between genres.  For The Will to Truth, I constricted myself a little bit because I wanted to do something new and fun.  But no matter what I’m writing, if it’s got my name on it, then it’s going to be recognizably mine.  I hope you’ll trust that, if I’ve delivered for you in the past, I’m going to continue to deliver, even if it’s something you might not have expected.

So you’re obviously continuing to release short stories, why not concentrate your creative energies into just novels?

I think short stories fill an important niche, maybe one that’s becoming increasingly important.  There’s so much available for us to read, probably more now than there ever has been, and the longer a work is, the more time it takes to read.  But maybe you don’t want to make a huge time commitment to try an untested author; or you want something you can complete on a bus ride; or maybe you just want to explore a bunch of different stories with different characters in a more disjointed way than you’d be able to with (most) novels.

Those are all reader-centric reasons; from my end, it gives me the opportunity to work on new characters and styles and to really flex my muscles in a different way.  It’s kind of like the difference between sprinting and running a marathon or doing strength training versus toning. Plus, I’d have the writings hanging around anyway; might as well do something with them.

This was a busy week for you–not only did you post some fairly lengthy thoughts on the book of Job, but you’ve also announced The Will to Truth.  What about The Lives and Death of Alexander McDougal?

As I mentioned (more than) a few months ago, McDougal’s done–look for an announcement about that within days of the new year.  It won’t be out until the end of next year, but beginning with the new year, there’s going to be a lot more info about it leading up to the release.

I made a few announcements in July, about McDougal, the Job essay, and I also said I was going to have a new short story up before the end of the year.  That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is a lot to produce, taking into account not just the writing and the editing involved in producing the book and story, but also reading and thinking about some really dense material and then making that material and those thoughts into something coherent for somebody else to read.

Sometimes there’s radio silence (and a lot of it), but there’s always something on the horizon.  Stay tuned–the silence, and that static on the radio, is over.  Happy holidays.

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“The Will to Truth”

The Will to TruthMy name is Manny Kant.  I understand you have a job for me.  But before we get to that, there are a few things we’re going to need to be in agreement about.

You probably want my job.  You imagine it’s exciting.  And a little dangerous.  And you think you can handle it…I’ll tell you right now, you’ve got it wrong.  And that’s something we need to get out of the way up front.  Because if this is going to work, I’ve got to have not just your trust, and not just your money—though I will be needing both of those—but, most importantly, I’m going to need your respect…

If you’re going to do what I do, you’re going to need something that you can’t learn…You might not even know you have it until you’re put to the test…And in the end, you’re either battered but still standing and coming back for more, or you’re crawling away crying.  There’s no alternative.  And there’s no middle ground.  That’s the will to truth.

Let me tell you about the time I found out I had it.

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