[Note: in case anyone is wondering, there are no arrangements to publish this book at this time]
First, some context.
In the latter months of 2020 I was driven to write something, particularly, to describe a moment. In this case a short period of time spent sitting outside a cottage on a summer evening with someone who meant everything to me. In and of itself there was little particularly noteworthy about that moment. Yes, we were together, and yes, given the pandemic, moments like this were rare, and with no end in sight could have remained rarer still.
No, apart from the simple enjoyment of that moment, and being in her company, the most important factor was that, within a little over three weeks of that evening, she would be dead from, then undiagnosed, Ovarian Cancer.
Whatever the loss of her has done to me as a person, it has completely overwhelmed my writing (everything I’ve written since then can attest to that).
Having described a simple moment together that evening I found myself driven to return to it. So, once per week for a little over a year afterwards, I sat down and described that moment outside the cottage, and whatever else came to mind as I was writing. My only real criteria, my only Oulipo-esque constraint if you will, was that I never re-read any of the previous descriptions. I left myself open to the moment, just sat, typed, and went through the moment again. Upon completion the only real alterations I made to the text were to add footnotes (some of which are attached to this extract).
I became interested to see what would happen. Would, after a year, my memory have altered, would my thoughts have changed, would I have achieved “closure”. Well, my experience was that none of these things happened. Apart from slight variations in my memory (some small details I’m sure changing from the earlier to the later entries), I felt the same. I also felt that continuing would change nothing, even if I were to continue to today.
I have offered the work as a meditation, in a sense I suppose that is what I was doing, repeating a moment the way someone meditating might repeat a mantra. I have also, elsewhere, called the work a keen, or a drone (possibly it being no coincidence that since September 2020, my interest in what is often described as ‘drone music’ has greatly increased). In writing I found myself in that moment in the same way I have found myself in other memories of that time.
I’m reminded constantly, when considering this work, of the lines from Chris Marker’s La Jetée…
With what I can only describe as an act of writer’s ego I put these pieces together and called them a book. Having no plot, as such, no narrative, no progression, or no real resolution, it may not really count as a book at all, but it is what it is. I have tried submitting it to a few places, with no success, and may ultimately resort to self-publishing in some form (a future more likely to await all my longer works I begin to suspect).
But, in the meantime, the good people at Osmosis Press have been very kind to publish an extract on their website:
And, as for the title, [Untitled] wasn’t chosen as some sort of holding text, maybe, in a sense, because this is a non-book it deserves a non-book title, though I also felt an affinity with this, the last track from The Cure’s 1989 album, Disintegration: