Friday, 28 August 2015

Where is Daniel Ohm?

Partial list of items found in the flat of missing writer Daniel Ohm:

An Oral-B toothbrush with blue “brush faster” stripes: bristles bent backwards during late-night speed-brushing in an eagerness to head to bed, and the occasional bristle-nibble to remove excess toothpaste.

A copy of erotic novel Hot to Touch by Kimberly Kaye Terry, inscribed on the first page To Christine: GET U R FREAK ON, with a thin settling of dust on the cover from nine months spent unsent on the dresser. The novel had been purchased on the back of a humorous conversation about amusingly titled erotica at a writing group, and remained there while Daniel mused on the inappropriateness of having purchased a novel with his own funds as a callback to the drunken amusement that night: perhaps Christine might find the novel some pre-fumbling to his own erotic approach, or have forgotten the conversation in a week’s time, and receive the book with embarrassment?

A half-completed manuscript entitled The Secret Life of Douglas Arm: one hundred and two A4 pages featuring an unproductive writer at work not writing his opus, visiting the shop downstairs to lech over the cute shopgirl three times during her shift, and his unedited thoughts on long walks round the town, musing on his artistic failure. Each page contained copious marginalia consisting of harsh self-criticism (“crapcrapcrap”, “WHY?!”, “seek help”), ending with the phrase “burn this” on the last page. Whether this criticism was intended as part of or a comment on the manuscript is unclear.

A drawerful of unopened bags of Revels. A form of Pavlovian discipline for working on his manuscript: for each paragraph completed to his satisfaction, a favoured flavour (toffees and Galaxy counters) was eaten, and for each paragraph deemed adequate but in need of serious revision, the lesser flavours were endured.

A pentacle of the Purple Goddess Wiccan ornament. The final trace of his sixteen-month relationship with Gail Stevens, the account manager who liked to read, and who read Daniel’s unpublished comic novel about depressed crop-dusters, Coming a Cropper, considered for a week at Gangplank Press. The relationship petered out after Gail was worn down by Daniel’s fondness for moping and persistent self-examination.

A series of post-it notes scattered around the flat with questions such as: should I write?, what should I write?, what is original?, what is the point?, when will I ever complete my opus?, what is the point of an opus?, etc.

The complete novels of Macdonald Harris in hardback.

The search continues . . .

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Penny for Them?

Penny for them?: An Homage in Imitation of Hervé Le Tellier

I was thinking how the rise of atheism will only help to serve capitalist bastardry.

I was thinking I cannot understand the logic of wanting to sire children.

I was thinking I have never been seriously impacted by a change of government.

I was thinking the more I read the harder it becomes to appreciate truly adequate craftsmanship.

I was thinking how my ineptness at living seriously impaired your thirst for living.

I was thinking whether Christine Brooke-Rose might have had fun in the Oulipo, and whether her refusal to participate was a rather English and arch decision.

I was thinking how the malleability of the future should be embraced, provided one has reliable support beams.

I was thinking whether my attempts to become an intellectual will bring me as much happiness as perpetually clowning around.

I was thinking how I never wanted our relationship to evolve beyond the nostalgia of our first two years together.

I was thinking how killable sexual fantasies might be if their attendant smells were introduced.

I was thinking the more you write, the more the right words materialise, and how ironic it was that I changed the last word of this thought when transferring from notepad to laptop.

I was thinking that Will Self resembles Gogol’s remark from ‘The Nose’ of Ivan Ivanovich’s head as “a radish with the tail pointing down”.

I was thinking how other writers save pertinent quotes on their hard drives in the event they may one day need a fitting epigraph.

I was thinking how my working class upbringing will always leave me feeling a charlatan around literary people.

I was thinking how my girlfriend may be pretending to sleep as I write these pearls in bed beside her.

I was thinking when I told you I had published a story, your first enquiry was about the fee, not the content.

I was thinking how unapt it was my girlfriend said in her sleep: “no books for you today.”

I was thinking how depressing it is that my writing friends continue to produce prose in conventional forms, and how I must pretend to find their success pleasing, and how much more envious I would be if they published a formally inventive novel to acclaim.

I was thinking I will never have an agent.

I was thinking I will never make enough from writing to pay even two months rent.

I was thinking I could never render you or our time together unsentimentally in prose.

I was thinking how non-writers patronise writers struggling to support themselves with their work and how much pleasure is taken in their failing to do so.

I was thinking how an unwritten rule in social conversation is never to speak in sentences over 30 seconds long.

I was thinking I am unsure if I find Courtney Bartnett’s music irritating or infectious.

I was thinking how pathetic it is when I resent attractive female writers for being both attractive and talented.

I was thinking how almost everyone resents brazenly displayed intelligence.

I was thinking a friend of mine’s well-polished anecdotes might be rehearsed beforehand in the mirror.

I was thinking how important it is we can read together for hours in bed.

I was thinking I love my own company too much to sustain a long-term relationship.

I was thinking how fucking banal these thoughts might read to an outsider.

I was thinking how I have never met an unboring drunk.

I was thinking how little people care about social graces.

I was thinking I wasted £50 to watch, from a balcony a mile from the stage, a teensy Morrissey performing an uninspired set.

I was thinking how passionate love often struggles to transcend a fondness for shit novels and corny music.

I was thinking I will always be poor, and whether this should particularly bother me.

I was thinking only writers would have the arrogance to believe people might want to read a stream of their semi-varnished thoughts.

I was thinking I have 1325 Goodreads followers and hardly any of them wish to discuss books with me.

I was thinking to maintain most of my friendships, I have to engineer 90% of our meetings, and whether this reflects more on my desirability as friend then on my friends’ laziness for planning.

I was thinking of you, whoever you may be.