Monday, October 16, 2006

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things.

I Really wish that I had read this book before all of the media furor.

Much like Sarah,The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things is short-lived but impacts with it's shocking content. It gains its own integrity as an actual novel as opposed to just being 240 pages of fuel for the controversial public perception of Leroy's upbringing. The language is simple, that of a youthful and innocent narrator, but often its starkness and its naive approach to themes of transgender identity confusion, prostitution (his mother as an 18 year old lot lizard), sodomy, the inadequacy of social services, crystal meth and heroin, and the dosage of uppers and downers that he is fed by his mother.

Using a youthful innocence juxtaposed with the dark, sordid and abject side of humanity is an old trick (see below), but Leroy pulls it off exceedingly well.
But most, through midnight streets I hear

How the youthful harlot's curse

Blasts the new-born infant's tear,

And blights with plagues the marriage-hearse.

William Blake, London, Songs of Experience.

We see the darkness seep into the youth as he becomes more and more blase when he references any of the above themes. His dreams of crows tearing him apart evoke a visceral and stomach-churning response from the reader, especially when it becomes confused and muddled with the language as he is sodomised by one of his mother's exploitees. We find ourselves constantly wincing at what Leroy describes, fearing what will come next. When he meets Milkshake (a 12-year old lizard who charges men $25 to have her sit on their faces) we first imagine her as at least being of legal age, but soon we see her as a channel for Jeremy to enter the world of prostitution. Soon he acting as his mother's little sister, joining in on her acts of prostitution. For me, the defining image of this innocence meeting the depravity of humankind is when Jeremy takes it upon himself to clean his mother who is semi-conscious after shooting up. Using his finger he wipes the blood of her arm and licks it off, having seen it in the animal world as a tender act of love. What we see as a sure-route to HIV is an act of love towards his mother. A love that remains unquestioned despite all of the beatings he endures and the corruptive lies that she feeds him along with his daily pills, telling him that the foster parents she took him from are dead and that he must be cautious of the police because they are looking to arrest him for all of his wrongdoings.

To be perfectly honest, having approached this book after having read all of the controversy concerning Leroy's true identity it does somehwat detract from the power of the novel. It could be seen as a Palahniuk-style series of popular hot-topics of controversy designed to fuel a media-frenzy.

The BBC challenges JT Leroys identity.

Although it is easy to write-off The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things I believe that these two quotations summarise my feelings towards the novel nicely:
"It all boils down to this, I can't prove the existence of god, but
I sure do love the Bible".

Peter Murphy on Leroy's defence, The New York Journal.

"But nothing has been taken from us. The books remain: as startling and disturbingly beautiful as they ever were.There is nothing that has sullied the New York Times's assertion that "his language is always fresh, his soul never corrupt". And what strikes me more than anything is that in this age of overblown celebrity, where people such as Paris Hilton can be famous purely for being Paris Hilton, mightn't JT LeRoy represent the precise inversion of this? The work is all. The identity is irrelevant."

From the London Guardian, Jan 4, 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006


Just managed to write about 8,000 words on my book, getting it up to 62,000. Managed to get 1,000 words on getting stoned and contemplating death, a unique performance of the "I have of late..." speech from Hamlet and a fleeting reference to Apocalypse Now Redux.

And yet I can't summon the energy to write 1,500 words about the actual play Hamlet, one of the best pieces of literature ever written.

Such is the way I suppose.

Getting pretty excited about this newest work though. Drinking vast quantities of Gunpowder green tea and sitting at the computer writing, even though I have a million other, education based commitments that are probably far more important. My computer doesn't even have the internet, so for research I've been using books. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauruses etc. It's awesome, they actually have a vague degree of reliability.

I need a slightly stronger drink.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Newest Work.

For my newest work I am writing a third-person, black comedy. The comedy is so dark it's almost hard to see, as it combined with the central theme of planning a murder. It starts as a complex introduction to three characters who meet in a bar, how they are linked is discovered in a series of flashbacks. The first half of the novel takes place on the one night that they meet. The second half is the planning of a murder, with three different motives, all fighting with their consciences and with each other. Combining this central plot with other sideplots, the book is developing into a richly developed piece, with constant surprises and insights into the three central character's lives.

