Friday, 12 August 2016


Advance Praise Bought comments on The House of Writers:

“Hey, man! Thanks for transferring the £50. You want me to ramble on about your novel’s kickassitude? Sure. It’s sitting on the bookcase, man. I have priorities, like Franzen’s and DeLillo’s latest. I like you, man, but I ain’t bumping those two LEGENDS for your little scribbling. Anyway, use this: MJ ROCKS AND THIS IS MUCH BETTER THAN THAT JUVENILE EFFORT WITH BELCH IN THE TITLE. PEACE.” — @davey46

“Mr. Nicholls, I have read this latest novel submission with interest. Thank you for sending the other manuscripts, Publish This You Cretins, Your Publishing Firm is a Tide of Effluent, Everything You Publish I Ignore on Principal. I will assign those to our intern readers. I would like to make a personal comment: why the bitterness? This novel is simply a brutal outpouring of personal grievances, score-settling resentments, and misanthropic moans about the world’s refusal to crown you a genius. I am afraid we cannot publish this.” — A Man at Penguin Books

“Dear Mark, I have had a look at some of your book now. I’m afraid that it isn’t my thing. Good luck with it. […] Just to send you a few more words … there were some things I liked in your MS, it’s just that a blurb needs to be a real affirmation and I feel uneasy offering that here I’m afraid. Please don’t be too disheartened and make sure you keep writing.” — Alex Kovacs

“Mark. I’m sorry, but I had to skip that nine-page list. It went on far too long. Why didn’t you make it easier for the reader? I’m sorry, but I couldn’t really understand what the book was about. Your father is reading the Jack Reecher novels, why don’t you write something like that?” — Mrs Nicholls

“This is a pleasant, amusing, moving, and engaging novel written by a talented person.” — CheapBlurbs4U

“A ho-hum gallimaufry of stop-start narratives, banal tangents, and boorish satirical pokes.” — Harold Sorrentino

“The nadir of attempted comedy.” — Lydia Theroux

““This novel is a crisp, buttery concoction that tantalises the mind . . . a soft and mouthwatering crunch of pleasure tingling on the cortices and yumming up the imagination.” — Gregg’s Bakers

“Labyrinthine satiric masterpiece . . . destined for a place in the pantheon of eternal pleasures” — M.J. Nicholls

Page 219:

I am the author of this novel and I have lied to you, and taken unhealthy pleasure in lying to you, and I will continue to lie to you until you beg for more. I have lied about everything in my real life (which does not exist—even as the “author” I am a construct invented to represent aspects of the “real” author—however, let’s not tangle ourselves in semantic or metaphysical notions. I have lied my way through life, relishing in the saltiest untruths. When people have asked me, “Is that soup made of string?”, I have replied, “No. That soup is made of soup.” I have told many dirty, unfair lies, and I have delighted in every one. The truth is a pointless concept, invented by non-writers to keep the masses logical and docile, to eliminate the pleasures of fiction-making. Punch the truth hard.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Only a Crohn in Her Game

I have known my sister Kathleen now for nearly three decades, and I have to say, I think the broad is growing on me. I first met her in 1986, when she had the audacity to emerge from the matriarch three years earlier, basking in the limelight of being the second child to appear after a startling hiatus of eighteen years. This effrontery aside, I finally deigned to speak to the wise and witty chick, and I found our colloquies stimulating and fruitful, and the childhood larks we spent of a high calibre. Last week I attended the launch of her non-fiction book Go Your Crohn Way: A Gutsy Guide to Living with Crohn’s Disease, and I was impressed to see that she has lived up to that early promise I heard when she first whispered her literary plans into my amniotic ears in the hospital room two minutes after my birth.

                                   (a colloquy on the early works of Will Self)
The book launch was hosted at the Edinburgh Royal Society, where a splendidly organised knees-up awaited the invited guests. But first, a portrait of the “diseased dame” herself as a young artist. As a small individual, K. was a bright and artistic being: busying herself with painting, designing, drawing, and writing in various forms, most notably as a prolific diarist on a par with Samuel Pepys: an epic tome I am informed is still kept to this date. We collaborated on various works, mostly short-lived magazines that now reside in private collections, until aging and the teenage fog separated us as collaborators. It had piqued me for years that K. was not exploiting her artistic talents to the degree I deemed satisfactory, and I would often nudge her into pursuing a reckless life of art-making and to hell with the consequences, but a horrible invader arrived and put the kibosh on these larks: Crohn’s Disease.

This violent disease, written about with eloquence, passion (against), and hilarity in Go Your Crohn Way, reached a critical stage in the mid-to-late twenties of this loquacious lass, and at the time I recall the angst and helplessness at seeing my sensational sibling have to encounter this hurricane of horror, and to a large extent, I withdrew, offering whatever crumbs of support I could. I suggested (along with her partner—more on this colossus of a man in a mo) she write a blog as a form of therapy, and this became Crohnological Order (award-winning), and the terrific book crohnicling the experience. The book is a thorough and compassionate no-folds-barred peek into the life of a sassy Scottish woman with a big brain who has insightful and sensible things to say, who has a clear-sighted (loo)handle on her condition, and who is willing to share her ordeals to help the afraid with their fraught futures. Enough said. Order the book via this link.

The launch was a splendid evening: prepared with panache and compèred by K.’s male man, James, who also acted as interviewer for the brief Q+A, and attended by friends, family, followers, and fun-lovers. I sat content in the knowledge that this broad had found her métier and flourished into the sort of creative dynamo I had been pining for, the one I had imagined packing in the paycheck for a life of unrealistic art-making for no salary. Yes, this “diseased dame” has arrived, I thought, and she has gone about it her crohn way: rest assured, this book is only a crohn in her game. Show some respect, and order the book here.