Desperate Authors

Desperate Authors

Jolly music.

Voice: My name is Samoloozza Barclay Beckett. Why this morning's paper, the day unusual, but why unusual, every day the same, all that normal, the chores, I knew the chores, I ran the errands, every day the same, the polish spreading, I knew how to polish, but why perfect and never imperfect, why the gleam, here long view of Wisteria Lane, hedge and a strimmer, the unction of sunlight, deep problems and a revolver, bang.

My body was discovered, for discovery there had to be, by my neighbour.

Jaynetta Austen: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a pistol-shot in Wisteria Lane must be in want of explanation. (She hurries round and peeks through the window, then picks up a phone). Hello? My dear sir, I have just made myself acquainted with the characteristic noise of a fire-arm, fastidiously discharged, which I must tolerably allow to be the cause of my neighbour's most unhappy and disagreeable death.

Voice: Here sudden series of characters, sudden rush of them, all gloss and quiver, I would be buried, mystery to them, but in what plot? Sudden flash. Charlene Dickens.

Charlene Dickens (to ten children in tow): Now, what I want is, Behaviour. This is a funeral, and you guys must observe the rules of Behaviour. Behaviour alone is what will satisfy me. This is the principle on which I have brought you up, and this is the principle I will enforce. Stick to Behaviour. And so that you miscreants pay due observance to my principle, take heed of this (waves a large bundle of papers at the sulky brood). Yes! A new version of A Christmas Carol! With an unhappy ending! (The children shrink in horror, and form a crocodile. She enters the wake carrying a colossal serial.)

Voice: Here brief experiment –

Martina Amis: Previously on Desperate Authors...

Voice: Sudden flashback. Edit. But why time backwards, why time forwards, why Martina, now sharp intake.

Martina (slim, curvaceous, brilliant teeth): Look at me. You know it, the half-sashay of my scrofulous lips, my eyes grooming the sidewalks of Wisteria Lane, where the chapped edges of the kerbs give way to the pernickety, well-stropped lawns. The morning is brisk, jittery, rambunctious. I bet you think I'm a model. It's the way my scuzzy husband cramps his hand on my elbow, piffling into the ampersand of my ear, trafficking advice. Money, honey. You can see from the snap-jaw speed of the flashbacks that I'm roxier than his doodle-brain believes. (She brings a thesaurus of slang to the wake.)

Voice: Death is the birth of me. Now. To move on. Stockstill. The impeccable.

Ali Smith: How do you want me to tell this story? I said. You are a Stepford Wife, he said. Am I your wife? I said. Is that the story? he said. Do I have a basket of muffins, tied in ribbons, for the recently bereaved? I said. If you want, he said. And do little things annoy me, I said, like a crumb on a cheek, or a misplaced comma? If you are desperate, he said. (Her contributions to the wake are light, deceptively scrumptious stories.)

Voice: But how often, how often this? Dead all dead, yet I speak, lark here, voice over voices, still here.

Teri-Thomasin Hardy: Out of her porch walked a woman. Had a spectator been present, he should have observed the verisimilitude of her comestibles to those commonly subjected to degustation by those attendant at a wake, although they were but burnt offerings in a casserole. She had that eagerness of step readily identified as belonging, in such circumstances, to a person lately estranged from her husband, and her daughter, who accompanied her, was of an inquisitive persuasion.

Daughter of Teri-Thomasin: Hey, Mom, why did Samoloozza top herself?

Teri-Thomasin: Maybe she concealed her wistlessness.

Daughter: Like Dad's new girlfriend seems cool, but is really a bitch?

Teri-Thomasin: Yeah. What we authors call Irony. (She brandishes a dark novel, stuffed with coincidences.)

Flash-forward. Dickens, Amis, Smith and Hardy are discussing Beckett's suicide, over brunch.

Martina: It's moronic. She had the Nobel. She had the form. It doesn't figure.

Ali: But is that the whole story? Or part of the story? Or the story behind the story?

Charlene: Her characters rose from the silence, were mired in the silence, and progressed most expressively through the silence itself. She could never understand why that selfsame silence –

Teri-Thomasin: - and notwithstanding its singular peculiarity, did any of you guys catch that new hunk in Wisteria Lane? That suspicious author with the sexy plumb lines? Name of Dan Brownfino? He's going to fix my dialogue.

All: Teri-Thomasin!

Martina: Yeah, but have you seen the gardener's guacamole pecs? They ooze.

Voice: At the wake, but why at the wake, why mystery, I go, he comes, he comes, I go, all to be revealed.

Shot of mysterious author, muscular, carrying a bag of tools, the object of zealous and jealous attention up and down Wisteria Lane.

Brownfino: A writer writes writing, he thought. He plumbs depths.

As I write, lean and keen, I have to be a sewer of seed.

Or was that ‘sower'? He reached for his Sears & Roebuck dictionary of apothegms, and in the brittle, artificial light, he casually flipped to the right section. S, straight after R.


His eye fell suddenly upon it. He spelled it out backwards, forwards, sideways. ISRAEL? ARIEL'S?

Israel had a star. Ariel was a soap. The star of a soap! Yes!

But to be a Desperate Author, you had to write very badly. Like that phrase "As I write, lean..."

Wait a moment! There is a campanologist in his cortex. He is fairly certain it rings a bell. He fingers the letters gingerly, like a fortune-teller at Tarot. He persuades –

"As I write, lean..."


And that phrase: Tarot. He persuades!


Voice: No surprise, the buzzing, yes, shallow water and sales, this week and next, no surprise, none, now several advertisements, I shot myself, thus, bang.