My friend, it turns out, has three or four manuscripts of his own unpublished fiction kicking around. Now, I know this sounds boring… but before you head over to What I Had For Breakfast, consider the following:
- One of the manuscripts is titled Vomiting Across America and is based on personal experience
- A second is about his misadventures in Prague. Half the action is set in legendary local dive bar The Blind Eye. But the author had the literary wherewithal to create a fictionalized version of this bar called ‘The Other Cheek’. Now, that’s good– you’ve gotta admit.
- A third includes accounts of the sexual exploits of a grandmother deranged from senility.
On balance, the only tiresome aspect of my friend’s writing persona is the fact that he maintains the whole predictable reluctanct-to-talk-about-or-share-his-work posture that all my friends who aspire to write fiction invariably pull. When clearly the only goal of this stunt is to entice interest in their writing and general persona while allowing them to appear aloof and above the fray. Yawn. That’s why it was nice to finally meet one guy on my vacation in Poland who would freely talk about the manuscript he had just finished with anyone who was willing to listen. What a relief.
Anyway, my friend sent me the second manuscript discussed above– the one about Prague– which I read and found totally enthralling in trashy, Bukowski-esque way. One thing is that he has a great ear for accents and the way that people speak, which allows you to express more about, say, Czech people and how Czech people really are than I can manage in blog post after post of tedious sociological generalizations. Another thing is that it’s just riotously funny. I mean, c’mon: ‘The Other Cheek’.
This manuscript has also added an enjoyable and enduring physical presence to our household. I received the digital files from my friend and printed out the whole 400 or so pages on my office printer… then, once I was done with it, I discarded the whole spent husk into a pile of scrap paper that we use at home for grocery lists and the like. This has the unintended effect of really livening up mundane household tasks. The other day, I was getting a list of groceries that my wife had written down and turned the sheet over to find the following passage:
Lift it up, full and steaming and… what the fuck?! Jesus! JESUS FUCKING FUCK! The Head! The fucking head. The dead eyes open, the mouth too, in an eternal, silent, scream and there’s soup inside the mouth, there’s a pea and a bit of carrot swimming around in there
(In fact, what’s funny is that when I searched my hard drive right now to find this passage again, I did a search for ‘Jesus fucking fuck’ and the only results that appeared were all four parts of his manuscript).
I honestly think these writings could achieve a certain dubious mass popularity if they were published, and find myself at times struggling to think of a way to facilitate this (the publisher for whom I design the book covers is, I think, a bit too self-respecting).
My friend once sent one of his short stories off to a literary blog that was sponsoring some kind of young writers contest. The story was posted on the blog– it’s about braining somebody to death with a soda can and contains 13 instances of the word ‘fuck’ in a 600 word story. Anyway, my friend recounts that he once went for the second round of a job interview process and was confronted with the actual story– his would-be employer had googled him, found the story, printed out a copy and asked him to explain what it was all about. Safe to say that the Obama administration won’t be tapping him for a position anytime soon.