It's All Right Here in Black and White
The concept of this book is so original that it will make you want to smack your forehead and say, “Durn, why didn’t I think of that?”
Black pages, white type on the left, white with black type on the right. Rants and solutions, arguments and clarity. Hard statements and affirmations.
In a world that now begins its days with soy lattes, stays in touch via PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants—where have you BEEN?), and ends its long, hurried, overscheduled days with CNN images of terror and world events flickering as their eyes sink closed, much to their chagrin, this is a book that you should read. Because your days are tough enough. The days are filled with ambiguity, with maybes and naysayers, with time changes and missed buses. Your reading should be a rest stop, a welcome mat, and yes, a challenge.
There are moments in this books that are poignant, maddening, quirky, exhilarating but one thing is for sure: It will change you. The clarity that will overcome you will shimmy its way down to your baby toes.
This schizophrenic look at good and evil, and good and not-so-good comes from the imaginative mind of R.P. Moore, a man who has compiled stories from his experiences, from those around him and from just observing. Eerily, you might find yourself or someone very similar here.
BLACK PAGE:I went from Corporate Account Executive to selling flowers from a cart in a mall. WHITE PAGE:I went from being stressed out, miserable, and tied-down to being creative, content, and free.
Moore can be tender and forgiving in one set of black-and-whites and then be all funny and harsh in the next.
BLACK PAGE:.and crystals are very effective for removing deadened energy from the cracks and corners of your living space. WHITE PAGE: Oh please. Get out the vacuum cleaner and get busy. You’ll feel better.
With deft prose, he is able to vivify any pop-culture occurrence, like the reference to feng shui or something as large as Christmas.
While there is much room for laughter, there are some very serious pages too. Touching on subjects like sexuality, status, disease, relationship mind games, Moore is able to be smart and get his message across in one talented breath.
He uses fonts to his advantage and while the book has a lot of white (or black, depending which side you’re on at the moment) space, the message is never lost.
BLACK PAGE: Crap, man! I’ve got to get this report done in 5 minutes and this goddamn computer will not stop crashing! FUCK!!! I’m not gonna get this thing done! WHITE PAGE: As you ask, so shall you receive. The computer will not stop crashing. You are not going to get this thing done.
Moore is so unbearably honest in parts, you will wonder how someone can let you into their very being so easily like that.
BLACK PAGE: I’m afraid you think the white pages of this book are stupid and too mushy and just some kind of fairyland drivel. WHITE PAGE: “Notice how fear didn’t stop me.
This kind of forthrightness is so welcomed, so needed in this world of mixed messages, cryptic emails and coupons made to look like cheques.
This concept, now that you and I know about it, should be applied to almost any situation that we may come across. It will help us decide what we really want, what really matters. And for that, we need to thank R. P. Moore. In a not so black-and-white world, he has made us see colour.
BLACK PAGE: I want to buy this book for everyone I know this Christmas. This is going to cost me a fortune!!! WHITE PAGE: I want to buy this book for everyone I know this Christmas. It will be money well spent.
Interview with R.P. Moore, author of The Black & White Book
How did the idea of doing the Black-and-White pages come to you?
Great. Your first question WOULD have to be the one that brings my sanity into question. Sigh. Well, the last story in the book actually hints at this. And I decided not long ago to tell the whole story in a biographical account on my website. It really all began when, after years of opting not to take medication for my AIDS condition, I became so gravely ill that I actually died or moved beyond so to speak. No treatment was working for me and I was really quite ready to die, so I totally welcomed this. I hate to sound so esoteric… so woo-woo... because it really didn’t seem mysterious to me at all, but when I left my body, I was on like this mountain top and I was being shown some definite points toward the horizon. I instinctively knew what it all meant, which was there were important things I still had to fulfill. Things beyond anything I had ever thought possible. I wasn’t shown what they were. It wasn’t time to know. Anyway, I simply had to come back and I did, obviously. I swear that within hours it was as if I had never been sick and I feared absolutely nothing. Pictures of me immediately after that time reveal how literally radiant I was. I’d love to have that euphoria back.
