Real Time Short Stories

Where Can I Order A Sleepy Bell-Boy?

Posted on: November 14, 2014

I grant you, this idea of blogging my recovery scores low on originality,  and negligible on cultural significance. It’s also turning  me from a model, compliant patient to a pain in the arse who can’t leave his phone alone. More weak Baubyism in the comparative hassles of winking at a speech therapist for each letter and of spigoting the thoughts I have through the single thumb and predictive text method I have to use.

Generally,  Minor Writer Makes Slow Recovery isn’t going to have them rushing to the hospital gates, holding out cheese pasties and Peperamis like sacred hosts for when I’m fully back on the solids. It’s not as if I’m Chekhov, drinking the last glass of champagne, brought to the room by Raymond Carver’s sleepy bell-boy (from the story Errand; read Janet Malcolm’s charting of how Carver’s fiction crept into official Chekhov biographies in the brilliant Reading Chekhov) – well, because, it’s not as if I’m Chekhov.

But there’s a part of the problem of being a writer that makes a stretch in ICU or something similar…let’s not say appealing, let’s leave the idea hanging like a distended scrotum after hernia surgery. It’s something to do with being monitors for suffering.

One of the things I noticed about all the brilliant contributions to Beta – Life was how optimistic mine seemed in comparison with the dystopia on display in pretty much every other piece. Now, this work was human, compassionate and there wasn’t an absence of hope from writers like Lucy Caldwell, Zoe Lambert or Adam Marek. And my story’s relative neutropia came about when I asked Francesco Mondada about whether he was optimistic (optimism having been a major response in my reading of Sara Maitland’s Moss Witch). Francesco was very dubious about progress coming without more powerful strides taken by commerce and military. So for a gentle family story involving writing and robots to happen in 2070, something had to have gone right.

So there is a context for my lack of dystopic gloom but…it doesn’t make you one of the cool kids. So that’s going to sound like I’m now catching up on the horror in order to get in that way. Maybe this is just a case of: Minor Writer Finally Finds Time To Write.

And that’s all the cultural significance I need.


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