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My biggest fan.

by on February 6, 2011

I wipe a bit of dried, hardened, drool from the corner of my mouth. The bristle of my stubble scratches my hand. There I am: staring back at myself from inside the shop. Standing between piles of books. But that me has flat, soulless eyes. Pale, featureless skin. Stop fucking staring at me! I bang my fist on the window and draw funny looks from passers-by. I take a last, deep, pull on my fag, flick the butt over my shoulder and walk inside. I wipe my hand on my trousers and give my hair a quick pull about so that I don’t get mistaken for a tramp like last time.

There I am again: by the bestsellers table, cradling my latest book like an adopted AIDS baby. Smug fucker. I said stop staring at me! I punch Smug Me in the face and he topples over backwards, sending the spiral of books behind him tumbling. The manager runs over to see what the commotion is.

Yes, it’s me. Yes, I’m late. Yes, I’ll sign the fucking books. Where’s the table? Get me a black coffee, for Christ’s sake, I can barely hold a pen. Wait, scratch that, make it a whisky. A big one.

I crash down into the seat and start scribbling in the trash that I’ve oozed out for these people to devour.

For Betty.

To a special friend.

For Rick.

To my biggest fan.

Whatever you want, just take it and go. I see one of the staff righting the cardboard stand-up that I just knocked over, giving me a dirty look over his shoulder. I fucking hate book signings.

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11 Comments
  1. parfles permalink

    This story pleases me greatly. You are really bringing across a sense of place, such a strong focus on details – the little things with the drool and the hair and the fag and all these things – it’s impossible not to picture the scene and be drawn into it. Great voice and great dialogue technique – that one-sided, in your head voice is fantastic.

    I also really enjoyed the duplicity of the first paragraph – I honestly didn’t know what the “me on the inside” was and his smugness and the vibe of being outside yourself looking in really captured me. It started off very supernatural seeming and by the end of it I have still not quite shaken off the feeling that something sinister is going on. Vibes of Stephen King and of course the more direct inspiration – Alan Wake (it is a good video game that inspires so much creativity – my Hollow World story was also very much out of AW.)

    This is one of my favourites and I have no complaints here! 🙂

  2. Really enjoyed this – very reminded of ‘Bon Fire of the Vanities’ throughout – a favourite book of mine.

    Great visual ideas and the cardboard cut-outs really work as a narrative device. I thought the perfect, marketing, clean image of oneself being described as dead and soulless worked very well at a lot of levels and gave easy insight into some complex angst.

    Phrase that jarred: ‘give my hair a quick pull about so that I don’t get mistaken for a tramp like last time’ – just seemed cumbersome and inelegant – perhaps ‘mistaken for a tramp again’ would have worked better.

    Phrase that really worked:’cradling my latest book like an adopted AIDS baby’ and ‘trash that I’ve oozed out for these people to devour.’

    Excellent, I like.

  3. I enjoyed this more on second reading. Knowing where its going gave me more in the descriptions of his cardboard self.

    I liked it.

  4. Really liked this – the voice and the grimy detail are perfect, and the character is a perfectly-depicted grumpy (and probably damaged) sod. It’s also a particularly creative use of “stand up”, and the cardboard cut-out has considerable metaphorical punch. Very nicely-controlled piece of writing, every word in its place and working hard.

    • Thank you muchly!
      If I had more words I would’ve had more grime, more detail, I think.

      > perfectly-depicted grumpy
      I just imagined myself being in the same situation, either hungover or in dire need of coffee 😀 .

  5. cbraz permalink

    This is great. Really nasty and gritty. I loved the way the character was developed, with the juxtaposition between him and his writer persona, personified by the cardboard figure.

    In “I take a last, deep, pull on my fag”, I would leave out the second comma – it reads better for me that way.
    In “I wipe my hand on my trousers and give my hair a quick pull about so that I don’t get mistaken for a tramp like last time.”, which is one of my favourite sentences, “pull” is repeated from the previous sentence which jars a little.

    I love the AIDS baby metaphor and the way his self-hatred comes out, e.g. “Smug fucker”.

    I’m not commenting on the last group (ship) because I’m too far behind, but wanted to say that I love that piece of yours too and like this move to grittiness – it suits you nicely (as did your previous style, but this is very different and you also do it so effectively)

    • Thanks!
      Re deep fag: agreed, reads nicer your way. Will change.
      Re pull, pull: agreed also. I think that hair pull sentence needs a rewrite.
      Re grit: thanks! 🙂 I’m enjoying being nasty, it seems… (-_-);

  6. I got a great picture of Our Hero from this. Someone who, at least when it comes to their writing, is embittered, cynical. Cigarettes, drink and coffee are drugs he freely uses, and I imagine he judges people who would judge him poorly for using them so freely.

    Like your piece before this, I enjoyed your control of detail.

    > I crash down into the seat and start scribbling in the trash that
    > I’ve oozed out for these people to devour.
    In terms of detail, a word or two describing why Our Hero thinks that his books are trash would have been great.

    I liked this 🙂

    • Thanks, Roodles.

      > Cigarettes, drink and coffee are drugs he freely uses
      Coffee’s not a drug, it’s lifestyle choice! Ahem.

      Your picture of Writer Guy matches mine, and this pleases me greatly.

      > describing why Our Hero thinks that his books are trash
      Interesting, I like. I shall see what I can do for Print.

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