I’ve always liked literature and from my teenage years wrote poetry and short stories, greatly influenced by the tastes of my older brother. They were very much late sixties tastes, running from D. H. Lawrence, J. P. Donleavy and Edna O’Brien to e. e. cummings, Dylan Thomas and the British Pop poets. At art school in the early seventies, they broadened to include Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan, Ken Kesey and Thomas Pynchon, still pretty much tracking the times.
Later, less predictably, I absorbed Philip K. Dick, Thomas Disch and much more science fiction, up to Lucius Shepard, William Gibson and cyber punk. I seem to have spent most of the eighties reading science fiction. Outside of that, I discovered John Kennedy Toole, John Irving, Terry Southern, Donald Barthelme and Thomas Berger, all Americans, interestingly. It was only in the nineties and beyond that I began to read older things, like Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Beowulf, Cervantes and Chaucer, then French and Russian literature. Similarly, in poetry my tastes stretched from the Beats to John Ashbery by the end of the sixties, but little older verse much before the millennium.
The attraction of movies was in large part a way of combining pictures with language and stories, sound and music. It seemed the most complete of arts – still does. At art school I started making super-8 movies that had inter-titles or captions (there was no option for sound with super-8 movies at that time – probably still isn’t). So I was soon thinking about stories – factual or fictional – for short movies and eventually when I got to film school this was done on a more formal basis, sitting down with others and writing properly formatted film scripts or preliminary treatments on a very tight schedule, only to watch them steadily being butchered by ‘the production process’. Script-writing continued after I left film school, either to submit for funding, or just for my own short films, entirely self-funded (see Filmography). But film scripts are a very unsatisfactory, bastard form of literature. They don’t even have the status of plays, which at least stand for repeated performances, even with extensive interpretation. Film scripts are even more provisional, even more convoluted and fragmentary to read. Not surprisingly, my film scripts drifted into short stories at times, just to make for a better read. But I’m not offering anything from the 70s or 80s here.
Instead I’m providing works from the 21st century. These fall into two phases, 2006-2009, and 2010 to the present. The first was a period of great stress for me, following my failed doctoral studies. I didn’t have a studio so I couldn’t really paint. I was doing small drawings and toying with scanning and compositing but I hadn’t really taken to digital graphics just yet either. Following the protracted period of writing for the dissertation (2001-4) I was however, still in full writing mode and had began to blog. So I was writing a lot of casual art criticism, pretty much daily. Fiction provided a release from that as well. Some of the shorter pieces were actually written as comments for the blog They Eat Their Young, mostly from 2007. Most of these are only around 500w and would probably fit on this page, but for the sake of consistency I’m presenting them all as PDFs. The second phase are longer pieces (including two novels) and were written to vent various frustrations, explore dreams or schemes. They are my last vestiges of being a movie maker, story teller, language lover. I’m listing them here with most recent uppermost.
The Purple Possum – a short story (14,912w – 270Kb) – (May-October 2020)
Minstrels – a short story/novella (21,471w – 373Kb) – (December 2019 – January 2020)
Private Collection – a short story/novella (21,861w – 382Kb) – (2019)
An Imperfect Storm – a short story (8,808w – 148Kb) – (2018)
Descent – a novel (68,000w approx – 871Kb) (2018)
A post-graduate researching an obscure corner of digital modelling is drawn into an intrigue over encryption for satellite communication. Argyll Walker, from the nation of Blaxland in Australia, agrees through academic circumstance to install experimental encryption on key satellites for a global government. The government draws advice from interactive software called CAESAR. CAESAR’s assessment of the new security is compromised by corporate conspiracy and corruption however. Argyll is offered a place at Soames, a prestigious university at the government’s capital, ROME 7.3 as reward. This is later withdrawn when the university is implicated in the deception. Argyll, or ‘Gyll’, glimpses this elite world, embarks upon a romance with one of its privileged daughters, Tiffany Long, but is expelled when politically expedient, to return to Blaxland a pariah in academic circles, adrift outside of them. He finds work as a drone pilot and eventually discovers this too is rife with subversion. Contacts lead him into an ambitious cattle mustering enterprise by drone in central Australia – the nation of Gondwana – where the same dark forces emerge undermining national security and commerce. This is a surreal black comedy on globalisation. A prime target is academic and commercial advantages traded in international politics. The theme is one of decline or descent in standards and independence.
