Reliable Massage

“Ok welcome, welcome. So this, this is the Fedfer Writers Workshop. You are most of you are regulars, but just for the few newcomers, what we like to do is we like to read the piece together. And… Twice if it’s a poem, once if it’s prose. And then we have to discuss, give feedback both to the author and to the group in general, and have discussion: what do you think works, what do you think works less. We can also discuss… Excuse me no side discussion, please. We have to discuss the piece in the context, where is it in the book also, so yeah, if you bring a chapter from the middle of a book and then you should also introduce the characters, and, I mean, yeah unless those characters have been presented here before, so… OK, and please keep your comments short, possibly on the minute, cause, again, we are many and we try to bring as many people in the conversation as we can. Alright, so… Martina is first. Who wants to read this? Are you feeling like reading Martina’s story… Ed?”

“Yep yep, sure.”

“Ok so I want to give you a bit context. Ok so this is kind of short continuation of my story I’m writing about the woman who escaped from prison of vampires. And now the scene takes place immediately after she killed the vampire who killed her friend. So that’s it, so this is where we are.”

Chapter 29

The last roar of Pastrofagus, full of pain, agony, and rage, was still resonating in her head. The body lying lifeless in front of her, she kneeled down and opened him with a long tortuous cut across torso, as chasms of red appeared on the chest. Vlankamon was dead. The light slipped away. The heat of the day cooled and reduced. The sky faded from pale blue, though deeper purple, to cobalt, traces of green licking around edges of scattered but darkening clouds. Marsabina sweated under the bright full moon, paused and looked behind her: enemies couldn’t be heard. Dogs were no longer barking. She rested and thought about Pastrofagus, who rested lifeless by her feet. Why was there void inside her at this time? She was running towards the woods, towards the cabin she knew offer safety, peace of mind, atonement, and the Caliban talisman.


“Alright, thanks Ed. Any thoughts, comments?”

“Yeah so I really, liked the pace? I found it to be very descriptive? There are lots of sequences kinda, of events. So I knew exactly what was going on. I thought that the revenge was very present, you know? Very present, and I really liked the descriptions too. So yeah”

“Yeah, the sky, the shades of blue, nice Martina”

“Oh thank you”

“I felt that, yep yep”

“She’s trying to.. stay safe and survive oppression she has been living in from the past chapters with abusive you know”


“I liked the global sentimental state, like this idea that she’s still got, this kind of PTSD, from what she’s been through where, she’s having a nightmare, she’s waking up, she’s like, grabbing her weapon and so… Yeah, I kind of liked that juxtaposition where… On the surface, she seems to have everything under control, but it’s like, really like, in a world, where she’s trying to survive”

“I’m gonna jump off of that… I don’t know what the last piece was, I wasn’t here unfortunately, but since she, Marsabina, talks about the glimpses into the mental state, I like those as well, but I like them when they’re short, so I really like the “I can’t survive here”, but I got thrown off that ‘I feel nearly safe in cabin in woods next to caliban talisman’ because you already said that she felt the urge to leave. But I liked the other ones, because it’s just a tiny little snapshot and then we’re back to the narration”

“Right, and I quite liked the piece, it’s doing a lot for me, but in terms of the narrator… the narrator is unreliable, and I think, I mean, is it a dark fairytale that you’re writing, or, is it a realistic, harsh, bleak world. Because if it kind of goes more towards realism, then the narrator’s dialogue with the wolf makes me wonder if he”

“Or she”

“Yep yep, or it”

“whether the thing is really telling the, you know the sequence of events as Cameron mentioned earlier, or if he is massaging the, as it were the truth, if it is verging more into this idea of the fairytale, which it kind of seems like it is, then I’m kind of on board with it.”

“Aren’t vampires supposed to be immoral?”

“You mean immortal”

“Because I mean they kinda drink blood to live forever. That’s immortal.”

“Yes that’s immoral too. they’re both”

“Yep yep”

“OK let me, clarify this, because vampires, vampires are actually not immortal because they can die, you need to pierce their brain”

“their heart”

“sorry, I mean that with a stick, you know like in Martina’s story, and then they die. So yeah apart from that just some technical points, I noted them down, here, but yes I do see it as a positive fairytale”

“OK. Any last comments? Before the next piece? Alright Martina how was that? Good? Good. Alright, can we please give a cushion to our friend Simon who is sitting on the floor? Thanks. OK, next we have… Terence. Who wants to read? Nobody? James?”

“I’ll read”

“Thanks James, Terence, so we have, you brought, it’s a poem, anything we should know?”

“It’s some verses? I’ve been working on them? I had this come to me, and you know, the flow?”

“The flow.”

“Yeah, so general kinda like feedback appreciated, like let’s see, ahahahahahaha”

“OK, James, all yours”

In water let it burn until the fire comes

Nations crazed with your rough cape

Destroying the destroyers of the dearth

And the relation with St John

Therefore we are without excuse

We who stare into heavens

The power of dreams waiting in disguise.

So seek shelter within a rock, particular,

fall upon us, oh rock

And rock, be of silicon,

Chased with gold, a wafer

Better than to gaze on God.

