Questions for Author Will ClarkeHey eNotes Book Clubbers!  We are so very fortunate that the author of Lord Vishnu's Love Handles (LVLH), Will Clarke, is willing to answer our questions about his...

Questions for Author Will Clarke

Hey eNotes Book Clubbers!  We are so very fortunate that the author of Lord Vishnu's Love Handles (LVLH), Will Clarke, is willing to answer our questions about his novel.  Please post any questions you may have for him on this topic board, so that he can answer them as he is able.

Thanks again, Will!  

42 Answers | Add Yours

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Now, I'm not a prude--ok, maybe I am a little bit of a prude--but my question is this: Why did you feel the need to use so much profanity? Is this really the way people talk today? It's getting harder and harder for young people to recognize what language is inappropriate in "polite" society. I just wonder if you think we're in the middle of a trend to vulgarize everyday language. Do you think it would have hurt your novel to leave any of it out?

I've read just the first three chapters, so forgive me if I'm jumping to conclusions about language. I'm enjoying the read nevertheless.

Hi Linda. Profanity is the new black. The F-word is rampant, even in polite, well-moneyed society.  It's use in the workplace is common. Particularly in the new economy/new media area where Travis scored all his millions. (There's a reason Marc Cuban has been fined so many times by the NBA. Hint: It's his language.) As an novelist writing about a specific time in history, about a certain group of people, it's important that I capture the language as accurately as possible. And Travis speaks like certain business people in Dallas speak. You also have to remember that Travis is a dipsomaniac. Dipsomaniacs have filthy mouths most times.

I have been thinking a long time how to word this without being offensive, but I completely disagree.  Profanity, without purpose, is just profanity.  It's not fashionable.  I feel I need to clean my ears and Clear Eyes my eyes after each reading, although the story has merit.  It seems to me (not just because I live in the "fly over" states where the Bible belt is thickest) that of all the millions of words in our language, you could have said the same thing more beautifully without making it seem so dirty in the process.  Stephen Crane does this with Red Badge, Bill Cosby does it with stand up, and there are many other "dirty" subjects which can be explored without the "dirty" language to accompany.  I'm sorry you feel that profanity is the "new black."  That kind of attitude just further sullies the waters for our future generations and makes it harder for them to determine what is right and what is wrong.

I made the mistake of trying to read the book during my breaks at school. The other day, I was reading during my planning period, and a student came in to ask me a question. I just happened to be on page 23 at the time. I quickly closed the book, but not before the student saw the chapter title. Needless to say, I was very embarrassed.

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Now, I'm not a prude--ok, maybe I am a little bit of a prude--but my question is this: Why did you feel the need to use so much profanity? Is this really the way people talk today? It's getting harder and harder for young people to recognize what language is inappropriate in "polite" society. I just wonder if you think we're in the middle of a trend to vulgarize everyday language. Do you think it would have hurt your novel to leave any of it out?

I've read just the first three chapters, so forgive me if I'm jumping to conclusions about language. I'm enjoying the read nevertheless.

Hi Linda. Profanity is the new black. The F-word is rampant, even in polite, well-moneyed society.  It's use in the workplace is common. Particularly in the new economy/new media area where Travis scored all his millions. (There's a reason Marc Cuban has been fined so many times by the NBA. Hint: It's his language.) As an novelist writing about a specific time in history, about a certain group of people, it's important that I capture the language as accurately as possible. And Travis speaks like certain business people in Dallas speak. You also have to remember that Travis is a dipsomaniac. Dipsomaniacs have filthy mouths most times.

I have been thinking a long time how to word this without being offensive, but I completely disagree.  Profanity, without purpose, is just profanity.  It's not fashionable.  I feel I need to clean my ears and Clear Eyes my eyes after each reading, although the story has merit.  It seems to me (not just because I live in the "fly over" states where the Bible belt is thickest) that of all the millions of words in our language, you could have said the same thing more beautifully without making it seem so dirty in the process.  Stephen Crane does this with Red Badge, Bill Cosby does it with stand up, and there are many other "dirty" subjects which can be explored without the "dirty" language to accompany.  I'm sorry you feel that profanity is the "new black."  That kind of attitude just further sullies the waters for our future generations and makes it harder for them to determine what is right and what is wrong.

