Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Crafty and Devious God by Ted Krever

At the height of the first dotcom boom, when novices were becoming billionaries before lunch and all a girl had to do to be a sensation was take her clothes off now and then, a middle-aged man going through a painful, rancorous divorce gets involved with an Internet exhibitionist. A brilliant and ambitious exhibitionist, who’s determined to parlay her site into fame and an IPO -and who’s not above concocting a fictional life story to ensure getting the attention she wants.
And then the story and the life begin to knit together all too closely…

Ted Krever watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, went to Woodstock (the good one), and graduated Sarah Lawrence College with a useless degree in creative writing.

He spent the next few decades in media journalism, at ABC News on the magazine show Day One with Forrest Sawyer and the Barbara Walters Interviews of a Lifetime series, as General Manager of BNNtv, a documentary production company, creating programs for CNN, A&E, Court TV, CBS, MTV News, Discovery People and CBS/48 Hours, and as VP/Production of a short-lived dotcom, followed swiftly by nine months of unemployment.

Ted now writes novels and sells mattresses in Staten Island NY, a job which registers at a loathsome -98 on the Cosmopolitan Eligible Male Job-Status Guide. Ted is happily divorced, purports to be a good kisser and hopes for world peace.

He was once accused of attempting to blow up Ethel Kennedy with a Super-8 projector.

What will readers like about your book? 
Well, I think different aspects will appeal to different people. There’s a good deal of sex in it and who doesn’t like sex? There’s also a serio-comic look at a rancorous divorce from the hapless husband’s point of view. Everything from your newly-ex-wife keeping you from seeing your son to realizing you left in such a rush you left your socks behind. I wrote the book during the divorce and certainly the 23-year-old exhibitionist was a bit of wish-fulfillment on my part. However, I’m a storyteller—you never leave things at wish-fulfillment. In a good story, as opposed to real life, most characters get what they deserve and in this case, my character get hoist with his own petard but good. So I think that’s fun as well.

Why did you self-publish? 
The most interesting change brought on by self-publishing is the one in my head. I spent years pursuing agents and publishers, trying to figure out what they wanted. They don’t make it easy, particularly recently, to some extent because they’re all panicking as the business shifts and dissolves under their feet. Books are selling; it’s the book business as we know it that’s dying. At a certain point, it occurred to me that what I really wanted wasn’t a publisher or a million-dollar advance (well…); what I wanted were readers. So now I’m reaching out to find my readers. And it’s really relaxed me as an author. Art can’t be made by committee—you follow your own muse. So now I’m able to simply do that.

What inspired you to write this particular story? 
Two months before I left my wife, I sat down at the desk and decided to write a novel. I’d gotten a degree in creative writing and written a horrible novel right out of school. I’d written a web serial AOL wanted to buy but I was stubborn, I wanted some equity in my work and they refused so I did too. But now I started writing about the situation I was in and continued to do so as I moved out and after. I made up all the details but I got the feeling right. It’s a very disorienting time, I think particularly for husbands. Men don’t have the social networks women do and sympathy typically rests with the woman, which I don’t really have a problem with. But I think it’s an interesting book because, underneath all the crazy things that happen, there’s a pretty honest and unsentimental take on a man in the midst and I don’t think it’s a common subject.


The sun is bouncing off the windows on the far side of the street. Behind the stores, the darkness is moving in over the ocean, the eastern edge of sky, the darkness ready to take over so quickly this time of year.

She’s beginning to move under the lights again, checking out the cameras online now. And I give in to the moment, to my stupid impulse to do the job right, to my endless dull conscientiousness.

“You know, we have to fix your lighting,” I tell her. “You don’t have it set up right for dancing.”

I’d found myself thinking about it after I’d gotten home the other night. She’d concentrated her lights in just a few places around the room, to get dramatic effect for her close-ups, I guessed. That didn’t leave enough in the central part of the room, where she did her dancing.

The result was that, instead of any detail, the dances showed a smearing, streaky movement, a representation of what was happening, instead of the thing itself.

So now, I start moving a few lights around to show her. To show her I can make it better.

“Don’t do that,” she says. “I like it the way it is.”

I insist on showing her how it would look. I’ll show her I can make it better. And the skeptical voice in my head says, I’ll show me, maybe. I’ll show me I can still do something.

She dances a little for me, once the lights are set up ‘properly’.

The pictures are crystal-clear. They show every false step, every movement off the beat. They show the frayed edges of her shawl, the dirty dishes stacked in the kitchen sink and newspapers in a pile near the deck.

Then she plays back the tape of her dance the other night. The dim light is moody, mysterious. The shawl is a cape and jet exhaust. She cuts a ghostly figure, the smearing video tracing her movements and stylizing them all at once. I begin to see this isn’t dance, not in any traditional sense. It is movement for the camera, and for a fuzzy Web camera at that. She has invented something that works for this new form.

“You’re right—it’s better your way,” I say, and start moving the lights back where she had them.

She grabs a light, to help. Then she arches an eyebrow and says, “Did I tell you my first boyfriend was 18 years older than me?” and I nearly stop breathing.

Is this thing coming on to me? I quash the question instantly—there’s no sense to it, on any level beyond my own vanity.

“I’m doing my first Webcast tonight,” she says now. “Would you hang out and make sure I don’t have any problems? I’ll pay you for the time.”


My Website (six books and a blog):

A Crafty and Devious God’ on Amazon


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