Why I Write

Why I Write

I write because I am a prisoner.

I write because there exists, beyond the walls of my preconceptions and just outside the barriers of my inventiveness, another story.

It’s not wholly personal or cultural or factual. It’s not religious or utopian. Nor is it political. It’s all of these things, or some, or none of them. It’s unknown, untold; it’s novel.

I write to discover that new story – the one that will set me free.

My novel is available here: The Last Island

Novel Recommendation

At Swim-Two-Birds

At Swim-Two-Birds’ by Flann O’Brien.

Not one of my three sisters is a loud, dirty, boozy girl. That’s probably a good thing for them — as well as me. But if one or two or all of them were, I would give them this book if only because Dylan Thomas, that loud, dirty, boozy poet, said I should.

Even without that recommendation, how can anyone resist a novel that reflects on the humanity of kangaroos, including “the kangaroolity of women and your wife beside you?”

Or one that offers an occasional “summary of what has gone before, for the benefit of new readers?”

Or one where an author sleeps with one of his own characters and conceives a child, who then goes on to write a book about what a terrible writer his father is?

Joyce loved it, so did Beckett and Graham Greene and Jorge Luis Borges, and Brendan Gleeson is trying to turn it into a movie. It’s Flann O’Brien’s ‘At Swim-Two-Birds’ and one of my favorite novels. Go on, find yourself a loud, dirty, boozy girl and give it to her.

Of course, if that doesn’t suit you, you can try my novel, which is available here: The Last Island

 

Sir Edmund Hemingway

Look out below...

Don’t look down.

The call came in much the way you might imagine:

“Is this David?  I’d really like to talk to you about your novel.”

He was a literary agent in New York, who’d just left a large and famous agency to start his own.  He was aggressive, connected and smart, which was good — and he really liked my novel, which was better.

We went out for drinks.  We signed a contract.  We were partners, of sorts, sharing the same dream of getting my novel into the hands of an eager public.  At least, that’s what I thought…

I wrote about my experiences with this agent for an Irish writing site in an article called, “I am Tenzing.”  Now, you might be thinking, Sir Edmund Hemingway, Tenzing… tell me he didn’t use mountain climbing as a metaphor for getting a book published?

Well, it’s more about the Sherpas, and you can read the article here: ‘I am Tenzing

And the novel that is the snow-capped summit of that adventure is available here: THE LAST ISLAND

The Novel vs. The Theater: The Final Days (A One-Act Play)

Moby Dick on Stage

Thar she blows!

(A courtroom.  The Judge sits at an imposing desk.  There is a gavel to the side.  He flips through a few pieces of paper, then looks up.)

JUDGE:  Okay.  Theater versus Novel.  Couldn’t work this one out?  Twitter, Facebook, shortened attention spans, no reason to leave the house, is that it?  The novel is dead, the theater is subsidized, so you’re going to battle it out… because you think there’s only room for one of you.  Okay, let’s get on with it then.  Theater, looks like you’re up first.  You’ve chosen to do ‘Moby Dick’ as if written by playwrights in ten lines or less.  You may begin.

(He glances at the paper on his desk.)

JUDGE:  (reading)  The playwright is William Shakespeare.

(Ishmael and Ahab stand in the courtroom.  Ahab has a jug of wine.)

AHAB:  The whale waxes desperate with tails and fins.

ISHMAEL:  To let it be, or not to let it be, that is the question.

AHAB:  Something is rotten on this ship of Pequod.  Here, have some wine.

ISHMAEL:  You drink it.

AHAB:  After you.

ISHMAEL:  You go first.

AHAB:  No, you go first!

(The Judge smacks the gavel.)

JUDGE:  (reading)  The playwright is Tom Stoppard.

(Ishmael enters from one side of the courtroom.  Ahab limps out from the other.  They meet.)

AHAB:  Who’re you?

ISHMAEL:  Call me Ishmael.

AHAB:  Is-mail?

ISHMAEL:  Close enough.

AHAB:  So you’re the new postman?

(The Judge smacks the gavel.)

JUDGE:  (reading)  Aristophanes.

(Ahab enters and sees Ishmael standing alone.)

AHAB:  Tell me?  What do you think of the fishermen on this boat?

ISHMAEL:  They’re all buggers.

AHAB:  And the Nantucketers?

ISHMAEL:  Buggers to a man.

AHAB:  And the rest of the country, what about them?

(Ishmael thinks about this.)

ISHMAEL:  By heaven, that’s a lot of people and almost all of them buggers.

AHAB:  Then how do we stand?

ISHMAEL:  We’ve been beaten by the buggers.

(Judge smacks the gavel.)

JUDGE:  (reading)  Neil Simon.

(Ishmael alone.)

