Thursday, 30 December 2010

The Story So Far...

Well well, so here we are my official last post of 2010, and what a year, well it's definitely been some kind of year and its also been just over a year since my first blog something like 54 weeks ago. Mostly it has been a year of not getting everything done that I wanted to, but that may have been due to unrealistic expectations on my part. Who can say? This year on the main has been fun, with a whole host of new faces sprinkled over it for good measure.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support and believe it or not (and I was pleasantly surprised) this blog is being read in 15 countries including the UK. I would list them all but who wants to read a list of countries? You know who and where you are and I'm very happy you keep coming back. I'm hoping to continue blogging a little more regularly in 2011 and (fingers crossed) with your help to increase my readership.

Recently I have adjusted the settings on this blog to make it easier to view on your smartphone. Also, you can now follow me on Twitter (if you fancy it a little tweet-wise) @auburnville - it should make it easier to get feedback and/or throw abuse at each other (insert smiley here).

My bookshop job has been fun - I'm hoping my services will still be required after the Christmas rush but at the time of writing it is still unknown. I have been in a constant state of amused exasperation for the past few weeks as the customers come out with some absolutely genius remarks (and when I say genius I really mean bat-shit crazy).
         A man/woman walks into a book shop and says to the mild mannered assistant,
         'Excuse me, I'm looking for a book.'
         'Oookay,' said the assistant ('have you the faintest clue which book?' he thinks),
         'The trouble is...' continues the customer. 'I don't know the name or the author.'
         'Really? Is it this one?' The assistant picks a book at random from the shelves and shows it to the customer.
         'Well obviously its not!' The customer fixes the assistant with a stare that screams 'You bloody idiot.'
         'How do you know,' asks the assistant. 'You said you didn't know the book's title or author, and this is a fine read... Honest.'
         'But it's not about the sex lives of eunuchs.'
         'Oh I see... sorry we're out of stock.'

          ...and so it goes on. And this sort of thing didn't happen once; the amount of customers that expected you to be telepathic and have an encyclopedic memory of the amazon website was/is fantastic. My favourite moment was a customer who was after a recent Mann Booker prize winner: he was convinced it was this year or the last... three of us had our collective heads together we even googled it but we failed. Later when I had some time to undertake some further research (as this question had left me quite vexed) I discovered that the book in question just happened to be the Life of Pi, Mann Booker winner 2002 I believe. Oh well. The other breed of customer that gets very annoying are the 'we heard/read/watched an interview with an author of a book and I want it now... What do you mean it still isn't published yet, but why would it be advertised and not released?' I don't know ask the publishers.

Anyhow, enough of my grumbles for now. I would like to wish you all the best that 2011 has to offer, I hope you are all safe and warm, and surrounded by family and/or loved ones... and most of all happy. Try not to spend the money you don't have on the things you don't really need, and try to be a little more understanding of other people's points of view. To be honest most of the last few lines are more for my benefit although I've never been one for new year's resolutions, but I may as well add - be more active and try to eat healthier.

Happy 2011 all!

Until next year...

Monday, 20 December 2010

Careers Advice (Microfiction)

This year I think it's safe to say the quantity of my writing has been quite unpredictable. I hope in general it's improving and that you're still enjoying it. The fiction I'm now posting is getting at least as many views as my opinions on life. Which I have to say I'm quite pleased about as I don't always want to be slagging someone off to find an audience (don't worry there is more of that to follow). So what have I written for you? Well on this occasion it's another dialogue-led piece, and if you have bothered to read this far then dear reader you shall be rewarded - because this is a slightly tweaked segment from my first novel. Yes I'm aware it's taking awhile but it will get there.       

