Kennedy's message to the publishing world, "I have read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness from time to time across fifty years. During this, my most recent reading, it occurs to me that I am Kurtz and that all of you are Marlow. Kurtz lay dying in the pilot house of the river steamer. Marlow, the company agent, has found him and returns with him. Kurtz has spent years in the jungle pulling out ivory and sending it downstream. Finally, Kurtz agrees to return down river to civilization because he realizes that he has something to say, something with a value beyond his ton of treasure. Kurtz realizes that he has achieved a synthesis from out of his brutish experience. Kurtz imagines being met by representatives at each one of the string of railway stations during his return to civilization. He tells Marlow, 'You show them you have in you something that is really profitable, and then there will be no limits to the recognition of your ability.' And then, sounding as though he steps into our own millennium, Kurtz adds, 'Of course you must take care of the motives—right motives—always.' Now I see that Kurtz is Conrad. Kurtz is not unique. He is every writer. It is only Marlow, the agent, who is unique, unique in his fidelity, not just to the job, nor only to the company, but to the civilization that sent him.
Gutenberg published only 160 bibles, not enough to cause anyone since to reject it as a "previously published work."
Indianapolis author Mike Kennedy previously described by Trident Media Group, saying Kennedy "has a way with words" and that readers attracted to Hemingway and Mailer will "love Season of Many Thirsts" (A novel brought to E-Books under the original title: REPORT FROM MALI). Publisher Alfred A. Knopf says of the manuscript: "This is a potentially important and significant novel on many levels, including formally..." Little, Brown says of the novel, “our admiration for its ambition and the energy and high-octane force it applies toward these engrossing geopolitical events. Chance and his team are memorable characters.” Random House says, “Kennedy captures the strange, and intriguing world of Mali.”
Flannery O’Connor criticized readers for draining a concept from a story. Character, plot, and voice cannot hold Kennedy as much as can a concept. Hamlet’s characters and actions were for the groundlings. The galleries could have the concept and conclude that the play was all about revenge as they witnessed everyone serve the ghost as accomplices, as dupes, or as road-kill. Hamlet will revenge the ghost. Laertes will have revenge his father. The son of Old Norway, will arrive at the end to revenge his father upon the ghost who, by now, surely has had his own surfeit of revenge, and has skulked from the ruins and back to Hell.
In a larger sense, this is the concept of the tyranny of the old men. In one way or another, every younger generation is commanded by Hamlet’s ghost to “fight for a fantasy and a trick of fame, and for a plot of land which is not tomb enough to hide the slain.”
Similarly, Aeschylus’ Agamemnon is less memorable as the story of the returning king. For Kennedy, the Watchman is the story, watching the irony of man unfold: Cassandra’s “painted show.” In this same way, Kennedy’s five novels and twenty-four stories of shorter fiction practice the same alchemy of HIGH CONCEPT wherein the characters are trapped, as the reader is trapped, as the Greek chorus was trapped by the bounds of the proskenion, all witnesses to a story “that is as it is”, a story which can only “end as it must.” Greek stories were old tales told to audiences who already knew their endings. In this way, tension was diverted from the surface into deeper levels. With unconscious irony, Flannery taught us this. Concept driven stories are more likely to have drama (the Greek word for “deeds”), and more likely to have genuine endings. Concept must be served.
The Indianapolis Public Library has purchased all seven of these works of fiction. It was at their Broad Ripple Branch, by way of bicycle, where the abundant scope & compass of books was discovered. This was eventually followed by the venerable rack of paperbacks at McSoley's Drug Store, where paper route profits were given over in that unblemished faith that makes calamity of so long a life. Having these stories back at the place of those beginnings imparts the Greek's almost-perfect almost-elliptical shape that the ancient tragedy of the Cretan Labyrinth demands.
When Kennedy writes, his sympathy is with the public patience, for a customer betrayed by the broken promise of a cover, for a reader angry at a reviewer’s brazen flim-flam, and in empty moments before a crash as a story slows to stall speed when a reader must cut it loose like ballast.
This writer's purpose is modeled after Robert Louis Stevenson's dedication of his novel Kidnapped: “…a book for the winter evening school-room when…the hour for bed draws near…[whose] purpose [is] to steal some young gentleman’s attention from his Ovid, carry him awhile into the Highlands…and pack him to bed with some engaging images to mingle with his dreams.”
Artist Lab: Let’s run a thought experiment. Use painters as the control group for writers. Does the widely panned use of “exposition” fit better now with the new “high-concept” fiction? Consider one of the first such: H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.
It opens with literature more apt for the spoken word than the printed (as Orson Welles demonstrated in 1938). But how would a willing suspension of disbelief react if the action (the reported incident) had, instead, begun the story?
Yes, we, the objects of this novel’s entertainment, wish to get to the Martian landings at the Woking common (or as the radio broadcast had it: to the landings at the Grover’s Mill family farm—just as children dream of desert during the soup course). Yet, has the human gut evolved for this to be digestible? Are we best suited to read according to how we think? And, how do we think?
From 400 years on, after the painting Baptistry at Florence, realism dominated. Then came the impressionists. Yes, they also used perspective, but they gave you the image that you see, rather than the image that you remember. They were the first generation of painters to compete with cameras.
Consider Renoir’s Dance at the Moulin. As you gaze, remember your trip last weekend to the night club. What do we see? Every detail? No. In the painting, the women’s eyes stand out, and their rounded procreative fleshly imperatives. The men’s straw boaters are seen before the men under them. The rest is a busy swirl of action.
So what do we writers of the 21st century compete with? Streaming entertainments, virtual social outreach, herd noise, and the modern equivalent of the door bell (the relentless cell phone chime & vibe): Hieronymus Bosch on batteries.
Therefore, the imagination stretches to accommodate, from the quotidian to the quantum. The “High Concept” novel has arrived. The big idea may be sci-fi, as before, or it may amp-up Emma Bovary. The big concept startles because it is unfamiliar and because it is unfamiliar it needs grounding.
Therefore, the exposition must be apportioned to suit the concept, or else the reader finds himself bewildered at Grover’s Mill, faltering, out of energy, and stopping to check his messages. Readers are not the ones complaining about exposition. They simply aren't reading.