Monday, July 22, 2013

I made a video list of my top 30 written works of fiction of all time that I thought I would share. Yes, it is extremely biased and I am sure I am missing a bunch. I pared it down to 30 so that I could say that each work belonged on any list of 100. Of course, everybody has their own opinion.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

An Interview/Article by Lauren Baur

What follows is an article written by Lauren Baur about my first novel, The Amazing Morse:

Every child has that one dream, one fantasy, which reminds them of the magic in this world. And many adults, especially in the 21st century, have found that magic to remain in their past. The new novel “The Amazing Morse”, by local author James Rozoff confronts this 21st century mentality, “inevitability of technology”, and the magic in this world to create a page turning self-reflective work that will get every reader questioning and remembering their own idealistic self. James Rozoff did self-publish his first novel. It is an accomplishment he has been working towards since graduating with an English degree from Silver Lake College. It’s a new and interesting world, he explains, for those in the publishing business. Years ago self-publishing was the route definitely less taken by many artists, however Rozoff goes to explain how in the modern world, with its technological outreach and communication capabilities, it seems almost advantageous to promote your own work. Technology has created a world where self-publishing can reach a wider audience in a much faster pace. He mentions a local high school teacher who himself has a fan in Italy in lieu of the lack of acknowledgment closer to home.
He addresses how interesting it is to look around and idealize the time we are living in. That we have such favor to our own means and methods, and have a distaste and lack of reverence for those in the past, assuming them to be, as he quotes: “stupid”. He says it so bluntly to enforce the idea of who’s to say that in a hundred years, people won’t easily be looking back at our time thinking the same thoughts of our naivety. It seems Rozoff explains that technology is something accepted as an inevitability and a good, but perhaps this is not the case. The first chapter of his book, in fact, is a picture of the prison of a modern day cubical of a once dreaming artist; a magician. To best explain the main character Rozoff states he “is Atman and he is attempting to be Brahman”.
He chose this as the topic for his first novel, because his brother who is a magician had jokingly told someone that he was getting a book written about him. This sprung the idea for him and he decided to abandon for now the other story ideas he had been working on and gather all his attention and energy into one he had more interest in. He goes to state “I liked taking the idea of magic and making it relate to the era of Houdini; that there still existed the idea of magic then, when not everything was instantly available.”
He goes to say also, how interesting it is publishing in a world where he’s not even sure who reads anymore. And if they do read is it on a device that with one click can bring you to a movie or as he says jokingly “pictures of cute animals”. He is expressing how instantly gratifying this world is and the things that demand our time instead of the fantasy, the ideals, and dreams that do come with discovering what’s on the next page. He hasn’t kept up with a great majority of modern or contemporary literature so he definitely expresses taking the leap of writing a novel to bring up the issues of living in such a predominately modernized and technological world saying “I’d be happy with one person understanding what I’m trying to do. If I accomplish that, I won’t feel like a loon”.
He has been influenced by Jack London, Victor Hugo, and “of course” William Shakespeare. He goes to say “as far as contemporaries, I am very influenced by the independent musicians who are able to produce fantastic music without the backing of major record labels”. There’s a lot of honesty and truth in pieces Rozoff puts together as what has combined to become his muse for this novel. But it has been 20 years in the making. In fact it was about 20 years ago he had a followed a friend who, as he explains, had an “eye for the unusual” into an establishment with a sign predominantly displaying “psychic”. He said the uneasy feeling that still resonates is what began the idea for this project.
It’s an interesting and intense read that takes a very solid look at the lives we have created for ourselves as a whole. It is from the mind and hands of a local artist, giving even more meaning to those around this area who choose to pick it up. It deals with questions and concerns almost every person has brought up to themselves, and reminds one what it was like to have those dreams as a child, to accept the butterflies in your tummy, and use them as motivation and not bars on a cell of self-imprisonment in a climb-your-way up society. That is simply a small impression of the greater wonders that are expressed as the reader follows Morse through each turn of the page.
Rozoff currently is related to the Minds Without Boundaries writing group in the Manitowoc area. And he gives direct and sincere advice to all those going into English and other art forms. “Don’t over salt the fries and don’t put too much mayo on my burger. (jokingly) Seriously, though, the world needs English majors, it just doesn’t appreciate them. Science is a noble pursuit, but it cannot answer mankind’s big questions. Literature can take spirituality, psychology and philosophy, mix them together and find answers that speak to more than just the intellect”. His novel is available at the public library, Amazon, for Kindle and for Nook.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

One profoundly disturbed individual

I admit it, I have never read a Stephen King story in my life. I have, however, seen a lot of the movies based on his books. And for me, one of the most frightening moments in of all the movies was when Jack Nickelson's wife looks at the manuscript he has been working for months on, only to discover that it merely repeats "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" over and over again, page after page. It made her realize how absolutely deranged a person she was living with. I've always set that as a benchmark, a 10 on the crazy meter, if you will. While writing my newest novel, to be released soon, I have created a character that, at least to my mind, equals Jack as a profoundly disturbed individual. Here is an excerpt from that novel, tell me what you think:

“Go out and play. Far from here.”

