Wednesday, 1 October 2008

The Life History of Guillermo Brown

The church bell woke me early. Birds made noise. Clumps of dead ants stuck in the vomit on my lapel. Coffee steamed at my feet, a polystyrene cup of the Lord’s joe. Next would come the kneeling down, the come-to-Jesus soft concern. Oh yes, I needed salvation.

Mornings hadn’t always been so bleak. In the home, Janet would plunge a pot of Blue Mountain while I sat in the Orangery circling stories. I’d then walk the herb garden to the shed, smoke three cigarettes and get to work, living out a dream.

Critics described my first novel as Kundera meets Lad-lit, in praise. And, amazingly, money piled up. Fame hit me, too. I remember champagne breakfasts at the Wolsley and Radio 4 tables rondes with those tits Self and Lawson. High on the cultural agenda I walked London’s streets with my collar turned up, master of the fucking universe.

Novel number two took me further from Janet and the boy to campus tours of the east coast and parties I could never have imagined in my shed. A balding, drunk critic of a certain pedigree cornered me at a celebratory lunch and declared his love for my sub-text. I laughed.

I then decided to base my third book on the west coast. I flew in to LAX from Heathrow, drinking vodka tonic from a glass, a fresh Moleskine unused in my back pocket carrying an idea that would kill me.

The novel idea was that a sweet, tarty girl leaves Rotherham, or some other such place, with the expressed goal of becoming the world’s biggest porn star. Write what you come to know, that’s what I’d been taught. And what I came to know was this: I would end up homeless twelve months later on the day I awoke in a fetal position with my genitals stapled, naked on a threadbare carpet in a crummy motel far from the city with a ragged cut Mohican and a nosebleed. I looked up at the dressing table mirror angled to the floor and knew that I could never go by my own name again. I grabbed the forty ounce of malt liquor and, unwittingly, read the label before downing it. I had a new name, Guillermo Brown.

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