Coming of age in black and white – WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED

Before G, PG and PG13 movie ratings, we had As and Bs. I was quite young when the rating system changed but I still remember my parents talking in whispers about B movies.

Unlike PG13 movies which often ride the popular wave of slapstick sex and references, a B movie might have been more subtle – as though you were viewing lives – broken or criminal or sensual lives – through a veil. They were salty and sultry – like a lipstick stain on a cigarette butt – and usually not slapstick. So much implied, so little exposed. And if done well, the noir black and white B-rated movie ended with unease.

That’s what makes WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED so special. It’s Bogart and Hitchcock coming together for a coming of age.

Here’s what Blundell says about it at Teenreads.com

Then once I had the story elements in place, I realized that I had incorporated some of the elements of film noir — the mysterious stranger, the blonde, the fact that nobody is telling the complete truth.

And now I’m taken with figuring out how she did it. What are the elements that created this unique voice? That set the story not only perfectly in the historic time frame but also in the tone and manner of storytelling back in the day?

It starts with the cover and the title – masterfully executed.

Then consider this language

“She took a cigarette pack out of her apron pocket, then her gold lighter. She tapped out the cigarette, then placed it between her lips and lit it. She took a fleck of tobacco off her botton lip. She was wearing Revlon’s Fatal Apple lipstick – the most tempting color since Eve winked at Adam.

Or my favorite:

“I was part of the hot, dark night. The night was all breath and air. I was all skin.

Then there’s the superficial glitz and underlying sleaze of the off-season Palm Beach setting:

“I got to know how a hotel worked. I saw closets that the maids disappeared into to fill carts top-heavy with towels and stinky with soaps. I saw the bored clerk at the desk sneaking looks at a girlie magazine. I saw the valets sitting on the white stone wall, smoking cigarettes. I peeked into the lounge with the stuffed sailfish where Mean Fat Man sat drinking alone every night.”

Finally consider the pacing and scene jumps. Blundell places little focus on the hurricane itself, even though it happens at the climax. The story isn’t slowed down. The speed and scarcity of the of the detailing creates cinematic snapshots. Just like back in the day when special effects weren’t all that special.

But I want to hear more. What were your favorite lines? How did you feel about the film noir tone? And what else worked or didn’t work in this story for you? Let’s discuss.

 

2 Comments

  1. &quot;It&#39;s Bogart and Hitchcock coming together for a coming of age.&quot;<br /><br />What a great way of summing it up! I love the examples you give.

  2. I haven&#39;t read it but you&#39;ve totally sold me!<br /><br />(runs off to local indie….)

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