A couple of years later, I was reading Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch. His idea “Hitler went to Heaven” hit me right between the eyes and I was struck with the vision for my book. It was as if his words were the final piece of a lifetime puzzle for me. Once again, I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to write this book. I knew it was the missing link to my death experience. I knew who I was to speak to and I knew it would be published as long as I got it written. Rarely in this life have I “known” anything. It’ s another condition I’d love to have back… believe me.
What was the hardest part of writing the book for you?
For me, getting started is always the hardest part of anything. I must tell you, though, I was absolutely swept away with inspiration for this project. After an initial period of getting started and designing the layout, I wrote almost the entire book in a week. I just couldn’t stop writing.
How long a process was it, the writing of the book?
From the time I saw the face of God… just kidding… no, from the time I had that profound little death experience until it hit the shelves, it was… umm… five and half years. From the time it was actually written until it hit shelves it was almost exactly two years. As timeless as I think this book is, that delay will explain a few references some people might find a little odd. Like the Christopher Reeve thing.
Was it hard trying to convince the publisher to do it?
Not hard to convince the publisher that finally accepted it, but freakin’ impossible to get any other publisher to even discuss it. I had made professionally bound mock-ups of the book so they really looked like they were ready for the shelf. These were unusually high-quality manuscripts and always very inviting to anyone who saw one. But once a publisher—and even some of my close friends—cracked the cover, they shrieked with horror as their buttons were pushed and they slammed it shut forever. It was a much lengthier book in its original form… a couple of stories really pushed the limits of people’s ability to accept. Even in its final form, it scares the crap out of some people. That’s why it says on the back cover that it may hit too close to home. The total gem of an editor I wound up working with, Greer Hendricks at Pocket, actually wanted to keep most every story that made the rest of those pansy ass publishers leery. It’s totally unheard of in the industry, but Greer respected my request to keep absolutely every thing intact as it was orignally prepared. That was also part of my allegedly insane vision about the book… I “knew” the stuff we used had to and would be kept as it was originally inspired.
In a lot of the passages, you are quite forthright in opinion, whether it’s yours or a collective voice. Were you concerned about how that (you) would be viewed?
Not one bit. That’s partially because I believe it’s balanced out by the more accepting white side. As I mentioned, I have been surprised how many people have been mortified by the harsh language and tough perspectives on the black side (and apparently somehow never to get around to reading the white side). As I state in the book, though, if that’s the experience someone has with this piece, then it simply is not for them. I want them to close the book. Getting anxiety over this thing is totally counter to its purpose.
No, I am speaking to people who are no strangers to anger or depression or frustration. I’m certainly no stranger to any of those conditions myself, so I promise you this book really does reflect the real me. When I’m pissed, I let it all out. When I’m depressed, I don’t pretend like everything’s Tweety birds and hearts. I’ve learned to be exactly where I am in any given moment because it’s the quickest way I’ve ever found to get back to being happy.
What were your family and friends’ reactions?
My best friend hates this book. It’s been difficult for me to learn this about her, but she’s one of the ones that still believes anger and fear are more real than love. My next best friend, however, adores this book and is my biggest fan. Most of my friends have been quite in awe of it. As a matter of fact, my boss at the time saw one of my mock-ups and, even though our relationship had always been strained, he was so moved by it he actually made the phone call that landed me my agent.
My biggest concern was how my Bible-thumping, diehard Jesus freak mother would react. I was so concerned that she would find my ideas to be a sin against God that I didn’t let her know about the entire project until the book was physically being published. She’s such a fanatic I had visions of her storming Simon & Schuster and throwing a few baseball bats into the presses just to make sure this thing didn’t get published. She never ceases to amaze me… either with her 1800’s beliefs or incredible ability to adapt. She actually thought it was a very inspiring book. I figured my often excessive use of foul language would get her panties in a wad for sure. Know what her biggest complaint was? I used the word “God” in vain… as in, “Oh my God!” Please.
