This is not a place but a person. "Just call me Chicago," he had said. "That's where I'm from." And that is what I had to make do with. Not that we met often, only three times, and not that we formed a deep bond, in fact, the opposite. That is what I cannot purge, that we didn't. This is a story of failure. And I am guilty. College music practice rooms, soulless little concrete block boxes with a small glass panel in each door and no natural light, are secluded sites, perversely private, eerily silent but for fragments of music flitting along the carpeted corridors. Earnest students with violin or compact clarinet cases or more often pianists seeking an instrument slide into these as if entering the confessional, then muted sounds emerge. It is a tranquil and civilized little business, but because of soundproofing and the nature of practice - largely repetition and difficulty – a flawed experience to any musically hopeful passer-by. It is merely music in the making, rough music, and only the smallest hint of the sublime reaches out. This was the winter of 1964, Missouri, a long way from Chicago. I don't know if he played an instrument. He was in the building, but so was I and I didn't play anything. It was a quiet place, notwithstanding the music, removed from bustle and speed, solitary people coming and going, and the building, soundproofed as it was, allied to silence, undramatic and fortified with twenty or thirty small enclosures of lined rooms.
Ok, Mr Field is Faber’s Lead Debut for 2018 and, in both its publication in June and serialisation in The Paris Review, it represents the emergence of what we might call Faber’s Lead Debutante – young author Katherine Kilalea. While Kilalea has had a poetry collection published in 2009 and has received preliminary attention from the Southbank Centre and the mainstream press for her writing, all eyes are very much upon the young South African with this slim but promising first novel. If it were the Gala Ball, she would be preparing to make her grand entrance down the staircase in all pomp and circumstance. You can practically hear the creak of necks being craned.
Compersion is the opposite of jealousy or envy; jealousy being the fear of losing something (or someone) we believe is our own and envy being the pain of not having what one wants. These are both deep-seated evolutionary emotions that have more to do with our fear of not getting enough to eat or being able to procreate with the hottest caveman on the block. Getting over these Neanderthal inclinations is a state of evolution in itself.
One reason I get to this Santa Monica Beach Club early is Marcus. He is a bit of Gilbert Roland and Roman Navarro, with spiky hair, amber eyes and deep caramel skin. He has a frisky dancer’s body like Russ Tamblyn. You are too young for this story if you don’t remember who he is.
Ruth lifted the shoe box from the top of the wardrobe, steadied herself on the back of chair, stepped down and put the box on the bed. She made the journey less often now. Joe had bought the shoes for her 19th birthday. She took them out and ran her fingers over the powder blue leather. Joe was the real gift, with a mouth as ripe as a plum….
Don’t feel like having sex? Tough. Just do it. That’s the whole point here. Because what research has found is that the more sex you have, the more you’ll want to have sex and the happier you’ll become.
Just when all seemed well with the world, once Jack and Jill have fallen in love, have moved in together, have bought their first apartment, have decided to marry and have a baby – or two, have moved gently up the jobs and housing ladder, have established a circle of good friends and a dinner-party-giving social life, have holidayed in Cuba or other cool middle-class destinations, have swapped their left-leaning politics for more centrist ones, have organised their granddaughter’s naming day, have reached the extraordinarily ripe age of fifty-two and forty-nine respectively and are, indeed, a ‘perfect couple’, Jack and Jill, at the top of their hill, just then, when everything seems just peachy, then things… oh dear… then that’s when things can go awfully wrong. And here’s how they did.
I’m always afraid just before I fuck you. While you wait, betraying no impatience, even though inside I know you’re needy—begging for it. It’s cliché but I’m sure it’s true. You’re empty in a way only I can fill. So you wait, watching me like you know exactly what you’re going to get. It makes my mouth go dry as much as it makes my clit throb. My pulse jumps. I move my hands slowly, adjusting the strap-on harness. I know it gets you impatient when I’m so deliberate, but I’m also buying time.
My good friend Belle worked in the Book & Burger in a small town not far from Missoula. She was a sparky and good hearted woman – quite petite in a chunky way – with a mane of very blonde hair. She was well-liked locally but her real source of respect and fame was her way with cars. She fixed, drove and raced them with great skill. To be specific, she – and her family – were obsessed with the Dodge. By family, I mean parents, uncles, cousins. Her ex-husband was not so keen. The cars were her children so maybe that’s why he became an ex.
Watching old videos of yourself having sex with an ex is a voyeuristic experience. I guess I know that now because, not long ago, browsing through old folders on my computer, I stumbled across some of my own. I caved in to curiosity and opened the files. Watching all those collected minutes, a younger me roaming the screen, despite the distance between us, I felt like an intruder.