Wednesday, 26 February 2014

TULIPS in Necessary Fiction

My story, Tulips, was inspired by Zbigniew Herbert's fabulous, and fabulously orange, Still Life With A Bridle (see my earlier blogpost here), and by the property crash in Ireland.

There are some who think it's too soon and too clich├ęd to write about property developers, but I don't think we've even scratched the surface. In our eagerness to pin blame on the banker-developer-regulator trilogy we've developed a collective amnesia about our own collusion. Few of the chattering classes didn't manage to buy an investment property or two, and tedious, self-congratulatory conversations took place in homes up and down the country, homes before been untroubled by the word 'portfolio'. We were all in it, shamelessly, up to our necks. While I agree that it's too easy to satirise now, with hindsight, I don't agree that we shouldn't be writing about it. With every year that passes we're gaining new perspectives, and only when we have a lorry load of these can we sift and select, and discover real insights into what happened. We could think of it as collective raw material, out of which definitive works can emerge.

The story of the black tulip is a well known part of Dutch history. Maybe as a nation we hadn't read it; if we did, we sure didn't learn anything from it. In my story I don't aim for satire though, I actually feel sorry for my developer. Because during those heady years we were all a little bit developer, a little bit developer's wife, a bit tiger cub, living the fantasy.

Hope you enjoy reading, and many thanks to Steve Himmer at Necessary Fiction for publishing it.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Creating Something Novel

@LeeRourke brought this book to my attention on Twitter. It sounds great, about 'a man who begins to delete his novel'. I'll have to order a copy. What? It's a novella, I'll fly through it. What? The TBR pile falling on the dog last night? I reinforced the pile with coffee-table book bookends. Besides, the dog seems to prefer sleeping under the table now.

I'm also waiting for the postman to bring Chimera, by John Barth. Here's Wikipedia: 

Chimera is a 1972 novel by the American writer John Barth, composed of three loosely connected novellas. The novellas are Dunyazadiad, Perseid and Bellerophoniad, whose titles refer eponymously to the mythical characters Dunyazad, Perseus and Bellerophon (slayer of the mythical Chimera). The book exemplifies postmodernism, with several Q&A sessions and three diagrams, all in Bellerophoniad.

There's a bit of a renaissance going on in at the moment in Irish experimentalism, and I'm all for it. Literature needs its pioneers. I have my gorgeous copy of gorse's first issue (limited and numbered, so you'd better get cracking...); The Honest Ulsterman is coming back, online, this year; Colony is new, and accepting submissions of 'innovative and unconventional writing'.

Will I be submitting? I tend to steer away from — to paraphrase The Honest Ulsterman's Darren Anderson — the charade of writing which declares itself experimental (article on William Burroughs) — it hasn't gone well in the past. My plan is to keep reading, to keep asking questions, and to pay attention, because if novelty is to emerge, it will most likely do so organically.