I’m revisiting Timely Persuasion 12 years after releasing it / 17 years after writing it / 6000+ days since I jokingly told Jon Mack “maybe I’ll write a book…” with a new round of fresh eyed commentary. Today’s look at yesterday’s chapters is brought to you by Shel Silverstein, Phoenix Mourning, and Katy Keene.
25 Minutes to Go
My recollection is the switch to present tense in the second paragraph was intentional, but feels misguided here. (Much like the other time I noticed it…) Starting present tense and keeping it until the transition to the lottery numbers is how I’d redo it today. (I’d also start with the red liquid image.)
That list is all manifestations of time travel, not building blocks. (It’s also true…)
Across Twenty-Six Winters
The “was it all a dream?” fakeout would work better if it was less overt.
If there’s a better illustration of subliminal mental time travel than Jeff Tweedy using so much post-September 11th imagery when writing Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in a pre-September 11th world, please let me know.
The above line ties together the 9/11 theme with the aborted inspiration for the Local Boy section. It also has me picturing the doctor at the hospital as the 2020 equivalent of Jeff Tweedy. I’m wondering if he ever looked different to my younger mind’s eye.
“You won’t be hearing Won One on twofer Tuesday” is cool, but feels like a missed opportunity for a “One Hit Wonder Won One” bit of wordplay.
Drifting into second person is a great change of pace for the conclusion given the circumstances, but I wish younger me stuck with it throughout this chapter vs bouncing around.
I completely forgot about him seeing Nelson and the redheaded girl together! Another bit of sequel bait…
The one line M. Ward blink was definitely sequel bait.
Full disclosure: Nowadays I’m not a fan of the “and that’s how this book you’re reading was written” endings to novels, but it worked better here than I was anticipating from memory as an explanation for the endless namelessness.
“Hate needs a name” is one of my favorite lines from this book. And according to Google, I’m the only one to have ever used it.
The most logical reason for my past self to have decided against the “Is she really going out with him?” opening line would be how it eliminates this bookend.
Exactly who is looking out for the sister as the last line infers? Not necessarily who you think…
In the original commentary, I cryptically wrote: “Without giving too much of my intent away I’ll just say this: I definitely know how the story ends, but I don’t know if this is actually the end of the story or not since there might be a sequel.”
Since I’ve mentioned “if there’s a sequel” so much in this new commentary — and 12 years later there still isn’t one — I might as well wrap things up with an overview.
At the end of the saga the sister marries Nelson. If there is never a sequel, Nelson is the husband here. The narrator stopped hating him / stopped meddling, and they lived happily ever after.
If there is a sequel, the loose plan was:
-She has a different husband in this epilogue. Book 2 starts with “Prologue (Reprise)” verbatim.
-The first proper chapter (Let’s call it 27 Jennifers…) has the old man show up and give a variant of the Doc Brown “something has to be done about her kids!” speech, kicking off another time travel adventure.
-Remember how Nelson used to be an alcoholic? Remember how alcohol makes it easier for a mental time traveler to take over their past body? Remember how Nelson is “trapped” in the past? Add it up 🙂
At least that’s the way I’ve thought the sequel should go. But I don’t know if I’ll ever write it.
That said, I mentioned at the end of 24 Hour Party People that this 2020 hindsight exercise inspired me to think up a companion piece that’s not quite a sequel but could be fun. I plan on taking a run at it during NaNoWriMo this year.
Until I figure out how this plays out, I’ll be coy like my 2008 self was. Here’s a hint:
Check out the original 2008 commentary for these chapters: