Tag Archives: novel

2654. An astonishingly resourceful idea

(Note: Over the following few days these stories will have a decidedly political bent. A fiction writer does not necessarily agree with his or her characters’ observations. Fiction is written with “a voice”. It is not necessarily the author’s own. That’s what I reckon anyway…)

Myra Cozens has come up with an astonishingly resourceful idea. It circumvents the necessity of rewriting books of note; for example, the removal of that shockingly sexist and terribly unhappy Heathcliff in “Wuthering Heights”. We all know that Heathcliff was ill-fated because he had to sublimate his transsexual proclivity. It’s perfectly obvious that the sometimes-narrator of the story, Mr. Lockwood, was obsessed with and in love with Heathcliff. When Catherine says “I am Heathcliff” we know exactly what she means. If the whole entanglement of the novel could be simplified and everything called what it is then the novel might be able to be taught in our schools.

Myra Cozens’ astonishingly resourceful idea does away with the contemporary necessity of having to remove Heathcliff from “Wuthering Heights” altogether. Not to mention that horrible drunken sot in “Jane Eyre”, Edward Rochester. In fact most of the characters in “Jane Eyre” need purging from its pages.

The list of books goes on and on. Is there a book that does not need to be revised?

The astonishingly resourceful idea is to publish these novels on black paper with black print. It does away with every novel that drips of xenophobia and obviates the dominance of whiteness on every page. What a boon this will be! What a saving! No more expensive editors paid to cull offense-oscity from the pages of the classics. Let us purge the need for purging pages! The future is black print on black paper! Such a simple idea! Thank you Myra Cozens!

2429.  Saved!

It had been ten years since Cosmos started her novel and now the moment of completion had arrived! Cosmos poured herself a wine and sat staring at her computer screen. Satisfaction! So much water under the bridge in those last ten years, but now, such a wonderful feeling of completeness.

Her marriage had broken up in that time. The ex-husband thought she was nuts writing a novel and it was taking up more and more of her time. They drifted apart, and then they drifted away. It was for the best. The kids had grown up and left the nest. The rent had gone up. The price of groceries had rocketed. Cosmos had three different jobs over those ten years.

There were little things too that had changed. Her eye sight had dimmed. She now needed reading glasses. She had developed an allergy to walnuts. The old car needed its muffler fixed. But now the novel was complete! These little day to day things could demand her full attention. But first an early bed was in order. She would go to bed and read! But where were her reading glasses?

Cosmos pressed the save button one last time. Saved! Yes or no? Yes! “I don’t know how many times that novel has been saved over the last ten years,” thought Cosmos. Another wine! Just another one final satisfying save of the novel! She retired.

The first thing Cosmos did in the morning was to check on her completed novel. She had formatted the hard drive.

2378. A novel approach

When Heidi finished writing her novel and sent it to a publisher she had little idea that it would end up getting her a string of honorary doctorates from a dozen or so prestigious universities. She even suspected she had been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature but it is cloaked in secrecy so one can’t be sure.

One would think with such accolades that it would have gone to her head. But no! She remained humble amidst all this adulation. Her public readings at various libraries around the country were well attended. She put such passion into speaking the written word.

People asked her constantly when was she going to write a second novel but she always answered in a vague, although kindly, manner. No second novel ever appeared during her lifetime.

Not long after her death her highly talented daughter died. She had starved to death, having been locked up in the basement for most of her life. When a finished manuscript to a novel was discovered among the daughter’s belongings it was published under her mother’s name because it was good for sales.

2365.  Heavenly surprise

It came as a great shock to Dr Gareth Priscott, Professor of Literature at a prestigious university, to discover upon entering Heaven that he had never heard of the greatest novel ever written.

“Put it this way,” said Archangel Michael, “I’ll give you another example: Wuthering Heights would never have seen the light of day if Charlotte Bronte had not pushed for her sister’s novel to be published.”

“But surely,” said the Professor, “Providence in all the great scheme of things, would not have allowed such a masterpiece to be lost from human endeavour.”

“I’d like you to meet Mrs Jocelyn McLeod, mother of six, homemaker, and part-time secretary to a refuse collection agency, whose novel, Onion Fingers in the Deep Fryer, is regarded in heavenly circles as the greatest novel ever written in any language.”

“I’d love to read it,” said Professor Priscott.

“You can’t,” said Archangel Michael. “It was never published, and her husband threw out the manuscript when clearing things up after her death.”

