Short stories are, in my mind, just a brief snapshot of what could be a longer tale. A taster. Something in development. Fragments.
Each of these collected shorts are just that. Saying something different in each one and writing each one, was a bit like trying to paint the pictures accordingly.
Asked what each piece is about, I attempted to cooperate, but in truth I want those reading, who chooses to, to find their own landscape or indeed none. But I have suggestions.
Nemesis is a collection of prose with an arrangement of journeys. In the rain, through the length of a lifetime, amongst history, between emotions, and journeys across great oceans. Although it’s not a ‘themed’ collection of words, as such, there is an underlying connection between the pieces.
The complete collection of chap books with additional new liner notes.
Forward into the mysterious beauty of spring The crocuses, melon-dawn yellow snow-purple veined saffron and milk-hearts And birdsong becoming audible, trilling and chattering in symphony Spools of song, sweet canticles in taunting magniloquence melodious code Like an angelical speech Like golden divination and ambiguous dreamlike augury And I came upon a beekeeper And he said do you know you can have it all? The blessed bees vibrantly humming stung with nectar and honey Stinging and healing our ache and our sweetness, our love and our hurt Extraordinarily, the honeybee came upon this All so beautiful And I feel as if spring has touched me and saved me.
The original idea was a collection of short stories based on real life memories from people who had experienced war and the aftermath. What did they remember? Was it all misery? Did they wave the flags when the ceasefire happened? Did they actually – miss – it? Instead of just writing up what they said I have used (with their permission) their stories and recollections as a basis to form various stories. Names and places have been changed and various stories have been altered for dramatic purposes.
Two novels in one. Now Is Not The Time For Trumpets and A Life Of Parties.
Summer 1987. Stephen Wallingford, once the epitaph of all things fabulous and now a recluse of the modern era, receives a letter from an up and coming author wishing to talk about his life. Although reluctant to meet, Stephen decides to re-emerge from the shadows, and reflect on the past, of childhood ambitions and dreams, forgotten lovers and the scandalous demise of the bright young things. And with tears, laughter and broken hearts rediscovered, Stephen is transported back in time to a life of parties, pink gin and illicit love.
Beautiful Mess features a kaleidoscope of scenarios and locations, together with a highly diverse cast of characters, from glamorous movie stars to burnt out strippers, somnambulists to drag queens, from a lonely bee-keeper, who said, "I don't meet many people, I'm very busy with the hives, when's my cloud of bees coming home?" to the child growing into an adult, on the day they learned to swim, because, "I’m all grown up now."
First published by a defunct publishing house, Beautiful Mess is a book Mark never mentions.
'Did I really agree to this?' he asks. 'A couple of people who read the first book Tour De Europa,' he says, 'they either really liked it or they found it very uncomfortable. I liked the idea of it being uncomfortable. I thought that was great. I love the ambiguity. But I also loved looking back on lost conversations and instantly remembering an emotion.' A clock somewhere strikes two and a friend arrives with tea, pizza, avocado with balsamic vinegar and cream cake for afters, only to be playfully admonished by Mark, who protests, 'I can't eat all this shit!' It would appear some things never change.
After The Event features the three books Tour De Europa, Versus America and Up Against It plus Extras.
Suddenly what was wrong seems right.
Stephen, young, bright and beautiful meets bright, beautiful, ambitious Agatha and her streetwise drug dealing friends.
And then there’s Desha, artiste icon and now hostess of a glitzy London nightclub, there when they need to turn to 'mother.'
Meanwhile the outrageous Bob Lush, social extraordinaire, has his own plans for Stephen.
As fame and fortune beckon, Stephen quickly learns that things aren't always as straightforward as they seem.'
I wanted this lifestyle. I wanted to be the bell of the ball and the one everyone would look at. I wanted to fit in and be one of those fabulous people. I craved to host a cheese and wine do. I wanted to smoke exotic Turkish cigarettes and sip dubonet. I wanted to strike up a conversation with other fabulous people like, 'Do come over for mulled wine and Wensleydale cheese. You can meet Nigel and Clarinda. Darling it will be fabulous.'
There was just one small little problem. I was seven years old.
An intimate memoir.
In Citrus, Mark uses the unique structure of a tour through his French home to tell you about his life. Elements of and objects in each area of the home dredge up memories for him. Personal letters and photographs stir up other strands of memory, about people he has met, ideas and inspirations for his books and experiences that have had an impact on his life. Intimate, at times funny and other moments reflective, this is a surprising and revealing piece of work than any sensationalist autobiography you will ever read. This is not a kiss and tell or indeed shout and share kind of book. Inside you will read about a real person and objects of a real house.