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trace of his sixteen-month relationship with Gail Stevens, the account manager who liked to read, and who read Daniel’s unpublished comic novel about depressed crop-dusters, Coming a Cropper, considered for a week at Gangplank Press.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 . . .

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