Blast from the Past

June 20, 2009

I received this in my inbox this morning. Hard to believe that the offending book was published ten years ago now. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I think maybe she had a point.

Hi Alex

This is the first time I have ever been inspired to seek out an authors email address to comment on their work but here goes.

I understand fully the need for modern humour to be sharp and verging on irreverent at all times. Personally I am a fan of sarcasm despite it being the lowest form so I have no room to talk about what other people deem amusing.


I started your book which opening lines were concerning a wee in the toilet which was ironic considering I was reading it while sitting on the throne myself. However when I got to the stuff about the cat I stopped smirking and started hurting. By page 9 line 20 ‘only a cat after all’ I had seen enough.

Sorry to be boring but I have to say there is too much cruelty against animals especially cats who have suffered greatly at the hands of humans over the centuries. Just as I would not want to read a humorous portrayal of child abuse or starvation or any other act of cruelty, violence or abuse of humans or animals I really struggle to laugh about a cat laying in a pool of blood after your hero had bashed it’s head in then proceeds to kick it into it’s grave and dance a victory jig on it.

I am sure however the book and others by yourself are wonderfully amusing – but for me I can read no further.





June 9, 2009
Much frenetic emailing between yours truly and Bruce the Agent. BtA had a couple of technical issues he wanted to see addressed. (I’m guessing he had some traumatic encounters with Baptists at some point in his life.) All good points, though, hopefully accomplished without too much pain. Some issues have proven a little knotty to nail down – one of the difficulties about doing this stuff over email. But overall I think we’re pretty much in agreement. We both want the book to be as good as it can possibly be before we start sending it out.
Tomorrow brings coffee with my friend Allison, who has gamely read the whole thing from start to finish (good) and has promised to be absolutely honest about it when we meet (maybe not so good.) Naturally I’m apprehensive. So far the response to the book has been pretty positive but Allison is a writer and a poet, whose opinion I respect and value greatly, and I know that she will call this exactly as she sees it. She’s also the first person who’s read the book in more or less final form who doesn’t have a professional interest in it. So wish me luck. I shall report back.

The Oracle Has Spoken…

June 5, 2009

So, just as I was getting ready to post a blog wondering how long I should wait before I started to pester Bruce the Agent and quizzing him as to how he was getting on with the book, lo and behold he writes. He’s read it.

The good news, dear reader, is that he likes it.
He had one or two excellent points and questions about narrative voice, structure, all that knotty stuff, and I will be thinking about such matters over the weekend.
But he likes it.
There will some tweaking to do, but not, thank heavens, months and months of it. There was always the possibility that he would have asked for a massive re-write or worse. (The last time I sent him something new – admittedly not a completed novel – his email back began, “Dear Alex, I’m sorry, but this won’t do at all.”)
He likes it.
Thank God.

Domestic Violence, Not

June 4, 2009

I know this is going to sound odd. I just made my wife cry – and it’s the best news I’ve had all day.

She’s reading the book (again), and has this evening finally got to uncharted territory for her – right towards the end of the book. There’s a scene there that I almost pulled, worried that it might be slightly OTT… but apparently it hit its emotional mark, and anything that can make Christina cry is all right by me (ahh, so many jokes, so little time…)
In it stays.

Spousal literary criticism is a whole different topic worthy of its own blog (not a post, mind – an entire blog). I may write about it more. Then again, I may not. She reads this stuff, you know.
Anyway, tomorrow she’ll get to the rather experimental ending. I’m apprehensive. Watch this space.

Good evening, Doctor Freud

June 3, 2009
Christina, poor soul, is reading the manuscript of “Paradise” for the gazillionth time. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration, I suppose. It’s changed a lot since she last read it, and the last two sections she hasn’t read before. But it’s tremendously helpful – I glanced at the big block of paper this morning and she’s picked up all sorts of typos, etc., that I am no longer capable of spotting – wood for trees, etc..
The most interesting mistake she caught was a misspelling of which Sigmund would have made much, I’m sure: one of the minor characters who appears very briefly early on in the book is a pawnbroker. I accidently gave him a less edifying occupation: pornbroker. Whoops. All that time at the computer, I was typing, honest…