Friday, January 20, 2006

Harry Whittington's A Night for Screaming

Richard Moore's article about Ralph Dennis will appear here soon. He wanted to update certain portions.

A Night for Screaming

In virtually every interview that Harry Whittington gave, he talked about the time in his career when he really discovered how to plot. Writers being writers, they love epiphanies because of the high dramatic content.

Last snowy night I read Harry's A Night for Screaming and I tell ya true, he indeed learned how to plot. Night is the one about the drifter wanted for murder and on the lam who finds himself hiding out in a work camp that is one half volunteer workers and one half prisoners from the county jail. There is the fetching wife of the man who owns and runs the camp, to be sure. And there is the enigmatic friendly boss who seeems to befriend our fugitive. Day Keene wrote this book four times and four different ways, most successfuly in Sleep With The Devil, in which the work camp is an Amish-like farm.

The book is pure Harry. The damned thing is almost on fire, it reads so fast. My only disappointment is that the waitress in the first chapter never reappears. Interesting quick sketch of her.

There are three midle chapters that sort of drag for me. Nothing wrong with them but nothing remarkable with them either. Then we come to the third act. You want twists and turns? You want to be knocked out of your seat not three but four times in about the last forty pages? You want to change your politics and take up with a chick with Hooters and run away to the sunny beaches of Indiana and hold yur breath for six days? Well, this slender little novel with one of the truly classic cover paintings will make you do all those crazy things and more. I promise.

This is an example of taking a familiar set-up and turning it into a novel you've never read before. I'm in the process of outlining it now. I want to see how he did it.


Blogger Harry said...

Every time I stop by here you make me buy another book... :)

7:14 AM  

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