The journalist, Mrs Pimple, recently held a series of interviews on New Year’s Eve with twelve writers, posing such questions as:
• Why did Morrissey write The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling?
• Why did Michel Houellebecq write Tracey Emin’s Bed? and
• Why did Zadie Smith write The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema by Slavoj Zizek?
Based on said interviews she wrote The Pervert’s Guide to Modern Fiction by Mrs Pimple [written by Camillus John] to expiate the literary bloodshed precipitated by Roddy Doyle on Jools’ Annual Hootenanny.
NYE 1 pm : Why did Roddy Doyle write No Logo by Naomi Klein?
When the clock struck one I asked Roddy Doyle the same question twelve times, before his glasses splintered, and from behind his cracks of doom, he told me everything. Spilled his guts.
I wept when he picked up a tattered paperback. No Logo by Naomi Klein, it read, with Written by Roddy Doyle, black-markered in underneath. He said that in his lifetime, like in the way he was the first person on his road to get the first Smiths album, or not to read David Foster Wallace, he was also the first person ever, bar none, to spot all the discontents of globalisation. And he wrote it all in the voice of a Canadian journalist with a private education, because it had to be an inauthentic voice, just in case his words brought the whole system crashing down. He said he didn’t want it crashed just yet. (I, meanwhile, had an unemployed daughter, Zit, with a fancy French pencil of promise, whom all this could benefit.)
No one was ever going to take a privately-educated Canadian’s word for anything, he said. An education that can only inculcate physical and sexual abuse in the pursuit of money is not “authenticity“ as far as he could work out. And look around, he said, plus ça change. Which proves him right, he said, all along.
However, perhaps live on Jools’ Annual Hootenanny, sometime in the future, he’d precipitate this capitalist system short-circuit with his Naomi-Klein carpet bomb—but he said he’d do it only in conjunction with a new book he was writing by Will Self.
If only I hadn’t written that unpublished novel in my youth. But no. I was a writer, on a technicality, and was thus doomed like Moses never to enter Roddy’s Promised Land. Destined to merely point at it instead.
NYE 5 pm : Why did Russell Brand write Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel?
‘Because when my friend Pancho’s grandmother died twenty years ago, Mrs Pimple, Pancho and I were forced to watch two nuns, from the local private school, come in, and sit on her face in the coffin for ten minutes,’ said Russell Brand, when the chimes for five o’clock struck out in the Bison Bar of the Workman’s Club, beside the Clarence Hotel.
Me ale. Him green tea. He unzipped his trousers and pulled out said paperback. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, it read, with Written by Russell Brand, black-markered in underneath.
He said, ‘At the time, Mrs Pimple, Pancho and I were at a Pat’s game in Dublin, visiting my Da, when we heard the news of her death: Pancho’s grandmother, Phyllis. The opposition’s fans were chanting at us at the time. Junkies Junkies. A crowd of about three thousand mouths of Shamrock Rovers fans are chanting and calling us Junkies Junkies. Calling me Junkies Junkies. Calling Pancho Junkies Junkies. Calling my Da Junkies Junkies. Calling the Saint Pats supporters Junkies Junkies. I wasn’t a junkie though, Mrs Pimple.
’So I look up at my Junkies Junkies father and he squeezes my Junkies Junkies twelve-year-old hand. He mutters something about harmless Junkies Junkies banter and describes the goal he saw scored in minute detail last week, against Bohs. A Peach. A big smile. He wished I could have been there. But I was in London. Without Junkies Junkies but still Junkies Junkies they chant.
’It’s my first live game ever and I like the football, Mrs Pimple, but not the Junkies Junkies as strong feelings cross the Junkies Junkies pitch from the opposition’s main Junkies Junkies stand opposite, from comfortable middle-class Rovers fans, and make me feel like a dirty syringe—highly infectious.
’So I pull my Junkies Junkies hood up over my Junkies Junkies head, and gaze down at the Junkies Junkies ground, turning some Junkies Junkies sounds up louder in my Junkies Junkies headphones; a Fall track, not communicating with my Junkies Junkies Da any more.
’I stamp my Junkies Junkies feet, raise my Junkies Junkies head, cup my Junkies Junkies hands—and write Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, written by Russell Brand, for Phyllis, Pancho’s dead grandmother. Result.’
