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作者:白马书院 提交日期:2008-5-29 22:54:00 正常 | 分类: | 访问量:462


                    Little Pieces of Los Angeles, Done His Way

              By JANET MASLIN
Published: May 12, 2008
He wrote a book but it was bad, liar bad, faker bad, it got him in trouble. A million little pieces. It was the name of the book. It was also how hard he got hit. He had to sit there on the couch. Everybody saw. The television celebrity book club woman got mad, she let him have it. He had to sit there on the couch. He squirmed, he cringed. Everybody watched, everybody blamed him. Then it was over. Then he was gone.
He waited. They forgot about him. He tried again.
In the 1930s Los Angeles is the film capital of the world. F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of “The Great Gatsby,” comes to live there. He tries to write movies. He fails. He writes a Hollywood novel, “The Last Tycoon.” He says there are no second acts in American lives. He turns out to be wrong.
The million little pieces guy was called James Frey. He got a second act. He got another chance. Look what he did with it. He stepped up to the plate and hit one out of the park. No more lying, no more melodrama, still run-on sentences still funny punctuation but so what. He became a furiously good storyteller this time.
He wrote a big book. He wrote about a city. Los Angeles. He made up a lot of characters, high low rich poor lucky not, every kind, the book threw them together. It was random but smart. Every now and then he would pause the story, switch to the present tense and throw in an urban fact.
Like this: The Los Angeles area has a museum devoted to the banana.
James Frey loved Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski and maybe even John Fante but he didn’t sound like them, he didn’t sound beat or cool. He sounded hopeful. He sounded unguarded, tender. He quit posturing. He stopped romanticizing squalor. He found new energy. He sounded more like Carl Sandburg in love hate thrall with great maddening Chicago than like the usual tough gritty moody chronicler of California’s broken dreams.
He wrote about people who were drawn to Los Angeles and who they were, why they came, what they wanted, whether they got it, if they didn’t get that, then what they got instead. He looked into their hearts. But he didn’t get sloppy, not maudlin. He just made up characters and wrote as if he cared about them desperately. Bright Shiny Morning. A new chance, real or illusory, that’s what they all wanted. Bright Shiny Morning. So he made that the name of the book.
His publisher called it a dazzling tour de force. (Look, somebody had to, if only to create a comeback drama.) But that wasn’t so far off the mark. Even if his publisher maybe could have asked more questions about what the banana museum had to do with anything.
Still, even the stray facts had their artistry. They helped turn this book into the captivating urban kaleidoscope that, most recently, Charles Bock’s “Beautiful Children” was supposed to be. Bright Shiny Morning was mobile and alert to layout, tempo, different voices, how words looked on the page. Different visual styles suited different characters. Some got long litanies of brisk, sharp dialogue. Others got dense, descriptive prose.
Even the one-sentence page had its use here.
The language got sleek and arch when the book described two superstars, Amberton and Casey. A man and a woman, married to each other, best friends both gay no secrets. Everything perfect, supposed to look that way. Prop children. Money houses cars personal assistants nannies yoga teacher everything perfect. Wearing vicuña. Eating ahi tuna. Still Amberton wanted more, got a crush on an ex-football player. All this captured with elegance, with wit. Movie stars. Not so original, so what? So what if the book always made poor people humble decent better than rich spoiled profligate ones?
