Wednesday 27 November 2013

Literary DIY

Here I am in avoidance mode again, five and a bit thousand words to write before Saturday and I just *have* to get this random blog post written.

Mark Crick has the cheek to list himself inside the back cover as a photographer ... I mean he's not even a bloody writer for heaven's sake. I think it is an injustice to refer to these stories as 'parodies', I think 'homage' is much more appropriate, because although each take a mundane task and elevates it to literary significance, and many are very amusing, it shows a deep respect for the strengths of each writer's style. Apparently there is another book called 'Kafka's Soup' in which he writes recipes from significant literary greats, but in this one he tackles the difficulties of those little DIY jobs that everyone neglects. In addition to the stories he does pictures to illustrate each one, in the style of famous artists. (Here is 'The Wallpaperers' after Picasso, illustrating 'Hanging Wallpaper with Ernest Hemmingway')
I have not read all the authors, but having recently read Wuthering Heights I did enjoy 'Bleeding a Radiator with Emily Brontë'. I am not that tempted after all now to try Haruki Murakami but am very curious about Elfriede Jelinek

Going to just have to give you a couple of little tasters because there's not much else to say about the book.
Here from 'Unblocking a Sink with Jean-Paul Sartre':

"Like a throat in paralysis, the sink will not swallow, it will not take any more of the filth that it has been forced to drink for so long. I look into the dark vent, straining my eyes to see what has fouled the pipe. Something glistens in the dark; the filmy surface of an eye, round and wet, is looking back at me. A foul smell emanates from the throat, a odour of sickness, nausea. I won't stand for it. I won't. The glistening surface disappears and the eye closes. There, in the filth it has come, the Blockage." (p.124)

Never read Hunter S. Thompson either, and this is a little scary (from 'Putting Up a Garden Fence with Hunter S. Thompson'):

"At some point after removing the top from the bottle I must have passed out. When I came round I could hear the dry thud of spade on earth and the rattle of pebbles against steel. My attorney was still digging. I looked out into the garden but he was nowhere to be seen. Holy shit, I thought, the sound of digging had burnt itself onto the retina of my ear. I'm cursed to hear it for ever, like the rhythm section of ... Then I saw a flurry of dust fly up from the ground and the sound stopped.
'Help. Somebody fucking get me out of here!'
Either the mescaline had worn off or my attorney had reached a tricky point of law. I staggered out into the garden; as I reached the site of the first post, the empty bottle fell from my hand. The hole was now seven feet deep and the eminent Samoan, still in his business suit, was thrashing on the ground and dancing, like his feet were on fire.
'Snakes, they're coming up out of the ground. As soon as I cut the head off one, another one appears. Get me out of here!' " (p.94)

And more subtle, from 'Reglazing a Window with Milan Kundera':

"All governments oppose transparency. They oppose it because they know that with transparency come fragility. Such is the nature of glass. Windows can certainly be made from material more flexible or less brittle than glass, but what is required more than anything of a window is that it is transparent. All other qualities become secondary, from which Tomas deduced that transparency creates fragility.
The crack in the pane seemed to Tomas the first sign that the fortress he had so lovingly constructed was no longer impregnable. All his adult life he had maintained between himself and the outside world an invisible barrier through which no one was allowed to pass. When he believed that he could keep her at a distance like all the others, Odile had found a way through, and the broken window proved finally that Tomas had been deceiving himself." (p.25-6)

It occurred to me as I read that it would make a brilliant writing exercise, since in many ways writing is about making the mundane fascinating.

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