Paulelmo's Blog

The “uniqueness” of The Situation with Phillip

If anyone is interested here is the part of the proposal where I state the uniqueness of the novel, mostly by offsetting it against other novels. There may be some spoilers here, but nothing that will ultimately make the novel unreadable or less suspenseful.

Again, comments are welcome, and thanks for the attention to and feedback on the synopsis; I was very pleased in the interest.

 

 

Uniqueness

 

The uniqueness of The Situation with Phillip has to be measured in two different ways. First, we have to ask how it is unique as a kidnapping novel, and then how it is so as a faith-based novel.

As a kidnapping novel, it is unique from John Fowles’ classic, The Collector, in that we do not see Jeffrey as he sizes up Phillip as we see Frederick sizing up Miranda before he abducts her. Also, unlike The Collector, there is no sexual aspect here. Jeffrey admits his infatuation with Phillip is such that he had to question his sexuality—and we learn that he has tormented his female victims in that way—but that he has proven to himself that his attraction doesn’t bend that way. The Collector also begs the question of what is to come after the situation with Frederick and Miranda ends, while there is nothing after the situation with Phillip and Jeffrey. You get the resolution to the drama, and that’s it; what’s to come next is not for us to know.

Unlike Jacqueline Mitchard’s The Deep End of the Ocean, there is absolutely no mention of how Phillip’s family is affected by his disappearance. Also, unlike Mitchard’s book, we learn nothing about what might be happening with the search for Phillip; our entire story is set in Jeffrey’s house.

Misery by Stephen King is the novel that inspired this writing the most; The Situation with Phillip differs from King’s classic in that the two people involved in the dialectic are both intelligent people, which keeps the story flowing more quickly. For this I was closer to the dialog in the Edward Albee play The Zoo Story, which might be my favorite piece of American fiction and which was also a great inspiration.

Unlike a large portion of abduction novels today, Joan Lowery Nixon’s The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore, Anthony Hulse’s Hush Little Children, and Caroline B. Cooney’s The Face on the Milk Carton for example, the person or persons abducted are adults rather than children. Also, it is written by a man, when somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of the others are written by women.

It differs from many faith-based novels; BK Dell’s Mead Mountain comes to mind, because there is no great and uplifting theme to be taken here. What lessons and insights to be taken, I believe, lie beneath the suspense of the fiction; if they are gleaned, it will be done so in afterthought, once the drama has been resolved. The book ends with more questions, food for thought, than great revelations.

In all, I think it differs from all other faith based novels because I wrote it. My philosophy, and its focus on music, is unique. If readers take anything from this book, I would hope they would put this to use in their lives enough to reduce some of the stress and heighten their acceptance of the passage of life as it comes.

 

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