Thursday, 13 February 2014

Fictions Kill

Let’s talk about death.  At least for a couple of paragraphs.  I hope you don’t mind.  I guarantee it won’t disturb you.  You might even be entertained.  Although I’d be surprised if you’ll find it funny.  Yet we never know. The strange characters who wander around my sentences; I once found an especially odd one slumped up against a semi-colon; reading my Liberal Stalinist he went on and on about Lionel Asbo, convinced that I must know himAfter much desultorily conversation he tore out a phrase from my footnotes, and stuffed it into a Lidl’s shopping bag.  Said he was going to sell it to some charity shop off the Kings Road.  Extraordinary posh.  And completely loopy.  Slumming it of course.

In Norman’s Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and A.S Byatt’s Still Life there are two classic death scenes that both use the same tactic: the shock of the completely unexpected.  In both books characters with whom we have become intimately acquainted, and who we expect to live beyond the last full stop, die suddenly.  In Mailer’s book the demise is perfunctorily – it takes little more than a sentence -; and is the exact opposite to a previous death, described in long and agonising detail.  The contrast is stark.  The effect stunning.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Two Poems About Language


1. A Note to the Difficult One

This morning I am ready if you are,
To hear you speaking in your new language.
I think I am beginning to have nearly
A way of writing down what it is I think
You say.  You enunciate very clearly
Terrible words always just beyond me.

I stand in my vocabulary looking out
Through my window of fine water ready
To translate natural occurrences
Into something beyond any idea
Of pleasure.  The wisps of April fly
With light messages to the lonely.

This morning I am ready if you are
To speak.  The early quick rains
Of Spring are drenching the window-glass.
Here in my words looking out
I see your face speaking flying
In a cloud wanting to say something.

W. S. Graham


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

After the Fantasy, the Facts...

One doesn’t need to search Google to discover the truth.  The BFI is kind enough to tell us: Michael Goldsmith went to Liberia, where he was kidnapped by child soldiers.