A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

Saturday, July 5, 2014

On the Virtue, Now and Then, of Being Unreasonable

Charlotte Kills, the new Boss MacTavin novel, pretty much expresses my bleak thoughts on the city of Charlotte. I have a handful of warm memories of my seven years in the city. A favorite brother's children live here. There are places and people I treasure. But my sense of the place has been shaped by loneliness, misery and grief.

Charlotte for me will be:
--The racial beating at the transit center and looking up to see the bus driver's victory dance while passengers looked on and jeered as I bled...
--Getting set up and fired from Sprint on a trumped-up charge because my sales were slow....
--The long and brutal hunt for work while I faced eviction and half-starved with my cat....
--The night-shift job that rescued me but then became my enslavement--the boss blocking me from transferring or finding other work...
--Seven years without a date because of my lowly employment...
--Seven years of rejection for any meaningful job...

No, I don't feel kindly to Charlotte. But I like novels and movies with feeling and soul. And I don't not like Taxi Driver because it focused on the hellish side of New York. And though I like what I've seen of LA, I also revere Chinatown--which went a good deal further than just show the city's underbelly--it showed a city rotten with corruption, through and throw.

Martin Scorcese and Robert DeNiro went on to give us the far more romantic New York, New York. And to the best of my knowledge Robert Towne still lives in LA. But this doesn't detract from the power and the truth of Chinatown.

And if it's good for artists to be reminded that their passions are subjective, it's also good for readers and viewers to know that so are their own passions. Charlotte is heaven for many, I know. But Charlotte is also:

--The customer who broke into tears this past week. The town is killing him, he said. And after twelve years of failure and struggle, he's moving West...out to LA...to roll the dice just one more time.
--The restaurant workers who've heard of my upcoming move and have begged me to tell them if they too have hope of not having to work 60 hours a week for $2 or $3 an hour, plus tips.

No city is for everyone. Like the Naked City, Charlotte has millions of stories. I've written one that's far darker than most, grounded in--but not based on--my personal experience. (What's the difference? My own negative take on the city will be apparent to readers. No sweat. But this is a work of fiction with a first-person narrator--and Boss's quips and opinions are in character for him. I don't necessarily share them.)

The little book's called Charlotte Kills. And I'm not selling anything but the truth as I see it...and some good dark fun:


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