The Rime of the Postmodern Mariner

More ramblings of Rhys Hughes.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Nightmare Alley

I started writing short stories seriously when I was 14 years old. The very first was called ‘The Journey of Mountain Hawk’. Everything I wrote between then and the age of 22 was lost. I won’t go into details of why, but I still feel a little angry at the circumstances. My juvenile writing wasn’t especially polished or sophisticated but I flatter myself that it contained some powerful and unique ideas, or rather a series of archetypal images and situations among the most resonant I’ve created. I have a good memory, so now I make occasional efforts to rewrite those lost stories, preserving the images but rendering them in more advanced prose.

I have just completed the rewriting of one of the earliest, a fable about a man travelling down an infinitely long alleyway, recreating all the most important images and even re-using the naive original title, ‘Nightmare Alley’. I feel relief and satisfaction at the completion (or rescue) of this lost story, which was an adolescent reaction to my discovery of Kafka. Somehow I have settled an unresolved issue from the past, taken a small revenge on the bad luck that affected me at one youthful stage of my life. It feels worthwhile.


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