            ‘Well sir, I thought I’d like to be a teacher.’
            ‘Would you indeed, and you're not put off by what you see everyday about the school?’
            ‘No sir.’
            ‘I must admit Toby that teaching at first glance does look like a glamorous and noble profession but it’s not all hot and cold running sixth form girls and all the free refectory food you can eat you know… There’re long hours, endless marking, and the inevitable addictions: nicotine and caffeine mainly. Most teachers find the only way they can get through the day is by lacing their coffee with gin or rum - personally I favour whisky. No it’s not very glamorous at all… I don’t think I could recommend it.’
            ‘Oh… I had kind of set my heart on teaching sir, I hadn’t given much thought to anything else.’
            ‘Well I suggest you do, unless you fancy a life so soul-destroying your wife decides to have an affair with Jones from her accounts office, and finally runs off with Jones from the I.T. department. You return home of an evening to an empty house with nothing more to look forward to than a microwave meal and a pile of marking, then spending the weekend trying to top yourself, off your face on a heady cocktail of Prozac and the supermarket’s own-brand whisky – vile stuff by the way – and if you're feeling flush getting a ten pound blow job from some leathery-faced old prossie who if you’re lucky has remembered to take her teeth out… No Toby, teachings not for you unless you would like to end up divorced, depressed, alcoholic, and sobbing yourself to sleep every night.’ He paused and removed his glasses. ‘Would you like my advice?’
            ‘Very much, sir.’
            ‘Now I’m not advocating prostitution but a good looking young man like yourself should find it possible to earn a good living.’
            ‘A rent boy sir… but sir! I don’t… I mean, I wouldn’t sir…’
            ‘… Now, now, you miss understand me I’m not suggesting for one second that you should start hanging about the local park’s toilets, like some sort of grimy truck driver or down on his luck pop star… I was only going to suggest, escort services, you know providing a service to lonely widows.’
            ‘Widows, sir?’
            ‘Yes, divorcees and business women… that sort of thing.’
            ‘Urm, maybe I should think about University first sir, concentrate on my studies for a few years.’
            ‘Of course Toby, I wasn’t suggesting you should dash out and join an agency today, oh my no.’
Mr Peters replaced his glasses, stood up and with a broad warm smile said,
‘Well I’m glad we’ve had this time to talk Toby, thank you very much for coming in… and remember my door is always open…’
‘Thank you very much sir.’
‘Oh one last thing, would you be so kind as to close the door on your way out. Good lad...’

(c) Lee Auburn 2010

Monday, 13 December 2010

Yuki-Shi no Yume (Microfiction)

I had written this story for halloween, but decided not to post it straight away. With all the snow we've had recently I've decided that this is as good a time as any. The title is Japanese and if I've managed to get the title correct its literal translation is - Dreams of Death and Blood. I hope you enjoy it.

The wind tousles her snow white hair, obscuring the girl’s terrible beauty. Kneeling naked beside him; stroking his face. She has nothing but love for this man. Lying in the snow he doesn’t understand why she wants him to die. He tries to tell her but he doesn’t speak Japanese. Blood in the moonlight looks black and now his hands are slick with it. The snow is falling on his blood spattered face, the flakes remind him of… cherry blossom. 


There are no real Geisha anymore, only whores from what was the old USSR with faces made of sharp angles and their all-too-blonde hair. At least I’ve had a good skin-full of bad Sake. As I stagger back to my apartment across the bridge, Kyoto at night in the snow looks like a postcard and I love her. A little old man stops me, he’s smiling, all bad teeth and bowed legs, he speaks, but…
‘I’m sorry my Japanese is very bad.’ I say by way of an apology. He laughs and tells me that my friend said it would be. I laughed at this – but what I found amusing, I didn’t know.
‘Which friend?’ I asked, thinking he might know my girlfriend.
‘The one you think about whenever you cross a bridge.’
‘…He died, yes… but he still worries about you.’
I thought of him then, all wrapped and tangled in weeds, struggling - then still - carried off down stream before he was found at last, weeks later.
‘What’re you?’ I sneer. ‘Some sort of mystic?’
‘No’ he said, his bad teeth forming another smile, ‘more of a colleague you could say.’
‘What’s he worried about then?’
‘Your Kitsune’
‘What… you mean Kitty?’
‘Is that what she calls herself? She is Kitsune!’
‘Kitsune… I don’t understand?’
‘She hunts in the snow, her coat’s almost white and she will kill you!’
‘What the fuck! Are you seriously trying to tell me you’ve spoken to my dead friend, and he’s told you that my Japanese girlfriend, who I met Salsa dancing, is some sort of serial killer…’
            ‘…I’m not telling you anything about salsa-dancing serial killers, I’m not even here… but, in your dreams when you’re looking up and the snow is falling on your face, when you see your end, ask yourself who kisses you goodbye.’ He’s interrupted by the buzz of my cell.
‘It’s her’ he whispers.
My thumb hovers; do I choose red or green? I look back at him for courage or guidance but I’m alone on the bridge, and the snow starts to fall again, big flakes that remind me of cherry blossom.


The fox sniffs at the man lying in the snow, and gives out a little cry - if he heard it, it would have sounded almost childlike - and then tastes him. With the coming dawn the fox makes her way silently through the mist, moving deeper into the temple’s ancient gardens.

(c) Lee Auburn 2010