The Purr of Language

Sometimes I think good stories, really good stories, are not about plot at all or even about character but something deeper, more primal — language. I like to be seduced by sentences, the sheer rush of them, the way vowels rub against consonants, the purr of language, its musicality. One thinks of this more as a feature of poetry and song but it inhabits the very best prose: ‘Wuthering Heights’ comes to mind as does Marilyn Robinson’s ‘Housekeeping’, Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’, Truman Capote’s ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, even the Glaswegian vernacular of James Kelman and Irvine Welsh, books I return to again and again.

My Inner Slob

Two days a week I am free of female companionship and social commit-ments. It is then that I find my inner slob. I do not have to burrow deep. It is always close to the surface. On those days I get up when I want, do not shave or shower — though I do wash — and generally pay less attention to the clothes I wear. I may watch more TV than usual, read more articles in magazines, neglect to phone or text friends or post on Facebook. Two days a week is enough. It would be bad if it became a habit. You don’t have to look far in any city to find men for whom sloppiness has become a habit. It is not a good look.

Incident at the Clinic

I have just come back from the pool. There’s a car parked on the edge of the road outside the clinic. The back passenger door on the LHS is open. A kid’s legs are sticking out, jiggling like they want to take off and run. The kid is crying. A man with ginger hair, a T-shirt and jeans is yelling at the kid. Now the kid is wailing. A woman, possibly his mum, with her bum crack showing, is bent over the kid and trying to comfort him but scolding him at the same time. The kid is yelling. Passers-by look. The man decides to shut up and let the woman do the work but the kid is still wailing. She manages to get his legs in while berating him for being ‘a naughty boy.’ But the kid doesn’t want to go wherever he is going. He doesn’t want to go with these people. The guy jumps in the car, the woman beside him, and speeds off. I don’t even know if the kid’s seatbelt is on.

What the %$# is going on?

Should I have intervened? What would you have done?????

In Which I’m Overlooked

The news broke while Bev and I were watching early morning telly while eating fried eggs in our brioche burger buns [purchased purely because of their alliterative qualities]. The news almost broke me. If there was a silver lining in the cloud it was that the winner was Australian, well Tasmanian really. It chafed me that once again I had been overlooked for the Booker till Bev unkindly reminded me that perhaps I ought to write a novel first.

Back from the Dead

I got a Medicare card today for my mother though she has been dead for fourteen years. Every few years or so she gets one sent via my address because I had power-of-attorney. The accompanying letter congratulates mum on her obvious good health but urges her not to defer using its services should she feel an illness coming on. That she would now be 98 does not seem to bother them. In two years time she will receive a telegram from the Queen congratulating her on her 100th birthday. On that day she will enter the Australian list of centenarians and at some stage will be interviewed. Things will then become most interesting.

Jesus Never Laughed

Did you know Jesus never laughed? There is no record in the Gospels of Jesus even smiling. Sarah did, the wife of Abraham, so why didn’t Jesus? Buddha smiled. In fact, he is often depicted as the laughing Buddha. So why didn’t Jesus? He had twelve disciples. Surely in the company of fishermen you would think there’d be some merry japes. Maybe it’s not important but laughing is such a natural phenomena. But nothing is recorded. I am not being disrespectful. There is much I admire in Jesus as in Buddha. I just find it remarkable that there is no recorded instance of him smiling.

The Secret

I used to think there was a secret to being a successful writer. Now I know there isn’t. For as many years as I’ve been writing and submitting adult short stories, I’ve been emulating my favourite authors: Hemingway, Carver, Murakami, Alice Munro, Roddy Doyle and even for a while Stephen King. This only got me so far. I became a mediocre plagiarist of these author’s styles. Now I don’t care. I write how I want to write. It is not quite like anyone else and that’s fine. An author should have a distinctive style. It should be a style he or she is comfortable with but also one that allows the writer to take risks and feel good about it.

What do you think?