how to read a music video

so the writing for giants has been going quite well as of late. i think i am slowly seeing success in terms of how the second half of the book is coming along. as i have mentioned before in previous posts, my intent with the second half of giants was for it to have as little dialogue as possible, with the majority of it being played out through the physical interaction between characters, their actions, and music. this is influenced by the movie easy rider. to this day, that movie remains a huge influence on me.

that movie had very little in the way of dialogue (most of it incoherent), with long stretches of video played to rock music. it was basically a two hour music video, which i thought was great, because it got the message across without any real dialogue. now doing this in a book is very tricky, because you don't want to rely on music for mood or emotional points because if the reader hasn't heard the song, it won't mean anything to them.

so what i've done is write it traditionally, and injected songs in virtually every major scene; just a mention of them, and nothing more. the result, hopefully, is that the reader understands there is a specific song playing, yet that's not the focus. it's sort of like mentioning a certain character is wearing a red obey shirt. it doesn't really matter if you know what the brand obey is. all that matters is that it's a red shirt. it's a detail, but it's not necessary. however, if the reader does know the brand, then hopefully it will give an added benefit to their experience. same way with listing a song. ultimately, it would be kind of cool if the reader went and sought those songs out.

so far, i have manged several dozen pages without any dialogue and it reads great i think. a lot of this second half of the book is based on some of the roadtrips that i have done. a lot of it is a mediation on travelling in general, and how seeing one's own country for the first time can be quite an eye opening experience. there is one particular sequence taken from my last trip across canada that involves the time my friends and i were trying to find a campsite late at night, somewhere in ontario. we were on a dirt road and we couldn't see a single thing. suddenly, a small orange pylon appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the road. we decided to drive on the left side of it, and it turned out to be the fortunate choice, because as we went around, we noticed that on the right side of the pylon, there was no road. the whole right side had crumbled away leaving a wide, gaping cliff. needless to say, it was a bit harrowing. here's an actual picture of the road from inside the car just minutes before we saw the pylon. as you can tell, we couldn't see anything. you can click on the picture for a better look, but it doesn't illuminate much:

the following are a couple musical exerpts from the book. they're not in any particular sequence, but the randomness of it is sort of the point, and i think it still fits together. (these are just first drafts. i haven't even done a spellcheck on them yet). the songs i have chosen here are just songs that i have either a) listened to on a roadtrip or b) was listening to while i was writing the scene.

- - -

The great lakes are big. This is an understatement. John had never realized just how large these lakes actually were. They seem to be as large as the prairies are flat; Just kilometres and kilometres of shoreline, with everything seeming so calm on the surface, with a whole world thriving underneath. It’s amazing how nothing seems real until you see it for yourself. Pictures or photos or images on a television screen… nothing does justice until you’ve witnessed it with your own eyes. Birth doesn’t happened with eyes wide open, but John can’t help but wonder if people ever open their eyes. Do they ever really see what they’re looking at? Is that even a lake out there, or is it fleeting? Is it really an old memory that will soon evaporate into a dust bowl? Is there time to say goodbye? Wave goodbye to the nice lake, John. Wave goodbye.

And it took 28 years to notice this. To see this. To open his eyes to this. Sometimes the distance between time and life can be cruel. How did he go so long without realizing the greatness of these lakes? It’s even in their goddamned names. It’s funny, but most people believe their lives are going nowhere when in reality the truth is colder and harsher than that. The truth is, most people live their lives at the speed of light. Blink. And it’s over.

John turns from the lake shimmering in the rearview mirror to Elton, who’s noticeably shivering next to him. His got his arms folded across his chest, his hands tucked into his armpits. It’s actually quite warm out, with even the wind wisp of burning warmth to it. He says something to himself and takes off his sunglasses before putting them back on. It’s at that moment that John wishes he could do something for him. Anything. If only. But he buries it, like he’s buried other feelings of helplessness. The time will come, he knew. And so he focuses on the beauty of the world as The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Weight of the World chimes on the radio.

- - -

Off the beaten path. In the middle of nowhere. On the road to nowhere. It’s actually quite frightening how much the darkness can swallow up. Without even the starlight, the dirt road before them seems to lead right to absolutely nowhere. The headlights shoot out several feet only to be taken in by the vacancy. There are particles of dirt floating in front of the headlights and every once in a while a large insect would fly out from nowhere, only to disappear into the blackness. It’s almost like they’re driving right into a black hole that’s swallowing them whole. Deepthroat. And the road seems to narrow, with the sides of the forest closing in on them. The branches are now scratching along the sides of the car, smacking their leaves up against the windows.

Elton glances at John but doesn’t say anything. This is John’s trek. His voyage. It’s dangerous to have expectations. Especially great expectations. So Elton leans back and listens to the Nick Drake’s Horn which rings out hollow one guitar instrumental tunes. You wouldn’t think that anything could get accomplished in the blackness, but there’s a sign up ahead. Not a sign, but a small orange pylon with reflective tape that acts as a sign that gets closer and closer until John slows the car down and in the split second, decides to go to the left side, rather than the right of the pylon.

As they pull up slowly to the left side of the marker, Elton rolls down the window and puts his head out, feeling nothing but deep air and emptiness. It is then that he notices the road has disappeared. They stop the car. Elton opens the door and puts a foot out tentatively but there is no ground where there should be ground. He takes the flashlight that John hands him and peers over the side with it. The light reveals the crumbled road, or what’s left of it. The whole right half of the road, the side where the pylon was acting as a divider, had completely crumbled and broken away so that there was nothing but a gaping cliff. That’s when the howling comes in; not from any animal, but from through the trees. From the wind. Like an abyss.