NYE 3 pm: Why did Will Self write Autobiography by Morrissey?
’The horrors of my private education, Mrs Pimple, made me feel like running up on stage and hugging. Close, very close. To get some release. The bouncers offered no resistance. I was now up on stage with both arms spread out like aeroplane wings ready to clasp Morrissey to my bosom.
‘The stage lights flashed rainbows as I moved slowly towards him. The instrumental break was fast approaching and I’d use this opportunity to hug and then go; without as much as causing a spilt lyric or a dropped note. That was the plan. Then I’d melt right back into his audience, Mrs Pimple. That was the complete plan. Full stop.
’I reached the singer and went in for the two second hug. And was hugged back. But pop went the weasel in both my arms at that point. Crackety-crack. We locked in spasm. I couldn’t untangle, rigidly enclosing the singer who tried to finish the song as best he could, deep now in my awkward embrace.
’The bouncers came flooding but the singer stopped them. He understood that this was an osteopathic mishap. The singer and I exchanged words as the band played on in the background and the stage lights wrote fiction in colour on our faces.
’This was the last song in the encore, so it mattered little in the great scheme of things; everyone had already received their evening’s worth. Perhaps more. The band stopped and the audience stood in silence watching, aching, unable to leave. All I had to do was wait. It would unravel itself, this most un-Gordian of knots.
’Five minutes in, and still our hug held sway, alongside the audience’s silent participation, when up piped Morrissey:
’Only an Irish singer-songwriter can save us now!’
’With that, Damien Dempsey sprang up from stage left like popping toast with a tuned-up guitar primed and ready to go off. He sang about not letting all those negative vibes and comments get in on top of you and doing damage.
’Everything loosened, Mrs Pimple. Everything released. I wrote Autobiography by Morrissey, written by Will Self, right there on stage. It was quite charming. And liberating. The first men’s liberation day proper in my book.’
NYE 11.57 pm : Why did Zadie Smith write The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema by Slavoj Zizek?
’Because they sleep three in a bed, and like some sort of zombie virus, they can turn pervert before you in the blink of an eye—and then try to do you. That’s why I wrote that film,’ said Zadie Smith, ’I didn’t want to be done. You have a daughter, Mrs Pimple. You know all this backwards.’
Zadie stood up and walked towards the New Year’s Eve clock in my living room, that read three minutes to midnight, my favourite time of day or night, and she placed her neck between its two hands, clock-hands that I had sharpened the edges of only the previous evening with a hunched back and a shimmy. All before I’d interviewed eleven writers and knew of the rampant inauthenticity soon to be made public. Zadie, number twelve, was going to tell me everything, and for her, it would be unbearable.
It was crucial I got the story out of her before the New Year struck and the pipe band marched out on Jools’ Annual Hootenanny. It would prevent her beheading. Zit liked her stuff. Maybe I could save at least one writer.
Zadie said, ’I can make books appear in Oxfam shops by just thinking about them, Mrs Pimple. If I want the new George Saunders, for instance, I just concentrate and hey presto, when I walk into the shop on Oxford Street, there it is on the shelf, for just one pound.
’But this particular time, serving in the shop were two privately-educated old fellow-me-lads. They acted quite normal until I paid for the book. ’Like most people, I hate short story collections darling, but this one is okay.’ In that sliver of time it took to give me a receipt, they had let their privately-educated inner pervert loose on the world, and so came at me with their trousers at half-mast.’
Zadie then paused and took a DVD out of her pocket while carefully maintaining her neck’s position, between the two sharp clock hands, closing in, ticking her life down. She threw it to me. The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema by Slavoj Zizek, it read, with Written by Zadie Smith, black-markered in underneath.
When I finished reading the blurb—(’This film is better than sex,’ Pope Francis)—always my Achilles heel, it had already struck twelve o’clock and the pipe band was in full bloom on the telly, Roddy Doyle being trampled underfoot.
I saw a newspaper on the sofa and discovered that Jools’ Hootenanny was a recording. It wasn’t going out live as I’d assumed, and, in actual fact, had been recorded in June. Roddy had already done it when I’d interviewed him earlier in the day. My novel must have been real, for I felt no pangs to get up on the clock myself.