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Hello again, Will. This might be a dumb question, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Have you read Greg Bear's book Blood Music? The reason why I ask is that your discussion of sentient DNA reminds me of that book. It's all about how a researcher discovers a way to develop intelligent bacteria, which then set about changing all DNA cells in all living things. Just wondered if that might have been an influence for you.

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Will-  How much did you know about Hinduism/Krishnas before beginning your novel?

I'm a big fan of Vishnu and Hindu culture. So when I decided to write a spy novel, I began to see all these parallels between Vishnu and James Bond. 

Vishnu is the Preserver, the One who wakes up from sleeping on a bed of cobras while his wife rubs his feet. Vishnu only wakes up to save the world. Bond has a similar situation. All these "goddesses" lounging with him and then he has to "wake-up" and save the world. 

Have you been to the big Diwali festival here in Dallas?

Your descriptions of the Krishna temple are so accurate, as are the attached restaurant, I know you have been there.  What were your personal reactions to the ceremony?  Do you like Indian food?  Silly questions, I know, but curious.  I have been a couple of times and I don't think I'll ever get the "Krishna" chant out of my head.   

 

I hope that readers do not see the Krishna brand of Hinduism as Hinduism itself. Just as with any religion there are many different views and practices within the religion. The "Vishnu Temple" in the book seems cultish and almost absurd. For the Hindus in my family, religion is personal and respectful.

I should have been more sensitive in my reply.  I have been to the Krishna temple here in Dallas that Clarke describes, and my take was almost identitical to his. As you continue to read the novel, you may see how cultish indeed this sect can be, at least for some of the adherents.

On the flip side, I have also been to Hindu temples in Irving, where the tone and respect was altogether different from the Krisha experience in downtown Dallas.

I don't pretend to know as much about this as you do.  I think we would all welcome the learning about Hinduism that you could offer, as well as pointing out strengths and weaknesses in Clarke's rendition. I also encourage you to address any discrepencies or uncomfortable moment (or indeed, accuracies) that you find to the author. 

 

 

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Will-  We were talking on the discussion boards about Travis' mental state.  Were you at all influenced by Joseph Heller's Catch-22? (Particularly, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you."_

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Now, I'm not a prude--ok, maybe I am a little bit of a prude--but my question is this: Why did you feel the need to use so much profanity? Is this really the way people talk today? It's getting harder and harder for young people to recognize what language is inappropriate in "polite" society. I just wonder if you think we're in the middle of a trend to vulgarize everyday language. Do you think it would have hurt your novel to leave any of it out?

I've read just the first three chapters, so forgive me if I'm jumping to conclusions about language. I'm enjoying the read nevertheless.

Hi Linda. Profanity is the new black. The F-word is rampant, even in polite, well-moneyed society.  It's use in the workplace is common. Particularly in the new economy/new media area where Travis scored all his millions. (There's a reason Marc Cuban has been fined so many times by the NBA. Hint: It's his language.) As an novelist writing about a specific time in history, about a certain group of people, it's important that I capture the language as accurately as possible. And Travis speaks like certain business people in Dallas speak. You also have to remember that Travis is a dipsomaniac. Dipsomaniacs have filthy mouths most times.

Personally, knowing something about this culture, I would have found it untrue to not have Travis cursing in such a way.  A writer who can accurately depict vernacular is to be applauded.  I'm writing my dissertation on Steinbeck, btw, and he too was criticized for the "vulgarities" expressed.  Rock on, brother.

It saddens me that our educated people have begun to cater to the lowest common denominator instead of setting the bar higher. Profanity has its place. I'm not for a total ban of it. But when you use it too often, it begins to lose its shock appeal, its emphasis. Would Rhett Butler's "Frankly I don't give a damn" have the same punch if every other word was a "damn" or a "f***"? What was shocking and vulgar in Steinbeck's day is nothing to us, just like the word "suck" was a filthy expression when I was a teenager, but you hear it on commercials these days. And try explaining to a teenager why "Bite me" is not an appropriate thing to say.