“But surely Heaven saved the masterpiece for all time,” said the Professor.

“Humanity must look after humanity,” said the Archangel. “We can’t be mopping up after every foolish human foible. Humanity must take responsibility for humanity.”

And that was that.

2354. Emily’s stratagem

A recently discovered letter from Emily Bronte to her sisters Charlotte and Anne:

Dear Charlotte and Anne,

The feigning of my death in 1848 has been a great success, and I am free now to write without distraction.

After the mostly scornful reception of my novel Wuthering Heights I have decided that style of writing to be not for me.  I therefore took eight of the nine subsequent novels I have written under the name of Ellis Bell and tossed them (with a great deal of relief I might add) into the incinerator.

As for my most recent novel in that ilk, Hunter’s Orgiastic Depravity, I have been keeping it aside because it is my favourite. Papa, who has read it, says that it is too full of sex, drugs and debauched gavottes to be seen as emanating from a vicarage so he encouraged me to burn that as well. I shall do so this afternoon.

In the meantime I am happy to keep sending manuscripts to my good friend in Coventry, Mary Ann Evans, who as you know, has been publishing them as her own under the name of George Eliot. Such a ploy yet again leaves me free to pursue writing without distraction.

Further to all this, I shall continue to co-write every second chapter of a novel called Great Expectations that is published weekly. Charles Dickens puts it out all under his own name which is something I don’t mind one bit as his name rakes in the money.

Finally, I have recently discovered a pliable Jesuit called Gerard Manley Hopkins who is prepared to accept my poems as his own. That is provided I keep my avid atheism to myself and provided too I don’t revert, as has been my tendency, back into sex, drugs, and bacchanalian can-cans.

I am, I remain,

Your beloved sister,


2039. A newsworthy photograph

What a conundrum for Haydn Rex Pratt. He had just published his fourteenth novel and the local newspaper needed a photograph. What photograph should be used? He had a substantial collection of self-portraits but it was a question of selecting one that verged on the academic.

For example should he supply a photograph of himself sitting engrossed at a desk with a pen poised between his thumb and forefinger and the other end of the pen just touching his lips? It was reflective and almost professorial. No, it would not do. What writer these days would be seen dead holding a pen? Hadn’t they heard of computers?

His snapshots sitting at a computer were humdrum. Many of them had the camera flash reflected on the screen. It was so amateurish. Besides, most of these photographs were several years old and the style of keyboard and mouse (not to mention the clothes he was wearing) had quickly become dated and unfashionable.

Then there were several to choose from that were taken outdoors. One of these in particular was his favourite (people said it didn’t look like him but he absolutely adored it). He was standing in front of a date palm. Everything in the picture was so natural. He was smiling. He knew exactly why he was smiling. His time in North Africa had been one of the most enjoyable vacations he had taken. That gladness was clearly reflected in the photo. But what did smiling in front of a date palm in North Africa have to do with his novel? And he couldn’t remember the name of the woman who was standing next to him.

There were several photographs that were unmentionable. He kept them hidden at the bottom of the pile. They were inappropriate of course, but he looked at them for some time as if they could serve some use to the local newspaper.

In the end, Haydn Rex Pratt selected a photograph of himself that didn’t seem to place him in any context or setting. It was a full-length photograph, but it made him look particularly handsome. Not that he wasn’t naturally handsome, but this photograph captured him perfectly. Perhaps it was the quality of light or the precise angle that encapsulated his fetching masculinity. Who knows? It was this photograph that he always thought should be used as a basis once the town decided to erect a statue of him; the resident famous novelist!

Haydn Rex Prat tucked the photo into his inside jacket pocket and set off for work. It was a busy life being the editor of the local newspaper.

Old Monk’s Habits Die Hard

Today’s scheduled tale – Story 2039 “A Newsworthy Photograph” – shall appear out of sequence on February 6th 2021, as I want to say some stuff for today’s posting!

Thing One – A Passing Shower

I am delighted to report that Iseult has reviewed my novel – A Passing Shower – and given it 4 out of 5 stars! Thank you Iseult! The review can be read HERE – and from there to Iseult’s many other book reviews.

I presume everyone’s mother at some stage – at least in Western European Civilization – created some coconut ice. It’s usually half pink and half white. Well, once upon a time there were 5 pieces of coconut ice and I got 4 of them! To want all 5 would have been greedy, and I would have got smacked by Mother, and 5 probably would have made me sick anyway. So I am thrilled to bits with getting 4 stars! If you haven’t read my novel then you don’t know what you’re missing out on. It can be accessed HERE for free.