Poems 78-82 Revisited (2017) – (7,773w – 21 poems, 50 pages -265KB) (2017)
Lowered Guards a short story (7629w – 175KB) (2014)
The Secret of World Domination a novel (62,706w – 554KB ) (2006)
In a hypothetical world, a tiny and remote country called Abkr inexplicably comes to dominate scientific and economic achievements in just a hundred years. Their secret remains while the rest of the world fears Abkr’s mysterious weapons. These permanently remove objects virtually without trace. The stand-off lasts twenty five years. But when Abkr rescues the space station of other nations through the use of their own, there is a thaw in international relations.
A conference is held in the capital of Abkr, and the world’s governing council attends, along with representatives from other great nations. It is to be an eager rediscovery of the country. The council enlist the services of a retired professor, an expert in the culture and languages of Abkr, but he proves of little use. However, as he picks up the threads of a place he visited thirty years before, through old acquaintances, he slips deeper into the country without official permission. He is drawn into its internal politics, its regional and tribal factions, and their peculiar religion – Rsit – the worship of knowledge. He learns how these provide both the springboard for impressive invention and discovery, but now also profound corruption and conspiracy.
The Professor, as he is known throughout, travels from the front of the country, its prosperous plain, through a central administrative region of highland lakes to the back – the mountains of ‘The Abk’. There he sees how the furious dedication and rivalry of the rural tribesmen descend to comic and infantile levels; are carried to tragic conclusions. For these are the tribes ultimately sacrificed in Abkr’s enormous success. The Professor’s guide, a renegade militia leader or ‘private security consultant’, known as Rain Pleases, plots an escape for them, once their forbidden journey becomes known. They travel to Rain’s tribal land in the north eastern corner; the depressed mining towns of The White Clay tribe. From there they plan to cross the border over a final, high pass. But as The Professor’s personal motives become clearer and his suspicion and disillusionment grow, his participation falters. The story ends with a tragic/comic race up the icy slopes, as tribal members sing a traditional farewell.
This is a satirical allegory on international politics and global policies, and the quest for a mythic ‘grass roots’. Issues including democracy, economics, advertising, law, education and religion receive comic treatment. A more serious theme is in the importance of language, its preservation, translation and to differences between written and spoken forms. Much of the secret to the title lies here. The satire accordingly extends to literary forms, to pastiche of folk and children’s tales, academic description and paraphrase, science fiction, surreal and poetic treatments of mythic and romantic elements. The world is thus summoned not only through a geographical journey but a literary one, commencing with the flat prose of hypothesis, to end in the lyrics of folk song or prayer.
The following are in order of preference
The Old Man (2010 – 2300w – 78KB)
The Beautiful Woman (2010 -1600w – 61KB)
French Lessons (2011 – 5233w -152KB)
Moses & The Seven Brokers (2013 -1363w – 62KB)
Scissors Rock Paper (2009 -223w – 56KB)
Human Resources (2009 -1119w – 59KB)
Art Class ’64 (2007 – 505w – 64KB)
Returns (2012 -4390w – 116KB)
Street Feinting Mad (2007 -189w – 55KB)
Flowers of The Olde Worlde (2007 -213w – 38KB)
The Curator Smiles (2007 -318w – 57KB)
The Fake (2011 -456w –58KB) – This is the only story to have been previously published – in UK art magazine Garageland, Issue 12, 2011 – p68. The regrettable title there was the work of the editor.
The Island of Gene Moreau – Mururoa Mon Amour (2007 -288w – 38KB)
A Treatment (2007 -456w – 79KB)
Mother Lovers (2010 -3080w – 80KB)
I Glass Dame Elizabeth Murdoch (2012 – 482w – 45KB)
Tim G Speaks (2007 -374w – 77KB)
Manmade (2007 – 578w – 54KB)
Superfantastic (2007 -289w -57KB )
The American Inquisition (2007 – 256w – 76KB)
The Big Map of Accepted Borders for Orphan Jesus (2007 – 296w – 64KB)
J&M: The Ultimate Remix (2007 – 268w – 57KB)