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Old 12-05-2008   #21
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Re: Black Humour Passage of the Day

"The Deconstruction Co." by Jeremy Reed

Dear Sir, they write, we want clean literature,
nothing controversial or near the truth,
nothing committed, what we recommend
is writers work for the establishment,
it's the best way to get reviewed, we hope
you'll consider the TLS,
and give up wearing mascara, lipstick,
it's bad for image. You know, men just don't,
the Brit author is macho, conformist,
and wouldn't think like you to make a life
of poetry, who ever would?
And our advice is not to keep apart
surrounded by a small adoring cult
who look and act like you, but to participate

in parties, literary functions,
things that get you on. You seem to have no friends
in publishing, and not to be a parasite,
and this will never do. You're exclusive
and have too much mystique, what do you do
to write such censored off-beat books
that have reviewers chop your hands and feet,
and yes, we're told that you wear leopardskin boots
and that's outrageous. Please, be sensible,
adopt the Andrew Motion style of dress,
blended conventionality. We hear
you have too many women friends,
all of them beautiful, and that's not done,
in terms of advancement, men stick with men.
We feel you need another reprimand
for all those seething derisive reviews
have failed to stop you writing. 30 books?
We'd burn the lot. And please pay for the stamp.

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz

Last edited by BleakИ 09-13-2009 at 07:33 AM..
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Old 12-07-2008   #22
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Re: Black Humour Passage of the Day

"Slake my thirst" – was the advert's hook as Robert drove past the hoarding – then up the M1 motorway nearing his long-neglected birthplace on the outskirts of Leicester. He had a ploy. He had a wheeze. To write 'Prince Philips' Diary' before Prince Philip wrote his own.

For this reason, he had felt an illogical need to touch home base. See his Mum and Dad, or at least where his Mum and Dad were buried, before embarking on this lucrative project. All the papers would buy it. He'd not make the same mistakes as that guy who once pretended that he had Hitler's diary and sold it to a Sunday newspaper for a song as a genuine part of mid-20th century history. This time, Prince Philip's Diary would indeed be Prince Philip's Diary. With all the warts as well as yappy corgis. Not to speak of his four difficult wayward children and other palace hangers-on.

Leicester Forest service station, on the M1, would serve as Robert's spark, a catharsis – a catharsis amid a thousand end-to-end cups of service station swill.

His thirst was for load and loads of money rather than for that quenching of his dry-as-dust taste buds. Taste buds lurked, he felt, like button mushrooms, in his lower throat. He swallowed hard. Imagining-illnesses-before-suffering-from-those-illnesses had ever been his true complaint. Hypochondria was, indeed, the worst illness of all.

He'd start writing the Diary in the service station. He was, now, after all, here, within the influence zone of his own astrological beginnings, utilising the rollercoaster flows of planetary transits across his original template of time.

Thirty five years ago, he was born, say, two miles from this very Service Station, under the Sign of the Ram upon the cusp of the Crab. An epoch that began when his Mum uttered a blood-curdling scream amid the milling midwives of a Midland dawn.

The centre of England was hereabouts: a significant location for Robert Montgomery, the only Robert Montgomery who would ever live the life of this particular Robert Montgomery. In an alternate world, he might have become the tallest or fattest person ever known to man, instead of the richest as he was due to become because of the planetary influences bearing down upon his obvious talent in writing other people's diaries.

And now he was at the Motorway Service Station, a restaurant, not at the end of the universe, but in the middle of it. A Way Station, in fact, for the very soul and grit of literature. Popular literature that would pay so much cash, he could afford perhaps the dish of the day, instead of dishwater.

He gazed longingly at someone else's all-day breakfast, whilst making do, as Robert was forced indeed thus to do, with his umpteenth cup of swill and no solids. He had been breast-fed when a small baby, and, in Leicester, there was a glut of wet nurses available in those days, and, indeed, his Mum was shrivelled to the very bottom of her chest, so he had been thankful – in hindsight – for the large mercies of riper milk-dugs elsewhere.

He gazed from the window towards the flowing motorway, and spotted another advert hoarding for thirst-quenching products … and he frowned as he lowered his concentrating brows towards the scrap of lined paper he had placed before him on the restaurant table and wrote: "Today, I was given things to suck."

That was a good beginning. A real diary might have started just in that way.

But Prince Philip had not been born in Leicester, had he? Wasn't he Greek? It was hot in Greece. Robert Montgomery knew at least that. Good local colour was important to any literature. He scored out what he had written and rewrote it: "It was hot today, and I was thirsty. The nurse cradled me to the ripe dugs of her breast."

