"As a student of literature, something you find yourself doing a lot is reading books about books — narratives which tear through the plot outlines, critical receptions and choicest quotes of other books, giving you some kind of rapid gist or taste of hundreds of titles you’ll probably never read. What I’ve always liked about these books-about-books … is that they leave you free to fantasize about the books they’re describing and actually construct them — with all their peculiarities heightened and exaggerated — in your head. In a weird, inverted way, some of the books which must be most hellish to read in real life, in real time, turn out, in these metabook accounts, to be the most entertaining to read about. The worse they sound, and the more negatively they were received, the better the story of them becomes."
(Another interesting piece of writing by Momus is Pop stars? Nein danke!: In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people…)
It’s a good thing I like cats, since we have five of them in the house: Agatha the kitten; Boo, Yoshi and Tabby; and Jeckyll, the sort of cat that explains why black cats were thought to be devilish.
This weekend I’m away in Melbourne, visiting my sister. I stay at her in-laws, who live in a tiny village a few miles away. It’s wonderful out and you soon notice all the ugly things taken for granted in Brighton; no sirens, no drunks on mobiles, no pollution. Apart from a trip to Loughborough I don’t have much planned for the weekend.
Thursday’s reading at Short Fuse went well. I read Meat, which is a strange one. I can’t help wondering if the people in the audience are wondering how much of it is true. It’s not graphic, but definitely gets its point across. I enjoyed the other stories in the evening, particularly the third, about a woman in a motorcycle accident. Afterwards my friend Peter and I wandered to the Great Eastern where I met Rosy. The night ended with a trip to the Market Diner for breakfast. I’m pleased to say I still managed to be up for my run the following day.
Some interesting graffiti seen over the weekend:
The slogan below, which appeared on Sydney Street is an old situationist slogan that appeared in Paris during the 1968 unrest. Some other May ’68 slogans are here. The same person also posted some other slogans around town. Hopefully there’ll be even more soon.
I’m going to be reading my short story Meat at Short Fuse on Thursday. Full details are:
"Get armed up for November’s explosive night of short
fiction. The theme for this month will be Gender Wars,
so get those light sabres ready for the battle of the
All featured stories explore the idea of strife
between the sexes, in one form or another, and we have
some real beauts lined up for your delectation.
See you next Thursday at Komedia.
Doors open 8.30."
As Arnold Rimmer once put it, "When you’re young you can eat what you like, drink what you like and still fit into your 26 inch waist trousers…Then you reach that age… your muscles give up, they wave a little white flag – and without any warning at all you are suddenly a fat bastard."
I’ve never been particularly toned and healthy (and my waist is certainly more than twenty six inches), but recently I realised I stood at a cross roads. My waistline has grown eager to expand. I had a choice: I could either start exercising and eating better; or I could prepare to spend the rest of my life as a fat person, cultivating a jolly personality in the hope people don’t notice my appearance.
As a consequence, I’ve been running for the last couple of weeks. To my surprise I enjoy it. After a run I feel more awake, more alert. I loathed exercise at school, so much so I was put off for years. Now I wonder how come I hated it so much. I may start liking it less when the weather grows wet and cold, but for now I’m in love with my new hobby.
I’ve even signed up for a 5K run in a month’s time, Brighton’s Santa Dash. How could I resist the opporuntity to run with a hoarde of people dressed as Santa?
Tom (who’s joining me on the Santa Dash) recently pointed out an advantage of an unhealthy youth. Most men hit their physical peak in their early twenties. With a little work, I have my physical peak ahead of me.
I have few fond memories of the last fortnight of my MA. Despite months of hard work the writing hadn’t come together, leading me to rewrite the whole thing. I was disappointed with the final piece, feeling it didn’t reflect the work or thought I’d put in.
The MA results were published yesterday. I was ambivalent about collecting my mark since I had such low expectations of the final piece. Fortunately Rosy had already checked, and broke the news I’d earned a merit. I’m both surprised and delighted.
It’s strange to have scored so highly for work that, towards the end, was making me react physically. In fact the dissertation scored an A, which is a shock to me. The feedback, which I read today, described it as "very elegant, patient, illuminating and quirky". I’m planning to re-read the whole thing over the weekend as it probably deserves a reappraisal. I still feel weird to be awarded a merit but I’m getting used to the idea.
…and I am glad.
Given Clive James' famous poem, it was ironic to find a copy of his collected poetry in a remainder store. I almost bought a copy just for that irony.
I didn’t get around to making a number of posts in the last week, so here’s a summary of them:
- Last Saturday Rosy and I went to London. We saw the Seduction exhibition and then went to my friend Ian’s play, How to Curse. Due to an astounding navigational failure we had to run to make the theatre in time. It was a little like being late for a plane, as the staff were waiting and hustled us through check-in. The play was excellent: in its adept use of foul language, its set design and a script I thought was funny and gripping.
- Early on Sunday morning I dropped into Merlin’s 27 days later party. The house had been decorated with a post-zombiecaust theme and was incredible. Beth took some terrfiying film footage.
- Tuesday night I went to the launch of Quid 18, featuring a performance by Justin Katko and Jamelian Wigmore. I wasn’t sure about the performances (although I’ve enjoyed some of Justin Katko’s written work) but Quid 18 is excellent.
- Wednesday night I went on The Crawl of the Dead which was a fun spectacle to be part of. Photos here, and one of me here