Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! And...Perfect Fingers by Myron Night

I wish all of you who celebrate...Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hannukkah!

Today I have the pleasure to host Myron Night, who will share some words of wisdom and an excerpt from his book, Perfect Fingers.


Myron's Guest Blog

Authors, Characters and Relationships
It all starts when you, the author, decide on a viewpoint – are you inside the characters, riding around in their heads (first person), or outside the characters, looking down on them with god-like omniscience (third person)?

For example, in the novel Perfect Fingers, we are inside the head of the central character, Myron, and in the present tense: “The sun is shining on Wampum Corner. It is mid-morning and the day is yet cool. I walk out to get the mail from the mailbox by the road. The air is fresh, the birds sing, this is all very wonderful.”

There are great advantages and disadvantages to building a character this way. On the plus side, the immediacy of the first-person present tense draws the reader in, and it is easy to reveal the character’s innermost thoughts and reactions to the world outside, thus building a strongly defined character. On the negative side, everything has to be described from that character’s viewpoint so, as is true in life, we can’t really be sure what the other characters are feeling or thinking – we are limited by the observations of our central character, who may or may not be an acute or accurate observer. Once again, from Perfect Fingers: “Susie, sitting on the other side of the table, is curious. As she sips her coffee, she watches me. She watches me just a little bit, but not too much.” So we get a feeling for Susie’s inner being from Myron’s observations and how he describes what he sees.

Taking it one step further, how is it possible to build relationships between the characters if we only have access to the inner life of one of them? Once again, from Perfect Fingers, through the observation and reportage of our roving viewpoint, the “I” character:  “The distance between us shortens quickly. ‘Hi,’ I try to smile. My throat is tight. ‘Hi,’ he says, his drawl more curt than usual. I attempt to read the expression on his face. It looks like a mixture of pride, disdain, anger and amusement. I can only speculate.” So we get a feel for the relationship between these two characters, especially in the larger context of the novel itself.

This could be juicy, filtering a fictional reality through the thoughts and feelings of a fictional narrator. But even better, what if our narrator is “unreliable”? What if, through the progress of the story, our faithless floating “I” reveals that when he told us about “A”, it was actually “B”; that the whole time she, in revealing her innermost feelings to us, the readers, claimed to be in love with him, she actually hated his guts? And so on.

I am using this “unreliable” approach in the novel-in-progress, Sparafucile or The Assassin – even though it is written in third person, with an all-knowing narrator describing the actions and relationships of a number of different characters, the “omniscient” narrator is either a bumbling fool or a liar, because in many aspects of the story – the characters and their relationships -- we are led to believe that things are one way when, as the narrative evolves, they actually turn out to be quite another. Delicious!
 -- Myron Night

Book description:

What motivates twenty-something Myron and Susie, in 1971, to leave a Boston commune centered around a self-proclaimed messiah and travel aross the country in their refurbished school bus to a back-to-the-land commune in the Pacific Northwest?
Idealism? Rebellion? Apathy?

The war in Vietnam; Watergate and the Nixon scandal; open marriage and co-parenting; sex and drugs and the commune. Overflowing with sights, insights, sentiments and sensations of the early ‘70s, this twenty-first century novel emerges as a crystalline illumination of that critical cusp in the American evolution.



I’M ON MY WAY. MY OLD CHEVROLET rumbles on toward the

Farm. Port Manley is behind me. Like a seed sprouting, determination has taken the place of indecision.

The Chevy wagon, loaded with my meager possessions, carries

me along the pitted road out of the valley, past the lake and up the


The rough pastures, lush with the warm rains of spring, comfort

me; the thick alders and lofty cedars restoreth my soul.

This is it, then. I have decided. In the long escape from the

womb, every step has required this act of faith. Like the trees, I am

thrusting up into the sunlight. There is no point now in asking

questions, in trying to decide my fate. The weighing of the issue is a sham. There is only destiny, an ineluctable drawing onward. Is it the mystery of time, its unidirectional flow, which propels me up the mountain roadway?

Unstoppable time.

Alone in my holy-of-holies, my inner sanctum, my old Chevrolet, sealed from the world by tight neoprene gaskets at the
doors and windows, I am motionless, a suspended point of

consciousness, the still center of the universe, wrapped in solitude

as space, time and the world streak by. Things pass at such speed

I will never remember them. Each leaf, each twig, each spill of sunlight—all will be lost in the onward rush. The infinite impeccable detail of life fades, forgotten, behind me.