All sorts of important (and intelligent) people have reviewed my novel apart from Iseult, such as Uma, Yvonne, the late Cynthia, the late Pauline, Lisa, Ian, Andrea, Bianca, Chris. The high percentage of reviewers who have since passed on could well be a hint to you to get cracking before lateness catches up!

I realize that the novel is post-modern and not to everyone’s taste. The narrator is unreliable – in fact she’s a total chaotic mess (try writing a narrator like that! – in fact try reading a narrator like that!) As I said in a comment to Iseult, I once sent the first 50 pages to an agent asking if he would be interested to which he kindly replied with something like, ‘’I think after the first 50 pages I’d get totally pissed off.” The choice is yours!

Thing Two – No More Can Fit Into the Evening

I had said to an editor (THE Editor of Editors – ahem – in fact there are two of them) that I would do something I’m no good at and write a review. Well, here we are although I don’t have any social media network connections to flay about in except for this!

The book is called No More Can Fit Into the Evening: An Anthology of Diverse Voices. This volume of 369 pages by 39 poets from all over is edited by Thomas Davis and Standing Feather for Four Windows Press based in Wisconsin.

There are a number of poets featured you would possibly know from the blogging world. There is Bruce Goodman (who appears far too often on my blog and has six poems), the late Cynthia Jobin (who has 8 poems), John Looker (who has 10 poems), Ethel Mortenson Davis (who has 11 poems), and Thomas Davis (who has 9 poems). Other poets within the volume probably frequent the blogs but I’m not that good at spotting mountain lions in long grass. Having a decent lot of poems from each writer is a brilliant way of getting the flavour of each poet. Rather than simply sip a single martini one gets to hog the whole bar.

My personal poetry-writing voyage is a little chequered. When I was a kid at school – around about aged 15 in 1965 – a “famous” (still famous in New Zealand although dead) poet – James K. Baxter came and spoke to us. He said “Practise writing poetic forms for twenty years and then write your poem.” I attacked poetic forms with a vengeance. And then a couple of years later I showed a poem to another “famous” poet (who shall remain nameless) who pronounced that the poem was a load of crap. I didn’t write another poem for fifty or so years, and then my blogging friend, Cynthia Jobin said “Why not?” So I started writing poems again, and again resorted often to traditional poetic forms.

I am not too good at always comprehending contemporary poetry – and as the title of this volume says, it is “An Anthology of Diverse Voices”. So what I am doing is taking a poem a day – in no particular order – and reading and pondering it each morning. That way I think I am learning to see what each poet is doing and also coming to some understanding of how some contemporary poetry works. It is rather rewarding! A bit like a monk doing half an hour’s meditation each morning.

So I am nowhere near finishing the volume and feel a bit rude recommending it before I’ve finished reading it. However, I can’t wait a year. I should really chat about some of the poems I have pondered, but won’t because you can do it yourself! The voices/styles/concepts/methods in this anthology are so varied and wonderful that I think it’s an ideal book to take a poem regularly and ponder. After all, of course, it’s not a novel! It is a meditation book of modern poetry – even for those who are not too much into poetry. I can really give it no better recommendation than that. As the poet Robin Chapman says in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 1946 (p.102):

It’s the morning of the world
I want to tell you about…

Available at Amazon and all sorts of other places. Four Windows Press is HERE.

Finally, by inference, a story: As one of my students years ago said – he was the captain of the school’s top cricket team and a fairly solid sort of bloke – “Thanks for making us read Wuthering Heights. It was bloody good.”

Our world has lots of lovely people

In recent times – after 60 or so years of getting nowhere (some people never learn) – some kindly things have happened in my life through the care of others. Recently, in my writing there have been three Yipee! moments, which is possibly three more Yipee! moments than have occurred over a lifespan.

Yipee! Moment One

Iseult Murphy of Iseult Murphy named my autobiographical reflections – Bits of a Boyhood, growing up in rural New Zealand – as one of the better books she had read during the course of the year. She gave it the maximum five stars. Thank you, Iseult! She must surely be one of the most prolific readers on the Net, and each week sees piles of books reviewed by her. How she reads so much I have no idea – I barely have time to read all the titles. It was a great thrill to be mentioned and I gave a wondrous Yipee!

