Conversations, excerpts, and edits — The Dead Enjoy Eating, Too — 02: Characters: Borromeo and Haas

Conversations, excerpts, and edits — The Dead Enjoy Eating, Too — 02: Characters: Borromeo and Haas

Characters? How shall I begin to describe their creation? So many characters popped out of my head during the writing of the novel I had a hard time remembering who they were or even how to spell their names. I had one problem in writing the novel.  I had to write in between different job assignments. Also, I was teaching at Meiji University. One course was English composition. Homework assignments and compositions drained me of creative energy. So much so that I often sat staring at the blank paper in the typewriter, and with the passage of time, at the wordless document on the computer monitor. Over time,  I lost track of the names of the characters and who they were. With persistence, I reviewed the earlier chapters. This allowed me to reacquaint myself with them. I got to know them more deeply and understood the deep-seated motivation for creating them.

Charles Borromeo and Eric Haas

Charles ‘Charley’ Borromeo is the omniscient character who introduces Eric Haas, the unpublished writer and the author of The Dead Enjoy Easting, Too. Borromeo describes Haas as a hard-drinking, wounded individual. “I always thought he drank to drown the demons dwelling inside his head. The cause of his periodic bouts of depression. But who am I to say for sure? I’m no psychiatrist.” Charley becomes Eric’s friend and the critic of Eric’s unpublished works. “I was perhaps the only reader who read through his material beginning to the end. He hung on every word of my critiques. After which, he might resort to invectives if he considered my criticism too draconian. Or he’d pout and refuse to speak to me for days if I kept my opinions muted.”

Through conversations with Eric at Terrell’s Bar, Charley learns about incidents from Eric’s abusive childhood, many of which Eric incorporates into his novel. In a sense, Charley acts as a therapist.  He listens to Eric’s painful recollections but cannot provide advice to heal the wounds to Eric’s psyche. After Eric’s sudden death, Charley is given a task by Eric’s older daughter: To decide what to do about Eric’s unpublished manuscript. Try to get it published or toss it into the trash. By reading the manuscript, Charley realizes Eric sought to confront his past and to exorcise the demons from his mind. In effect, Eric was healing himself.

Eric introduces three characters, each one revealing different layers of his personality: Kirk Thompson, Cecil Pickwick, and Felix Gunther. Charley often remarked to Eric that all his characters seemed to be based on him. To which Eric would shoot back: “I just can’t pull characters out of my ass!”

Next Week: 03: Characters: Kirk Thompson

A Wounded Child




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