Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Fiction-heit 451

I couldn't resist using that blog title, because I've just finished writing my 451st story! Ray Bradbury was my favourite author when I was 17 and a huge influence on the kind of fiction I tried to write back then. Maybe an influence that strong never really dies?

The title of my 451st story is 'Up Without Away' and is concerned with a paradox of the world's first airport: how did it operate when there was nowhere else to fly to? I've numbered it as a story but actually it's a chapter of my latest novel, or perhaps something between a story and a chapter -- a chaptory. Another ten chaptories and The Pilgrim's Regress will be finished. Then it will be time to catch up with all the other writing I should have done by now but haven't!

Although sometimes sugary and neophobic, Bradbury was capable of writing perfectly balanced prose. My favourite Bradbury stories are 'Homecoming', 'The Scythe' and 'The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl' but there are many others almost as good. I'm delighted for the sake of my younger self that (thanks to Pete Crowther) I now share a publisher with Bradbury, but only once have I appeared with him in the same book: the obscure Scaremongers anthology.

Bradbury is an American cultural hero, rather like Charlton Heston who has just died. I prefer to remember Heston not as the raving gun lobbyist of his later life but as the young libertarian who marched with Martin Luther King long before civil rights became fashionable in Hollywood. American cultural heroes have a bizarre tendency to suddenly switch from left to right, from liberal to conservative, from libertarian to statist, when they reach a certain age. Heston and Bradbury and Jimmy Stewart are typical examples. It doesn't lessen the good things they did before the switch, I guess!

I have been invited to take part in a literary convention here in Wales in June -- in what capacity I'm not sure yet. This invitation followed hot on the heels of my complaint that Wales was ignoring me. What bad timing -- but I'm not complaining!

I went to a Turkish restuarant in Mumbles on the weekend to celebrate the birthday of Kemal, the cousin of Filiz. I like Turkish food because there are many vegetarian options, but Indian is still my favourite. My big wish is that Spanish and Portuguese food was more spicy: I need to enlist the aid of my Iberian friends to increase the spice quotient of their local cuisine. With a big communal effort I'm sure effective change can happen! More nuts and many more chillies please. Make it so!

The above photo shows me at Three Cliffs Bay in the Gower where my stubble matches the local geology.

That is not a Stubble, that is already a beard and on it's way to becoming a very serious beard...
I shaved it off not long after this photo was taken. I never intended it to be permanent, which is why I think of it as 'stubble' rather than a beard. It's easier to say goodbye to stubble than to a beard! But I see your point!

My entire head mimicks the scrabbly craggy geology of this region, not just my beard!
While most women try to match their shoes and bags, you try to match your background with your head!
Do you think this is a typical male vanity?
I'll have to take a better notice of these things!
My shoes and bags also match! They are always in an identical state of disrepair!

My male vanity is atypical -- typically atypical in fact!

Matching the background with my head will pose serious problems if I ever stand in front of the night sky!
Why i always thought if someone had a starry head it would be you :)
Sorry bad pun!
In Portugal a stars in your head refer to a certain dreaminess...
i can't really explain...
You can't really explain? But you did explain, and very well too!

Or are you suggesting that your explanation was non-real -- dreamy perhaps?
Yes, definitely non-real and maybe not dreamy but most likely starry...

i'm starting to not make any sense or maybe i'm just loosing it... who knows...
'a paradox of the world's first airport: how did it operate when there was nowhere else to fly to?'

It was too early for me to contemplate the idea of this without my head aching.
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