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December 08, 2011

Brain Routers

(from the desk of Derek Kirk Kim)

Same-Diff-cover-300rgb

When I was re-reading Same Difference in preparation for the new hardcover edition, it occurred to me how rooted the story is in the time of its creation. I don’t mean the art style or the writing or the human story of the book -– although others might feel differently -– I mean how much the world has changed in just the last 7 years since the original release. It struck me how much of the story would have to be re-written if I were to write the story today. For example, a major plot thread involves letters being delivered to one of the protagonist’s apartment addressed to the previous resident. That whole story element would have to be replaced today since no one writes letters anymore. It would have to done with email or something similar, which -- let’s face it -- isn’t quite as interesting or dramatic

I actually ran into a similar problem in my newest project, “Mythomania,” in which Andy, the main protagonist, receives a rejection letter from a publisher to whom he has submitted a manuscript. Immediately, one the most frequent complaints I received was the fact that no publisher mails letters anymore. But all I remember during that stage of my own life trying to break into publishing -– from which time I am drawing this story –- are rejection letters. Email existed when I was in my early twenties, but it wasn't the dominant form of communication yet. So to update the story, I made sure to include printed email rejection letters in Andy’s collection as well as letters, but that wasn’t enough to suspend the viewers’ disbelief. Just the inclusion of a single paper letter was enough to take the viewer out of the story. The world has really changed.

But there are some things that never change. Like the gnawing ravages of guilt, and the swatches of cruelty so haphazardly slapped around when we’re young. Which is what Same Difference is really about. And I hope that will be relevant whether it’s read on tree pulp between vinyl covers or having the pages streamed directed into the router in our brains a thousand years from now.

Although I have to admit –- and if you don’t mind me channeling Andy Rooney a little bit since he’s no longer around to grumble about this for me –- I feel a little bit wistful that future generations, maybe in 50 years, will never know the joy of cracking open a new book and smelling the paper. Or the thrill of opening your mailbox to a long letter from an old friend on foreign stationary or a zine from a distant admirer. Oh well, that’s a small price to pay for every single book you could ever possibly read in your lifetime and endless videos of cats playing instruments magically stored in a phone the size of a Pop Rocks packet, I suppose.

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Comments

Very well written. I'm a bit surprised when it comes to the whole letter business... because... I just didn't notice. I thought "OK, there he is, opening his mailbox, aaand...." never realising that things like that do not happen in real life (anymore). That goes for Andy Go and that goes for Ben Lelands letter to his ex girlfriend. Maybe those who complained do not realise how distorted most movies are, even when they appear to be "real" in storyline and characters. Some movies have unlikely things in them just to make the scene more interesting and/or suspenseful. And usually it works, it's called good storytelling.

From that point of view you did a great job, both in "Same Difference" and in "Mythomania".

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