FICTION

‘THE LAST POST’

Given that ‘& Fiction’ has been part of the site’s masthead since its launch in 2009 and nothing has yet been published in this category – and, I can fairly confidently say, never will be now – I feel I owe an explanation of some sort to readers optimistic enough to still venture here after fourteen years of no show.

 

In August 2001, the month after I retired from full time paid employment, I began to write a novel – just because I could rather then because I should. The piece was based on my late mother, and her journeying to and from West Africa, and her experiences in its northern city of Kano, in the early years of World War II. I’m not sure if it ever had a title. It – and any other attempts at prose fiction – were laid aside in favour of screenplays  and stage plays for all of the rest of that decade. Working in both those forms – in which imagery, succinctness and punchlines are key, of course – helped improve my poetry

 

In 2013 the splendidly independent publisher Armadillo Central commissioned me to write a piece of prose. The novella, ‘Only Half A Lie’, returned, in part, to the primary themes of 2001’s unfinished novel, namely identity, bigotry,  absurdity and love. Though complete, the vicissitudes of fortune prevented it from being published. Since then I have planned to post it on the site.

 

Recently, in preparing the work for publication, I realised it needed significant editing, and, in carrying that out, I became aware of a major implausibility in the plot. Sometimes the house of cards gets blown away,  sometimes it’s rained on,  sometimes it just collapses from within!

 

Unlike the other literary forms I’ve been fortunate enough to employ, prose fiction has no boundaries. Even the freest of verse has to end its lines somewhere, and the rules governing screenplays, for example, are as rigorous as those for any type of sonnet. But prose fiction – and I emphasis prose – has no pre-set limits, and so to write it well you have to be properly grown up, like Penelope Fitzgerald or William Trevor. And if you’re super grown up – like Margaret Attwood or Thomas Hardy – you get to write good poems as well.

 

There have been two other attempts at prose fiction since ‘Only Half A Lie’ – both also about identity, bigotry,  absurdity and love – one set in Venice and one here in Hoole, but neither of them breathed independently. It seems appropriate that the one complete novella should have had the title it had. There’s a Yiddish saying: a halbe emmes ist a ganst ligner – a half truth is a whole lie.

 

I’m a thrifty soul so, no doubt, as I continue to address those same themes, the characters, scenes, situations, and plots currently buried in a hard drive will appear, in due course, in the poems. Perhaps poetry is the supreme fiction.

 

 

 

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