Tag Archives: fiction

How To Stay Alive (from a survivor)

The doctor said it was too late. Soft medicine would be of no use to me now. I cried into my pillow as the visions of what I still wanted to achieve in my life flashed before me then ran off into the bushes.

Don’t move. If you do, you could bleed to death in less than three minutes.

I practised being dead, resisting every urge to cough or twitch, but first I called the children to hear their voice in case…

And as I practised being dead – getting better and better at it – a familiar face ventured almost apologetically into the room.  So grateful was I to see him one more time that I cried in earnest. It wouldn’t matter if I bled to death now.

That was nearly two years ago. Two years, over 600 pills a month and the will to prove everyone wrong. Whenever anyone says ‘no’ to me, I make it my mission to prove them wrong. The doctors had been telling me for years that  I would be on medication for life.

‘Are you sure that I won’t be able to get off these pills one day?’
‘No. Let’s be honest’.

That was their No. Not mine. On my miraculous journey back to health from a chronic kidney disease, I encountered a wonderful soul with a simple message: we can eat our way back to health and the way to do so is to practise intermittent fasting. It sounded like just another fad to me and I challenged the author to give me good reasons why I should take him seriously. He won me over. I read his book and you know what: I feel GREAT! I’m not going to twist your arm or try to talk you into anything because I’m not motivated by self-interest. There is a growing body of research on the benefits of intermittent fasting. I only know it is helping me to regenerate both my body and my mind. If you would like to know more, click on the image below to receive your copy of this short yet life-changing book.

 

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Staying with the topic of health, I’d like to share with you an amazing piece of fiction by  Mari Reiza. My first encounter with Mari was via her book  Physical: The Catastrophe of Desire. This is a first-class piece of feminist humour which I would have loved to read all over again, but I decided to try another title to see if Mari could enthrall me yet again. Oh yes she can! I’ve just finished reading Room 11: A Man Sits Singing Where A Woman Lies Dreaming. This is an impressive book that should have its place on the reading list for Contemporary Fiction or Women’s Fiction around the world (says I, as a  Creative Writing lecturer). Reiza’s short book nonetheless takes on epic dimensions of mind, inhabiting liminal spaces that churn around love, desire, belonging, acknowledgement, You would need to be an erudite reader to take in all the references in this story which frequently returns to Greek mythology and escapes (or so I find) into surrealist-like fantasies that call to mind Kafka. In many ways I see the work as a tragedy of love. It’s a breathtaking work that left me exhausted and thoroughly elated. Just read it!

 

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Like Loui Lam, Mari was amazingly open to my questions and comments about her book. I love that dialogue between authors and readers!

If we want to stay alive, physically and mentally, then we shouldn’t play dead. We should be open for new encounters that have the potential to refresh our souls. I remember reading a blogpost about a woman who one day realized that her reading was in fact limited to English and American authors, so she determined to correct this blind spot by aiming to read a book from every country in the world over the course of a year. That’s some goal! There’s so much out there for us to discover and that is why I would now like to make a request:

Tell me about your favourite fiction titles and/or any life-changing books you’ve read and why you think everyone should read them. Depending on how much time you have or want to spend, you can tell me about a single title or many. I’d love to share this list over the course of forthcoming posts so we can all stay alive.

More good news: I competed my second PhD in February, despite all odds. I’m very proud to be able to call myself Dr Dr Joan Barbara Simon (or Joan Barbara Simon, PhD, PhD). Achieving the unthinkable is also one reason why I have been away from this blog for so long. Well, now I’m back, full of love and life and love for life and I want to share as much of what I’m reading, doing and thinking with you so don’t be surprised if my posts bounce from theme to theme: it’s just how I am, not trying to concoct some marketable brand but giving you the real deal on who and how I am.

 

A final piece of good news: my historical novel, Long Time Walk On Water, is now ranked #1 in 3 amazon categories! It’s a pity that there are so few reviews to let readers know what to expect. If you have read and enjoyed the book and would like to take a few minutes to share your views, please click on the link below.

Review Long Time Walk On Water Vol.1

Thank you for that and hear from you soon with your personal Best Books!

 

Black Friday Black Books Special

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Get your devices ready for 20 + FREE books

written by African-American Authors.

Genres:

Christian Fiction ~ Contemporary Romance ~ Fiction ~ Paranormal Theory ~ Religious ~ Romance ~ Science Fiction ~ Suspense

Featured Authors:

Jai Bledsoe ~ K. Victoria Chase ~ Ja’Nese Dixon ~ C.C.Ekeke ~ Kahillah Fox ~ Olivia Gaines ~ Khardine Gray ~ N.D. Jones ~ Siera London ~ Reana Malori ~ Unoma Nwankwor ~ Pedro Okoro ~ Dana Pittman ~ Danyelle Scroggins ~ Joan Barbara Simon ~ DeiIra Smith-Collard ~ Seven Steps ~ L.J. Taylor ~ Katie Wilde

 

ENJOY!! (and spread the word!)

The Crocodile Princess (II)

 

Can you hear that sad sigh? I’ve just finished Ian Gregson’s The Crocodile Princess and I feel it has so much more to give. One excerpt on my blog is not enough. The book’s definitely got its place on one of the  Got To Read Again shelves in my study.  I say shelf but it’s actually a bookcase each time and I have five main categories:

  • a Got To Read Again shelf
  • a To Read shelf (I bought over 30 books one afternoon at a local book fair last year and am still working my way through those tho the Lord knows, my To Read shelf wasn’t empty before that)
  • a Was Good, You Can Pass It On to Someone Else shelf
  • an Academic shelf (books relating to my PhD)
  • a For The Flea Market shelf

And then there’s a whole pile of homeless books wandering around and ending up in the most unlikely places. Librarians across the globe will be rolling their eyes. What do I care.

Here’s another taste of The Crocodile Princess for you.

 

Ian Gregson THE CROCODILE PRINCESS book cover

 

Keith thanked the pedaleur but said that he had urgent business to attend to at the moment, but the pedaleur said that he would return later in the day and take him to visit some girls, and all of them would be congenial and lovely, and there would be a choice – there would be some Cambodian ladies, but also some Vietnamese, some Chinese and some French (…)

Keith was suddenly shocked by the thought that such a visit might actually be wise – because sex was an activity he needed to learn and this, when no emotion was involved, might in fact be the wisest place to learn it. He was unnerved by the idea that the wisest course could possibly be so thoroughly the opposite of conventional wisdom. But a woman would certainly expect a man to be confident and competent and he couldn’t be either in a field of action he had never entered. (…)

Keith was made aware of the long silence between them when the pedaleur said that he also knew boys who could be of service to him. When they arrived outside Peter’s apartment, the pedaleur looked Keith solicitously in the eye and said that he, too, could be of service, and Keith registered the man’s gold-capped teeth, and his dark skin, the skin of a rural Cambodian, and his powerful arms and shoulders. With that sudden intensity which Keith had noticed before in Cambodians, the pedaleur said that he and Keith could go to a place he knew where, for half an hour, they could be heureux, and then he would pedal Keith tranquilly along the river, so that he could be quiet and peaceful. And this would cost only one American dollar. Keith remembered it was Sunday morning, and thought how different this was from the church-going Sundays of his Lancastrian upbringing.

 

(once inside Peter’s apartment, he is surprised to find a married woman there, Edith. Surely those two weren’t… were they??? This is me, Joan, paraphrasing the section I’ve omitted. Keith takes in the compromising scene, then…)

 

Several desperate words which hated women, which he had heard used mechanically, obsessively, during his national service, and which he had found himself using then, during that time, crowded into his head and shouted.

 

***

 

  • Ian, would you say that every writer is willingly or unwillingly also a politician?

All literature is inevitably political in its implications, but some forms are more explicitly political than others. In lyric poetry the politics is only implicit; the short story also has a tendency to occupy a personal rather than a political space. The novel is the most political of literary forms and the greatest novels (by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Toni Morrison etc) evoke a whole society.

 

  • some believe that it is impossible to teach creative writing. What’s your stance on this?

I taught creative writing for a long time so I’d have to declare an interest there. It’s certainly possible to teach writing techniques connected eg to narrative voice. I’d also hope that, as you teach such things, you instill a love of literature in general.

 

  • how do you feel about commissioned writing?

Nice work if you can get it, though these days I wouldn’t want (much) of it.

 

  • what was the hardest aspect of writing The Crocodile Princess?

Inventing comedy ideas that were appropriate,and good enough, for Peter Cook to speak.

 

  • to which extent does the final book correspond to the original you had in mind before you started writing?

I had a broad outline in mind which the novel does fulfill, but it developed a lot on the way and that’s one of the most gratifying aspects of writing.

 

  • where would you place yourself along the continuum of novelist-types: meticulously planned before I sit down to write — start writing then go with the flow?

I’m somewhere in the middle of that – I have a general idea and quite a number of specific ideas about plot and character and individual scenes, and images,etc, but the great joy is moving along through those and finding it expand and acquire its shape.

 

  • literary criticism: science or art? and why?

It’s a combination of the two. I do think that novelists and poets should be aware of Derrida, Foucault, Lacan etc because that’s among the most important thinking of our time.

 

  • why Cambodia: what is unique to this setting regarding the requirements of your novel?

It’s fascinating, beautiful place which got caught up in some major political events.

 

  • Crocodile Princess. two versions of the story; the  Cambodian (princess swallowed up by a crocodile) and the Dagenham version. The theme of secrets/masks, origins, double/parallel identities, public/private faces (Yuri, Dudley, Joe smoking opium to retreat from his mundane life, Edith). Unreliable surfaces, déjà vu, illusions/magic. Dialogical identity. There is a lot antagonism/tension caused by these clashing identities and their individual objectives within the plot; also:pieces of information like poker chips, owned and coveted and passed around by means of your mischievous literary style. No one seems truly happy; all trapped in their own identity crisis. dreams, illusions, nightmares…  is the title of the book symbolic merely of the ‘paranoiac petty-mindedness’ of the diplomatic community,  or of the human condition in general, in your view? To which extent is the novel a mask YOU wear to play beak-a-boo with the reader?

Well these are the bits and pieces we all work with as novelists aren’t they? And the most important thing is that they are ambivalent and polyphonic so that they can say a wide range of things at once and so go some way to evoking the beautiful mess that we live in.

 

  • in the novel, we hear more than once about the inadequacy of rationalism to do justice to the intricacies of human thought or to bring about some form of inner (dare I use the word: spiritual?) peace. What is your personal take on this issue? how satisfactorily are you able to function and connect to other minds in/of Western culture? Have we been led astray? How does rationalism affect you as a writer AND critic?

I don’t regard rationalism as separable from other kinds of cognition: it’s a label we give artificially to a form of thought that is thoroughly intertwined with other forms and works alongside them to help us understand our experience.

 

  • humour: Do your students ever get the chance to laugh in your classes?

I’d really want them to laugh but I’m not funny enough to make them laugh as often as I’d like.

 

  • What’s on your bucket list that you haven’t done yet? Do you have plans to do it yourself or will one of your characters see to it for you?

Really that’s my current project, where I’m combining different literary forms, – poems, short stories, flash fiction, and an essay in a sequence focused on a single subject (in this case about advertising).

***

The Crocodile Princess. The description on the back cover fits so I won’t try to outdo it, I’ll simply repeat it:

Fast-paced, witty, full of intrigue, misdirection and set in the heart of Phnom Penh in an extraordinary moment of history, The Crocodile Princess is a gripping read from the highly accomplished author of Not Tonight Neil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Paris

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copyright © Martin Gunther

Take the time to see my juice? In Paris? Just spit on me then barge right in.

The Authoritative One.

As in: sit there in an L shaped of tensed muscles, misunderstanding. Stutter several times something about the impossibility of knowing I would feel that way about it he could only say he was sorry

but his voice is bitter and he makes no attempt to cover it up

As in: reach under the bed for the coloured hankies, take a couple, double them over. Wedge them between the legs to soak up
i) his ejectamenta: hurry-came
ii) pubic whimpers unstoppable, body-fated, pointless ovarian holler
iii) echo wakes up, lonely:

this is the closest I can get

***

“Either all around or in its wake the explicit requires the implicit; for in order to say anything, there are other things which must not be said.” (Macherey, 2004)


After Paris: from my novel-in-progress, Verses Nature. Context of excerpt: He took her to the City of Love. It was supposed to be a dirty weekend to pep up their marriage, backbroken by years of Catholic sex. Of patriarchal righteousness. Her explanation, not his. His’d be that she wasn’t making an effort, he’d show her how.

So many on the erotica bandwagon, out-trumping each other with steamy love scenes. What about when it’s just a lousy experience you’d rather forget? If you know what I mean, say: Aye! Me louder than the rest: AYE!!!

This is an entry in her diary. The diary comes in handy after her nervous breakdown. Helps her to retrace developments she will have to analyse with her therapist.  I like diaries. Emails. Letters. Like the idea, as a reader, of peeping through the keyhole whilst keeping an ear open for footsteps approaching. Also: the diary, here, hovering between documentary and fiction, between the literary styles associated with each. Diaries have me scooping up stylistic liberties by the armful that’s why I love this form as much as I do direct speech. Documentaries are more prescriptive though their (apparent) neutrality (can we ever stand outside of ourselves?) allows a certain detachment I have come to value when off again scrutinizing.

The challenge for me, in this scene and elsewhere, is to offer a different picture of relationships, of sex, to the one portrayed by my (irresistible) male protagonist, Tatar. Cue card: to which extent do genre, gender and voice overlap? Polarization factor: high. Wo/men speaking a different language (and all that). Need to keep an eye on this so I don’t write my way into any camps I’m none too keen on being/becoming a member of.

