Tag Archives: john gardner

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 Asks: What Horrifies You?

I get scared sometimes.  It’s true!  Not often, but sometimes.  And I’m not talking about your garden variety “scared” — you know the type, the tiny “fears” we experience every day, from “I’m scared I’m going to be late” to “I’m scared I’m going to fail this exam [or lose this contract, or whatever]” to “I’m afraid they’re going to run out of tickets for the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.”  No, I’m not talking about these weak, watered down versions of fear.  I’m talking about the primordial stuff.  The type of fear that comes along and tenses your muscles, if you’re lucky, and prepares you for action; the kind of fear which, if you’re unlucky, paralyzes you and leaves you at the mercy of whatever predators might be lurking around the corner and in the dark.  I’m talking about that fear which makes your heart pound and finds your skin suddenly saturated with sweat… Continue reading

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