April 30, 2011

Shane Stevens Saturday: A Final Question


Originally, I had thought to do these posts on Shane Stevens until my critical/investigative work actually saw print. However, I think this will be my last post for a long while.


Shane Stevens has long been an influence on my own writing. Researching his life, re-reading his work with a critical eye, and preparing my article have deepened that influence. I believe his novels stand as a testament to the true strength of crime fiction as a genre with a purpose and a voice, not merely entertainment and a celebration of the worst humanity has to offer.  In his novels, Stevens confronted rascism, poverty, greed, inequality and injustice. Like Warren Ellis recently said, crime fiction is social fiction.


Or, at least it should be.


Remembering this has empowered my own writing. You see, for the longest time, when I wrote it was only under artistic pretensions. I started getting somewhere when I finally put those aside, told the muse to go fuck herself, and hit this thing hard like it was work. And writing is work. It takes thought and it takes time and it takes effort


But re-reading Shane Stevens, it reminded me that writing is, also, art. Art must confront. Art must challenge. Otherwise, all this is just typing.


All of which, has made Stevens' neglect all the more difficult to stomach.

I wrote my piece on Stevens in the hope it might encourage people to seek out his work. He deserves to be remembered as more than, "that guy Stephen King talked about in The Dark Half." With the explosion of e-books, Stevens could easily undergo a literary resurrection without fear of anyone loosing money on a costly print-run. But I think for that to happen, there has to be a great deal more awareness of the man--which is why I’ve been toying around with the idea of starting a Facebook group dedicated to his work. A place where fans could gather. A place to discuss his work. A place of discovery.


When I was researching Stevens, it quickly became clear to me that the true source of information on the man and his life would have to come from actual people. I spent a lot of my research time attempting to track down people who knew him, people who remembered him. There just isn't anything else out there. Time is too great of an enemy. A Facebook group/fan page could unearth more details. A Facebook group/fan page could bring the people to me, to us, the fans, instead of trying to find them.


What do you think?


Is it worth it?


I honestly don't know and I honestly don't know if I want to dedicate more of my time to thisSure, I would like to come back to researching Stevens someday, when I'm backed by cash and time. Stevens is important to me, to my writing. I owe him a debt for the entertainment, I owe him a debt for reminding me what the purpose of crime fiction is. What the purpose of an artist is. I can actually say something in my writing. I think the only way I can repay that is by forging ahead in my own way because it is my writing. I sort of feel like I need to move on. That I need to take the inspiration he's given me and run with it. 
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