Dancing with our Devils: Dialogism within & across Writing/Reading Processes

I’ve mentioned my PhD in Creative Writing on more than one occasion. Here’s the proposal accepted by Bangor University (Wales, UK) back in 2010:

Outline

My aim is to produce a novel and critical analysis in which I extend my exploration of the Self, a central theme in my professional life as in the fiction I have published so far. I sense deeply that the borders of my own self have never been satisfactorily defined. I prioritise Woman where many only see Black. I am trilingual (English, French, German). My passport states I am British, but I have lived abroad for twenty years and feel at home in France, where the immediate reaction of most is to allocate me to some African country I have never been to. Germans assume I am American. When I say I am British, or worse, English, they respond with an amused, confused, smile. The result of such persistent unclarity is a sense of being in limbo; a fear of disappearing down the cracks in the middle of multiple, at times antagonistic states of being. It also entails dialogic and dialectic stances respectively; a moving in and out of various zones of experiences within and beyond the Self. In truth, however, there is no Self, only a nation of Selves, every experience feeding the incessant quest for definition and sense as we progress, regress and pivot through time.

In this thesis, I wish to take this notion further than I have done so far. My aim is to combine exploration of Self with the erosion of generic literary boundaries; to cast aside the final safety net to see what happens when all is set in motion. I seek to test a new border; our tolerance of no/fewer borders, no/fewer clear-cuts, only the ‘game’ of the open, the permeable, the game of ‘possibles’ as I dismantle the novel as we cherish it.

In The Red Room (2006), in which I first express my need to question the ‘givens’, the no doubt well-intended yet market-oriented advice not to mix styles made me sensitive to the extent to which we are, indeed, inclined to resist novelty, even in a branch which, as I understand it, should in fact promote novelty. The ‘novel’, it seems, should be in the message but not in the form. With Long Time Walk on Water (2007), I subvert the conventional novel by blending generic forms (fairytale, novel, nursery rhymes, poetry, letters), linguistic styles (cockney, standard English, Jamaican creole) and by smudging the boundaries of time and character, the latter changing names like garments, the former shifting like the plates of the earth. In Mut@tus (2009), fragmentation is explored online as I sound out the boundaries between the real and the virtual, using language to go beyond language as I ‘voice’ my frustration at the interpretive liberties granted to the visual arts yet denied writers. Writing, for me, is as much alchemy as it is an act of resistance. I have always been impressed by such writers as dare to question the givens, who manage to liberate, if not emancipate us: Jean Rhys, Carson McCullers, Virginia Woolf, Gayle Jones. A thesis in creative writing would allow me to enhance the act of writing by exposing the critical reflections which accompany, or feed, the creative and interpretive processes for both the writer and the reader. My initial research question is:

How many devils may we dance with in modern fiction? How may dialogism redefine literary genres and reading-writing processes?

 

Synopsis of Verses Nature

Mazelle is a Black British journalist and Francophile. Jean-Joseph, her counterpart, stinks of Male Pig. All the same, he will pay her well to write his life story, and journalism does not provide Mazelle with the professional or intellectual satisfaction she had wished for. As far as he is concerned, Jean-Joseph, a self-made man in his late fifties, a fascist and self-proclaimed connoisseur of the opposite sex, he was sure he could summon up the generosity to ignore the fact that she was a black feminist as long as she did what he was paying her to do; to be his Nègre (French word for ghost-writer). The ensuing intellectual battle is reflected in the heterogeneous synoptic and linguistic structure of the novel as it mutates between poetry, prose, journal, transcript, stream of consciousness, confession, liturgy and therapy, addressing, as it does so, themes such as art, philosophy, politics, gender, sexuality and spirituality. Mazelle is both a journalist and a novelist. Correlations between novelists and journalists in their capacity to bring people the ‘news’ is extended to religious/fascist texts in that the missionary/political motives of the latter two, their communal ‘poetics’, essentially erode the dialogically reflexive Self, promoting instead a consensual, ‘circumcised’ I. Aye. The biblical and journalistic dovetail once again in their depiction of womanhood, sexuality and in their instrumentalization of fear. As Mazelle is very much woman, and Jean-Joseph very much man, at some point which defies naming, sexual attraction inevitably emerges. The battle becomes an intellectual, erotic Kampf; one in which not only the boundaries of Self, but also the boundaries between Mazelle and Jean-Joseph, between pleasure and pain, are called into question.

