The Rime of the Postmodern Mariner

More ramblings of Rhys Hughes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kharms Before the Storm

(A story in the style of Daniil Kharms)

Kharms said to Lakoba, “Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
   Lakoba answered, “No, go ahead.”
   Kharms remained silent.
   Lakoba gasped, “Well? Go on, I'm waiting!”
   Kharms frowned. “Waiting for what?”
   Lakoba cried, “For the question!”
   Kharms replied, “But I asked it and you gave me your answer. I asked, do you mind if I ask you a question? That was my question. And you answered: no, go ahead.”
   Lakoba reddened. “In that case you asked your question before I gave you my permission to ask it.”
   Kharms said, “Does that make you angry?”
   Lakoba bellowed, “Livid!”
   Kharms shrugged. “Nonetheless I am satisfied.”
   Without hesitation, Lakoba rushed at Kharms, twisted his arms behind his back and threw him out the window.

NOTE: Daniil Kharms (1905-1942) was born in St Petersburg; after criticism from the Soviet authorities his writings were supressed and he found himself unable to publish anything, yet he continued writing. He specialised in absurd and rather monstrous flash fictions that often featured people falling out of windows. Imprisoned, he was deliberately starved to death.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Brief List of Titles for Unwritten Stories

Without wishing to strut and preen, I am often praised for my unusual titles. The method I most commonly use is to keep lists of potential titles and wait until I have an idea that fits a particular title. Then I'll write the story. I dislike writing a story if I don't have a title for it. I find that the prose doesn't flow so smoothly...

Often the titles themselves generate the story itself, in the same way that a gene may control the growth of an organism. So the more offbeat the title, the more original the resultant story! Titles will often jump into my head from nowhere. A phrase such as 'The Canapés of Wrath' is obviously a twisting of the Steinbeck title; other phrases, such as 'The Realisation of Vast Headgear', are more mysterious in origin. Why should such a sequence of words appear in my mind? There's no obvious reason. It's a mystery!

Anyway, I note down these titles and slowly work my way through them. The list keeps changing as I add new titles and turn others into stories. Some titles wait on the list for a short time; others wait years or even decades. What follows is a short extract from my list. I hope eventually to turn all of these titles into stories.

* As I Walked Out One Midsummer Night's Dream
* Noah the Second
* The Senile Pagodas
* Wheel of Beasts
* Vile Bodhisattva
* Poppadam and Circumstance
* Apple Ubu
* Shelling the Toad
* The Singing Sands Have Lost Their Voice
* The Swedish Pharaoh
* Djinn Septic
* Occam's Beard
* Ghoulysses
* Monkey Knows a Thing
* The Extra-Haunted Dolls' House
* Abaddon in Abydos
* Pepper on the Ginger Star
* An Awfully Bubonic Adventure
* My Rabbit's Shadow Looks Like a Hand
* Wuthering Depths
* The Once and Future Peasant
* The Aching Soul of Solomon the Cobbler
* Sigma Octantis
* Doom it Heavenwards
* Dribble as I Dawdle
* Confessions of a Medicated Lurker
* This Werewolf Prefers Muesli
* The Nine Billion Names of Tinker Bell
* The Infringing Lanterns
* Ondes Martenot on my Pillow
* Dynamiting the Honeybun
* The Baker Street Cimmerian
* Tropic of Nonsense
* The Fruit Pastille City
* The Dream Chapati of Tarquin Platt
* The String Theory of Women
* The Great Me
* Bedsteads Across Iberia
* Hannah and her Cisterns
* Sadie Loverlei’s Chatter
* Nat King Cole Abhors a Vacuum
* The Unvoiced Complaints of Kika Puffus
* Hubble, Bubble, Toil and Minor Disturbance
* Whoops a Buttercup
* Gin and Chthonic
* The Original Copycats
* The Cheesy Smile of Bethany Kraker
* Pell Mell in Pall Mall
* The Utterly Conventional Abode on the Perfectly Normal Hill
* Clumsy Carnacki – the Ghost Loser
* Daftness and Chlorine
* The Cat that Chilled the Scene
* Abridged Too Far
* Genghis Kan't
* The Biscuit Viziers of the Tongue Sultan
* Owl Scared of the Dark
* Caterpillar the Hun
* The Further Fangs of Suet Pudding
* My Bearable Smugness
* The Realisation of Vast Headgear
* Moonmoths, Umbrellas and Oranges
* Hepcats are from Neptune, Bum Notes are from Uranus
* Jesus the Creep
* When the Tide Comes In, Belinda Puts Out
* The Heat Death of Mr Universe
* The Elephantine Doggerel of Mouserian Catullus
* Knights that Go Bump into Things