In case you’re wondering, the book-reading went horribly. I was like an eight-year old self-consciously reciting nursery rhymes in front of class. Four people walked out. The rest was a stony silence. Shuffling feet. Pitying stares. Embarrassed coughs.
I read the funniest bits too. At one point I thought maybe no-one in the room spoke English, because not only did they not laugh, or even smile, but some of them seemed to be in agony trying to follow it. Oh god.
There were four readings altogether. I went last. Before me, a young lesbian poet with a Simpsons overbite reeled off her bizarre catalogue of sonnets in a curious hushed monotone…
“Crab, nab, stab, flab,
Feeling a rush, trip over a bush.
Hub, tub, club, rub,
Mellifluous undertow of ripening bananas, eating me, eating them.”
Or some nonsense like that. Occasionally, she’d freak out, shouting a word like BOOOOOM! so loudly into the mic that it almost blew the amp, startling everyone. I thought as I was listening to her, “Jeez. Well, I have to be better than this, surely.”
Lobster love, divinely compacted down to nothing.
I wait, not breathing. Janet is risen.”
Stuff anyone could write just by jotting random words down from a dictionary. I think she had a bit of a nerve calling it poetry, frankly.
Afterwards, she told me she’d done about a dozen readings of her sonnets before this one, and felt happy about how it went. I began to say something else, but she turned her back and walked away. Wow. You know you’ve put in an appalling performance when someone who is even more appalling snubs you like that.
This was my first book-reading and, believe me, my last. Either my work is terrible, which I don’t believe it is, or I simply suck at reading aloud, which is way more likely. Either way, I’m done. Ugh, the horror.
To keep my spirits up, I found myself surfing Amazon this morning to look at books doing worse than mine. There are some, apparently. Somewhere down the charts, at around the 3,500,000th level, I found this one. And for some reason I felt better immediately.
But even the sight of a bizarre grinning cat called Maude shopping for cake still wasn’t enough to reduce the nagging itch of failure or brush away the twin contaminants of hopelessness and feeling third-rate. I’m contemplating drowning myself today. I’ll decide once I get to the beach. Have a great weekend.