Now that Leila is an integral part of the LS team she has taken to sleeping in the cellars of LS Towers. We hear her while we are upstairs having an end of the week drink. Muttering as she moves through the stacks. It’s okay we don’t mind. She brings out stuff like this.
Once again Nik displays his ear for conversation, especially between husbands and wives. Little comments about “friction” stack up as well as reactions, which at first blush, seem to lay somewhere selective deafness and general disinterest, all flow along nicely, as this couple uses television fare to express thoughts. Not a hint of meanness in it, nor is there an obscure Hidden Secret, which threatens their union. Although the programming is exaggerated (only slightly), the interplay is spot on and interesting. Thus proving that “Real Life” (whatever that means) can be worth looking at, even twice, without the introduction of maniacs and/or scandals.
Q: This sort of thing is natural and easy to read, but hard to write. Did you actively listen to how, say, you and your Better Half (sorry, but it’s a public domain term used by those of us on a pronoun budget) communicate while seated on the couch to give this thing a voice?
Q: From all I’ve seen of it, television has been mostly insipid since its invention. Yet the public seems to have a taste for the coarse (there are some good reality things…I liked Junkyard Wars and the original Iron Chef). But then again maybe this “taste” was forced on us and isn’t something natural to the human race. Crap tends to disappear awfully fast and for keeps (you don’t see any ancient Greek versions of Jersey Shore). Still, do you think that exposure to trash TV will atrophy the perception of culture to the extinguishing point?
Thanks Leila for pulling this out from the back of one of the many disused sofas in the LS basement. As always I shall do my level (or possibly a tiny bit slanted) best to provide you with honest answers to your excellent questions!
Q1: I seem to change styles and genres from story to story but in looking back over the various things I’ve written there is a fairly regular feature – which is to take a situation or a trait or an idea and stretch it as best I can (I guess most writers do this). In this instance it was very much inspired by reality but extended to the nth degree. The story is about 4 years old and that was a time when lots of things were demanding on our time and energy. Kids would have been 6 & 3 at time of writing, I was fed up in my job, money was tight and we’d settled into some sort of holding pattern. The conversation itself is reflective that evenings were drinking wine, marking time and girding ourselves to wake up and repeat and there was definitely a sense of exhaustion to it all. The male character is definitely me but with added sarcasm and trying to channel John Cleese, the female character is nothing like my wife at all beyond the patience she has for dealing with my ramblings, rantings and cynicism. I’ve always found dialogue “easy” (very relative term) so once I had the seed for it I found it fairly easy to put down – it’s gratifying to know that it’s an easy read!
Q2: We watch a certain amount of reality TV for pure escapism – staples are Masterchef Australia, Great British Bake Off, Deadliest Catch and Grand Designs – but the whole family are all voracious readers so I think it stays in check. Over the years I’ve found myself drawn to a lot more literary work and away from my decades long diet of Sci Fi and Fantasy, and I do wonder if it has to do with the escapism angle and the oversaturation/availability of certain content (for example I play interesting video games in those genres and now have less need to escape to it in a book). The idea that culture gets narrowed down to the trash lens does worry me a little – particularly in terms of my kids and I’m acutely aware of the need to give them a broader view of the world. Luckily, being in South Africa means we don’t get the same exposure as perhaps the northern hemisphere plus we have handy regular power cuts which lends itself to reading or Scrabble by headlight. I’d probably prefer that people watch genuine trash tv over something like Fox News – and also it’s easy to forget that some utter trash was interesting and compelling when it first arrived (Big Brother for example – the first lot had no idea how popular it would be and so it was fascinating rather than a showpiece for “becoming a star”. I need to stop talking now – Kitchen Disasters Mozambique is about to start…toodles…