There was nothing to do but wrap Zadie’s head in said newspaper, drop it into the bin and rewind the programme, on which I saw Roddy present his pencil to my daughter Zit, as he was stretchered off-screen to hospital.
NYE 4 pm: Why did Morrissey write The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling?
Because Morrissey swallowed a rich lad. Then more rich lads. What a wide mouth he truly has.
When the clock struck four it was time for something alcoholic, after the goldrush of literary disclosures already today. Morrissey told me out straight that he was the goalposts, forever moving, forever widening, sucking everything in.
He showed me the paperback. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, it read, with Written by Morrissey, stuck on underneath, the script comprising about thirty small John Lydon heads in assorted colours.
We drank ale and at one stage I could have sworn that Morrissey had shrunk. But he was widening himself and taking everything in with each successive glug, glug, glug of northern ale. For demonstration purposes only.
’The rich lads came first because they tried to stick objects in my orifices. Their private-education mother superiors taught them so in school, with assorted curios and bric-a-brac. In their Bible stories I had to bleed. A vegetable. Fruit. Part of their anatomy. Knives even. They tried to jam my transmitters.
’However, I’d discovered football at this stage, had already fainted at beautiful games, summering in Inchicore, Dublin, with my extended family.
’My mouth, therefore, high on art, devoured these rich lads whole despite the high quality fabric of their uniforms, and their cut-glass accents of above-up-there.
’Into their cars I chewed next, I had the chops, oh God, did I have the chops, Mrs Pimple, to chew cars. The railings around their school, too, I chewed, and the edifice itself went into my mouth, eventually, along with every last millimetre of throat-burning asbestos. You can probably still hear it in my voice. My stomach can take quite a lot, Mrs Pimple, I’ve drunk from many Lancashire rivers, draining most.
’Henceforward, I toured, sucked and chewed everything private-like in my path until eventually I realised that I just wasn’t able to digest all of their like on my own, no nay never nay not with the same stomach muscles, if I wanted to live a long and fulfilling life. Which I did.
’So that’s why, Mrs Pimple, that’s why I put my insides on blow instead of suck. I blew the full-time whistle and wrote The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling written by Morrissey.’
NYE 7 pm: Why did Tracey Emin write Atomised by Michel Houellebecq?
‘Seven o’clock is my favourite time for having sex, and I suppose, that’s the plain-facts answer to your question, Mrs Pimple,‘said Tracey Emin.
It was seven o’clock precisely. I’d had my suspicions about modern fiction for a long time, but even in my wildest dreams, I didn’t think it would open itself up to me this fast-and-furious-like. Writer after writer after writer giving it to me straight. I had to keep going. If only for the sake of my daughter, Zit.
We held hands, Tracey Emin and I, for the duration of this interview, for I was afraid of this one the most. The ghost of fiction’s future. Almost among the dead bodies already. I’d know for sure now. Bona fide corroboration.
She said, ’I was having lunch with a few friends when, Goblock the man, an acquaintance of mine, mentioned something about some muffin memories of his, which forced Proust and his madeleines out of my mouth in chit-chat.
’Goblock the man had thought I’d said ‘Bruce,’ for he’d survived his whole life without ever hearing of Proust, and repeated, ‘Proust? Proust? Who the fuck?’ when I told him he was a French Marcel and a writer.
’His face stretched before me and I wanted to eat my own legs for upsetting such a refined creature. I felt unseemly. In the toilets not five minutes later and Goblock the man was there beside me already. He pushed my head into the sink and pulled my skirt up.
’He said, “Tracey, do you know what it cost my parents, for me not to have heard of Bruce?“
’“Proust. It’s Proust, Goblock the man,“ I said, “Bruce is an American singersongwriter of some note. Well done for knowing him, Goblock the man. Bravo. Besides, you did Economics, why should you know?“
’“I’m private, Tracey. I’m so private, it’s—“
’But I stopped and pushed him out of my way easily enough, smoothed down my skirt, and that hour, that evening, that week, that month, that year from seven o’clock onwards, instead of having sex, Mrs Pimple, I produced this paperback.’
Atomised by Michel Houellebecq, it read, with Written by Tracey Emin, black-markered in underneath. She fondled its every texture.