Ah, that was better. Prince Philip to the tee.

Someone had just sat beside Robert – because the place was getting fuller (with passing trade in the main) – and this person flaunted a double decker all-day breakfast with extra trimmings. Including button kidneys glowing in the motorway dawn. Robert scowled and gulped another dose of swill. The chap with the breakfast nursed a huge mug of scalding best-infused tea, Robert could tell, whilst Robert himself had been dished out with the grey fluids dripping from the kitchen draining board.

He thought of his Mum and Dad Montgomery. They had been a humble pair of folk, and they had been proud of Robert. But thirty-five years ago they were into the original boy band called the Bay City Rollers. So they dressed Robert in trousers at half-mast, trimmed with tartan, and gave him long scarves like Dr Who.

As a toddler, Robert had looked strange to the passers-by. Now, he was to prove he was no freak from the Seventies, but a writing talent fit for the 21st century. The Montgomery clan would be proud of him. He sucked his pencil. Then worried about being lead-poisoned . He took a tug of swill from the nozzle of his drink and started to gurgle.

Prince Philip was too young to write. The next minute he was dead. Sprawled over the restaurant table, sprawled over what he'd scrawled.

A ghost child's hand still scribbling, scribbling even in an imaginary death from a real disease.

Leicester Forest Service Station still buzzed with late breakfasters – ignorant of the talent that had lived and breathed its unfulfilled life, here, amid their munching chops.

A lorry slowly drew out of the car park, some drink advertised on its side. Not Tizer. Or Corona. But another name. A Seventies malty drink. With which Prince Philip had once force-fed an already overgrown Prince Charles, because he never stopped teething.

Nearby, later, in a silent Leicester graveyard, a sad, solitary figure looking much older than his thirty-five years, left some flowers by a twin-bed made of stone. The sun was setting at this very singular moment.

He stayed for some while, bent, hands clasped behind his back. A loyal corgi yapping by his feet.
D. F. Lewis - "Prince Philip's Diary"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 12-07-2008   #23
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Re: Black Humour Passage of the Day

"Destiny" by Marin Sorescu (1936-1996), trans. D. J. Enright and Ioanna Russell-Gebbett

The chicken I bought last night,
Frozen,
Returned to life,
Laid the biggest egg in the world,
And was awarded the Nobel Prize.

The phenomenal egg
Was passed from hand to hand,
In a few weeks had gone all round the earth,
And round the sun
In 365 days.

The hen received who knows how much hard currency,
Assessed in buckets of grain
Which she couldn't manage to eat

Because she was invited everywhere,
Gave lectures, granted interviews,
Was photographed.

Very often the reporters insisted
That I too should pose
Beside her.
And so, having served art
Throughout my life,
All of a sudden I've attained to fame
As a poultry breeder.
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Old 12-07-2008   #24
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Re: Black Humour Passage of the Day

"Dear horror writers of the future, I ask you: what is the style of horror? What is its tone, its voice? Is it that of an old storyteller, keeping eyes wide around the tribal campfire; is it that of a documentarian of current or historical happenings, reporting events heard-about and conversations over-heard; is it even that of a yarn-spinning god who can see the unseeable and reveal, from viewpoint omniscient, the horrific hearts of man and monster? I have to say that it's none of these, sorry if it's taken so long."
Thomas Ligotti - "Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 12-17-2008   #25
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Re: Black Humour Passage of the Day

“Arma Virumque” by Ambrose Bierce (1842-?1914)

“Ours is a Christian army”; so he said
A regiment of bangomen who led.
“And ours a Christian navy,” added he
Who sailed a thunder-junk upon the sea.
Better they know than men unwarlike do
What is an army, and a navy too.
Pray God there may be sent them by-and-by
The knowledge what a Christian is, and why.
For somewhat lamely the conception runs
Of a brass-buttoned Jesus firing guns.
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Old 12-26-2008   #26
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Re: Black Humour Passage of the Day

As a freak of fate, those who were already there when Antonian arrived in the lamp room, were discussing the dice-throwing set who used to frequent the commercial markets all over the world. Antonian had once considered himself to be part of that scene, but not for some years. It all came flooding back to him when someone shouted out: “Hey! Antonian, thrown a clutch of sixes lately?”

He scowled at the unseen perpetrator of this cruel jollity.

The gas lamps were so aligned with the wall mirrors, they cast shadows over the faces on the settees, but made the ceiling brighter than a sunny sky in mid-June.

He went to the hatch in the wall where pootch was being served at a guinea a schooner. The young lady serving, in contrast to the customers, was in full view, not even a shadow down her cleavage.

“Six schooners,” he ordered.

