RE: Bookclub: The Discussion of Bang: Memoirs of a Relationship Assassin (spoilers)
(23 Apr 2012 11:09 PM)Notoriety Wrote: I'm still wondering about a word from our esteemed author who has shown remarkable and well judged restraint! Of course nothing like a good argy-bargy to bring readers in!
Did someone call?! First off, a big thank you to everyone who's posted so far... so much great discussion!
As Tony points out, I have been holding myself back from joining in too much. I feel quite strongly that book club discussions should not be dominated by the author. I'm wary of responding to every point, or in too much detail, and turning this into a personal platform. Plus, an author's intentions for a book are only part of the reader's experience, so it's not like I can offer a definitive response to the issues that have been raised. Especially when I was hoping reading the book would raise those issues in the first place!
But I will chip in with a few things to keep the ball rolling...
(23 Apr 2012 02:22 PM)LindaGruchy Wrote: But I didn't like Scott at all, and in this I agree with Notoriety's points. I thought he was immature, selfish, and callous. But then, I think it would take someone of that character to do what he did. I wasn't smitten with Emma for the same reason. I really likedBecky. It doesn't matter that I don't like them, except that because oif that I couldn't empathise and found myself distanced from the story, and not really caring what happened to Scott. This is always a danger with an unsympathetic character.
Linda, you've highlighted a major problem I had when writing Bang. How do you create a character who breaks up couples for a living, and make him even remotely sympathetic? You're spot on that the danger is readers will simply not care about him. But if he was truly sympathetic, he's hardly likely to be a relationship assassin in the first place.
Although I worked very hard on the various facets of Scott's personality, in the end I decided that the reader would judge him accordingly. He does change during the book, as all characters must, but I wanted to avoid the predictable ending that you mentioned, where he 'realises the error of his ways'. He does, but not enough to overturn his entire life.
(23 Apr 2012 11:09 PM)Notoriety Wrote: So where does David as the author position himself in this discussion? How much did you want the reader to think about the characters and situations or was this just an airport read?! (Nothing wrong in that , of course.)
Tony, take your tin hat off so I can put this party hat on your head instead! Some brilliant points and analysis, but to answer this question: My hope was that Bang (and everything I write) would find more than one kind of audience. My work is kind of 'airport read', and like you say that's perfectly fine, but behind it there are some much heavier topics. I'm telling lightweight yarns, but standing on the shoulders of giants to do so. If a reader wants to zip through Bang, laughing at the gags and enjoying the implied sex and gasping at the soap opera surprises, then clearly they can. But if they want to delve deeper, then there's plenty of scope for that too. I wanted to write something that worked on whatever level the reader was comfortable with. Whether I succeeded is another matter!
(23 Apr 2012 11:09 PM)Notoriety Wrote: On the assumption of the latter, how did you see Scott, David: what he did and his relationships with the other key figures in the book, especially the women? Your question to us: "Was he a monster?" How did you think your readers would react and how much did that matter or was it for you simply that each of would see Scott through our own persona? Could it even be that Scott would be some sort of mirror to ourselves ? (Obviously I'm desperately hoping here!!) What was your intention in giving us some hints about Scott's back story, the disastrous relationships with his parents and Darren's unwitting role it it? Back to my original post did you want us to hope that some sort of redemptive self-understanding would happen for him? Cos it didn't of course!!
I don't see Scott as a mirror as such, but what he represents are two things that I've observed are absolute constants in human nature. Stand by, deep topic alert!
First: people have more than one side to them. This might seem blindingly obvious, but it's amazing how often we forget. People are multi-faceted, and we only show certain aspects to certain people. We all lie. We all pretend to be something we're not. We all fake it. Scott takes this to an extreme, but extremes are as dangerous as they are appealing. Sometimes he seems almost superhuman, sometimes he seems like a monster. The reader will decide which!
Second: you are what you do. This ends up being Scott's philosophy, and it's mine too. Your actions and choices determine your character, nothing else. Tony, yes I did want you to hope there would be some redemptive self-understanding for Scott... and you say that it didn't happen, which is your (completely valid!) interpretation. But that's mainly because you find what he does reprehensible - it's a moral judgement on your part. Some readers may feel that when Scott realises 'you are what you do', and therefore he is a relationship assassin, that in itself is redemptive. He knows himself better by the end - but he also knows he cannot pretend to be any different. It's the reader who decides whether that's a good or bad thing.
(24 Apr 2012 06:32 AM)LindaGruchy Wrote: I'm unhappy that the actions of a relationship assassin should cause someone unhappiness because though he says he only interferres when one partner wants out, the fact the partner is tempted by a relashipship assassin might be symptomatic of a breaking relationship. This might actually cause good by precipitating a relationship breakdown, like a surgeon cutting off a gangrenous digit, but it might cause harm tampering with a vulnerable person's emotions and destroyng a relationship which might otherwise have got through the sticky patch... and this, of course, is what happens with Becky.
I love 'cutting off a gangrenous digit'! This is certainly how Scott sees his role - that if one half of a couple is paying money to end it, then it's dead already. But you're quite right, who's to say the relationship might not survive? Scott's position on this is that ultimately it's his client's decision, not his. He had a code of conduct (his four Rules) which he tries to stick to, but nobody can tell the future. Every single one of us will have broken up with someone - how do we ever know whether things might have worked out if we'd stayed with them?
As for Scott losing his mind - this was much more of a subplot in an earlier version of Bang. Scott started being properly 'haunted' by Andy, leading to some harrowing scenes. But on the advice of a potential publisher, I toned that aspect right down, and I think the book works much better as a result.
Blimey, so much for the author saying as little as possible! Hope my waffle has helped keep things ticking along, and I'm fascinated to read what more can be said!