Friday, October 29, 2010


At sixty years of age Daniel Allman had committed the one sin he never thought he would; he had not died in his youth. To say he wouldn't live past forty had been a popular saying back in his day, (or was it thirty?)but he had really believed it. He had always done the kinds of things that would bring an early death, but he had somehow avoided it. Now, as he had heard someone say, "If I had known I was going to live so long, I'd have taken better care of himself." He had lived hard then and was paying the price now.

Courting death then had been his way of staving off madness, a family malady, but now - being no longer young - he tried to stave off that madness and his quite literal temptation to suicide, by way of his writing.

He wrote a weekly column about literature, surprisingly popular, for a metropolitan newspaper, had had reviews and articles published in the 'New Yorker' and others, but he feared writing his Great American Novel because he might fail and kill himself at last. It was touch and go for him - any day could be the end of his sanity and his life. He had a long history of many events and a nearly photographic recall of things literary. He had the ability to write interesting tidbits about books and authors. These were things he knew he could write. His 'portraits' as he called them. But there was no guarantee that he could actually write fiction of great caliber.

So it was with great apprehension he sat down and began to write what was then and would remain his secret work - his secret novel.

Copyright 2010 by James D. Sanderson. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I just finished my nonfiction book 'American Masters'.

‘American Masters’ (89,000 words) is a book for those who love books. It is a popular history of American literature from its beginning in our colonial period (Cotton Mather and Benjamin Franklin), through our most recent Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison. It is written in a sweeping narrative style (with a hidden first person narrator), drawing from the lives of the authors, their stories, their work, and interesting anecdotes from their own experiences. (All properly researched and referenced). Did you know, for instance, that at age six Flannery O’Connor taught a chicken to walk backward. It was filmed by the Pathé News and was shown across the country. Little Mary O’Connor was on film helping with her chicken. She claimed that everything else in her life was anti-climactic. This is only one of the many such stories that have turned up in the research of this book. (And it has been just a plain ol’ hoot to write, if you’ll allow me that levity).
The study of literature has somehow become divided up by particular authors or poets, or various ‘movements’, or by their individual works. Very little has been done to mine the vast interconnectedness of the literary tradition from its earliest days until the present. Yet, not surprisingly, these authors knew each other, or had read each other, or had written reviews about each other, or had made comments about each other, and nothing was ever written in a vacuum as it sometimes appears to us today. Readers, (myself included), have approached the whole affair of reading our masters as a hit and miss matter, which seems to be more often miss than hit.
‘American Masters’ has a strong narrative insistence which does not sacrifice itself by use of obvious fictional techniques. Rather, it is written on several levels, giving it a deep tidal flow that is not fully appreciated by only a surface reading. Beyond the simple chronological reading there is a deeper symbolic level; and a deeper still mythic historicity of dreams, fears, imaginings; and a deeper still labyrinthine level of games, puzzles, codes, word play, and so on. (Which could be appreciated by the likes of Nabokov.)

You will find that my serial novel 'Double Portrait' will contain many of the same devices, as well as being a good read. I'll let you know. Soon. Very soon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. So, having said that, I am going to try something very different very soon.

It's not like I haven't been doing anything this past year. I have finished a screenplay 'The Angelic Mysteries', 118 pages. It is an action thriller with a love story naturally woven in based on my 1995 novel by the same name. (There are still some copies floating around out there on the 'used' shelves. Yes, that is the very same novel my agent said was going to bring in seven figures. (I had to count on my fingers. Yes, that's $millions!) Well, that didn't happen then but maybe it will now.

'The Angelic Mysteries' is 'Terminator' meets 'City of Angels'. When sensual young bachelor Daniel Allman leaves home to travel in Europe he does not expect to meet Sarah, a woman who believes herself to be an angel. Intrigued by her beauty and mysterious ways, he invites her to travel along with him. Only too late does he discover she is being pursued by a monstrous psychopath known as Toombs. Only by transcending his own selfish desires and falling in love with this 'spiritual' part of his life will he be able to destroy the evil anti-angel that dogs them.

I am currently finishing up a literary novel, 'The Struggle' - the story of a man who must give up everything in the attempt to liberate his country through nonviolent direct action - and a screenplay based on that novel. I am also working on yet another screenplay that I'll say more about as it gets closer to completion.

Soon, very soon, we will begin a literary adventure that will explore the life of Daniel Allman in his later years. He writes a column for a metropolitan newspaper. His subject. You guessed it. Literature.

How well read are you really? You will have to be ready to delve into the mysteries of great literature, and great writers - their lives and ideas about writing - in order to fully appreciate this serialized novel that will be offered right here. Soon. Very soon.

I have disabled comments from any and all except members of this blog. I was getting way too many weird comments from all over the blogosphere. I'd rather know who it is I'm corresponding with. Hope that works for you.

Keep reading and writing,