December 15th, 2009


Copenhagen (Day 11)


(Day 11)

The well--

We are going to have to stop using it.

The sea water has gotten into it.

Maybe the Queen will come and dig us a new one?

The Queen doesn't care.

I'm sure the Queen does care about Tuvalu. She is not just a figurehead, y'know. She is not just someone we see on TV with very nice plumbing and no rising sea levels.

She's someone who cares.

Are you working your bit on me?

I don't have bits.

You have bits.

I have well crafted, socially observant pieces of humour.

Did you not read my last review?

Your cousin wrote your last review.

He has a very good ear for humour.

Cheap, too, isn't he?

Family is always cheapest. There's a lot of emotional leverage to be used.

Well, what are we going to do about this, then?

I don't know. I suppose we'll tell everyone it can't be used any more.

I don't think anyone will be surprised: it flooded here last year at least three times.

Yeah, I know. I'm surprised the well lasted as long as it did.

The children loved the floods.

Maybe they will grow gills then, and live under water.

Like the Snorks.

The--the what?

The Snorks. It was a TV show my nephew showed me on his computer. Its like, these little boys and girls living under water--they have these kinda, well, snorkels I guess, they have snorkels coming out of their heads that they breath the water through. They look very happy.

That's your solution?

Well, what do you think is more likely? That large nations will stop their very economical but ultimately bad for us environmental destruction or that our children will grow snorkels out of their fucking heads and live under fucking water and play fucking cards and be chased by fucking sea weed man?

Now I know you're working a bit.

I have a show tomorrow night.

Think it'll go well?

It's hard to tell. People aren't--you notice people seem kind of serious of late?

We are standing next to a well that is completely useless. Yesterday we built a sea wall around your sister's house. I couldn't even afford that--I don't know how she could.

She borrowed from her brothers.

Even you?

The house is all she and her husband have. If the house is lost, where will she go?

Well, maybe my house, but she has grandchildren now, and her daughter and her husband is living with her, and there is just no room further inside the island for us. Would you have said no to giving her money?

I gave her money.

But you just said.

I lied. I didn't want to seem like I was a soft touch.





You think if we write to the Queen she'll give us our money back?

Well, you did say she loved us, right?

(The 12 Days of Christmas I made up one day ago. The first piece was called 'Tiger Woods', and the second is called 'Copenhagen'. Hopefully all this stuff will look good in 12 days time.)


Beneath the Red Sun

I wrote a book called Beneath the Red Sun, but you can't read it yet. It would be my third novel if published tomorrow (it won't be) and is set in what has been called my Red Sun World. I capitalised that because that's how I've seen it done, not because I named it. I might have named it the End of the World World or Some Really Fucked Up Shit Happens Here World if I'd had any say and it's probably best I haven't. Anyhow, one of the reasons I've been quiet this year is due to a lot of things involved with this book. A few years back I might have made long posts about it, might have ranted, might have said this and that and this and had some cool fights, but nowadays, I just figure its life, you do what you got to do, and maybe soon there'll be something interesting to say about it, or maybe there won't.

Anyhow, a few months back, Tessa Kum ended up with Beneath the Red Sun. I might have emailed it to her. She might not have asked for it. You know how this stuff works out.

She posted about it today:

Matthew Brady was a soldier, and as a soldier he killed people the state deemed it appropriate to kill. On his own initiative, he killed a man the state did not deem it appropriate to kill, and because he laughed at the hypocrisy practiced in the court room, he was sentenced to transportation.

On the day of his release, he is approached by a mortician who informs him his brother and family have been murdered, and that the whereabouts of the murderers is known.

What to do.

I'd say this story is like an onion - nothing but layers on layers on layers with shit that will sting your eyes (and it totally will) - but that's not entirely true. It's more like a Mandelbrot picture. Saying it's an onion implies that beneath all the layers is a core. Mandelbrots never end. If you wish, you could read it as nothing more than a cycle-of-violence/revenge story. Good luck trying it. I don't think it's possible to read such an intensely unforgiving story and be oblivious to the many grey areas and uneasy questions being posed. Class, race, gender, culture, personal ethics and political morals, and more. It's meaty, yet lean. No spare flesh, all the muscle on the bones is exactly what is required and does not lie idle.

It's also the most Australian not-Australia I've encountered in fiction. Heat (possibly empathising a bit much due to the weather today and tomorrow) and dust, and dust and heat. A desert that isn't sand, but dried cracked clay, run through with gullies and no water. Townships set up to mimic the Motherland, impractical in the new climate. Massive divides between the colonisers and colonised. Half-castes caught between. And oh, I don't know, I know I'm babbling now, but it was just breath-taking. The details were perfect, precise, and fresh.

And you may not notice if you're from the US or UK, but there's a shitload of books based in or extrapolated-not-too-loosely-from US/UK in both landscape and history, and it's quite easy to overdose on it. At least, I hit saturation point pretty regularly. Hence I leap about seeking out books from other places, to counterbalance and keep me interested in reading. Keep it fresh.

And here! Something based on the furious, cheating, thieving, murdering history that makes up the world I live in, something I'm pretty familiar with, and yet, was goddamn fresh. Man, I want more. Washed my head right clean.

Fuck kangaroos. Let's get murdering and looting.

(You know, I almost understand nationalism. Here's a piece of fiction that makes me raise my fist and go "FUCK YEAH! THAT'S MY HOME! BE JEALOUS AND WEEP YE OTHERS!")

(Which further leads to the idea of looking for yourself in fiction, something I have never really understood because I've considered myself too much a mongrel with outsider psychology to even consider a character would echo me, but this, I think this is what was meant...)

It's also a brilliant piece of craft. There are two streams, one following Matthew going forward in time, the other being Matther's brother's diary. Although we already know the family's fate, both streams are equal in their power to progress the plot and gift the reader with further insight into the politics and personalities involved. In a strange way, the two streams work backwards as they thread around each other. It must have been a headache to write, but extraordinary to read.

You can't buy this book because it isn't published. The world is fucked up like that.

Cool, innit it?

(Of course, Tess shouldn't have posted about it, because she should have used her valuable ten minutes on something a lot more worthwhile than anything I've done, but I say this only because I heart Tess with all the heart one can give in the word heart, and not because I'm humble at all.)