The novel will be entitled Verses Nature as I would like to solicit us to relinquish the old ‘givens’ in exchange for a new harmony (nature); a new order (verses) based on the inherent conflicts (versus) of Being. News is not a ‘given’, however much we should – or want – to believe it is so. News is creative; in a sense, it is a story, an art form (surrealist at times…) and as in Long Time Walk on Water, where I dissolve the membrane between fact and fiction, here, the larger, or higher question is an epistemological-philosophical one: What is real? Do I need to know? What can I bear to know? I do not know how the novel will end. Once I abandon myself to writing, I am more victim than perpetrator. I only know that I want to keep pushing and questioning boundaries, and to thereby explore not only the Self but equally the limits of my own literary tolerance with regard to character and style as I dare to produce something new.

 

 

Commentary/critical analysis

There is nothing at all that I formerly believed to be true of which it is impossible to doubt. (Descartes,1596-1650)

Peut-on parler de la langue dans une (seule) langue? (can one speak of language in a single language ?) (Derrida, 1996.)

The above citations underscore my critical approach to the art, the craft and science of writing, which I will explore in this section in relation to my proposed thesis and its main question: How many devils may we dance with in modern fiction? How may dialogism redefine literary genres and reading-writing processes?

The Cartesian systematisation of doubt heralds a passage to modernity; the realisation of the idea of the autonomy of man. Applied to literature, it invites us to regard doubt as catalyst for reflection and call into question generic conservatism, which I shall term ‘phenotypical monogamy/purism’ (phenotype being a word I borrow from cultural psychology). Derrida’s notion of deconstruction, of plurality, folds into the Bakhtinian concept of dialogism, itself relating to the currently popular idea of ecology within the human sciences, in particular with regard to language, and thus, also literature and reading/interpretation. We may no longer argue that we speak, or ‘receive’ in a monolithic way – references should be liminal, tenuous; abstract. Impressionistic? Taken together, the above quotes solicit us, readers, and more importantly here, the writer, to pull away from and challenge the ‘givens’, in favour of entertaining new possibilities; possibilities to replace, re-place, displace, deconstruct and, ultimately, ‘democratise’ what Wertsch calls our ‘narrative templates’ (Wertsch, 2002); our genres, and the boundaries we draw between them. Boundaries harbour an imperative to make a decision, to position oneself, to act. As I state in Mut@tus: ‘there will always be a line, as there will always be a beyond the line. Question is: where do you stand in relation to the line?’ I want to straddle the lines, I advocate phenotypical promiscuity, an opening up and dishevelling of borders

In relation to the novel as a genre or phenotype, my aim is twofold. I want not only to make the creative process transparent, hybrid and, at times, surrealist, but also, and somehow, my aim is to redefine the relationship between reader and writer, making the novel phenomenological not simply at the level of plot, but of design; the reader should feel (s)he is orchestrating the novel with me. The intention is concrete although the strategy has yet to emerge.

With regard to form, I cannot but resist slotting my project into one of the neat little boxes on offer: post-modern, realist, etc, since the whole point is not to attribute it to a particular genre, but to free fall through the prism of possibilities. In so doing, I will draw from the world of music and art: impressionism (e.g. Monet), cubism (e.g. Klee), surrealism (e.g. Dali), but also literature (e.g. Rhys, Woolf, Prévert, Böll), psychology and philosophy. I want to move beyond the triumvirate of drama, poetry and prose advocated by Aristotle as I straddle the science and art of fiction. Here, it is less a matter of Word and more a question of (the multiplicity of) Form. It is, if you like, the word in relation to semiotic or synoptic contiguity. The triumvirate will need to welcome new playmates. I envisage a synergy between narrating, reporting, and dream, using transcripts and scholia, borrowing them from scientific writing, and adding to their number the synoptic layout of columns, as in the more popular genre of journalism, but also familiar to us from religious texts. I intend to play with these elements as Wittgenstein propounds; make of them a ‘game’. News will become as creative as poetry. Language will step beyond the limits of linguistics and recruit the semiotic prerogative previously reserved for the visual arts. I do not, however, wish to divorce structural phenotpyes entirely from their original contexts, which will co-reside in the reader’s mind in my n o v e l novel (extra spacing in the adjective n o v e l intended).

Writing the critical analysis, in particular from the vantage of literary theory, will be the most difficult part of the overall thesis for me. I am the painter who can neither name the form nor the colour; the musician who has yet to learn to read a score. The thesis will demand that the artist becomes a scientist, able to reflect critically, appraise and operationalise creative-interpretive processes. I will have to discover the science of fiction, at the same time as I write and contribute to the field myself. I will need to familiarise myself with the field’s terminologies and theories, which I am unable to refer to with a satisfying degree of certainty here, although my indicative bibliography points to where I will begin to look in order to set my work and my understanding within solid theoretical parameters. Such methodology, naturally, evolves in tandem with writing the novel itself. As such, it cannot be prescribed. This is where I gulp and go slightly weak at the knees. Boundaries do offer comfort, after all, and I have willingly thrown myself into an arena where there are none, for not only do I renounce those which have structured the art of writing fiction, but I have yet to find, or appropriate, those which frame the science of writing/interpreting fiction.

