(This pertains to 'Reviews of this Book', which you will have to read first before you can get this. It seems to be in abeyance at the moment partly due to differences between the two editors, which is a shame. The redoubtable Richard Herley wanted to put in all sorts of parodies and deranged fake reviewers and roped me in to help. We evolved all sorts of mad academics and plans for critical in-fighting - you can see some of the results on the page, most of them written by Richard, although Veronica Smoot-Hawley is mine. Unfortunately the other editor, Andrew Jenner, decided he wanted to try and do the project for real, and that he especially didn't want a load of abuse on his website. Anyway, the following, from an alcoholic American teacher-writer I invented named Raymond Ruarke, is a review I never got a chance to use - this one, in fact was the straw that broke Andrew's back and ended all involvement from Richard and me. I still like this and wake up crying because it never got used.)

Fairies One and All (Raymond Ruarke)

This was doomed from the start but I will take a fierce, dour joy in seeing how very badly it turns out. Some guy once said that asking a working writer how he feels about critics is like asking a lamp-post how it feels about dogs. Here are the dogs, now, trying to write a book of their own. Pissing on each other. Sniffing each other's stale excretions. They realize something is missing but they don't know what. It is the lamp-post that is missing. How do dogs feel about lamp-posts? They miss it when it's gone, brother.

But that comparison is unfair to dogs. Me, I like dogs. A dog is a loyal animal. The only things in life you can trust not to let you down are dogs and the first whiskey sour of the day. A dog will never run out on you just because you can't get an erection on command. Christ.

I've been a writer for thirty years but I don't know anything about writing. But this much I do know: the way to write is to just do it. Just. Goddam. Do it. Just haul your tired, hungover, battle-scarred old carcass to the machine and do it. Type words. Make sentences. Churn it out.

If there's another way to do it I never heard of it.

It's as simple as that. You can either do it or you can't.

And they can't.

They can't do it, the critics. Look at what they write about: cats.

Cats. Jesus Suffering Fuck. Which French fairy owned which fat-assed cat.

Whose cat is it? Who gives a shit? For all I care it could be Anais Nin's pussy.

One other thing I know about writing: no writer worth a good goddam ever owned a cat. Or wore a beret. Berets. Jesus. Don't get me started.

The only thing I hate worse than cats and berets and critics is an academic. And I've been one for thirty years. In the old days it used to be fine. It used to be about the teaching. And the only way to teach is to do it. Just roll up your goddam sleeves and get out there and teach the little bastards. Stand in front of them on your two feet and reach out and cram the canon down their stinking throats.

Teaching is a lot like bullfighting. Or boxing. Or naked hand-to-hand gladiatoral combat. The lecture theatre is our arena. Some afternoons as you walk out there you can sense them willing you to fail. Wanting you to fall on your ass or drop your notes or spill your drink or get into a fist-fight with the lectern again. You have to stare them down. Show no fear. Pound the eager, clear-eyed little shits into submission until they worship you like a king.

You do it because you have to. It's the loneliest job in the world. But it's also the manliest.

But teaching isn't the way to get ahead any more. You have to write prissy little papers about Sartre's cat and Celine's silk drawers. You have to know a lot of two-dollar words like 'hermeneutics' and 'existentialism' and 'verb'.

Somewhere along the line academia got turned into a ladies' sewing-circle. We're all so goddamned refined nowadays. Honk a girl on the tits and you'll get reported for inappropriate behaviour. Punch a student in the jaw and you'll get suspended. Assault a student with a tyre-iron and they'll can your ass. Christ.

So see what we have here: a bunch of academics, most of them women - or Brits, which amounts to the same thing - squealing and wetting the bed and swatting each other with fancy words in controversies about frog cat-fanciers.

Andrew Jenner, some sort of computer geek who reads books about golden braids, when he isn't plaiting his own. Try reverse-engineering your thumb out of your ass, brainiac.

Michelle Kelly, who runs a website called 'My Page of Adolescent Hissy-Fits.' Grow a pair.

Cristy Gottberg, who draws pictures of fairies. She must feel at home with Jenner and Kelly.

Bren MacDibble, who thinks this is a feelgood book. Hey, babe, if you want something that feels good, drop by some time.

Shrodinger: what kind of faggot has a name like Erwin?

Where's the meat? Where's the cojones?

Herley: you seem like an OK guy for an outpatient. I have to tell you, pal, you're wasting your time trying to get friendly with those faculty hens. Babbage I never met but anyone who married a French guy must be a lesbian. Snoot-Hawley acts like she's God's gift but is a fridgey. Praed is an A-1 ball-breaker. Stay well away from her. She'll put out soon enough but the next day she'll want to move in with you and bring her goddam house-plants and her goddam drink-coasters and her goddam cats. Siamese cats. Jesus God.

In conclusion, Reviews of this Book is not a book and will never be a book. A book must be written by a writer with his two hands and with his guts and with his liver and with his balls. This should be retitled Reviews of a Co-ed Catfight.


Feb 02