Sunday, March 26, 2006

Rediscovering dreck.

Okay, so I sat down tonight to start reading "The Amityville Horror" again (reasearch...) for the first time since, well, probably the tenth grade at the latest, and more than likely closer to the seventh or eight. In the years since I first experienced the novel my perspective on the story has drifted from one of slack-jawed terror at the prospect of such an event being *true* to the realization that, at the very least, the tale was probably heavily embellished and, at the very worst, was an outright fabrication (regardless of George Lutz's continued claims that story is, in fact, true).

Of course whether the story is true is neither here nor there. I wasn't reading the book to prove or debunk anything. Like I said, it was a straight research outing, plain and simple.

I made it about 50 pages through before I put the book down, partly because I was getting tired, and partly because...well, to put it simply, I couldn't believe how dreadfully written it was.

Like really, honestly, brutally badly written. Like the author -- Jay Anson -- had never put together a novel before.

Which, in fact, he hadn't. Though he had been a journalist previous to penning The Amityville Horror, so one would've hoped he'd have some experience stringing information together in a way that made sense.

The first chapter alone made me dizzy. It jumped around chronologically so many times that I couldn't keep track of what day it actually was in the narrative until the family was actually moving into the house -- the only moment that had a date associated with it (Dec. 18, 1975).

In later chapters the narrator's voice shifts from the third person, to a first person narrative from George Lutz's perspective, though only for half a paragraph before switching back to the third again.

Lord, it made my head hurt.

The most interesting thing about it was that I recognized a lot of my adolescent writing style in it. Now I'm not sure if that means that the structure and storytelling style of the Amityville Horror was actually quite influential on me as a young writer, or if it was simply that my skills, as an adolescent, were almost on par with Jay Anson. Either way, I'm already dreading having to push through the next 250 pages of research.

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