Monday, January 14, 2013

Guns and Books are Ordinary Objects


Of all things, the gun, of all things, must be particularized. 
--Chuck Palahniuk


     Like a lot of Americans, I grew up in a house were guns were ordinary. There was a gun rack over the bookshelf in the hall outside my bedroom door. Now that I think about it, about the same square-footage of wall was devoted to both sorts of objects.
The books were all older than I was. Cowboy romances mostly...
"Put up your hands a little higher, Mr. Man!"
Rim O' the World
B.M. Bower 1919**
     The guns were rifles. There had been revolvers, too, back in the day when my parents ran a bar, there were revolvers--but not after my brother shot himself in the knee while looking for Christmas presents. He told my parents that Santa Claus had shot him.* The same brother shot a hole in the living room ceiling when he brought the butt of the rifle down hard on the floor for emphasis while yelling that he had checked and it was unloaded.    
     These things happen in homes where guns are ordinary things.
     You know the rule of Chekhov's gun? Any gun on the mantlepiece in act one is bound to go off by act three. I resist that when I'm writing. I think it may be because I never want to see act three in my ordinary world, where guns are ordinary objects.
*This is all stuff that happened before I was born. My account is not reliable. 
**B.M. is not the sort of pen-name any girl would choose nowadays.
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