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All of us have a place in history.

Photo by [kantor]

“I woke up in the half-light, still later than I would have wished. The knot in my stomach from the night before had strangely vanished, but by the time I made my move to get out of bed, it had returned. And then I saw her: the dame at the end of my bed. She was bad news, I could tell: packing a revolver, hat firmly pulled down, looking every bit the femme fatale. Then I know it: today wasn’t going to be an ordinary day.”

I’ve often been tempted to have a go at writing the great British novel. It’s very unlikely to be the above weak attempt at noir pulp, but what route it would take I have no idea. I’ve discussed this just recently with a pal of mine, and it seems a good combination to have both the tête-à-tête breakdown and the lonely life of the work-bound blogger to put one’s head into some sort of order in a situation.

My thoughts were always that: if I were to write a novel, the book would have to have a start, a middle and an end; it would have a moral; possibly it would be a giant metaphor, analogy or parable; it would be properly written, like a book is supposed to be. Not that I’m some sort of diehard traditionalist, but the things I’ve appreciated in life are those who take a genre or a style and work within it’s basic tenets, but twist it, and make it unique and their own. I’m thinking of Four Tet, or Mogwai, you get me.

But lately I’ve been reading books that have made me think twice about that. It started with Marukami, who was the first to convince that a magic-realist, non-linear, apparently nonsensical style can actually be very fitting indeed. Then I read Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies, which is written with no thoughts ahead past the premise and the end of the page. A bold move that, and an interesting one: as his own introduction narrates, you can really trace the bitterness which affected his own life between starting and completing the novel. Most recently, I’ve just finished Richard Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar. This, while technically having a structured beginning, middle and end and potentially being a parable in nature (although goodness knows a parable of what), was written in the space of two months in Bolinas, CA, 1964 and has a flow of thought, a gentle tone, and a meandering structure taking into account all sorts of details and history, often in place of action in the story.

They’re all fascinating ways to approach writing that I maybe wouldn’t have considered until recently. So you may yet see the published ohsimone.

On a related note, today I did listen to No More Shall We Part on the way in: it was quite apt.


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