A mild wind, a mild-looking sky, and mild air smell now as if they flew from

Fans, debauched fans,

Shifting expectations for

Entertainment stimulating entrepreneurs

I don’t follow maps. I create them.

“OK, thanks James. Could we have a second reading please?”


“OK. So. Thoughts, comments. What is this poem for you?”

“This, this piece works. So. I think it’s strong, I can feel the weight, the tone is definitely there, humble, dark, solemn, you know. I think that the voice, drags you through imaginative places, and that’s the power here”

“Yeah, it definitely dragged me there”

“Yep yep, me too”

“So you introduce many different entities in this poem, you have for instance St John, the limelight, and the wafer, and all of them play different roles. And all of them riff off each other too, you know, that’s the, the impression I had, I don’t know if that was the effect, but it was a riff I felt coming, the toil of times is something I can relate to. So just some technical points, apart from that, I noted them here”

“You know I think it’s funny you mention it because you could say it’s there but it’s, layers, there are other layers before you get to that one. I was not looking at the piece, I was just listening to it. It felt like a really big canvas, big brushstrokes, in fact, not even using a brush, using a.. using something much bigger than a brush, the canvas is a lot bigger than the wall here, it’s probably bigger, so I really enjoyed that feeling, it gave me as if, I guess, grandiose, larger than life feeling, I could read it, or listen to it over and over, I was getting something different each time. It does a lot for me.”

“So I thought that the piece was ingenious, I liked the imagery, and I also noted down some technical things here and there.The last line stuck with me, the one ‘Shifting expectations for / Entertainment stimulating entrepreneurs’, I think I’ve heard it somewhere, is it from a commercial”

“Excuse me”

“Commercial for Nissan, yep yep”

“Ok so please, keep your comments on the author not the I mean the piece not the author”

“But I think I can respond to that. I hear what you’re saying, and it’s all valid, and it’s all taken right on board, and you know that’s cool? So first off, I want to make clear I don’t drive a car, nor do I look at car commercials? You are free to interpret what you want to see in the poem but of course the, er, the verisembleance here…”

“The juxtaposition”

“Thanks, I mean the juxtaposition is possible although not necessarily the one I am trying to, er, incite, because this is coincidental? But it’s also something that the voice of the poem is missing out on? I don’t know if that makes any sense, hahahahahahhaa”

“I think I spot another slogan in there but I’ll have to look it up”

“So effectively, you’re saying that the voice, the narrator, is unreliable.”

“Here we go”

“And I can see what you’re trying to achieve, I really like the tone too, I think I like that juxtaposition where, at first sight, the voice seems to be saying it’s in control, but then we see how it really grasps notions of expectations, maps, dreams, you know, it’s there. It’s there.”

“OK any more comments for Terence? Was that alright Terence? Thanks. Alright, the next piece is by Simon. Who would like to read? Hugo? OK thanks, Hugo, all yours.”

Freewheeling Entrevista

Wheelchairs are technically cycles, right? Because he was wheelchairing on the bike lane I was riding on, and that’s how I met him. He wasn’t using his arms to move the wheelchair. He was dragging himself forwards using his legs. His arms were thinner than cucumbers and bent in three over his chest, he didn’t look like he had any control over them. So therefore had to use his leg to pull the wheelchair forward. What he basically did was reach out with his leg, plant it on the ground as far as he could, and then drag himself forward. He did that repeatedly, i.e. in cycles, so I guess that’s a legitimate use of the bike lane, but that’s not why I threw him under a bus.


“OK, thanks Ed. So. Thoughts, comments. How does this piece make you feel?”

“I’ll start, maybe? I felt it was good? I really liked the voice, I felt it was present, like coming out the page, I liked the descriptions, the descriptions were good, the clear purpose, interviewing Tomi in the wheelchair, the way you, the way you carry the action, you know, yeah nice, nice job. One thing you can maybe kinda think about, you know, is perhaps more dialogue? Because we never really hear him talk or any dialogue between him and Tomi? And I am wondering, why is that, because you know, it’s meant to be an interview after all? So yeah, but great piece, I really enjoyed it”

“So I loved the piece I think it works well, the guy completely shifts our expectations, you know, and the story takes you in totally unexpected places. The pacing was right and I responded to that I think really well. I wrote here a couple of things, couple of things to think about, some technical, I don’t know it sounded like the enemy of the piece versus this character, it felt like, I don’t want to say that’s the crux of the piece, but if I eliminate everything before the part about the gnocchi, it reads as if the conflict is between the narrator and Tomi. You know?”

“Yes, that’s the conflict”

“Because, and this is what I kind of struggled with, is the conflict between Tomi and the narrator, right, or is the conflict between the narrator and himself? Right? Or is the narrator trying to lie to the police, after all? I mean, it’s that juxtaposition, of perspectives that is at play, that is at work here and that is working well”

“So jumping off of that, I think you raise an interesting point about which point the narrator starts telling the story. If he’s closer to the narrative then it just happens. You know. It’s just, I’m not too sure about the narrator.”