She poured them from a cask with a brass tap.

“Can you top them up - there’s at least half an inch of head.”

She stared back.

“Oi, Mistah, you may be a right oo-de-lah in your mummy’s eyes, but here you get what yer given. That’ll be six guineas and, if you want me to say please, that’ll be another guinea on top!”

Antonian fidgetted his feet. The lamps flickered as a nearby underground train shook the whole building. Like ghosts, the faces of the other drinkers were partially revealed by the tapering, leaning and bluing of the gas jets. He recognized at least one of his fellow shakers from the old days, one who owed him more than vice versa.

“Hey, Jack,” he called, “Give this here lady a guinea and she says she’ll say please.”

“Yes,” she laughed, “I’ll say please for a guinea and give me yet another, I’ll give you a sweet thank you too!”

“How sweet, Brenda?”

“You’ll see.”

He put his hand into his pocket and pulled out a wad of tight change. He threw it into her cleavage and heard the splash several seconds later.

“Is that enough, Brenda?”

She smiled innocently and fished down her front to retrieve the payment.

Meanwhile, he who had been addressed as Jack had stepped up to the hatch. If anyone had a misaligned smile he did - either that or his head had been put on at the wrong angle.

“Yes, I thought it was you Jack - come to rub along again with your old Uncle Antonian, eh? We were muckers once, so let’s call it quits. Give me a wad, and I’ll let this young lady have another one for her chest of drawers ... and maybe she’ll entertain us both together, later.”

“And maybe I won’t”, she said, as she topped up the six schooners.

“Thanks, Brenda, have one for yourself.”

Antonian wrapped the six glasses in his fist as if he were a born waiter and, without warning, smashed them all to the floor, splinters of glass and flecks of pootch flying in all directions … save one, where Antonian himself stood with Jack.

The rest of the company were not so lucky. They had their women picking shards out of their cheeks for weeks after.

But that was the last six Antonian ever threw. He left the lamp-room that night - smiling from ear to ear and, for the benefit of those who pry, he was carried out in a state of apparent drunkenness. Well, what do you think, after downing six schooners of pootch?

Brenda (if that was her real name), when dressing later that night, told Jack that she’d enjoyed it more than ever, his new pouch being far more chunky.... But it had been strangely dark in the lamp-room and, in this day and age, what matters is who trumped her - names were wild, bodies shuffled and tricks far too easy to take - and who cares whose deal it was anyway.
D. F. Lewis - "Wild Jokers and Square Balls"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 12-29-2008   #27
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Re: Black Humour Passage of the Day

Delicious is not like abstemious or facetious. Abstemious and facetious have all the vowels contained within them—in the right order. Delicious lacks an a.

I read the slip of paper I'd pulled from the tin. Delicious, it said—and I wondered how delicious actually meant what it did mean. I'm sure it's some lingo thing, but I'm not half clever enough for that. Suddenly, I thought of the word suddenly; suddenly doesn't sound like suddenly, does it? Abruptly had more kick, more of a get up and go. Suddenly is sibilant and slow-moving like a sinuous snake.

Once, when in the West Indies, I tasted a snake. It was a delicacy there, a delightful delicacy. Its dead-eyes stared at me from either side of its head, as it lay coiled on my plate.

"It's delicious, try it and see," said my host. We had been drinking a lot. Well, none of my friends were particularly abstemious, and he was no exception.

I took my knife and cut into the snake's rind, finding it remarkably rubbery whilst with the feel of sawing cardboard. The fleshy innards oozed a green substance.

"It looks scrumptious," I said facetiously.

Suddenly, it leapt off the plate and bit me.

"Delicious," it hissed.
D. F. Lewis - "Delicious"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 01-07-2009   #28
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Re: Black Humour Passage of the Day

"As a final text, I'm reminded of the diving suit in which Salvador Dali delivered a lecture some years ago in London. The workman sent along to supervise the suit asked how deep Dali proposed to descend, and with a flourish the maestro exclaimed: 'To the Unconscious!' to which the workman replied sagely: 'I'm afraid we don't go down that deep.' Five minutes later, sure enough, Dali nearly suffocated inside the helmet."
J. G. Ballard - "Which Way to Inner Space?"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 01-07-2009   #29
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Re: Black Humour Passage of the Day

Philip Larkin on the source of inspiration for his poetry:

"Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth."

(from a 1979 interview)
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Old 01-08-2009   #30
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Re: Black Humour Passage of the Day

Quote Originally Posted by gveranon View Post
Philip Larkin on the source of inspiration for his poetry:

"Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth."

(from a 1979 interview)
Absolutely choice. , , and !
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