That was as good as it got. (Apart from my friend Iain - cheers mate.) Some of my friends’ comments on it were more than honest. Anne helped me through the self-doubt enormously when she said, “I’m not sure why you’re asking these people, including me, what we think. Most of us have never even read TS Eliot, and those of us who have, find his stuff unfathomable. It’s not even poetry.”
Just a piece of rhythmic grumbling, that’s what Eliot called The Waste Land. And that’s what Indifferent Voices is, I guess. I started hearing voices in my head. I started writing them down. The Waste Land is a heap of broken images in the mind of a man having some sort of nervous breakdown. Quotations tumbling round and around, high art, low art, snippets of conversation, song lyrics. London as a kaleidoscope representing a dying culture. Or something. I don’t claim to be an expert on The Waste Land but that’s how I’ve always read it.
And that’s what I found I had when I’d finished channelling all the voices in my head. The Waste Land gave me an idea of how to tame the voices and apply some sort of structure that might make sense of them – might do justice to them. I even embedded a piece of the poem into each of the stories. And now when I read it back, whenever I get to a bit where I think to myself – oh my, that’s good – I as quickly realise that, yes, that is Eliot.
It’s not poetry though, it’s mockumentary. 65 voices represented as fact. A talking-head community chronicle of the sort you find from historical societies across small-town England, but transplanted to the City of London. Most of the stories are true – in the sense that they either happened to me, or I heard them second or third hand, or read them. So, yes, I play with the notion of authenticity. (I interviewed a chap for a job once. I asked him what he was doing currently. He said he worked down Eastville Market, selling leather jackets. “Well, leather-ish,” he said. I believe he’s a director of an insurance company now.)
Which is the other thing the book is about, the notion of amorality - which has infected corporate life in my lifetime - and its consequences (one of which is Brexit).
So, there you have it, an experimental novel, purporting to be a piece of journalism, rhythmically grumbling about the City of London and amorality, through the channelling of loads of voices, in hommage to TS Eliot’s the Waste Land. Have you any idea how much Karin would have hated that…?
Whatever, it’s about as good as I can write. It’s almost certainly my last novel – unless I have another mini-breakdown and can find no other way of taming the voices. It turned out pretty much as I had it in my head, and that's all you can aim for really. So, you’re welcome to it.