The piece takes place in Chicago and the surrounding Illinois area, and I currently have several Illinois residents with whom I correspond with to check the accuracy of the writing. I find that factual detail is incredibly important, so I research any factual detail that I insert into the piece.

The three protagonists each have their own plots, motives and back-stories:

Guy is a jaded ink salesman, built for a more medieval century, his brute force often supervening reason. His story takes an Oedipal turn that compliments his interest in Greek Mythology, the stories that he constantly refers back to. His ethos focuses on this 'golden age' of mythology, and how brutal it was. Man hasn't changed, it is still as primal as it ever was, fratricide, patricide, incest, all are still present in our world, they are just no longer admired.

Quentin is a microbiologist, a neurotic and still full of youth. After an event in his life, he aspires to murder the man who has caused all of his problems, looking up to the murderous streak that Guy so despises in himself. Being as young as he is, he has no idea of the implications that the actions he is planning will have on his soul. His only redemption is the doubt that he feels. Although more focused on death, Quentin represses it so well that he seems to be a far more stable character and is infinitely more endearing to the reader, as they see some hope in him.

Manu is the most honest and pure of the three. A three-hundred pound Samoan, working in a bar in a down and out part of Chicago he has seen enough violence and corruption to last him a lifetime. He wants to get out, but people like Guy and Quentin keep on dragging him back into the dark underbelly of humanity. He has nothing to feel guilty about, he is as honest and clean as they come, but he constantly feels guilt for events in his past that were unavoidable. His life drifted from his charming Jewish fiancee Elia, to working on a grim whaler in Japan, all eventually leading to his current situation.

The work is currently in progress and at the time of writing is 55,000 words long and approximately half-finished. It will then need to be thoroughly edited and formatted before self-publication. Any input would be welcome, those willing to contribute advice of criticism email or leave a comment here and I will get back to you.

That Self-Important Game.

That Self-Important Game is the first novel that I wrote, from September 2005 to June 2006. I was only 17, and it shows. Still, it has had some good feedback and it was extremely useful to know that I could write the quantity required to publish a substantial piece of writing. In it's self-published state it is still quite rough, needing editing, re-arrangement and rephrasing in some parts. I will probably never return to That Self-Important Game without serious persuasion and an actual incentive. Even though it needs work, I consider it as finished as it ever will be.

That Self-Important Game is centered around Sal, a seventeen year old living in the too-comfortable middle-class city of Bath. His days drift from underage exploits to arguments with his sister, whom he lives alone with. Kate, the perfectly flawed romantic interest, is introduced and a relationship blossoms, before it is interrupted by the death of a good friend and the heart-attack of his father. The setting drifts from Bath to New York and back again, creating a disconcerting flux that seems to have great effect on Sal. He seems to ask the age-old questions of 'Why?' and 'How?' as his life unravels, but always has deeply cynical wit to keep him going. Some would say it is a heart-warming novel (the author most definitely would not), but no matter what your opinion is, That Self-Important Game presents a unique narrative, enabled by the youth of the author. Sal's observations may be called witty, self-centered, naive even, but always tap into humanity with an accurate eye for detail.

If you would like to purchase a copy of That Self-Important Game click on the photo. The book is published by a self-publishing website whose products are bound perfectly. That Self-Important Game is presented like any book found in a high-street shop.

If you have any comments on the novel, or would like to correspond with the author, e-mail Anybody who is interested in editing the piece or writing any critical analysis is welcome to email and I will send them a draft free of charge.


Welcome to the first post on this new blog. I am setting it up to showcase/promote/get feedback on, all of my writing; be it snippets of thoughts, new drafts of my books, or general rants. Any feedback on anything would be most welcome, all of it will be taken into account (as long as it is constructive) and greatly appreciated. Look out for a post of new work soon.

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