Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Tuesday 13 July 2010

This morning I almost forget to pick up my keys as I leave through the door.  That would have been a nuisance.  This comes after I already drop yoghurt down the front of my top.  All in all the day hasn’t even started but it already feels cursed.

Outside things are overcast again.  Looking down at the ground it suggests that it has been raining overnight.  This represents relief.

When the train arrives today it appears to be a few carriages short and thus turns up crammed from the off.  Not a good look, especially on the health and safety front.

As I perform my morning check of Twitter I discover through Robin Ince that sadly Harvey Pekar has died.  I’ve been thinking about the American Splendor movie a lot lately and sadly I guess that this now puts an end to his work.  His confessional tone and observational humour really has served as an influence on my writing over the years, the skill/talent of turning the mundane into something that people can find funny and associate with.

The train turns naturally grim as it begins to fill with vacant extras although at Chelmsford Fading Blonde appears to jump at the opportunity to sit next to me.  Well, maybe not jump.

Things become truly pear shaped when at Ingatestone (always at Ingatestone) some suited div decides to stand over/on me with his crotch thrust in my face at eyelevel as he reads his newspaper very intently doing some kind of train surf in the process barely avoiding falling on top of me.  Eventually he thankfully moves away when it becomes blindingly apparent/obvious that the train is not as packed or rammed as his reactions suggested it was.

Eventually the train gets to London which as ever comes with a true sense of relief.  From here the tube across town proves to be as per.

When I finally get to the restaurant I am first in.  Then just as I get in the angry boss turns up with an electrician to repair some failing lights.  For some reason my security fob fails today making it fortunate that the boss was coming in at this time.

Once again I begin the day having to do the banks and soon my boss is on the phone from Turkey asking me what the position is.  I’m no more prepared to deal with this call than I was yesterday.  I manage to fob him off but it’s a royal pain in the arse.  Again today doing the banks takes up too much of my morning and by the time I am done the day is headed towards lunchtime.  Fail.

In the end for lunch I have penne with merguez, which is a rare treat as these days sausages feel outlawed.

Today The Girl comments “apparently if you burp, fat and sneeze all at the same time you pass out.”  I suspect she is speaking from experience.

From here the afternoon pans out slowly and not before time 5.30PM arrives and quickly I am heading down to Waterloo to meet up with Racton for the BRET EASTON ELLIS event.  Upon arrival we immediately bump into each other and mull over our food options.

Initially Racton leans towards Canteen but I feel the food there is overpriced and shitty.  Also the “restaurant” represents nothing but bad times for me now not least for the drunken Friday night I spent there with Mindy and her drippy Scottish friend a few years ago.

In the end we opt for the more generic but satisfying Pizza Express where we are swiftly served as once more I plump for the Polo Ad Astra which is a sweet tasting pie.

Tonight conversation feels laboured.  I’m so used to doing these things on my own now that when I actually have to interact with people I seem to really struggle now.

With service slick and consumption even quicker we even have dessert dining on good time before heading across to the Queen Elizabeth Hall ahead of the game.  As we leave the restaurant I spot Janine Butcher stood outside having a fag.  She looks nasty in real life.

The BRET EASTON ELLIS talk turns out to be a fun one.  For starters he is a 45 year old man wearing a hoodie beneath a jacket and actually managing to pull the look off.

The event comes in conjunction with the release of his book Imperial Bedrooms which is a sequel to Less Than Zero, his instant big hit.  The guy comes over as the type of person that it might not be best to hang around with.  In a way he is arrogant in a calculated manner and it exudes that he comes from a money background, a solid reason to hold suspicion of anyone.  In addition you also get the impression that he doesn’t suffer fools, perhaps only creates them.

Tonight via Suzi Feay he receives the standard grilling on his new work and the geography of it and how it works in its obvious relation to Less Than Zero, not least in light of the reality that people tend to get snobby about sequels as they often come as a result of an artist running out of ideas.  This he all takes in his stride with a confident carefree manner that occasionally suggests/hints at distraction.

