Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Sarcoline (reprise)

My short story, "Sarcoline", originally published through the now defunct Great Jones Street app, has recently been reprinted in Norwich: A Dostoyevsky Wannabe Cities anthology, edited by Sophie Essex, so it seems timely to re-blog a few words about how the story came into being for those who might be interested. Beware, there could be spoilers.

A few words first about the Dostoyevsky Wannabe Cities project. This is a series of short anthologies which are guest edited for the publisher by someone local to the city in question and which feature material from writers and poets in that area. Each book is accompanied by a local event timed to coincide with publication (in this instance, I'll be reading from the book at The Birdcage in Norwich from 7:30pm on Thursday 19th July). Other cities covered and proposed so far include Brooklyn, Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham and Glasgow.

Onto the story itself. "Sarcoline" is one of a series of pieces I've written which will form a new collection regarding Hollywood celebrity deaths of the 1920s through to the 1980s. These stories are told from the viewpoints of the celebrity at the exact moment of their (usually) tragic deaths - the results being kind of alternate autobiographies, fragments of memory, death assimilations, where fact and fiction intertwine as their souls vacate their bodies. In this instance, the story is based on the life and death of the actress, Grace Kelly. The word sarcoline means flesh-coloured, and I felt it resonated with Grace in a way which I could use. I believe the term for this type of work is creative non-fiction.

Here's an excerpt:

In her room at the Barbizon Hotel for Women she lays diagonally across the bed. The tape recorder squeaks on rewind. She simultaneously presses record and play. Speaks: fairytales tell imaginary stories. Me, I'm a living person. I exist. On the bed beside her lies the script for Strindberg's The Father. She reaches for a pencil and taps it against her teeth. Her legs extend upwards, crossed at the ankle. Within a coffee cup, dregs congeal. This scene is lit by the non-Technicolor glow of her bedside lamp, its shade muted yellow as the beam.

Norwich: A Dostoyevsky Wannabe Cities anthology also features fiction and poetry from Anna Cathenka, Doug Jones, Ramona Herdman, N.A. Jackson, Helen Ivory, Julia Webb, Martin Figura, Kat Franceska, and Alison Graham.

Finally, I wrote the entirety of "Sarcoline" whilst listening to the song, "Sweeter Than You", by Dr John Cooper Clarke and Hugh Cornwell from their album "This Time It's Personal" on repeat.

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