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 25th, 2014 through May 25th, 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.

Likelihood of a Sequel

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.”

International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs)

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