A few weeks back I met with my agent and her interns to discuss my book, Grotesque. One of those interns told me that the manuscript reminded her of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and suggested I read it for inspiration.
So I did.
Boy, let me tell you, I was way off base about how this book was going to play out. Turns out the various movies about Frankenstein and his monster may have exaggerated certain details. As a result, this was what I thought the plot of Frankenstein was:
And here I thought Mel Brooks’ interpretation of the classic tale was super accurate! (If you haven’t seen Young Frankenstein, you’re missing out). But no. As it turns out, the plot of Frankenstein actually goes something like this:
That being said, what did I think of the book? Well, it definitely resonated with me. The subject matter Shelley touches upon is exactly what I want to do with Grotesque. In a slightly different way. I mean, my book has just a little bit more action, for starters. Plus, a happier ending (spoiler alert). But the themes are all there – loneliness, playing God, desperation for approval and acceptance, the juxtaposition of a humane(ish) monster and monstrous humanity. It was a really interesting and inspiring read, and I have to thank the intern who recommended it to me.
Shelley also has a way with words. I particularly enjoyed this sentence:
“I never beheld any thing so utterly destroyed.”
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I can’t begin to describe the impact those words had on me, especially within the context of the book. They are perfect in their simplicity, yet they say so much more than you’d expect. “Utterly destroyed.” It’s almost foreshadowing, too. The way so many lives are so utterly destroyed over the course of the book, including those of the creator and the created.
I also underlined a couple vocabulary words I love. “Indefatigable” and “Purloined.” Those are great words, aren’t they? The former means “incapable of being tired out,” and the latter basically means “stole” or “pilfered.”
I’ll wrap up with a line I marked that pretty much sums up everything I want to encapsulate with the character of my Grotesque. It was spoken by Frankenstein’s monster.
“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”
Such beautiful words coming from such a horrid creature. Shelley really could use words as an art form in a way that I can only hope to accidentally achieve from time to time.
Now all that’s left is to take what I have learned from this book and apply it to my newest rewrite of Grotesque.
Wish me luck!