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  • Richard Tattoni

On Reading Transforming The Naked Mind



Fill the empty mind with words. Read and listen. But real radio is boring fluff. Make alternative news cool again. Nobody will live off the land in the future and everybody will need to adapt and live off the water. Interpret this news as survival of growing dark energy.

If you believe we'll need to adapt, then let's start to diversify our reading now to think differently. Most contemporary stories prepare readers for the future. Storytelling on terrestrial radio died. I proved this theory on YouTube with a channel mocking ordinary radio. The network provides a rough plot outline of a story in radio through shows. The completed first draft of a second novel called Lionheart Leaks got its first review. The new reader comments: “it is not boring to read, that much I could tell.” She believes it’s "promising" and suitable for the genre of dark fiction.

But this isn’t about why I failed at producing radio shows or why I’ve changed careers from the media industry to the publishing industry. It’s about how reading improves writing and opens the doors to knowledge. Ever read Slaughterhouse-Five and then desperately want to make it into Slaughterhouse-Eleven for middle-grade students? Ever read The Rum Diary and then want to go beyond and make it better? Probably not, but re-tellings happen every day. But I’m such a kook my ideas morph into wildly original stories not related to anything ever done before.

The naked mind needs to be open. Books open your mind and then fill your head with other thoughts, opinions and perspectives. I recently finished reading Naked Lunch and I was mutilated by openly racist perversion from the mind of William S. Burroughs. I also couldn’t believe the honesty and impact after reading Hunter S. Thompson's writing of gonzo journalism.

Before I write, I’ll read, then think about it after closing the book. I’ll open a blank word document and type thoughts from wild interpretation. Research new ideas by reading when exhausted by experience. Books can nourish a paranoid mind when its starved for enlightenment. Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas and Trainspotting are books loaded with mastery on drugs.

I’m admittedly a slow reader. I read analytically and I’ll always read between the lines for style, form and technique as well as story, plot and dialogue. On a technical level, The Princess Bride uses repetition while the Beat Generation uses rhythmic writing. Kurt Vonnegut can oversimplify his writing with short sentences and uses clarity to deliver stories. It takes real art.

Sometimes, we crave flowery writing from narrative verse prose of the Beat Generation. Sometimes, we want stories told from different points of view or sometimes we want a simple story from the deranged mind of Kurt Vonnegut telling us over and over, “So it goes.”


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