John was first in, shortly followed by Catherine I hailed as “Caroline!” until corrected. We had the usual preliminary phatic gossip. John’s sold nine copies of his book himself but cold water was poured by Langton’s on a book launch there as unprofitable. Caroline – I mean, Catherine’s gran didn’t come to stay with her after all. Jan missed all this but not my reading. Being a spiritualist, she readily gets what John has difficulty grasping but did call a different plane, that of a spiritual reality more real than the corporeal it’s informing in order to make ‘the book’, in the first instance in life. I was able to dilate since the women were interested and John muted by aspiration achieved, explaining the slowness where Johnny’s thinking in the interstices of a continuing dialogue with his mum is actually faster but can only come across as slower, as was anticipated early in ‘the book’ when Johnny goes from primitive thinking to relativistic in a paragraph in which he concludes if you go fast enough the earth would slow.
Jan didn’t have anything to read but wanted advice. She’d been to a writing course which gave her a formula to follow she couldn’t. We all agreed she should abandon any such which and not go back to the beginning of her no-longer-to-be-fictionalised novel but forge ahead with it to make a complete draft to work on. She has a tendency to redraft beginnings and never getting much beyond.
John’s contribution was read by Catherine. She did stumble over certain words but the separation to syllables was charming and could have been an intentional effect to give variety if by another writer. As usual with John, the writing’s flat but the anecdote of the ersatz Odysseus’ homecoming while the real one’s been abandoned at sea, as told by one character to another, was amusing and interesting in itself. Catherine queried the perspective which is always that of the writer, much like the directing man in mine, I stuck my oar in, but mine has a rationale. John’s writer is extrinsic.
Catherine produced a poem about a woman tied to a tree in a lapsed Eden. John and I thought she’d been multiple-raped and the boy was finishing her off with a machete but Jan got that the rape wasn’t with penises but objects. There was a sexual difference in our understanding. To make the poem more understandable to both sexes in accord with what Catherine was intending to convey, constructive suggestions were made, from me principally to do with punctuation and word changes to give an impression of cohesion that could even come in a poem from the sound on reading it aloud than in a rationally appreciated content.
We ended as we began with sociability. Jan asked had I read Sandie Bradshaw who, unlike Catherine, couldn’t take constructive criticism and sent Jan hate mail as a result. John again raised the subject of Langton’s terms for a book launch which included the paid presence of a member of staff though we’re let use the bookshop freely for our monthly meetings which always vary and I always enjoy though now I have a lover it is no longer my social high point.