Yipee! Moment Two

Ian of Dumbest Blogger Ever named my novel – A Passing Shower – as one of the ten best books he had read during 2020. It was a thrill – especially to be placed in the list along side Homer and Sophocles! I didn’t hear either of them complain about my keeping them company. The Dumbest Blogger Ever is one of the more erudite personages inhabiting the blogging world, so it was a great thrill to be mentioned and I gave a wondrous Yipee!

Yipee! Moment Three

Thomas Davis and Standing Feather edited an anthology of contemporary poetry published by Four Windows Press in Wisconsin. The anthology contains a collection of poems by 39 poets from all over the world. Each was invited to submit poems. Six of mine were selected! Thank you! The volume is called No More Can Fit into the Evening. I find a lot of the poems stunning, and it is indeed a privilege to find myself in such company. Every office needs a janitor I guess! You can read about this anthology of diverse voices HERE, and find how to order it if so desired. One shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, so they say, but in this case it might not be unwise. The cover to me sums up the universality and diversity of human experience contained in the pages. It was a great thrill to be included and I gave a wondrous Yipee! The collection also includes poems by the late Cynthia Jobin. Many of you knew her. Also John Looker who is well-known in these blogging circles and beyond.

An Addendum Yipee!

HERE is a link to a poem (unpublished and I read it aloud as well). It is titled Thank God I’m Not Famous.

Thanks again to all these lovely people mentioned above!

1878. The opening sentence

Tamsin knew it was high time she started writing her novel. After all, she had spent eleven years researching it. If anything needed further research she could research it there and then while she was writing the book. Today was definitely going to be the day. Once started the momentum would increase. The pages would pour out like the ooze of oil crushed.

Opening sentences are very important. Tamsin typed out a couple of options. She wasn’t overly enthusiastic about either. She typed out a third option. It wasn’t much better. She needed to think about it. What better way to think about such things than to vacuum the house?

All that the vacuuming did was highlight the dust that had collected on the tops of furniture. She would dust it, but while she was getting a rag from the laundry she put the washing on. “I didn’t realize there was such a backlog of laundry,” thought Tamsin. It was clearly going to end up being a laundry day. She might as well strip the beds. The day was too lovely to waste drying things in a dryer. How much fresher is bed linen dried in the breezy sunshine!

Of course, the dishwasher needed emptying, and while she was at it, she might as well prepare the vegetables for the evening meal. Her husband was picking up a pre-cooked chicken at the supermarket on his way home, so all that was needed were a few vegies to go with it. Would you believe? She was out of potatoes. She would have to pop down town to get some spuds. She texted her husband to say “Don’t bother getting a chicken on the way home” and then set out for town.

It was while in the confectionary section that she bumped into Monica. They hadn’t seen each other for a month or so, so it was good to catch up.

Back home, Tamsin peeled the potatoes. All that was needed was a sprig of mint. Oh dear! That section of the garden needed a quick weed.

When all was done, it came to her. Tamsin sat down and typed out the opening sentence of her novel. She was well pleased.

1874. Outside a thrush was singing

Iseult was a novelist. She wrote horror, fantasy and science fiction.

It was raining outside. It was one of those sun-shower days that make you understand why Ireland is called “The Emerald Isle”. The green was translucent.

Iseult gazed out the window. She had been stuck on a sentence for two days now. “Herman raised the axe”. Iseult knew she couldn’t kill off Aoibhinn, the heroine, so early in the novel. It was after all only page 19.

“Herman raised the axe.” What comes next? How could Aoibhinn escape this inevitable fate? Does she bend down to pat the dog and thus escape the plunging axe head? No! No! It’s all too predictable. Simply bending to pat a dog and escaping murder is so gauche. Maybe Iseult had made a mistake modelling Herman on the guy who comes to mow her lawns – he was too much an unexciting character. His personality didn’t advance the plot.

Outside the window a thrush was singing its heart out in the rain. Now there’s a sentence, thought Iseult. “Herman raised the axe. Outside the window a thrush was singing its heart out in the rain.”

Iseult typed the new sentence. At least she was one sentence further on. It’s fun, she thought, that what I type is actually happening! Outside the window a thrush was singing…

Herman raised the axe. Outside the window a thrush was singing its heart out in the rain. Iseult bent down to pat the dog.

(The real Iseult blogs HERE. There she reviews many a book. Her own novel – “7 Days in Hell” – is available on Amazon. Sometime ago, in the comments on my blog, Iseult expressed a mild desire to be a “victim” in one of my stories! Hence today’s gentle, though callous, plot.)