If Lacan is correct that the I which speaks and the I which is spoken of are not the same — and “I” think he is — then writing in the first person is the same as writing in the third. Or, put another way, writing in the third person is a mask worn to hide that it comes from the first.
My friend Gerry Loose describes himself as “a slow-moving nomad.” He is a trained ecologist, and a Zen Buddhist who has also practiced Tibetan Buddhism, and, for three decades now, one of Scotland’s most admired poets. His latest book, The Unfinished Hut, is his first book of prose rather than poetry — but the prose is also poetry. Somewhere between Matsuo Basho’s Oku no hosomichi and Kamo no Chomei’s Hojoki, it is a journal of hermitage, friendship, death, deep ecology and contemplative practice. Covering 20 years, it is 65 pages long, with plenty of white space, but it is not a small book, and may be his best so far.
In the end, it took a fellow Celt and crime writer to fully get behind DS McNulty, as Brennan explains.
“Barry Graham is a very interesting character,” he tells me of the Dockyard Press founder, who set up the imprint to be run by all of its published writers, helping them to retain creative control over their work.
“He's a Buddhist monk but he's also a noir writer from Glasgow. I met him in 2018 when he was telling me about this idea he had for setting up a new publisher who was going to do things their own way by thumbing their nose at Amazon.
“Basically, [Dockyard] won't make their books available in Kindle form until Amazon start treating their workers better. I thought that was kind of fun…”
Larry Fondation and I have been inseparable friends for about 25 years now. And, even though he's in Los Angeles, USA, and I'm in Glasgow, Scotland, we were recently spotted together in Paris, France, in L'Ecume des pages bookshop. Fitting, as we met in a bookshop.
In the summer of 1989, I finished writing my second novel, The Champion's New Clothes. It was a few months before my first, Of Darkness and Light, was published by Bloomsbury. They bought the second one right away, but took almost two years to publish it. Scotland on Sunday called it “entertaining, raw and punkish,” with “scenes of rampant evil.” It soon went out of print, and remained so for more than a decade.
“A principal rule for writers, and especially those who want to describe their own sensations, is not to believe that their doing so indicates they possess a special disposition of nature in this respect. Others can perhaps do it just as well as you can. Only they do not make a business of it, because it seems to them silly to publicise such things.”