The Writers’ Group Meeting, April, focusing on John Elliott

Despite having two books published, John regressed to his usual depreciation of my writing, thinking the child, Johnny, in ‘the book’ too adult and philosophical to be five and Jacqui Knowles largely agreed with him.  They should’ve taken on board by this time the child’s mind is informed as ever in ‘the book’ by his man, his spirit, as is every other character, even if in the section I was reading out the man only makes one direct intrusion that the child is aware of, surely enough reminder for an intelligent reader or even a stupid one, subliminally as may be.  John derogated on the grounds Johnny’s friend didn’t have the like man.  All animals have men though not like Johnny’s, who’s interested in being known by Johnny and in making a book of his life; and Johnny’s friend has been possessed by Johnny’s man, so does have the same informing man, as had already been indicated.  I also pointed out the language the child uses is not beyond his years. My writing in ‘the book’ is beyond their conventional ken, and yours. I myself would question the lack of any attempt at validating the perspective they themselves write from. That it’s a convention assumed by writers and readers doesn’t of itself validate its use artistically.  John depreciates my writing because to appreciate it would invalidate his own.  

Usually I don’t know what to say about John’s writing and grapple for anything good in what doesn’t interest me and that the poorest reader can read out fluently so little surface quickness or variety does it have, but this time I was struck by the detailed description’s not amounting to any very convincing reality. It goes without saying I mean any illusion of reality, that what’s being described from a perspective is, as it were, there, beyond the words evoking it.  It was an inauthentic description, not discernibly narrative, by a no-character walking through a no-background, which was being implausibly brought to the fore.  Everything was unalleviatedly externalised without interplay with the purported character whose putative perspective it was: no thinking by him, no feeling, no interiorising whatsoever, either in relation to the external he was supposedly seeing or, as is more likely, tangential to it – probably the reason for the lack of any ‘reality’.  The character wasn’t giving the description credibility nor the description him.  John’s defence it was fiction cannot stand. It was embroidery without artistic point, facile, that he did because it eased him.  “Like Quentin,” I said.  

What followed the readings was more interesting. John feels uneasy on having two books published and I tried pinning down why. It seemed to be because he’s invested importance in what’s no more than a thing, spending his life in such reification, the good word he used, excusing his books as an extension of the nouveau roman. It’s more likely now he’s got what he wished for, there’s nothing left him to do but …die. 

Jacqui’s second novel is also being published. 

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About johnbrucecairns

I'm a retired history teacher who's written for most of his life with a book readied for publication.
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