John had his book, Dying to Read, in his pocket. He’s worried Chomu might pack up before his second book is published and gave us several reviewers’ comments on the first, like too few commas and too many modifiers. He thinks modifiers are other than adjectives and attributive nouns. One reader gave up at the first page on his not knowing modern milk doesn’t curdle but splits; John didn’t know his milk (as well as his modifiers). So when I make curds and whey and it’s solid for a bit before separating, that’s it splitting? (obviously after it’s curdled …or not obviously). We were joined by Jacqui, in a creative hiatus after her novel’s been accepted but before she has stuff back from the editor to deal with, Kevin, heading for a Chomu rejection on his submitting not a revised first chapter of his Irish saga but an earlier draft, and Catherine who always has something different to offer (though John drew similarities with her past offerings).
I read out a passage from ‘the book’ where Mum reveals she knows she’s speaking predetermined lines from the book Johnny’s living. Kevin took exception to Johnny’s not knowing, after a ‘dead clever’ duologue with his man on it, how the metaphoric related to the physical as in which physical step metaphorically would be that into death. John surprisingly defended: given the style – patently a big given – the disquisition should not be curtailed. In any case Johnny’s saying he doesn’t exactly know.
He then thrust his book at Jacqui for her to read the first chapter of. His eyesight’s bad. He listens while others can read, if copies are given out to be read. It’s a useful slant. I found he sets his book off well with a murder and treats the finding of the body from its smell humorously, and said so. We don’t like each other’s writing, I told Kevin.
He and Catherine were put out John had jumped the gun of the usual order for the readings, determined by where people were seated. I assured we’d get back to them. We did.
Kevin read the second chapter of his Irish saga John thought clotted. I like Kevin’s jocose style but agreed with Jacqui it wasn’t clear one character was hitting another on the chest with a chest. A play on words was called for at that point.
Catherine read out a short story. I inferred almost immediately the painter whose perspective the story was being told from was blind and noted a rising expectation in the writing of a twist to come, which John rudely said was ‘frankly banal’. I’m not sure how banal it was but it didn’t meet my expectations. I did like the last line, however, of the blind fantasist saying her easel was being taken away and there’d be no more painting for her that day. When I think of it, that was an admission, if indirectly, of an irruption of reality, which might be nailed if she found herself unaccountably crying from her blind eyes, along the lines of her eyes streaming, suggesting ‘screaming’, at the loss. Since I hadn’t realised Jim was her husband who’d gone out to work all day, I could well be wrong.
I knew we’d had a long session but not how long because John kept me outside the door for a long discussion about my boyfriend he didn’t know had been the fling of years ago. We also talked of Quentin whose family were Italian and Crisp a chosen name like the other Quentin Crisp’s. I must ask Quentin was the original Crispi or Crespi.