Yeval

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Yeval is the 2007 debut novel by C. W. Schultz. It is a first-person narrative of the life of a mentally unstable Seattleite who is haunted by an imaginary monster named Yeval. The novel is an experiment on how violence differentiates from entertainment and reality. The extent of gruesome violence, used to avoid glamorizing, makes the book an example of transgressive fiction.

Development

(Spoiler alert!)

Set in Seattle in the present, Yeval chronicles roughly one year of the life of a psychotic drug-dealer named Randy Mulray during a killing spree of a serial killer named the Seattle Slayer. Randy, who is 29 years old, narrates his struggles with: Yeval, his mentally-retarded brother Ryan, his father Kenneth (frequently referred to as “Asshole”), his current girlfriend Morgan, his ex-girlfriend Caroline, the police (including the detectives investigating the Slayer murders), fellow drug-dealers (mainly Louie), his mother’s death, gambling at Silver’s Casino, the Seattle Slayer, and himself (OCD, anger, anxiety, depression, suicide).

Randy deals marijuana, but claims to deal ecstasy and mushrooms when requested. He lives with a tremendous amount of guilt brought on by his mother’s death and his brother’s retardation. His guilt is fueled by continuous snide remarks from Yeval.

When the story begins, Randy is already on the threshold of insanity. As the story develops, it becomes apparent that Randy’s mind is rarely at peace and is warping his sense of reality further. Lists of music albums as well as movies present Randy as someone who is extremely obsessive, and his random compliments to himself show his craving for esteem brought on by lack of confidence. His mood swings from chapter to chapter, and even within chapters, proves he is enormously erratic.

Yeval’s beginning does not introduce Randy’s conflicts, nor does the conclusion end them. For the most part, it begins and ends with a yearlong killing spree of the Seattle Slayer. This highlights a time period which is most difficult for Randy. As someone who sees the deaths of Slayer’s victims in full detail, he feels responsible for them. Now, not only does Randy feel guilty for his mother’s death 20 years earlier, but also the deaths of several others that fell and are falling victim to the Seattle Slayer.

Although Randy does not achieve all his goals or overcome all his conflicts, he is able to: 1) defeat the Seattle Slayer, 2) learn how to cope with his problems, and 3) be at peace with his mother’s passing.

Randy’s harbored anger is unleashed at several points throughout the novel. Most of the time, anger is taken out on those who don’t deserve it such as fellow poker players and attractive women. When incensed, Randy occasionally makes offensive comments about women or homosexuals in order to cope with a situation that he has brought on himself. He often feels victimized when in a conflict he has started, and he feels responsible when in a conflict he has actually been victimized.

In the end, the Seattle Slayer is defeated and Randy falls back in love with his ex-girlfriend. However, this is at the price of his hand and it does not fully solve everything; but rather, it has been a journey of self-love and self-understanding.

Characters

Randy Mulray – Primary protagonist
Yeval – Primary antagonist
Doctor Dwight Jenkins – Randy’s psychologist
Caroline – Randy’s romantic interest
Detective Marlon Lime – Seattle Slayer investigator
Detective George Curtis – Seattle Slayer investigator
Morgan – Randy’s girlfriend
Kenneth Mulray – Randy’s father
Ryan Mulray – Randy’s brother
Chief Harold Milton – Seattle Slayer investigator
Louie – Randy’s drug source
Mrs. Mulray – Randy’s mother
Roberto – Louie’s friend
Sam – Randy’s acquaintance (referenced only)

Release

Writing for Yeval began as a screenplay back in 2005 and was eventually developed into a novel by 2007. On July 5, 2007, Yeval was released on paperback. On September 18, 2012, a Kindle Edition was released in promotion for Watch’s upcoming premiere at the Gig Harbor Film Festival.

From May 25, 2014 through May 25, 2015, askDavid featured Yeval.

Reception

Despite Yeval not being critically recognized, the Utica Public Library put the novel on their list of Guy Lit along with many other contemporary classics. Georgina Parfitt of TowerBabel gave the book a ★★★★ (out of five) review, calling the overall structure well-paced, going on to explain that although it is an uncomfortable read, it is nonetheless “interesting, and highly thought-provoking, with moments of really moving writing.”

Analysis

Yeval is arguably a satire on the misleading depictions of graphic violence in pop-culture, mainly film and music (as well as the news and videogames)—though Schultz has stressed it is by no means a direct criticism or judgment of any person, group or work mentioned in the novel. Schultz acknowledges that the use of pop-culture references can be taken as a demonstration of how some people may cling onto fiction because fact/reality has rejected them, thus possibly causing a reenactment and/or misinterpretation of a work of fiction; but Schultz presses that the mentioned films and music are not there to be used as an example of glamorizing, sensationalizing or sugar-coating anything.

Interpretations

Just like with other stories written by Schultz, Yeval has ambiguity which lends itself to being interpreted differently amongst readers. Analyzing or dismissing certain elements—such as: the way the violence is used and changes throughout the story, the gradual adjustments in Seattle Slayer’s modus operandi (MO), the use of pop-culture references, misogynistic and homophobic behavior from Randy, the ending, etc.—may result in differing perceptions of certain parts of the book or the story as a whole.

