The latest:

For the Love of Books

funny, documentary film, Nick Hornby

This documentary film is about Kathy Patrick, and the Pulpwood Queens Book Club. Featuring the work of musician Jeremy Vogt and photographer Natalie Brasington, you can watch the trailer here.  If you’d like to order the film, it’s $10 and you can write to me at <William.Torgerson@gmail.com>.

Love on the Big Screen

Eighties music and movies themed novelMeet Zuke, a college freshman whose understanding of love has been shaped by late-eighties romantic comedies such as Say Anything and Sixteen CandlesRead the first chapter of Love on the Big Screen as a (downloadable pdf). Listen to a sample from the audio book. Read a sample and purchase from Amazon or purchase a signed copy from me.

Horseshoe

Midwestern Gothic, after Flannery O'Connor, Updike, Empire Falls, Winamac, IndianaThis Midwestern Gothic novel explores themes related to sin, guilt, redemption, and belief in God.  Read a Horseshoe story “Sanctuary” as a (downloadable pdf) or listen to it here.  There are also sample pages where you can purchase from Amazon or a signed copy from me.

The Twilight Rate

Flushing Queens golf sports New York

I’ve got a story in this sports anthology. Six years ago when I first moved to Queens, I worked at the cash register in the pro shop of a golf course. The events of this story are fictionalized but certainly were inspired by some of the cultural tension I sensed working at the course. You can purchase the collection from me here or through the website of the Main Street Rag.

 

 

Friday Reads Giveaway

Get entered for a chance to win one of these books. Read over the descriptions and by way of comment to the post, let me know which one you’d choose if you win.  Comments must be left by Sunday 8/26/2012 / 3:00 PM.  That time gives my daughters and I time to make a video to announce the winner.


Horseshoe

Southern Gothic steeped with Midwestern sensibility stirs the waters of the Tippecanoe River that embraces the town of Horseshoe and its inhabitants. A novel-in-stories, Horseshoe intertwines revenge, regret, murder, adultery, and insanity through the lives of the outwardly ordinary citizenry. Although the ideas for the stories have come from all sorts of places real and imaginary, the setting is grounded in my hometown of Winamac, Indiana.

Horseshoe fag faith God sanctuary healing service Winamac Indiana guilt

Love on the Big Screen

In Love on the Big Screen, you’ll meet Zuke. He’s a college freshman whose understanding of love has been shaped by late-eighties romantic comedies. The story is set at a fictionalized version of Olivet Nazarene University and while creating the story, I reflected on my own romantic life and special obsession for films such as Say Anything and Sixteen Candles. My adaptation of this novel won the Grand Prize of the Rhode Island International Film Festival Screenplay Competition.

80's music movies say anything john cusack sixteen candles William Bill Torgerson

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In Answer to Some Questions about John Hughes and Love on the Big Screen

William Torgerson Love on the Big Screen Cusack Say Anything

Cusack Works the Phone For a Date in Say Anything

Part of the pleasure of writing Love on the Big Screen was that it caused me to revisit many of the films that I watched between the ages of 14 and 19, and many of those films are mentioned in connection to movies that my protagonist Zuke admires:  Sixteen Candles, Say Anything, Weird Science, Dead Poet’s Society, and Pretty in Pink. The idea for writing this book came as a surprise and it came during one of the writing classes I teach at St. John’s University.  We write almost every class session and most of the time I write along with the students.  Some days we write whatever comes to mind, (actually that’s always an option) and some days I make suggestions.  For example, I might ask students to try a moving story, a relationship story, or perhaps that they write about a place they know well.  Sometimes these experiments are specific to a part of writing as in the opening paragraph.  I think on the day I conceived of Zuke’s story, we were talking about writing a sentence that could be amplified and by that I mean that I open with a sort of summary sentence which I can then spend the rest of the writing trying to explain and develop.  I wrote something like this:  Everything Zuke knew about love he knew from the movies, most of them late-eighties romantic comedies.  Even though I’d already done the research for another book, I thought I had something with that sentence. I could see it being set at the fictional version of where I earned my undergraduate degree.  It would be some sort of love story, and all I had to do was figure out who Zuke was, who he was in love with, and who the other characters in the story would be.  One other short note:  A friend of mine has the last name Zaucha and so that’s where “Zuke” came from, but there isn’t much else about my Zuke that is like my friend.

