Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Don Cosquillas

The Pilgrim's Regress is finally finished! I started writing it in November 2007 when I was living in Spain; I completed the epilogue yesterday. At one point I thought this novel would never be done, but my fears on that score have proved groundless. Whether I can get it published is a different question entirely... What can I say about this particular novel? The twenty-four chapters follow the picaresque exploits of Arturo Risas, the self-styled Duque de Costillas y Cosquillas (better known simply as 'Don Cosquillas') and it's my most metafictional book so far; in fact it's not only a fiction about fiction but a metafiction about metafiction. Readers who don't like metafiction ought to stand clear!

Don Cosquillas is a daft hero partly based on Don Quixote. The Don Quixote archetype is one of my favourites in literature. Together with the Odyssey archeytpe and the Robinson Crusoe archetype, it's the finest basic setup devised by any fictioneer. A great many of my stories utilise the Don Quixote archetype. I am therefore hugely indebted to Miguel de Cervantes! Another author I must credit for massive inspiration is James Branch Cabell, whom I discovered when I was a callow student a long time ago. I can't seem to escape Cabell; something to do with elective affinities perhaps? Other authors in a similar mode also hold a magnetic appeal for me: Ernest Bramah, Jack Vance, Manuel Mujica Láinez...

The Pilgrim's Regress is a standalone novel but it overlaps with some of my other story-cycles, especially my forthcoming Sangria in the Sangraal volume. In the epilogue the characters who have appeared in the novel put me on trial for the crime of using unnecessary wordplay in my prose and excessive contrivance in my plots. So I am forced to defend myself in the Court of Fictional but Very Serious Crimes! I don't have a photo of me standing in the dock. You'll have to make do with a photo of me standing in a fire instead... Don Cosquillas has to learn firewalking when he visits India, so maybe this picture illustrates that incident? I'll make a cardboard suit of armour soon and take some photos of me wearing that, for the sake of verisimilitude; but not this week!

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