That’s what his mom had told him. She had been uncharacteristically stern with him.

“There’s nothing to do.” He complained to his mom.

So his mother had given him a pail and told him to pick blueberries. She told him not to come home until the pail was full. But he had carried this pail with him for quite a while now, and while he thought he had collected plenty of blueberries, the pail seemed less than a quarter full. For someone so young, the pail was becoming heavy.

It was a beautiful summer day, the sun bringing light and warmth to everything around him. Being young, he was curious. The island he lived on was all he ever really knew. While not very large, there were still parts of it he had never seen. He was in such a place now. He was far from the village, farther than he had ever been alone before. He was searching this new territory for all its mysteries, poking his head into a hole in a tree to see what was inside. He looked down on the ground to see a knot of grubs near one of the roots of the tree, sucking nourishment from the moss that grew there. From the massive tree with a swing attached, to the grass that moved slightly from a gentle breeze, everything around him was alive. Birds chirped and fluttered somewhere above him while the buzzing of insects could also be heard amidst the rustle of leaves.

His eyes to the ground, he beheld it. It was hidden in the grass so that he could not see what it was. At first he thought it was a rock, but then he thought he could see something moving. But it was not alive. It was a baby bird, but the life that it should have contained was replaced with something repulsive and black. It was not merely dead, it was death incarnate, a young boy’s first encounter with the dark truth of existence. Although he had no experience with it, an instinct older than his species knew what it was he saw and made him recoil from it. It was just a baby, a young bird not yet capable of flight. It laid there, its body twisted in an unnatural position from its fall from its nest in a branch far above.

What had been new life a short while ago was now this. He did not know if it were merely insects that had been feasting on its body or if something larger had been gnawing at it. But whatever it was, it had eaten through its skin, revealing the strange and nauseating sight of its internal organs to the young boy’s eyes. The sickening reality of existence that had been covered by soft downy feathers had been exposed. And it occurred to him that all he had ever known of life had been proven false because he had not known of the reality of death. In an instant, one horrible instant, this creature’s life had been extinguished because of some small event. Some slight misstep or an unusually harsh gust of wind had ended this life without chance for reprieve. And the boy knew, beneath his tanned but soft skin, he too was full of the same soupy mess that was now poking through this bird’s skin. And he knew that he too could be brought to the same end with merely an instant of misfortune. This creature that had been nurtured by its parents now lay abandoned and forgotten, left alone to rot and be eaten by the lowly things that crawl upon the earth and suck upon the underbelly of life. And he realized that he too was very small, that he too was very fragile. And he was alone. He never knew what alone meant until this moment. And even though his mother had sent him away and told him not to come back until dark, he found himself running back to the village, leaving his pail of blueberries behind. He knew he would never find answers to what he saw, knew that he could only try to forget about it, drown it out with other thoughts and experiences so that his mind would not have time to think about it. He would live in the village and surround himself with the life he used to know, before he became aware of death.

It was very quiet when he returned to the village, even more so than when he had left. In the morning, the people had been talking in whispers, when they felt the need to talk at all. Now, there were not even whispers. Even the place where the little death was had contained whispers.

He looked towards the center of the village, and there he saw the villagers, sitting at the tables where meals would be eaten in good weather. But there was no movement, no noise of any kind. The people were like statues, their faces twisted in sickening smiles of pained madness. He saw his mother there, but she did not look at him. Her gaze was fixed crookedly towards the sky, a cup still grasped in her hand. All of the people, his uncle, his cousin, all sat like photographs, frozen in the past. He was alone, completely alone, with his newfound awareness of death. But death was no longer lurking in the grass, it no longer needed to hide. It was all around him. Everyone he ever knew was staring at him with death in their eyes. He gazed at the faces of those around him, contorted from the pain that had been their last moments. Their mouths were shaped almost in the form of smiles. It was though they knew something about death, something he did not. They appeared not to be frightened. Perhaps he could learn from them, if he could only hear what it was he thought they were trying to tell him. After all, they were still his family and friends. And in his need, he began to think he could hear faint murmuring, as though the dead were willing to tell him their secrets.