Oh well, I'm not yet 50, but I guess I'm becoming an old fogey!

   A writer like Faulkner, or Steinbeck, or Clarke,  chooses to render speech as s/he hears it, not moralize about it. 

As for worrying about little ears, well, I say that it is up to the parent to monitor their child's leisure activities.  Some things are for children, some aren't.  Don't take (or rent) an R rated movie, don't put a computer in a closed room. 

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Thanks for putting it into perspective. I guess I'm sensitive to the language issue because I've been battling my yearbook staff over what is appropriate and what is not. Most of them are in a club that went to its state convention last week. With me only a few feet away, they discussed--not in whispers, mind you--how to hide alcohol in their luggage. Something to do with a Pringles can. They were shocked that I busted them to the principal. They couldn't understand that if they got caught and that word got out that they made their plans in my room in my presence, I could lose my job. Do they just not care about my being unemployed?

Today, I wrote discipline reports on all 10 of them. I told them after the Pringles incident that I have zero tolerance for inappropriate conversations. Believe it or not, their topic of conversation was how much a guy's penis burns when he pees after drinking too much. These kids are honor students and came highly recommended.

malibrarian's profile pic

malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

Sigh...I can see both sides of this debate, and it's so frustrating!  I agree that an author should accurately portray the time period, culture, people he/she is writing about.  To do otherwise is to lie, or simply be a pretty poor author.  So I agree that Will and Steinbeck and any other author out there should write what they know, and accurately depict what they're writing about.

I think what frustrates me is that profanity is so widespread...thus making it necessary for authors to depict it so accurately.  I'm not saying that Clarke's book is bad because of the profanity (in fact, I think it's a great book and have his other book on order right now!).  He has said that the world in which Travis lives is cluttered with those excesses, not only of language, but of money, drugs, alcohol, etc.  It's a culture of excess, and that is what bothers me.  Not that Will depicted it so brutally well, but that there is such a selfish, amoral culture out there to begin with.

I've finished the book already, and can hardly wait for "The Worthy" to arrive in the mail!

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Now, I'm not a prude--ok, maybe I am a little bit of a prude--but my question is this: Why did you feel the need to use so much profanity? Is this really the way people talk today? It's getting harder and harder for young people to recognize what language is inappropriate in "polite" society. I just wonder if you think we're in the middle of a trend to vulgarize everyday language. Do you think it would have hurt your novel to leave any of it out?

I've read just the first three chapters, so forgive me if I'm jumping to conclusions about language. I'm enjoying the read nevertheless.

Hi Linda. Profanity is the new black. The F-word is rampant, even in polite, well-moneyed society.  It's use in the workplace is common. Particularly in the new economy/new media area where Travis scored all his millions. (There's a reason Marc Cuban has been fined so many times by the NBA. Hint: It's his language.) As an novelist writing about a specific time in history, about a certain group of people, it's important that I capture the language as accurately as possible. And Travis speaks like certain business people in Dallas speak. You also have to remember that Travis is a dipsomaniac. Dipsomaniacs have filthy mouths most times.

Personally, knowing something about this culture, I would have found it untrue to not have Travis cursing in such a way.  A writer who can accurately depict vernacular is to be applauded.  I'm writing my dissertation on Steinbeck, btw, and he too was criticized for the "vulgarities" expressed.  Rock on, brother.

It saddens me that our educated people have begun to cater to the lowest common denominator instead of setting the bar higher. Profanity has its place. I'm not for a total ban of it. But when you use it too often, it begins to lose its shock appeal, its emphasis. Would Rhett Butler's "Frankly I don't give a damn" have the same punch if every other word was a "damn" or a "f***"? What was shocking and vulgar in Steinbeck's day is nothing to us, just like the word "suck" was a filthy expression when I was a teenager, but you hear it on commercials these days. And try explaining to a teenager why "Bite me" is not an appropriate thing to say.

