This is a blog about By All Means (Nine Arches Press), a short story collection by Tim Love. It's ISBN 978-0-9570984-9-7 and is on sale from Inpress

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Doors and Windows

In a film you never see "a man in a kitchen", there's always detail, unavoidably so. In prose each scene's a slow reveal, details sequentially and selectively described as if a blind person were being led from one item to the next, each object specially chosen. But what if a described item or event lacks symbolic resonance, if it doesn't further the plot? Why is it there? Maybe it's mentioned only because it was there, because that's what really happened - an incidental detail with a ring of truth.

This "reality effect" is used extensively in this piece. I was pleased when I finished writing it because it was long (I'd been struggling to write pieces longer than 1000 words) and packed with non-autobiographical detail (though I recognise snippets from Bristol, Portsmouth, Criccieth, Cambridge, London, Liverpool, etc, and I learnt to drive in a Morris Oxford estate). Again, a protagonist looks for a place hoping to recover a time - if it worked before it might happen again. When a new opportunity opens up for him at the end, his reaction is to go further away, further back.

Doors and windows are an insistent leit-motif throughout the piece - of residences, but also those of out-houses, shops and lifts. Doors let us through. Frustratingly, windows both block us physically and let us see what would otherwise be hidden. One of the new windows turns out to be a TV screen. When the character says "A father's a son's window. A son's a father's door" it's supposed to sound like pearls of wisdom whose pretentiousness had irritated others in the past. Maybe it wrecks this new relationship before it's even started. The final few sentences pile on the symbolism.

I wondered whether to make the initial flashback less sudden, provide a rationale. In the end I just got on with it. I wondered whether to make more of the contrast between the two sons of gay fathers growing up in different eras.

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