I risk drowning in my own bile – I will not call it hubris – but that is precisely what I want to find out. As a peer reviewer of articles on cognition and education, I have grown suspicious of the ‘fact’ that research never seems to go wrong, but invariably yields a neat, polished ‘product’ that confirms any original hypothesis. Pseudo-empiricism? The artist, at least, may openly advocate the creative element in his or her depiction of ‘facts’. We know things go wrong. I want to write something novel, spreading the colours on my palette (i.e. the themes addressed: zoniferousness, voice, self as project and projection, violence, fascism, misogyny, religion, etc) with selected brushes (i.e. phenotypes: transcript, scholia, poetry, prose, journalism, stream of consciousness, diary) to create an impression, though not to dupe. To balance the ‘science’ of fiction with the ‘art’ of fiction will be an extremely delicate act. Having matured as a writer during the last decade, I now feel ready for the challenge afforded by this thesis, which I intend to complete on a part-time basis (max 15h/wk), and which, I am convinced, will provide the ideal parameters for my personal and professional growth as I dance, as I dialogue with epistemological devils in an interdisciplinary manner in the true spirit of dialogism.

(Attached was also a detailed bibliography, I’ll spare you that. As you can imagine, a lot has happened since submitting the proposal. I’ll be sharing some of that. Struggling with my female characters; none of them have a voice as strong as Tatar’s. The more theoretical aspects of my thesis along with sample fieldnotes will appear in my Writer’s Kitchen. Literary excerpts will appear in the rubric Verses Nature. Do me a favour; tell me what you think. I’d love to publish some of your reflections in the appendix to the novel (a novel with an appendix? why not?). Hard work ahead. Fun and despair on the programme too. This is a safe space, right? Then you won’t mind if I not only whoop but occasionally cry.)

Chef d’oeuvre

Poo edit 2014-11-14
I LOVE THOSE WHO LOVE ME

THO IT’s NO FAULT OF MINE

IF IT’s NOT THE SAME PERSON

I LOVE EV’RY TIME

Hello you lovely people. It’s been a while. What’ve you been up to?

IS THIS A MASTERPIECE?

unprophetic magisterial

here

unpainted heft;

impersonality registers departure; mind

word, within fades; wisdom deflected

stars stuck widow;

red globe theory ambush; thing maybe

was the I, self-locked

plywood scenes explode; paperback

abdominal nervous comfort; female roast

masking tape

I like beautiful things as you can see…

Going up the stairs to my living room, every guest meets this one eye to eye. Normally, I don’t even comment on it, I just stand back and take note; watch how people react to having it shoved into their face. Some say nothing at all and walk on by. Others’re quite shocked, if they say so or not. You can see the conflict negotiated in their facial muscles. Then there’re those who find it quite amusing or ask me something about it. Whatever the reaction, I get an insight into my visitor and a feeling for how to deal with them in future; you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Everything you see here is for sale. For the right price you can walk off with anything that takes your fancy… That one’s nice, isn’t it? The Temptation of St Antoine. Watch your head. This used to be an old barn. Some of the beams are low.

I spent over ten years in and out of museums and galleries. Three weeks in Paris every summer, soaking up culture. Especially with my second wife, Marianne. Hélène, my third wife, was a blockhead. I don’t think she’s ever read a book in her entire life. She thinks she’s smart, but a person’s face’ll always tell you if they’re bright or not. And I don’t care how much of an effort she goes to with her make-up and her hair-do, when I look at her now, all I see is a face that looks like a pair of skidded knickers.

IS THIS A MASTERPIECE?

thing maybe was the I. amputating itself

Know what I love about art? What? You can’t talk about it and about progress in the same breath. Art cancels all thought of progress, of movement towards an absolute good. It shows us for what we are: constantly plagued by abdominal nervous the same old Question. Would you agree with me that the Image is subordinate to the Idea? A sign of the Sign, with Man (I mean you as well of course) of course desperately clutching to some semiotic turf or another for fear of slipping off into that unbearable place?

Take a look at this one. Have you ever seen a tackier, more peevish frame in your entire life? Picture’s a masterpiece, far as I’m concerned. But that frame? What an eyesore! At first I wanted to dump it and get a decent one, something ornate and gilded. And just as I was about to, I thought, hey no, don’t do that! Keep the original frame for its documentary value. Show it to some poncy fat-arsed historian, they ought to know a thing or two, might even take it off your hands for a pretty price and have it on show in a museum somewhere with people less cultured than me straining to hear what he has to say, to hear his story, vivid for the moment but which’ll recede soon to be usurped by its own unreality, soon to becousin our dreams. That, essentially, is the problem with language; it’s a lie with complete faith in itself. To speak is to lie and to want to be lied to. But I’m digressing. Point is: I kept the frame.

