Monday, 23 February 2009

Reading Reflections – The Trailer Park, by Wizard

I had the in-laws to stay this weekend and since Jr spent of the time he’d normally spend bugging me, bugging them, it gave me some genuine free time. I mean, this is a real novelty, so how to take advantage of it?

I did a little bit of writing-not a lot, not enough really, but a little. And I spent a lot of time reading. Reading one series of stories in particular. Wizard’s “The Trailer Park.”

It’s one of those “epics” you get on StoriesOnline.net. You know the kind I mean – they go on forever. 260 chapters so far and there’s still one more ‘book’ to go. (I think. Wizard says there will be six years and so far we’re up to year five, but it’s in two parts.)

Thankfully, most of the chapters are quite short, and it’s a really easy, light read. Still, it’s a bit of an undertaking starting something like this. and I tell you, I’m glad I’m not the one writing it.

It’s your typical SOL kind of thing. It’s told in the first person and the narrator is twelve when the story starts. Naturally, he has more sex at that age than us ‘grown-ups’ would like to think that kids of that age are having. The story progresses through his school years and is full of light-hearted teenage angst (light-hearted to me, at least since I’m not living through it).

But it’s what I’d call a ‘slice of life’ story. There isn’t a real plot driving the story on. Neither is there a real conflict other than a teenage boy trying to get his rocks off (and succeeding most of the time). That’s not to say it’s a bad story. It’s not. I’m really quite enjoying it. And I have to say, I' admire Wizard for sticking with it.

You see, the trouble with a lot of these “epic” slice of life stories is that because there’s no real conflict or plot, just a series of events one after the other which could almost be short stories themselves, there’s no scope for an ending. You need a plot to have and ending and you need an ending to have a satisfying, rounded story. It’s a bit like the difference between soap-opera and movies/one off drama. The movie or drama has a beginning, middle and end. The soap just goes on and on and on….

Sure, the soap will have mini-stories woven into it and each of those will have an ending of sorts – more of a pay-off really than an ending – but it’s still not as satisfying as a movie like, say, The Shawshank Redemption, which has a very definite ending point.

“The Trailer Park” reminds me of Frank Downey’s “Rewind” – another slice of life story with a teenage narrator having more sex, younger, than most of the rest of us ever did. Frank hasn’t finished “Rewind”. It’s been sitting unfinished for two years. and when you read it, you can see why. I got the distinct impression that Frank didn’t know where the story was going or how to draw it to a close. Which is unusual for Frank. Out of 32 stories on SOL he only has three which are unfinished and inactive. and some of the others are which you could call ‘epic’ too.

I hope Wizard can stick it out, and bring the story of Tony, Tami and Robbie to a satisfying end. JK Rowling managed to write a seven book epic and bring that to a close, so why not Wizard. Of course, it was clear from day one how Harry Potter would end. We all knew there had to be a showdown with Big Bad Voldy at the final whistle. And “The Trailer Park” doesn’t have that clear goal that I can see. Yet. But I am only on year 3. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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