Oh well, I'm not yet 50, but I guess I'm becoming an old fogey!

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Now, I'm not a prude--ok, maybe I am a little bit of a prude--but my question is this: Why did you feel the need to use so much profanity? Is this really the way people talk today? It's getting harder and harder for young people to recognize what language is inappropriate in "polite" society. I just wonder if you think we're in the middle of a trend to vulgarize everyday language. Do you think it would have hurt your novel to leave any of it out?

I've read just the first three chapters, so forgive me if I'm jumping to conclusions about language. I'm enjoying the read nevertheless.

Hi Linda. Profanity is the new black. The F-word is rampant, even in polite, well-moneyed society.  It's use in the workplace is common. Particularly in the new economy/new media area where Travis scored all his millions. (There's a reason Marc Cuban has been fined so many times by the NBA. Hint: It's his language.) As an novelist writing about a specific time in history, about a certain group of people, it's important that I capture the language as accurately as possible. And Travis speaks like certain business people in Dallas speak. You also have to remember that Travis is a dipsomaniac. Dipsomaniacs have filthy mouths most times.

Personally, knowing something about this culture, I would have found it untrue to not have Travis cursing in such a way.  A writer who can accurately depict vernacular is to be applauded.  I'm writing my dissertation on Steinbeck, btw, and he too was criticized for the "vulgarities" expressed.  Rock on, brother.

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Will-  How much did you know about Hinduism/Krishnas before beginning your novel?

I'm a big fan of Vishnu and Hindu culture. So when I decided to write a spy novel, I began to see all these parallels between Vishnu and James Bond. 

Vishnu is the Preserver, the One who wakes up from sleeping on a bed of cobras while his wife rubs his feet. Vishnu only wakes up to save the world. Bond has a similar situation. All these "goddesses" lounging with him and then he has to "wake-up" and save the world. 

Have you been to the big Diwali festival here in Dallas?

Your descriptions of the Krishna temple are so accurate, as are the attached restaurant, I know you have been there.  What were your personal reactions to the ceremony?  Do you like Indian food?  Silly questions, I know, but curious.  I have been a couple of times and I don't think I'll ever get the "Krishna" chant out of my head.   

 

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

I didn't know you were a Bread Loafer. I attended one summer eons ago and am thinking of going back. I was an oddball on campus--probably the only conservative Republican in the whole state of Vermont! Who were your instructors, and how did they influence you? Ken McCrory and David Haddad were two of my profs who really influenced me.

malibrarian's profile pic

malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

Now, I'm not a prude--ok, maybe I am a little bit of a prude--but my question is this: Why did you feel the need to use so much profanity? Is this really the way people talk today? It's getting harder and harder for young people to recognize what language is inappropriate in "polite" society. I just wonder if you think we're in the middle of a trend to vulgarize everyday language. Do you think it would have hurt your novel to leave any of it out?

I've read just the first three chapters, so forgive me if I'm jumping to conclusions about language. I'm enjoying the read nevertheless.

To be honest, Will, this same question crossed my mind.  I know that movies use tons of language like this, and I also know that the college kids I've worked with throw the "f" word around a great deal, not really even considering at times whether it's appropriate in that circumstance or not.  And I admit that I worked in profanities much as an artist might work in watercolors a great deal in high school and college (to borrow from "A Christmas Story").  But do adults really talk like that nowadays and I'm just "out of the loop" because of who I am, who my friends are, and where I teach?

This is a curiosity question, 100%.  Thanks!

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

I also read that your novel has been optioned for film.  I can easily see how this would work well as a movie; your descriptions and characters are so colorful.  As you were in the process of writing, did you envision the work as a film one day? 

If you could cast anyone you wanted in the title roles, whom would you choose? 

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

I read that you attended Bread loaf when you were in the process of writing LVLH.  How important do you think attending the conferences was?  Can you tell us about a memorable conversation or writing tip? 

Showing 1–15 of 42

We’ve answered 318,989 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question