That one twist more, that one step further in the proclivities of your imagination, and the ugly is ugly no more. Just goes to show; there is no truth, but that we make it. String half a dozen people in front of a work of art, each will come to a different truth. What is art? Who decides what’s precious? Who, authorised to confer such an etiquette on an item; to brand the hide of the cow? Am I the masterpiece? Why am I not the masterpiece? There is no art. No science, at least no justifiable border between the two. There is only… imagination, desire and the quest; need, the willingness to construct that other world which is so much more beautiful, more reliable than the one we live in. What is truth? Truth is every single man… Anyhow, some first class Czech impressionistic paintings hanging in my bedroom. Show you later. Maybe.

*

The innocence, the joy, the fear of discovery. Too many had told her why she should not do-think-say-ask-try the things she did-thought-said-asked and tried.

Fuck you all.

Fuck all of you!!!

My life.

My way.

*

– Open it.

– What is it?

– Just open it.

He shook the box: light…

She smiled.

– No! Don’t open it until I’ve gone.

*

– And?

She grinned at him three days later.

– I made a blood sausage with it. Blood sausage with horse chestnuts. Delicious!

(adapted from The Red Room)

‘honest, ‘dirty’, explosively direct. Natural, classy and intelligent.’ (Goodreads)

‘Joan B. delivers the goods, spot-on. if all you’re looking for is shades of grey, don’t enter The Red Room.‘   (Kulturfabrik, Luxembourg)

(until proven) Innocent

binary semantic poster 3

Pastor: How long were Adam & Eve in paradise?
Child: Till autumn
Pastor: …?…
Child: When the apple is ripe

binary semantic poster 3
I like the inevitability of nature here; the apple will fall. Must fall. Mitigating circumstances for our female evil-doer?

I could formulate it another way, bowing to our friends across the pond. I could make the whole idea more compact:

Pastor: How long were Adam & Eve in paradise?
Child: Till the fall.

Warming up to the spiritual-theological-erotic aspects of my novel Verses Nature, and yet, somehow, still shying away:


Away in a manger
no crib for a bed
she eased back his swaddling
so she could give head

binary semantic poster 3

Someone told me (hand on heart) that he remembered his very first fellatio. He was a baby. It was his mother. He’s been partial to soft fellatios ever since. No erection. Nothing to do with sex. Much more: the performance of an act of worship. Like drying His feet with her hair. There are those who will insist on downplaying that scene but the bigots’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Again. It’s worship. Like the fellatio on the son. Worship. I’m not the mother of sons, so I guess I’ll never know…  but I LIKE the idea – its tenderness rings true –  and I’m going to use it. (practise first???)

No longer have the time to be afraid of my own ideas. Want to complete this novel within two years. Time’s running out in other ways too. So just do it.

Mut@tus

Screen shot 2014-10-25 at 12.49.10 PM

between the virtual and the real, between knowledge and doubt. Between the meaning, and consequences, of the ‘I’…

mutatus revised front cover

‘This is quite simply one of the most extraordinary and brilliant books I have ever read. Dark, disturbing, and forensically brilliant at dissecting twenty-first century sexuality. It has everything Anais Nin and Brett Easton Ellis have, wrapped up in the same incredible package.’ (Amazon)

‘Of all the books I’ve read, this has divided me against myself more than any other.’

‘This goes beyond erotica, beyond the culturally censurable. It is sheer beauty as was Henry Miller at his most liberated.’  (Authonomy)

‘I jumped at the chance to read more by this obviously talented and original authoress. I was not disappointed – ‘blown away’ would be a more appropriate description. This is an abridgment of a novel which pushes the boundaries of women’s literary fiction to its limits – a D.H. Lawrence type moment (…) I can’t say enough good things about this novel. This is a haunting work which will stay in my head for a long time.’

‘This is such a surprise! Wonderful writing, scintillating ideas and rich use of language and character. This is something I would happily read and buy copies for all my friends (maybe not my Mum, though).’

‘I don’t know what tablets you’re taking, but do, please, keep taking them. They seem to be working wonders. If you can get them on the NHS, please let me know.’  (Brian L.)

UK’s leading magazine Female First finds out more.