“Well this is his deposition”

“I know, I know it’s his deposition, it’s just that the narrator…”

“It’s his deposition at the interrogation, you know the police interrogation they do when you commit a crime”

“So. That means he the narrator was arrested”

“Yes, Balthazar the narrator was arrested for throwing Tomi under a bus. This is his deposition”


“Oh I see”

“So yes that part wasn’t clear to me either, because his deposition is very descriptive but he doesn’t go into too much detail about motivation”

“There’s a sentence there”

“Yes so Tomi reminds Balthazar of his dead uncle, and not just physically, but also because he is also interested in esoteric stuff like the aliens, auras, mantras, and so on and so forth and so he, Balthazar, then asks Tomi if he can interview him, and record it, for his podcast. So when Tomi refuses, because Tomi refuses, Balthazar throws him under the bus”

“Yep yep I thought it was very good too. The, way it flows, the bits of dialogue, the twist, was good fun, the part about the, when he takes Tomi to a restaurant prior to the interview… Hang on.. Here: Tomi was facing me and a bowl of pasta. Yeah I noted down “a bowl of pasta and I”. You know? Yeah? So. Gnocchis. With much effort he used a butter knife to slide gnocchis toward the edge of the plate, to then bow down into the plate and push them into his mouth. See that part is maybe, yeah, maybe too much. I think there’s already a lot going on, this guy Tomi is getting the, he’s getting to receive all the possible misfortunes of the world, the Tourette’s, the missing eye, and then this is just humiliating and there’s no need, there’s no need.”

“So for me, Simon, the question is, what is the wider theme in all this”

“Well yes it was painful for the narrator too and the idea, I mean what I meant to do here is to try to show why the narrator would then go and kill Tomi, because he was so frustrated.”


“So it’s really a story about frustration, Simon. And like I said, the narrator there, ugh, he’s, he’s hard to trust.”


“Yep yep”

“OK, we can do one more piece before the break. So Simon, was that alright? Next, we have… Next is Nick, I believe. First time, first time. Hi, welcome.”

“Hi, so I have written my first book, the rough draft. It’s entitled the Bounce Years. The term in English, the ‘Bounce years’, I invented this, the bounce years concept is a way of celebrating life which I invented when I was a teenager, and today I am the only guy worldwide who is celebrating life that way. So everything in this book which I share is what the Bounce Years are, how it came to be, and what happened, so it’s based on a true account. What the Bounce Years it’s a very long concept, so… So basically, on this day, I should meet strangers and celebrate life with them. But it’s really broader than that. Should I read it?”

“No Bruce is going to read it.”

“Oh but do you mind if I read it? I thought I can read it.”

“No, we prefer to have somebody else here, so that you can hear what it sounds like someone else reads it. OK?”

The first bounce years

In the beginning of that warm and windy afternoon, I was pacing back and forth through the hallway of our apartment, thinking how best I can persuade mother to support the mission that was in my heart. The trendiest caffe in Dharmelsheik would be a great setting for socialising with strangers, but to do that, I would need to be able to afford drinks there. I knew that if I put forward my case, this could lead to a heated mother-son argument. I breathed out, straightened my back, and built up the courage to speak to her. I could hear her washing dishes in the kitchen. I screamed from the hallway: ‘Mom, I’m 20 today.’


“OK, thanks Bruce. So. Comments. Suggestions. Thoughts. Yes, Simon”

“I think that when the penis talks at the end, well that caught me off-guard. It’s already something that it… has a name, and then takes up a role, increasingly important role later on, but then the talking was too much”


“I can see what you’re trying to achieve, really like the tone of the piece, I think it’s sincere. I think I like what you juxtapose there because on the surface, he seems to be in control of his purpose, but then we see how he just descends into madness and starts, you know”

“And seems to be like, it’s like, if I go back to a classic, straight man versus straight character, which means, the person that kind of sets up the dialogue, not straight as in, er, gender… neutral or not gender neutral, the straight man versus the color man is like, er, Mahmoud seems to be the color, the color er.., the colored man, he seems to say things that are kind of like baiting or like the punchlines, you know? And I mean even though the lines are doing a lot for me, because then the narrator… I’m just looking at the top of the first page now. And then the narrator is kind of saying the things that are setting up the joke. “Oh Mahmoud, my Mahmoud, I asked while looking down, why do you have to make things”, dot dot dot, to which he replied “hard at the wrong time”. See, we don’t need a narrator there. You know? Because like it feels like he’s really massaging the truth as it were when he deals with Mahmoud”

“Yep yep”

“I don’t know if narrator here is tricky bit…”

“Yep yep, really massaging it”

“I was under a good impression this would have relation to do with the holiday you had in mind, the bounce years, you know, and that, then you have more about Mahmoud the penis than about Bounce Year”

“Yeah well the rest of the story develops in the following pages, but we only read four of them, so you know of course you won’t get the big picture, Mahmoud plays important role, very important. The Bounce Years is also eventually about less heteronormative models of maleness”

“Less what?”

“Terence, the power of dreams is from Honda, isn’t it?”

“Guys can we please focus on the piece here”

“Yep yep”