William           

Cooke

Poet | Essayist | Writer's Coach


Exercises In Tragedy: Behind The Scenes

For my dear readers, who might be curious about the development of such a short and strange little book, there is now a behind the scenes peek at how and why it came to be. I also wrote an exclusive brief analysis of each of the pieces contained within the book. I'm always happy to share my interpretations and understanding but Flash fiction is so open that I'd love to hear your thoughts too. Leave your comments at the bottom of the page.

 


Threnody to the River and its victims

Natural imagery forms a real substrate to almost the entire collection. At this time I was suffering from a bout of Dissociation and the late Summer natural world of my hometown was both familiar and spooky. Even now I remember a particular way the light was reflecting from the ghostly tree trunks and the clouds rolled over, fat with rain. I spent a lot of time wandering aimlessly in this atmosphere. As you may notice I am a huge fun of epigraphs, I believe they set the context and usually say things in a way that standing on the shoulders of giants does, a way I could only dream of. I am pretty sure I will never not use one! (Except for some of my poetry...)

This piece posits what it would be to lose everything of our frail natural world to the deluges of Apocalyptic industrialisation, a fate many of us are, quite sensibly, terrified of. We are creatures of the world, we too would be taken; along with our relationships, leaving nothing but hollowed-out ghasts. Rain is eternal, we are temporary.

 

The Man who became a River

 A dream piece. An atmosphere of peculiarities. I don’t think I need to explain the rather obvious metaphor. To do so seems to cheapen the entire thing to me. I am enthralled by the motion of water in rivers. It is probably the defining metaphor of my work. Water is a sublime, live-giving but also terrible force. Water is Kali.

 

Three Episodes of Discontent

This is the source of the flash fiction The Cold Wind. Essentially, the narrative bookends the experience of addiction, the individual’s subsumption into the death drive. It contrasts natural imagery and Pagan gods with the restlessness of craving. The final segment leaves no doubt as to the end results of this path. Nick Cave states it beautifully: 

“He ended up, like so many of them do, 

Back in the streets of New York City

In a soup queue

A dope fiend

A slave

Then prison

Then the madhouse

Then the grave”

They can be said to be episodes in the life of an everyman addict, rites of passage of that horrible condition.

 

The intersection

I was living in Colombia when the inspiration struck me for this piece. The intersection exists. I didn’t much enjoy my experience there, this particular intersection was right outside of where we were living. It was a hostel and, in the evenings, people were partying there, even doing blow on the little bench. But this intersection was busy, it was on a main Avenida. It was incessant. The story emerged from a desire to pull back this ugly facade, I knew there must be something better behind it. That place was perfect ambivalence---hideous and glorious. It was my first truly intense experience of this particular feeling. I thought I must be mad, hence the climax of the story!

 

Where the Power Is

Pure rehab. You meet a lot of people like this. There is (or used to be) a large rehab centre in my town and all sorts of shenanigans ensue. This is a composite of some experiences and stories before I left the UK.

It is written from a young man’s eyes. He is evidently a fool, somebody in a cycle of misery of his own making. He offers harsh words but what comes to mind is the proverb, “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” I think even today not enough of us take stock of our own faults before “putting the world to rights.” The narrator is the ultimate hypocrite, the monster that dwells in the core of each of us, the shadow...


If you don't have a copy yet

Thanks for reading a little about these short but dense and challenging stories. If you haven’t picked up a copy you can do so below.

I’d only recommend reading it if you have a relatively strong disposition. The material is ‘adult,’ to say the least. I have really attempted to show some ugly sides of our collective lives.

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