Does B&W have a cult following?
Yes. The three of us meet in a tightly guarded secret location and perform bizarre rituals. Honestly though, if it does have a following, they haven’t let me know about it.
Tell us something about you—What is your job background?
I went to college to be an automotive designer, hated it, switched over to advertising and graphic design and have been trapped in the apparel industry for years and years and years. I just took a new position as Art Director at a pretty cool company, actually.
Have you always known you wanted to write?
My life has been very much about trying to figure out what the freakin’ hell I’m supposed to do. I’ve been an artist and have been supported fairly well as a result, but I never really believed it was my calling. No, I have not always known I wanted to write. I certainly do now. I always loved writing and it always came naturally to me, but like every far-fetched creative endeavor I set out to accomplish before and failed miserably, I figured I need not even bother. Until my little vision for this book.
What are you working on now?
The morning of the Trade Center attacks, I sent my next manuscript to my agent who works blocks away from “Ground Zero”. I couldn’t have sent this at a worse time, not only because of delays in delivery, but because this unbelievable tragedy made everything else pale in comparison. This book I had toiled over the last couple of months suddenly seemed stupid and irrelevant to me.
Nevertheless, this manuscript is a book about racist issues and political correctness in the United States. I can’t say much about it right now, but, like The Black and White Book, it is done in a unique way and from a pretty unusual perspective. It doesn’t have any weird colored pages or things popping out of it or anything, though. I haven’t heard from my agent. That either means he hates it, hates me, and doesn’t want to represent me anymore or that he loves it and is busy getting reactions from industry types. It took him two months and a stern phone call to finally get him to tell me he wanted to get The Black and White Book published.
What authors, artists, musicians, and muses have influenced you?
I’m most inspired by music but just as much by the lives of the musicians… and artists… and actors. For instance, I loathed Madonna when she first came onto the scene. But as I began to see her in interviews and got to hear the motivations behind what she was doing, I came to adore her and her music.
I hate his music but I like Marilyn Manson. Anyone who doesn’t see beyond the makeup and the over-the-top tactics to get attention is living in a fog. Again, in interviews it becomes rapidly clear he has an ingenius sense of humor and deep love for human beings. Like me and like Madonna, he just wants us to get over ourselves and our fear. I generally like anyone who pushes the boundaries. Don’t really like Eminem, though. I have yet hear him say too much that’s redeeming.
As far as writing goes, very early on when I was a kid I loved Erma Bombeck. Her humor and off-the-wall style of writing represented everything I aspired to be. Mel Brooks, too. When I saw “Airplane” for the first time I could hardly believe it! There was someone else in the world with a totally off-beat perspective… and was providing hours of mind-tweaking entertainment. These types of figures showed me they were weird, funny, and nothing close to normal. I wanted in.
In terms of this book, I think it’s important to also say I’m equally inspired as to what I do not want to be. I recently addressed this in the weekly feature on my site. I do not admire and actually have very little respect for anyone that either proclaims themselves to be spiritual gurus or gladly accepts that title from others. I adore Louise Hay because she oftens states throughout her work that she really doesn’t do anything… that we do our healing for ourselves. I don’t dig Marianne Williamson at all. I’m convinced she’s way full of herself. That’s not to say she’s not capable of creating some beautiful words and ideas. It’s just that arrogance turns me totally off.
Has living in California influenced your writing or focus?
You better believe it has! Assuming my recent manuscript sees the light of day, you’ll be able to get an in depth look at just how this has been the land of enlightenment for me. Having grown up in a small rural farming community in the Tennessee Bible Belt, I knew only religious guilt and limitation and knew virtually nothing of the world around me. Coming here has placed me in the company of people who ask questions and are not afraid to find the answers. I’ve gotten to experience a wide, wide range of spiritual avenues that you just can’t get over there in the sticks… At least not at the time I lived there.
"The stories in this collection are circular, puzzling; they often end as cruelly as they do quietly, the characters and their journeys extinguished with poisonous calm.READ the article