ISHMAEL:  Traveling to New Bedford has been a whole new education for me.  I’ve found employment on a whaling ship run by a guy named Ahab.  This guy, Ahab’s got only one leg and he’s as tough as one of Momma’s chicken roasts.  Come to think of it, Momma’s chicken roasts had only one leg as well.

(The Judge smacks the gavel.)

JUDGE:  (reading)  David Mamet.

(Ishmael and Ahab arguing.)

ISHMAEL:  What whiteness?

AHAB:  The whiteness of the whale.

ISHMAEL:  The whale?

AHAB:  The whiteness of it.

ISHMAEL:  Whale of whiteness?

AHAB:  It means something.

ISHMAEL:  Whiteness?

AHAB:  F—ing whale’s a c—.

(The Judge forcefully smacks the gavel.  Sighs.)

JUDGE:  I went to law school for this?  (reading)  Okay, the next playwright is Samuel Beckett.

(Ishmael and Ahab.)

ISHMAEL:  Is this ship moving?  What are we doing out here?

AHAB:  We’re trying to find the whale.

ISHMAEL:  How’s your leg?

AHAB:  Swelling visibly.

ISHMAEL:  I can’t go on.

AHAB:  Let’s jump overboard.

ISHMAEL:  Okay, let’s jump.

(They don’t move.  The Judge waits.  Eventually, he smacks the gavel.)

JUDGE:  (reading)  Anton Chekhov.

(Ishmael and Ahab.)

ISHMAEL:  There’re no whales left.

AHAB:  No whales left?  Forgive me, my dear Ishmanov Yashmael, but the ocean is so big that
there must be more whales.

ISHMAEL:  The only thing about the ocean is that it is so big.  Look, Varya Ahabovich, my dear
friend, you must stop whaling and sell the fishing boat or else start transporting people to
Boston.  There is no other way out.

AHAB:  In the old days, ten, twenty years ago, you could’ve walked to Boston on the backs of
whales.  Leave me alone!

(Ahab limps out of the courtroom and shoots himself.  The Judge smacks the gavel.) 

JUDGE:  (reading)  Oscar Wilde.

ISHMAEL:  So your intent is to go after that big, white whale again?

AHAB:  That is exactly my intent.

ISHMAEL:  What if you lose the other leg?

AHAB:  So be it.  At least, I won’t find myself pacing in a circle.

ISHMAEL:  But my dear, Ahab, to lose one leg may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

(Judge smacks the gavel.  He looks around.)

JUDGE:  So…  that’s it?  (flipping through papers)  All right, Novel, you’re up next.  Let’s see, you’ve chosen to do ‘Oedipus Rex,’ as if written by Cervantes, Tolstoy, et al.  This is a story about a man who kills his father and then sleeps with his mother, right?  Sounds charming.

(He smacks the gavel.)

BLACKOUT

You can purchase ‘THE LAST ISLAND’ here.

The Prettiest Novel at the Party

There’s a half-naked woman in the corner, and she’s screaming at a short man with a monkey on his shoulder.  A crowd is closing in around them, and it’s hard to turn away for any number of reasons — three of which are the partial nudity, potential violence and an angry monkey.

But you manage to do so.

The place is packed.

Someone hands you a plastic cup overflowing with a peach-smelling blue liquid.  “What’s in it?” you ask but can’t hear the answer over the three (or is it four?) songs blasting from three (or is four?) different directions.

You step onto the rear balcony of the house and consider dumping the blue liquid into a tall hedge, but curiosity wins and you take a small sip.  It tastes exactly like it looks: syrupy and strong.  You almost gag.

In the backyard pool, a younger crowd of skateboarders whirl around.  One of them slams his head on the concrete edge of the deep end.  He’s dazed, bleeding and smiling.

Behind the pool, a half dozen people are roller dancing.  Jive Talkin’ by the Bee Gees is playing, and their roller skates are old-style, and it’s like you’re peering into a time warp.

You wonder what was in that blue liquid.

“This is crazy!” you hear from the house.  You turn back to find everyone and everything clamoring for your attention.

“I don’t believe it!”

“Take it off!”

The monkey screeches.

Every corner seems to hold something shocking or titillating or disgusting or funny.

But that’s when you see her… leaning against the bookshelf in a small side-room.  She’s silent, remarkably so in this environment, and old fashioned, if in a novel sort of way.  Though she’s entirely self-contained, you feel as if she might have something to tell you.

This woman isn’t going to come to you; you know that much.  You’ll have to go to her.

There’s some risk involved.

You might miss something at the party for one thing.  (A chair has just flown overhead, and there’s a rumor that a ferret is loose.)  And she could be dull or crazy or pompous or bitterly sarcastic.  She might have a hyper-jealous, steroid-raging boyfriend chugging gallons of blue liquid.

But you know something else as well — unlike any other person or thing at the party, she might possibly, just possibly, change your life.

You can buy ‘THE LAST ISLAND’ here.