Well how interesting your response is. It really makes me think. Thanks!

I think you might be trying too hard to decode significant meaning in what are absurd narratives. I agree there is some autobiographical content but it’s not important. What is important is a sense of the absurd. Both protagonists live in worlds where conventional wisdom has no place. In TIN, to be constrained to speaking only one word is just fine whereas burgeoning language skills are punished – but there are no rules or societal norms to be gleaned just one individuals experience – it appears to make little sense and that’s the point. Where there is a touch of autobiographical content is that I don’t believe sense making is a necessary or useful process. In fact that’s the point of both stories. The world of sticky whip is superficially a sci fi world. But it’s silly because despite having inhabitants of exceptional size and ability it also has kids who play marbles on high streets with shops. It’s like a collage of disparate parts that don’t belong together but deceive the reader into thinking they do. I suspect because of your high level art analytical skills you are looking for a satisfying logical framework, something that binds everything together. You plumped for autobiography, somebody else might go for satire, somebody else might go for alternative world building, or even an environmental commentary, but the reason you need help is it is none and all of those things – it’s a reaction against literary criticism that can’t accept that some art is driven mainly by whim, chance and a desire not to reveal meaning but to explore the meaningless and the absurd.

It owes a bit to the following influences but is the ladybird book childrens version and does not take itself as seriously, nor can any great insights be gleaned from knowing that these may or may not have been at the back of my mind when the words popped out. Berio’s sinfonia second movement where he messes with Mahler 2 because that was one of the scores he could access easily while on holiday – Charles Ives songs where he sets any old text from the profound to the utterly banal with equal enthusiasm. Kafka metamorphoses where the protagonist wakes up as a cockroach for no particular reason. Any Dadaist collage and of course John Cage’s view that perfectly good art could arise from random processes as well as planned processes. I sometimes think my biggest influences come from the only two books that left any impression on me as a child – Winnie the Pooh and Bom the little Drummer because at one level these books are both reassuring normal but on another they are about animals and toys that talk and have lives and adventures, what could be more absurd.

Maria has got used to my stories and now expects them to not make a lots of sense. She has recommended Lincoln in the Bardo which won the booker in 2017 – I haven’t read it but she says it’s relevant.

Avani and George gave these two stories their most enthusiastic thumbs up which surprised me – they don’t always – but I think your perspective is equally valid – it all depends on what the reader expects what they find satisfying and what they find frustrating obtuse – your taste for form and structure (denoted by your love of chamber music) is going to conflict with something that appears to have form but actually doesn’t.

Thanks so much – such a great chance to explain myself – I will copy this email to my research journal if you don’t mind – the uni academic gate keepers will love it. Xxx

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