The first question however is regarding EASTON ELLIS’ tweet from earlier this year regarding the death of J.D. Salinger, which he nonchalantly writes off as a gut reaction and more a response to the legacy of the man’s reputation rather than his being.  This is what I refer to as Morrissey fan syndrome.

Once the discussion gets rolling the pair speak at length of the writing of Less Than Zero and where both physically and mentally EASTON ELLIS was when he wrote it (late teens into early twenties).  He concedes that he is surprised when people (some even half his age) still come up to him enthused by the book as it represents a time he has long since past.  He adds that he had already written an unpublished book before this one which was more personal, delving into biographical detail and that with this novel he was able to exorcise the necessity to write from events closely attached to his experiences and early on he made a conscious decision to write clear whole fiction.

At times he speaks of himself in the third person while saying that when towards writing the sequel he revisited Raymond Chandler which naturally gave the piece something of a noir feel.  This coincided with a move back to Los Angeles and how the geography affected his approach and how there is a trick to living in that city.

He states that a novel “comes from pain and chaos”.  People do not write when they’re happy.

When time comes to do a reading he cannot even be bothered to get out of his seat and deliver it from the lectern (“disrupt the process”).  This is a lethargic and aloof attitude that I admire.  Less so impressive however is when the reading turns out to be pretty stock.

Invariably it is only a matter of time before American Psycho gets raised/discussed and with it the old chestnuts such as his mindset at the time of writing and the general sexist and nastiness of the novel.  Again once more this prompts something of a nonchalant shrug from EASTON ELLIS.  He believes more in his work than the morals of humanity it would seem.

This leads to discussions regarding his ghosts and the “haunted condo” setting of his work.  With inquisition he is lost for explanation.

Within the discussion of his most famous book the location of the piece turns itself into an anecdote about living in the same building as Tom Cruise.

When discussing the topic of why he felt the need to update Less Than Zero it comes with an explanation of how technology has changed the climate since the original story and how large sections of the later movements of the book would no longer be possible in this era of social media and hyper communication.  With it being considered a period piece he addresses the pop references which he feels useful if not necessary.

Eventually the Q&A session with audience begins which EASTON ELLIS appears to deal with a sense of contempt as so many questions address American Psycho. 

Then he is asked about David Foster Wallace.  He comments that he found his work unreadable but remains reserved in his opinions although he was a fan of his story even if he was not of his books/stories.

To lighten things the next question is “do you like The Hills?”  And EASTON ELLIS is not dismissive; indeed he compares a wedding from the show with that of Godfather 2.  He also claims that there is something Lynchian about elements of the show.  However it has since jumped the shark and been rendered “hopeless” even though “season 3 is a masterpiece.”

With this the questioning reverts to trickier topics such as terrorism in his novels.  His response is appropriately blas√© for his condition.

Inevitably the subject of misogyny gets raised and staying in character he deals with such accusations with a lack of concern (“I’m a terrible misogynist”), even stating that very often he has women come up to him and say “you are totally right”.  Then after his initial burst of unconcerned response he basically states “so what” and that its down to the individual and how you feel.

Proceedings maintain a heavy tone when he is asked about his relationship with his father and the goals he set when writing Lunar Park.  He says that he had hoped for some reconciliation with him but it didn’t happen when his father died and sadly a sense of relief and calming influence came over his family.  Not that the anger went away and that EASTON ELLIS still turns each male relationship he had into competition.  However the book helped him work through his issues.

Finally he loses patience, taking over the Q&A and giving quickfire response single word answers as he becomes belligerent.  Its actually a pretty impressive conclusion and efficient way of dealing with such things, not least when he doesn’t even reply to the final question.

Then it is over.

As we leave Racton comments “he was unsurprisingly an arrogant arsehole” which is something I have to say pretty much passed me by.  Sure I could sense he is not the nicest person in the world but for me that goes with the territory.

Emerging from the building the night is still relatively young at the age of just after 9PM.  Speedily we head to Waterloo where I eventually get across town in time to board the prized 9.30PM Norwich train.  Off the back of this I get home at a decent time (just after 10.30PM) where all is not lost.

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