How can I remember this, I wonder, and this, and that, and this

now? The movement of a cow’s head, the whisk of a cedar branch 

rushing past the car? It is too much, the world is too much, endlessly approaching, then rushing by, then disappearing into time, forever lost behind me. And there is nowhere, no-when, to stand firm.

The scene widens, to a vast rippling continent, green and woolly,

with this slow mite of a car climbing the miniscule wrinkle of this one hill, and where am I? Lost in it all. My history, my being, disappears into the past as quickly as it arrives. This rushing oblivion is terrifying.

At last the eroded driveway bumps to rest under the old Chev,

arriving as expected, in the proper time and place in the flow of

events, with its cargo of dead and dying communal cars. How long

has it taken to get here? How far have I come?

I get out of the car. I see Steve and Pete in the upper terrace of

the garden, near the Common House, under the huge lone poplar

tree. They are pulling weeds. When they see me walking toward

them, they work faster, scrabbling at the weeds, like large furry

animals, with frizzy hair and fluffy beards.

I enter the garden and close the gate behind me, squatting to pull

weeds alongside them. I say nothing. Neither do they speak. There

are only furtive glances, their moist brown eyes darting at me from

behind all that fuzzy hair.

Finally, Sarah passes on the Common House path. I stand and

greet her.

“I’m here.”

“Myron!” She seems glad to see me. “What are your plans?”

“I have no plans.”

But I need a place to stay. Sarah suggests I talk to Madelyn, who

owns property around the mountain from the Farm, not far from

Susie’s A-frame cabin.

I get back in the Chev and drive to Madelyn’s place. She agrees

to let me pitch my tent in her woods.

From the path which leads to her house, I climb onto the trunk

of a long fallen hemlock which extends out over the dense brush. As though balancing on a tightrope, I walk its length to where it crosses a fallen cedar. I step down onto the cedar and walk some more, weaving between upthrusting branches which radiate from the horizontal trunk. The long trunk ends in the midst of the thick
undergrowth. I jump down to the ground. I look around. I have

disappeared in the forest.

I remove brush, gouge out a clearing, grubbing up roots and

smoothing the ground, until I have a level place, where I set up the

tent. It will do very well in lieu of a house or apartment or unit of

any other sort.

From the mouth of the tent, I survey my domain. Sword ferns

and salmonberries, vine maple and alder. Lush greenery everywhere, broken only by the brown of tree bark and the blue of sky. Yes, the bright blue nylon of the tent clashes, but I am certain that this is just the beginning of that long descent into the wilderness which I have always sought, and eventually I will no longer need the tent.

Already, the sickness of society has been left far behind. This is the frontier. Unseen birds sing their songs, and all around me

incomprehensible creatures, invisible, are living their lives. Isn’t this

it, then? Isn’t this the beginning?

Sweaty from all that exercise, I climb out of the tent and take off

my clothes. It feels strange to be naked out here, like falling into an

unknown world. Gentle movements of the air tickle me in unfamiliar

places. My body twitches like the snout of a dog.

With my bare feet, I feel the many things which make up the rough

forest floor—twigs, stones, leaves, clumps of moss and chunks of rotting wood. Before, they were undifferentiated crunch under my boots. But my naked feet are organs of perception, and now, as though through a microscope, I have an intimate view of these things of the earth.

Naked, I am less afraid of the oblivion of time. The forest soothes

the soles of my feet. The fear of falling endlessly into nothingness


In front of the tent, I clear the twigs and stones from a space the

size of my body. I drop to my knees and level the humus with bare

hands, shuffling like a bear, until I have smoothed a place large

enough for me to lie and stretch out.

Cautiously, I settle onto my back on the bare soil. The damp cold

earth chills me deliciously. The underside of my body is like an

earthworm, long, wet and cold, but very much at home. Above, the

trees nod, etching the far-away sky in wispy green.

Now is the time. It begins. 

I stand and open my arms to the sun, moving effortlessly into

the first yoga posture, the Sun Salute.

Amazon link


  1. Thanks for sharing the excerpt.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. Hope you had a good day.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Mary. We actually cooked our very first turkey and I managed to NOT burn down the kitchen so it was a wonderful day. Hope yours was fantastic as well!