Book 1

Here’s my Masters Project. It’s a short novel. 147 pages, mostly single-spaced.

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Masters Defense from May 13, 2011:

For my MA Project, I wrote a short novel. It’s 148 pages, mostly single-spaced. I say mostly single-spaced because towards the end of the project the fragments transform into poetry. The project is semi-autobiographical. I write, for the most part, fragments in time that are representative of my own memories as best as I can remember them, as best as I can express them, articulate them while trying to retain the authenticity of the moments written about and the processes of writing themselves . There are explanatory footnotes when needed. The vast majority of the fragments in time are dated by year, sometimes they are dated by year and month. There are jumps in time and jumps in location. There are breaks within the fragments where I interject as the Enrique-writer writing on the Enrique-character, or just reflections and observations on the Project itself. There are conversations in Spanish with parents– for those conversations I provide translation. My ultimate Goal with the project is to write fragments that create a mosaic of Being, of what it is to be Alive, well, at least for the Enrique-character. I’ll provide more detail on this as I describe what actually transpires in the fragments, vignettes, and poetry.

The novel begins at home, In Santa Ana. The first few pages give a feeling for what a typical day is. The mother-character exists as someone who is constantly forgetting, constantly misunderstanding, constantly not comprehending things and objects and people around her. She asks Enrique what day it is, what time it is, when her doctor visits are, what day it is tomorrow, and ultimately exists as the person constantly questioning the very basic things of existence, of Being. Her grasp on reality is tentative and drifts as the years pass. There are fragments in time that detail a past where the mother-character is more certain, more together– that is, mentally competent. Those are the years that have an almost lyrical air, the fragments that come later in the project, the ones reflecting on Times past, times only remembered, and seemingly, only preserved by the very act of writing, by the very project itself.

The Other main character is Mumbles. Mumbles is the Enrique-character’s Older brother.  The older brother’s real name is Robert, but the Enrique-character nicknames him Mumbles because the Older-Brother is always Mumbling to himself, speaking to himself, sometimes grunting, heaving like an animal. So like an animal, he’s named. That name being Mumbles. Mumbles is schizophrenic, OCD, and has other health problems. However, even before the older-brother’s problems really became worse, and he fell into a darker realm of being, Mumbles had always been an asshole.

After the scenes at home, the Project jumps out into the rest of the world. The Enrique-character tries to find meaning, something worthwhile. One fragment has him speaking with his Sister at a fast-food restaurant trying to better understand Mumbles and issues of family. Another fragment has Enrique, this fragment dated 2003, driving to Los Angeles with a friend to attend a Political meeting. Another fragment, dated April 2007, has the Enrique-character at a party, drinking, reciting poetry for his then-lady-friend. And, still, another Fragment, dated February 2011, has the Enrique-character and one of his buddies tracking down street art in Los Angeles while talking about writing and music. Other fragments concern other friends and other art forms and crafts, such as Comedy, Drama, Theory. Essentially, after the initial narrative jump from home, there are explorations for meaning and substance in Politics, Love, Romance, Music, Street Art, Comedy, Drama, Theory and Philosophy. For the Enrique-character, he ultimately finds, and this part was probably the most difficult to write, love. And so, that realm of the mystical, perhaps that realm of wonder, of meaning galore, was, for however brief a period, Experienced. And subsequently that experience also ended. The section of the project that breaks into poetry is that Time and Being where the Enrique-character feels he has experienced a meaningful understanding and connection. That’s where poetry and lyricism reigns. Where it conquers. The end of the project ends with the Enrique-character hanging out with his high school friends. They sit in the garage as they console him. They assure him he doesn’t need her. And that’s where the project Ends. Though, perhaps, if I had been more clairvoyant, I would have had the project end with this very presentation, this very defense, and this very sentence…

[I then read the first few pages of my project.]