So there were Maddie and Dylan, young and in love, eking out a living and traveling on a moped, he eventually got a job as a caddy she as a clerk. The book loved them. There was Old Man Joe, homeless guy, living in a bathroom in Venice, Calif., somehow stronger more decent more heroic than the star who plays movie heroes.
And Esperanza, Mexican-American, working as a maid for an old white lady so mean she threw her morning cup of coffee if Esperanza didn’t make it right. But the old lady turned out to have a son. He liked Esperanza, liked treating her like a human being. Maybe he liked needling his mother even better.
There were easy ways a cynical, sentimental crybaby like the million little pieces guy could have told Esperanza’s part of the story. Crisis, violence, redemption, whatever: that’s what he knew about. That’s what he wrote about. That’s what he passed off as nonfiction. That’s why he sounded as if he’d seen too many lousy movies.
So the Bright Shiny Morning guy did it differently. He let the little vignette play out against a big, gaudy, dangerous Southern California backdrop, full of drug-dealing gang-bangers, full of schemers, phonies, rich with a history of robber barons, all of it listed here, all of it stacking the deck against any generosity of spirit. The son steals the maid’s virtue? Been there, read that. They plot against the old lady? Been there too. This novelist wanted something else for Esperanza: he wanted to honor her, fall in love with her, do it with startling sincerity. He wanted to save her.
And it worked.
That’s how James Frey saved himself.
               洛杉矶的城市碎片,用他的方式缀就
                                                                                 珍妮特 玛斯琳
 他在韬光养晦,尽管人们已经开始淡忘他了,他还是再次开始了尝试。
 20世纪30年代的洛杉矶可谓是世界之都。《了不起的盖茨比》的作者司各特•菲茨杰拉德,也来到这里定居。开始他尝试着写电影剧本,没有成功。后来,他写了一部长篇--《最后的巨头》,断言不会再有地道美国人生活的辉煌写照了。看来,他错了。
 《百万碎片》的作者就是詹姆士•弗雷。他续写了辉煌,做了尝试。让我们看看他是如何搞定的,他进了本垒板,把球击出了球场。再没有谎言,也没有情节,仍然是连写句,标点怪怪,那又怎么样?这次,詹姆士•弗雷可真是名副其实的大手笔了。
 他写的是鸿篇巨著,写了洛杉矶整座城市。他塑造了众多的人物形象,达官显贵,平民百姓,巨富商贾,穷人乞丐,幸运之星,倒霉家伙,各色人等,应有尽有,小说把他们揉合在一起,凌乱却很巧妙。时不时地,他停下故事,插入一些当代因素,注入一些现代因子。
 比如:洛杉矶有一座香蕉主题博物馆。
 詹姆士•弗雷欣赏杰克•凯鲁亚克和查尔斯•布考斯基的写作风格,甚至喜欢约翰•芬提的风格,但是他可和他们不一样,不像他们那么酷派。詹姆士•弗雷乐观,率性,而且敏感。这次他摒弃了做作的文风,没有再去美化污秽之物。他找到了新的活力点。说他是个脾气暴躁不屈不挠的加利福尼亚碎梦拾荒者(记事者),倒不如说他更像卡尔•桑德堡,一个对疯狂芝加哥有挥之不去的爱恨交加之情结的诗人。
 他描写了奔着洛杉矶这座城市而来的人们,他们是谁,为什么来这里,他们需要什么,是否得到了需要的东西。如果愿望没有满足,他们用什么来补偿。他叩开了这些人物形象的心扉,审视了他们的心灵深处。但詹姆士•弗雷并没有因此而多愁善感,也没有伤感。他似乎非常在乎这些角色,因此,他塑造了他们,写出了他们的故事。新的尝试,真实的,还有虚幻的,小说里角色们的愿望得以体现,于是他给自己的作品起了个名字--《阳光明媚的早晨》。
 出版商称这部小说是绝笔(瞧,仅仅为了多拉些回头看客,某些人就得这样做),这还不算离谱,这些出版商出版这部小说的时候,本来应该再问更多的问题的,诸如在小说里香蕉主题博物馆和什么到底有什么样的关联?
 小说里零散的因素也具有艺术性,他们构建了一幅绚丽的城市万花筒,犹如查尔斯•博克在其最近作品《美丽的孩子们》(我译《花样年华》)绘就的画卷。《阳光明媚的早晨》这部小说,谋篇布局,剧情节奏,心声吐露,页面字感,宛若行云流水,且又字斟句酌。人物形象和剧情匹配得当。有的角色说话爽快,尖酸,却啰哩罗嗦,而有些角色说话晦涩难懂,绘声绘色,出口成章。
 即使一个句子的故事在这部小说里也能派上用场。
 在描写阿姆伯顿和凯茜两个人物的时候,作家的语言流畅又不失诙谐。夫妻俩,都是影视明星,婚后“恩爱有加”,实际上都是同性恋者。在外人眼里,一切都是那么完美,也应该这样,孩子乖乖,钞票大把,车房俱全,私人助理,保姆佣人,瑜伽休闲,家庭教师,一应俱全。穿小羊驼,吃甜味薄烧鲔鱼片。然而阿姆伯顿并没有满足这些,他迷恋上一个了前足球队员。作者的写作技法很优雅,也流淌着智慧。影视明星的题材,是老掉牙的故事了,作者照样写得很精彩。倘若作者把卑微的小人物描写得比骄奢淫逸的名人们更容易满足,更显谦逊,这部小说又会是什么样呢?
 麦迪和迪伦,早恋私奔,小家庭安在了助力车上,精打细算地过日子,麦迪好不容易找到了一份球童的工作,迪伦找到了一份秘书的工作。作者对他们情有独钟,笔下有情。周老爹,流浪汉,家就在卡迪夫市威尼斯城的一间盥洗室里,就是这样一个小角色,和影视里扮演英雄的影星比起来,坚强,正派,勇敢。
 埃斯坡兰花,美墨混血儿,给一位白人老太太做佣人。老太太脾气很暴躁,如果早晨埃斯坡兰花冲的咖啡不合口味,她会连杯带咖啡直接掼向埃斯坡兰花。但是老太太的儿子可不这样,他喜欢埃斯坡兰花,把她当人看。也许他通过这种方式,去刺激他母亲要人性向善。
 写了《百万碎片》的詹姆士•弗雷,有些愤世嫉俗,易于感情用事,本来可以用更轻松的方式来述说埃斯坡兰花这部分故事的。危机,暴力,赎罪,他知道什么,就写什么。这就是他笔下的小说,是他声称的写实作品,也是为什么他自称看过太多的垃圾电影的原因。
 詹姆士•弗雷写《阳光明媚的早晨》时,变换了笔法。透过作品,作者展现了恢弘,绚丽,危机四伏的加州南部城市场景。从事毒品买卖的黑帮成员,阴险狡诈之辈,骗子,靠盗抢起家而又摇身一变成了成功人士的流氓大亨,小说把他们的老底一一揭露出来,都是些洗牌就能作弊的家伙,哪有丁点仁慈之心?老太太的儿子得到了埃斯坡兰花么?小说里面有答案。他们是否联手对付老太太了?读小说就知道了。作家送给埃斯坡兰花一些特殊的礼物:他想尊重她,爱她,赤诚地。总之,他想拯救她。
                                                                             2008年5月12日

#日志日期:2008-5-29 星期四(Thursday) 晴

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