Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Intimidation Through Tedium: A 4,727,727-Book Series

I was sharing a hookah with the editors at Penguin last night. We talked about memoirs and how people love to read about mundane lives, providing the authors have heat. For those who don’t care, HEAT is another word for shit-flavoured. It means somewhere, at some point in the afternoon, a TV camera is pointing at you and people want to know how it feels to be you. The editors suggested I embark on writing the most audaciously detailed memoirs in history. Something that would start as a literary experiment, but grow into a worldwide phenomenon so unconscionably boring people would have no choice but to revert to reading proper works of well-crafted fiction.

The idea is to isolate all the nano-moments in between microseconds. Or even shorter than that. Imagine Ulysses slowed down and stretched out over a four million book series, covering all possible things in each moment from getting out of bed to eating breakfast. How would this work in prose? Obsessively detailed descriptions of each nano-thought, object, movement, physical process. Such endless, obsessive detail about a boring life taken to such a horrifyingly precise extreme, the reader would have no choice. He would have to read something good. Roddy Doyle, James Joyce, Philip Kerr, anything!

The editors call this strategy Intimidation Through Tedium. Instead of establishing an illusion of excitement at first—a celebrity, a singer cavorting with riches—then deadening the reader with dull books, the books would come first, and a fascination with pure boredom would develop. Soon, the reader would be so consumed with boredom, in a last-ditch act of suicidal desperation, they would reach for a Haruki Murakami or John Burnside. Because the alternative, well . . . they never want to go back to that horror. NEVER!


  1. Will you sign my copy of That Moment Before Work When You Realise You Are But a Cosmic Fart in the Cosmos and Hate Your Sorry Stupid Life?

  2. Absolutely. You can read it at work.