William Torgerson Love on the Big Screen Weird Science Anthony Michael Hall

Gary and Wyatt Work Their Magic

I’m reluctant to call it research (maybe the lesson here is that research is fun and interesting if you’ve chosen the right topic) but what I did next was to go back and watch all those movies that had been my favorites growing up.  Here’s a couple of my first reactions:  I thought many of the movies were much sillier than I’d remembered.  A movie such as Weird Science held up for me pretty well in the sense that when the guys create Kelly LeBrock’s character with the bras on their heads, that was still pretty funny, and one of my favorite scenes is when the boys are at the mall, they’ve brought LeBrock with them, they’ve got some new duds, and for the first time in their lives they don’t feel like total dweebs.  Then some of the most popular guys in the school stand over them (one is Robert Downey Jr.) and drop giant frozen slurpees onto their heads.  Moment in the sun over.  On the other hand, that I was into this movie enough to go to five nights in a row with my buddy “Tank” as a middle school student was kind of embarrassing.  I didn’t find as much in the film to be devoted to as I would, say, in one of my favorite authors.  Mostly, I’ll give myself a break.  I was probably fourteen when I first saw it.

William Torgerson The Breakfast Club Molly Ringwald Judd Nelson

The Kiss at the End of the Movie

My memory of the 80s romantic comedies was that a boy spotted a girl he fell in love with, he pursued her, there was a spot of trouble, the rival was vanquished, and then there was a happy-ending kiss at the end.  Part of me wants to say that the movies were more complex than that.  Judd Nelson’s burnout character was physically abused.  I think Hall’s character in The Breakfast Club considered suicide.  There was the suicide in Dead Poet’s Society, but also there were so many kisses at the end.  And then I think the really key factor for me was that they never showed what happened after the first kiss.  I didn’t really think about that much until I was about thirty and divorced.  Certainly Zuke doesn’t think about this at first.  He only goes for the gal and hopes for the kiss which will signal the start of a good life.  Now, at least for those of us who have been in long relationships or been married or divorced, we’ve learned to think of that kiss at the end of the movie (the first kiss of a relationship) as just the first baby-step of a tall mountain climb.  I don’t mean to make it sound so hard–often it isn’t–I just mean that the first kiss is far from the end.  Duh, but somehow my teenage self didn’t know it.  And, although what I’m saying here is so obvious, how many people do we know who seem to long for that movie romance that they don’t feel they have in their real-life relationship?

The Real Life Inspiration for my Fictional Pison College (picture from kingtypepad.com)

As far as John Hughes’s movies and Love on the Big Screen go, what I set out to do was subvert what I thought were the conventions of romantic comedies.  I wanted to suspend my own understanding of life and try to become Zuke in my mind, a twenty year old who thought if he worked hard enough and displayed the right amount of romantic spirit (see Cusack’s boom box over his head) that he would in the end, “get the girl.”  I wasn’t particularly obsessed with the Hughes movies.  I think my favorite films were Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything, Peter Weir’s Dead Poet’s Society, and Sixteen Candles because I really enjoyed Anthony Michael Hall’s character.  So I don’t see myself as someone who comes after Hughes and only after Hughes, but as I re-watched his films and learned about his life, there started to be more connections between my protagonist’s Zuke’s story and the stories John Hughes told.  I think one of the most significant might be the Midwestern/Chicago area setting.  Hughes lived in Chicago and he set a lot of his stuff in fictional Shermer, Illinois.  So as I wrote and continued to learn about Hughes, I was able to–I think–put in a lot of little “treats” in the book for those who know their Hughes.  For example, my character Pee Wee names his pet after the big brother in Weird Science, Chet.

 

William Torgerson Weird Science John Hughes Chet Kelly LeBrock

"Chet" as transformed in Weird Science