I could go for a walk but I can’t be buggered.
I could check my Facebook status but I can’t be buggered.
I could cut back the bush near the letter box so the postie can chuff past more easily on his motor scooter.
But I can’t be buggered.
I could put more effort in getting my next manuscript together — the editor is interested — but I can’t be buggered doing that either.
I almost can’t be buggered writing this poem about not being buggered.
Would rather curl up in the sun out the back with a good crime novel and lose myself in the plot.
I do not much like her novels.
They are crammed with characters like clowns jammed in jalopies.
But I like her epilogues.
They are lean and succinct, sinewy.
A bit like you, Bev says with a chuckle.
I may not have a novel in me but I have a draw full of epilogues.
And when push comes to shove I can pump out prologues at the drop of a hat.
It’s the in-between bits I’m not good at.
I could leave them to someone else.
Jilly Cooper, for instance.
She crams characters
Into her novels like clowns
Jammed in jalopies
“I have never read Jane Austen.”
“Emily Bronte and Jean Rhys but
never Jane Austen.”
“You should be ashamed of yourself,”
So I hung my head in shame and kept on
not reading Jane Austen.
Every now and then you read a story which gives you a jolt. ‘Suicide Watch’ is one of these. In spite of its confronting title, the story is not depressing. It takes you into the teen world of social media, with its relentless pursuit of ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ and what lengths teens will go to so they can elevate their quota. The tension and uncertainty are nicely calibrated so the narrative skips along.
It has one of the best openings I’ve read:
‘Jill took her head out of the oven mainly because it was hot and the gas did not work independently of the pilot light. Stupid new technology! And preferring her head whole and her new auburn sew-in weave unsinged, and having no chloroform in the house, she decided she would not go out like a poet’.
I love the humor and desperation in this. The ending though comes with a jolt. Partly expected, partly not. The writing is an exercise in style, masterfully balanced between the vernacular and the poetic.
AS Adam Ant says, “Do yourself a favor’ and read it. *
Have you read a story recently that has given you a jolt?
You’re my Oxycontin
My Iron Jack
My slug of Scotch
My Gin & Tonic
My second glass of red
My six-pack of beer
My magic board that surfs over anxiety & tedium
Just the thing for a long flight
my paperback of Tim Winton’s ‘Breath’
A good book is like a good fire. You warm to it. It glows for you. When you’re not with it, out in the world, in the cold cross currents of life, you long to get back to it. It is self sustaining like good food or drink. I always like to come home at night and cuddle up with a good book.
‘Zombie’ and ‘Motherlode’, two short stories by Thomas McGuane are what I’m into now. That I’ve read them twice before doesn’t matter. They give off warmth and comfort. ‘TEOTFW’ by Charles Forsman is a short graphic novel that gives out the furious energy of a blazing fire.
Which books have you read that do this?
Is it any good pleading? Thompson says.
For your life? Not really.
But you can’t just toss me aside like a dog carcass, not after all I’ve done for you.
You were more than serviceable, W admits. But you’ve served your purpose. You can’t argue with me.
Will it be painless?
Well, get it over with then.
One minute, W says.
He reaches into his satchel and pulls out his laptop.
Finish your drink, W says. Out with the old and in with the new, he smiles, keyboarding fiercely.
And with that, Thompson is gone.
Let’s start with what I am not. I am not a poet. I am not a flash fiction or short story writer. I am not an essayist. What I am is a writer. I do not want to be confined to genre or form. Like Bob Dylan in 1966 I am freewheeling. I write what I want as intense or relaxed as I feel the need. I want my writing to shine like freshly gelled hair. And I want people to look at it. And then read.