we’ve all wanted to do it
Robert Ferrigno: “Time was compressing into a dense moment, an instant around which the rest of their lives would revolve.”* I flash on something from childhood, some feeling, too brief to identify, of entrapment by one’s own choice. Writers write to find out who they used to be, then predict who they might be next. When prediction dribbles away into description, it’s time for change again. Sometimes it’s hard to see just what a fiction does predict. 1986: I thought I was the recipient of the haunted book, but I really knew I was the donor. For a while I comforted myself, “Perhaps I’m both.” But when I looked outside I didn’t really see the mystery island, or hear the soundtrack of my life playing from the dashboard of a white car. In 1986 I hoped I’d been saved from my own rage & obsessiveness: why then dream of writing stories about “starved children in Leeds, bodies in such ungainly attitudes that they already look mummified, limbs dried-up & leathery, as if they have just been dug up out of dry earth, as if they were killed by their circumstances long ago, their eyes empty & puzzled, their mouths open silently in horror & pain” ? It may have been a more complicated nexus than I thought. Restaurant dialogue overheard around that time: “Let’s face it. Cannibalism. We’ve all wanted to do it, haven’t we ? Well come on. Haven’t we ?” The UK we have now was already completely predictable then; what I would be next was harder to see & still is.
*The Horse Lattitudes