Now before anybody asks, the manuscripts of all my novels were burned in a fire that destroyed my home and all my worldly possessions one week before Christmas 1995. The fire inspector blamed a faulty chimney and high winds but I suspect Viking raiders.
I had just taken an early retirement, some fifteen years earlier than the usual actually, for the purpose of finally gathering all my writing together, putting on some final touches and making a full time effort to find a publisher. There were also thousands of unfinished poems.
For years I had been aching to quit work and spend the rest of my life as a 'writer '. But it was not to be. And except for some very occassional film work as an actor and some freelance assignments as a writer and producer of television commercials, I have been out of work ever since, without even the pre-occupation of polishing and submitting the lost manuscripts. No wonder I became an h2g2 addict.
And so now, having wallowed in self pity these past few years, I have finally decided to at least offer the world a glimpse of what your are missing.
a semi-autobiographical record of heady student days in the mid 1960s written under the influence of, and in the time it took to consume, one kilo of Mexican ditchweed in a Vancouver garret (Feb-June 1967). All I can remember is the image of an attic/loft window held open in rain or shine by a huge soggy dictionary and Peter's personal motto, "Really nothing really matters really."
a WW2 nuclear fantasy that starts with a B-29 called "The Declaration of Independence" carrying a single untested atomic bomb taking off on the morning of July 4th, 1945 - backlit by the rising sun. The target was Tokyo. So unpredictable was the power of splitting the atom it was thought prudent to try it only over enemy territory because the potential results of the explosion were unknown. Now, any student of modern history knows these events were never officially recorded and that the first A-bomb was tested a few days later at Alamogordo, New Mexico, July 14th 1945. What you don't know is why the New Mexico test became necessary, who shot the B-29 down and what happened when the bomb went off on the beach of a Japanese occupied Pacific island. Although it is eluded to by the Pointer Sisters in their hit single 'Neutron Dance'.
GO TO HALIFAX
an anti-semitic semi-autobiographical cuckold rant. I play my own innocent-and-much-put-upon self and my protagonist is 'Bernie Risenfall' an entirely fictional character who is also U166722. It begins one day when we were about 12 and on a school outing to the public library. Bravely passing the children's section we tried to check out a book called 'Mein Kampf'. Bernie had to settle for 'Mila 18' and 'Exodus' while I got 'The Great Escape' and 'Reach For the Sky' and these formed the basis of our fictional lifelong friendship.
a Rock and Roll 'soap operetta' based on the Springhill Coal Mining disasters of 1956 and 1958 with the lyrics of contemporary pop songs of the period (such as: Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On, That'll Be The Day, At the Hop, Hound Dog, etc) 'playing' throughout the text and dialog.
And finally, my magnus opus:
JULY 4 - USA 3
(a trilogy of American stories about Independence Day)
- A Civil Tongue
a writer, Jeremy Garrett, covers the American Civil War in the 1860s for a Pennsylvania newspaper before befriending a young English gent named Tim Cratchit in the seamier opium dens of New Orleans. Tim is quite well off, having a rich uncle in London named Ebeneezer Scrooge who sends him cheques. Together they become totally addicted to opium and set out for California like early-day Dharma Bums in search of San Francisco's Chinatown. Then on July 4th, 1876, while escaping a hostile mob of orientals bent on enforcing a paternity suit, Jeremy Garret dies, cruelly impaled on a steam locomotive's 'cow catcher' somewhere in Nevada.
- The Acid Test
Jeremy Garrett's great grandson a pot-smoking DJ of mixed-race has to work the July 4th holiday in 1967 and watches forlornly the passing parades from the station's second storey window. A passing crowd of hippies on their way to one of several 'picnics' held that day, hear his show on their car radio and toss up a large dose of LSD. He locks himself in the studio for the next 12 hours playing all his favourite psychedelic tunes over and over again and ranting about various historical highlights from popular US history and the significance of the July 4th holiday. He finally passes out while playing an infinite loop of Ravi Shankar's sitar music and police break in to cart him off for 'psychiatric evaluation'. Alone in a padded cell he foresees the future.
- Liberty Returns
one ship, the Starship "Thomas Jefferson" , from the 2076 evacuation fleet unexpectedly returns from interstellar space, July 4th, 2176 to discover that no one left on earth knows what day it is anymore. The descendants of the original crew (many named Garrett) also discover that after nearly a century in space they are not accustomed to, or entirely able to deal with, earth's gravity. Many develop fatal pneumonia. One of them re-invents the wheel.
The general ideas and plots of these novels are still in my head but the details, the lovingly crafted lines, the exquisite puns are gone, forever. Some day I may just buy a tape recorder, get drunk and dictate them all again. They'd probably work better as spoken-word recordings anyway because my true medium is really radio, the 'theatre of the imagination'.
I'll let you know if and when and where you can get a copy.
Infinite Improbability Drive
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