Trivia

• The backwards spelling of Yeval is Lavey, or LaVey. LaVey is the surname of Anton LaVey, the founder and High Priest of the Church of Satan.

Yeval was originally written as a screenplay that was over 160 pages in length, exceeding over 40 pages of the ideal screenplay. C. W. Schultz set the script aside after deciding there was nothing left to delete from the script. But after discovering transgressive fiction, Schultz was inspired to turn Yeval into a novel because a novel would allow him to really delve into the mind of Randy Mulray. Since using voice-overs in a script is a major turnoff for studios, Schultz did not get much of an opportunity to experiment with Randy’s thought-process in the script—which excluded, in Schultz’s opinion, a major element of the story of Yeval. Another way that Yeval being a novel worked in Schultz’s favor is that it allowed him to involve literature into the discussion of violence in entertainment, which is generally focused on and targeted at movies, music and videogames.

• The book features two chapters of the poker game Texas Hold’em. Like Randy Mulray, author C. W. Schultz used to be an avid poker player. Many of the actual hands dealt in the novel are hands witnessed by Schultz, with exaggerated reactions added after Randy loses.

• The murder of Roberto was solely inspired by the Armin Meiwes case.

• The idea of the Seattle Slayer disguising himself with white paint is based on a real life incident that Schultz’s mother told him about. Back in the early 1970s, Schultz’s mother was robbed at the restaurant she worked at by a man wearing a similar disguise; though the man who robbed her had caked flour on his face, not paint.

Possibility of Future Installments or Editions

There are currently no plans for a sequel. Schultz is not interested, explaining:

“No. I end a story because the story is over. If I wanted to continue the story, I would’ve simply made the book longer. Some people might call it a ‘cliffhanger’ ending. In a way, I guess it’s fair to call it that. But in my eyes, it was simply just the right way to end it. When Ted Bundy fried in the electric chair, the world still had to meet Jeffrey Dahmer.”

Schultz considered releasing a second edition of Yeval for its Tenth Year Anniversary, but ultimately decided against it. He addressed in a post on July 8, 2017:

It’s been nine months since a website update, and ten years since Yeval was published, so I thought I should say something.

For starters, I’m not one for nostalgia. Don’t get me wrong, I get that same warm feeling everyone else does when encountering a movie, song or show from my childhood (Hulu has Doug, by the way). But when it comes to my creative process, I never look back.

I had considered doing a second edition of Yeval, for its tenth year anniversary, but realized it’s just not in me to do something like that. When writing Yeval, I did the same thing as all my other books; I dedicated myself fully to the project… until publication. Aside from the promotional phase, I completely release myself from the book after publishing. I never wallow in my work after it’s been shared with the world. It’s not that I’m tired of it; it’s the painful obsession of wanting to make revisions over and over. My work would never be published if I gave into this urge. There are always minor tweaks you want to make. Before you know it, it could end up being a completely different story. So, to go back after ten years and do a second edition of Yeval would surely result in me making changes. Then, I’d set myself up for a twentieth anniversary edition, thirtieth, fortieth, fiftieth… it’d never end. Maybe some writers are interested in doing this; perhaps it breathes new life into their work. For me, I have no interest.

In saying that, it’s actually not unusual for me to go back and reference excerpts for my portfolio, and when I go back to Yeval, there’s something special about it. I’m sure some people will say, “If you obsess over your work while you’re writing it, why are there grammar errors on page X and again on page Y, and how did you miss the one on page Z?” When it comes to grammar, no writer, regardless of how renowned they are, is free of making mistakes. That’s why there are proofreaders. Even the big publishing houses, with several eyes on one book, still get the occasional error printed. So, I don’t think of grammar as the make-or-break of a book for me. My focus has always been the story, and it always will be. When given the opportunity, I try to adopt the label of “storyteller” over “author” or “writer” because I think the latter two evoke the idea of being a walking talking dictionary and thesaurus. If that’s what a writer is supposed to be, count me out.

There are times where I think it’s necessary to explain myself, but a good majority of the time, I believe my work speaks for itself. Yeval is a great example of this, whether we’re talking about my intentions, creative decisions or grammar errors. Going back and skimming through for good excerpts, I often find myself satisfied by its rawness. There’s no hint of pressure or influence about it. This book was truly indie. I let no criticism hold me back from what I felt was necessary for the story. When it came out in July 2007, my instinct was to be ready to explain myself. As time went on, I matured to the philosophy that if I didn’t put it in the book, then explaining it wasn’t necessary. Every time I go back and flip through the book, I’m afraid I might find something that I wish I would’ve done differently or explained a little better. But I didn’t. When I revisit the random paragraphs or pages (and, rarely, entire chapters) once or twice a year, I remember exactly why I did what I did. For all the life lessons I’ve learned in the last ten years, and all the maturity I’ve done as a writer, I’m very happy that I can go back to my very first book and still confidently stand behind it. Take a guy like Bill Maher, who says he can’t even bring himself to watch his old standup because he thinks it’s so bad and he’s come such a long way. I don’t have that feeling with Yeval.

I guess this means, even ten years gone, I’m still proud of Yeval.

International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs)

• ISBN 978-1-4196-6859-3 (paperback, 2007)