HOLD YOUR BREATH, PINCH YOUR NOSE AND DIVE HEAD FIRST INTO THE ABSURD WORLD OF THOMAS HOWARTH’S UNI CONFESSIONS.
The CD player clicked on, and V.G. Rosenblum entered the room to the sound of John Cage’s 4’33”. Students applauded. He waited at the lectern for a few seconds, expressionless, and then gestured for the music to be cut. He held up a hand to buffer the applause.
Rosenblum’s literary career had begun in short horror fiction, with tales including ‘Nietzsche Flush the Condoms’ and ‘The Man Who Killed Twelve Dogs’ adapted for television as episodes of The Newer Twilight Zone. His first novel, a re-imagining of the events of 9/11, proved controversial in polite company but earned him a Nobel Prize. By the time of his fourth novel, ‘One Firm Breast’, Rosenblum possessed six such awards, and had grown to resent them.
Fleeing the arena of courageous fiction, Rosenblum made a move into speculative biographical works – with ‘Himmler: Strapped to Sputnik and Sent To Mars’, ‘The Robotic Woody Allen’, and ‘Lana Del Rey: Hologram?’ proving his best selling texts to date. He was here at a university Q&A to promote his latest book, a collection of astrology essays, but the gathered were more interested in his fiction.
‘What exactly is a writer?’ asked one girl, clutching a notebook.
‘A writer is… a pervert. A writer is depressed. A writer creates vast fictional worlds as a means of distraction, to keep himself from dwelling under a fug of suicidal introspection.’
‘And what is the ultimate goal of the writer?’ The girl was scribbling into her notebook.
‘To make it to bedtime without killing himself. Next questioner, please. Yes?’
A crumpled boy unfolded and stood with his question.
‘From your very first novel, ‘Cockpit Wank Dare’, you’ve refused to conform to the traditional multi-chapter system. Why is that?’
‘I’ve always felt that a novel should have only one chapter. If you allow for more, what’s to stop you from starting a new chapter with each page? Or each sentence? Each word? Chapters are what bad writers use to bump up the word count. Next.’
‘Your third novel, ‘Vaginal Treaty’, had a theme tune. Whose choice was that?’
‘At the time of publication, authors were putting theme tunes into their books to hook readers, to distract from the quality of the text itself, so my agent had me do the same. I got whizz-pilled out of my tits and mucked around with a church organ and some prostitutes who could sing, and we used that. It was a fairly long novel, and so the batteries would eventually run down, degrading the music until it was just a horrible slur. We had to issue a recall and re-release the book muted. Next question?’
‘Hello, Mr. Rosenblum. I just wanted to ask about one of your early stories, ‘The Man With Eye Sockets But No Eyes Inside Of Them’. More specifically, I want to ask about the relationship between content and form – ‘
The question was cut short by the lectern, which Rosenblum had toppled. His papers scattered about, and a mug of tea fell onto a man’s foot. The author made for the door but collapsed to his knees and issued a searing, primal scream, which lasted for twenty seconds. His mind broken like a kicked vase, Rosenblum crawled out of the lecture theatre and disappeared into a forest. That was a week ago and nobody’s seen him since, but we’re all expecting a good book once he gets himself sorted.
Read more of Thomas’s confessions here!