MUT@TUS.  available at bookstores including:
Waterstones

Barnes&Noble

Book Depository

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon France

Amazon Germany

The Visionary (Rocking Summer Romances) by Pamela Thibodeaux

Pamela S. Thibodeaux. Inspirational with an edge. Love the twist she gives to faith by taking passion into account. Like it so much, in fact, that I couldn’t get enough of her. I’ll be sharing three of her works with you as part of Rocking Summer Romances blog hop. First work: The Visionary. I’ll kindly ignore that close-up on the cover which makes me think of Jehovah Witnesses; smiley happy people who always:

  • turn up as a twin pack 
  • seem to have the better arguments up their sleeve

Give Pam a chance; don’t jump to conclusions. Now I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: me and the church? Tricky. With more like Pam around, things’d be better. More honest. Maybe ‘twist’ is the wrong word for what Pam does. More like: straightening out. More like:

noluckwiththefu@…: Sex is God-given, ladies!

flow.tite.ange@…: Hush! You can’t sit down God next to sex like that, makes people nervous!

noluckwiththefu@…: Well, it’s God-given, I don’t give a damn, and the fact that we all have trouble acceptin it don’t make it any less true. I swear, it was not God’s intention for us all to be like Mary, an if it was, a mean an ugly God he would be. (from Mut@tus)

Now, I know Pam will insist that the passion she writes about goes far deeper than sex, it’s a spiritually-inspired love manifesting itself in union, or at times a sinister, forbidden longing. I get you, Pam, but you get Tatar too, right? I know you do. You smell the perfume in your own way… Glad you do. Glad you dare.

Now back to the book:

‘A visionary is someone who sees into the future. Taylor Forrestier sees into the past but only as it pertains to her work. Hailed by her peers as “a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique”, Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant architect and gifted designer. But she and twin brother Trevor, share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that’s disturbingly prevalent in today’s society. Can the love of God and the awesome healing power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives?’

*

 

“Thank you for taking such good care of me.”

“I’m not through yet,” he mumbled, then slid off the couch and swung her up in his arms.

Fear snuck in, darkening her eyes. She stiffened and opened her mouth to protest. He brushed his lips over hers and silenced her objections.

“I just want to hold you,” he whispered and laid his forehead against hers. “That’s all. I promise,” he added, unable to camouflage the need in his voice.

***

He’d offered her another step to relinquish her fear and trust him. Triumph lit his expressive eyes when she wrapped her arm around his neck, smiled, and whispered, “Okay,” then snuggled her face against his shoulder and let him carry her to the bedroom.

With exquisite tenderness, he laid her on the bed, crawled up beside her, and took her in his arms. Taylor felt the strength of his need in the heat and tensed against the hardness of his body. He eased his grip and propped up on one elbow beside her. His eyes pleaded for grace when he stroked the hair off her face and said in a soft, husky voice, “Please don’t be afraid of me; please trust me. I will never force or even persuade you to give more than you’re ready to.”

They gazed at each other for a long, tender moment. She cupped his cheek in her hand, brushed her thumb over his mouth, then curled her fingers in his hair and urged his head down to fasten her lips to his. A low moan escaped his throat, yet he held himself taut.

Taylor ran her hand over his shoulder and back in a soft caress then wrapped her arms around his waist. “Hold me, Alex, I trust you.”

The emotions reflected in his tone caressed her heart when he thanked her in that beautiful velvety-rough voice. He rolled onto his back, pulled the covers over her, and held her while she slept.

 The Visionary

 

Someone I don’t like too much said at least one thing that stuck: civilization is built up on a renunciation of instinct… Someone else I dislike less said where there’s desire, the power relation is already present.  To which I’ll add; where there’s power, there’s struggle… and I’ll second someone else who saw sexuality as a dense transfer point (of power). Not that I’m trying to join the league of  great thinkers, I’m just saying honest reflection will take you to interesting places. Whether we focus on what’s done or desired, there can be nothing reproachable in my search for love and knowledge of myself. We even have the green light from the bloody Bible! And as for God’s forgiveness, course he’ll forgive. He has to. Forgive us our trespasses and all that. God’s an act, not merely a thought. Surely? Besides, the act Pam describes here’s not unforgivable (and even if it were. What’s the point in only forgiving what’s forgivable in the first place? It’s the rest that counts, or should, if the thought is to become an act. I mean, a sincere one. Shouldn’t it?) Loads more to say on the subject.  I’ll be back. By popular demand. Seems loads of you’ve been missing me after all. I  knew you would. Well, I’m back. Pam’ll be back. You’ll be back. Tatar.

 

The Visionary by award-winning Christian novelist, Pamela Thibodeaux. “Steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Available at:

Amazon    Create Space    Barnes & Noble    Nook    Smashwords  Deeper Shopping

 

also as hardback:

The Visionary by Pamela Thibodeaux