– Long(ish) Pieces
Meeting the Moon People
This is a satirical look at the first page of a book called ‘Moon People‘, written and self-published (uhoh, are those alarm bells I hear…?) by Dale M. Courtney, an author from whom we could all learn a great deal…
Firstly, let us examine the three words “THIS STORY BEGINS…” This is an interesting meta-reference that provides the first clue to the fact that beneath a deceptively simple outer layer, there is a fearless daring at work here that is not afraid to delve into complex literary devices, and possibly sets the stage for further journeys beyond the Fourth Wall later in the novel. In short, through these three words, the author is stating that there is no limit to where the story may or may not go. This bombasity and dynamism is complimented by the use of full-caps, which also serve to jolt the reader into the heightened state of awareness necessary to be able to deal with the unfolding events. ‘THIS STORY BEGINS – But are you ready?’
And yet, we are only beginning to scratch the surface, even of these three words. Note that the chapter is called ‘The Beginning of The End.’ This opens up a web of possibilities that is deliberately left open to interpretation. At this stage we can only guess at the complexity of the author’s plans, but by examining how he or she chooses to continue the sentence, it is possible to glean a glimpse at some of the intricacies in store.
Look at the choice of words: ‘…on a Beautiful day’. Demonstrating what might be seen by traditionalists as blatant disregard for the rules of grammar, he lets his audience know that the day embodied more than the simple, mundane concept of ‘beauty’. The capitalisation of the adjective sparks the exciting possibility of something more special than the beauty that we encounter in everyday life. The author is, if you will, offering to take us into a world beyond our own comprehension.
This method of using capitals on words other than nouns is also employed to establish the character of David Braymer as playing an important role in the story (“With a man”) – and in an early display of his true artistic capabilities, the author does away with the need for what would, under the direction of a lesser writer, be a tedious back story and exposition, by the simple act of capitalising, and thus emphasising, the ‘S’ in ‘single’. From this it is possible to derive the fragile psychological state of the character, and one can postulate upon the period of time and suffering in which he has languished in this condition. It is a modest and subtle technique, but one which only serves to add to the unique voice the author has begun to craft within the reader’s mind.
‘Come With me’, he is saying, as he guides us into his literary revolution, ‘and do not be afraid.’
Indeed, such reassurances are welcome as he leads the reader further towards the first example of the ‘alternative world’, mentioning Braymer’s profession as an ‘astrology’ at the school. To ensure the readership can engage with his creations, the author uses a word that has familiar roots in our own language, allowing us, if not to divine, then at least speculate as to the possible nature of Braymer’s work.
Of course, an equal amount of depth is layered into the character’s social life, and even at this early stage in the novel it is clear that seeds of tension and possible conflict between individuals are being sown, particularly by the introduction of the ‘young lady by the name of Cheryl Baskel’.
‘Everyone always gathers at her place’, the author tells us. There are so many levels of possible interpretations of this statement that it may be appropriate to dub it a ‘multi-entendre’. We can only guess as to the nature of those who might ‘gather’ at her ‘place’, although the author leaves us further hints by roguishly mentioning that ‘she really decks the place out’.
It is interesting to note that, after effortlessly lulling the reader into a false sense of security with these realistic, contemporary-sounding characters, the sense of normality is shattered so quickly, and brutally, by the casual way in which it is announced that ‘This is also the year 2048’. The author plays with the readers’ expectations by, rather than creating a setting that can be identified as the future and using the environment to reveal the date diegetically, simply telling them, almost as an aside. It is highly possible that the intention is for the reader to almost miss this statement, before being forced into a shocked double-take to see if what they just read was really true.
Clearly then, not content with revolutionising the way in which spelling, punctuation and grammar are approached in popular literature, the author also takes it upon himself to redefine how suspense is approached in storytelling. This first page is brought to a dizzying conclusion with fast-paced revelations of U.F.O.’s, Halloween, Braymer’s past, terrifyingly vague ‘unusual events’ (the author displaying a mastery of horror techniques, and a knowledge that true horror lies in the unknown), ending with the reminder that Halloween is a notoriously suspicious time of year. While he is quick to disorientate and shock his readers, it is reassuring to note that the author is also conscientious enough to ensure that nobody is left behind when it comes to understanding the plot’s more subtle nuances.