An excerpt from The essential Feathersnatch.
Introduction from Feathersnatch scholar, Assoc. Prof. Sandy Kitchens.
The works presented in this collection are amongst the finest achievements of the late Augustus Feathersnatch, arguably the most original writer of fiction in the 20th century. Included are the classic poem O’ baleful chip and perhaps his best known and most innovative venture, the 10,000-page epic, Cantilever in my knapsack.
Born in bed (he wanted to be near his mother), Feathersnatch soon took to reading heroic couplets found on the walls of the local privies, and was able to draw anatomically correct phalli by the age of three. Keen to begin school, he attended St. Trevor’s peremptory college at the age of four. However, being a rather symmetrical and muscular youth, he was an easy target for bullies and soon dropped out. The next day he was accepted into the PhD program at Columbia Atlantic University, studying applied cessation. He made terrific progress, handing in his thesis three short days later. It was here that he met his future wife, Mable Pachyderm, who sold used batteries to students behind the university gates.
On the strength of his postgraduate research, Feathersnatch, now Dr. Feathersnatch, obtained a lecturing post on the elements of style at the institute of interstellar research. It was during this time that he began to publish short pieces for Original York Daily, Ichthyology weekly, Kick!, and The Custodian. The rest of the great man’s history is shrouded in mystery, and not worth speculating about until the archaeologists have completed their excavation of Feathersnatch’s studio apartment.
During his lifetime he had a difficult relationship with critics, with some labelling him “a purveyor of random childish nonsense”, others suggesting “his words are often misspelled and misused…as if he’d never read a novel in his life”, whilst most refused to recognize his existence. Nevertheless, anyone who reads Feathersnatch must acknowledge the singular style, even if they question the value of said style.
We shall begin with a fragment of A rose for Kevin, left unfinished and published for the first time in this collection. This work was written as a semi-autobiographical account of the collapse of his marriage, and the beginning of a new life. The first chapter was written in the Summer of 1989, on a napkin at a garden party for T.S. Eliot’s, grandniece’s nephew. The second was started on his brown Hush Puppies whilst on a writer’s retreat in Valetta, during the ill-fated antiquing venture that cost him his life. It was here that witnesses claim the author, on noticing a young lady harassed by a honking brute, would run out his villa, into the street and scream “Brékkek Kékkek Kékkek Kékkek! Kóax Kóax Kóax! Ualu Ualu Ualu! Quaouauh!” before writhing on the floor and spinning like a top. A man of great integrity to the last.
Friends suggest that Feathersnatch was convinced that this last work would finally bring him the respect he deserved. It now seems probable that this may yet be the case, as the fragment is already garnering serious attention. In what is almost certainly Feathersnatch’s best review yet, the noted critic Isiah Nacklesnoo wrote in South American crustacean biology, “This man may not have had any jot of artistic sense, ability to produce comprehensible prose, or indeed much intelligence of any sort… However, the combination of words he has used for every sentence is entirely unique, and that is something that almost resembles the work of a true artist.”
If only the good doctor could have seen this review.
A Rose for Kevin
Chapter 1- Toodles to the lonely haberdashers
My skin is a tangled mess cowering under scything waves of grain. Splendid turnips ride my garden’s hedgerows, as the spectacular rotary iridescence blinds the sinful ravens. They hunger for my succulent achenes, the brutes! I tell her and she flip flops like a foul Lando, shattering my soul with cantankerous sardines. She thinks my fears are marmalade, and my tears merely hot streams of congealing pancake batter. Curse this aureate worm twined around my dainty digit, that binds me to this sinking ship! I must run from the mantis nestled in her moist palms. I’m the Plastic man and she’s the bloated ham in the rye. I will gleefully cast her from this rotten lifecycle. She can have her pompadours.
There is a price to my catharsis, about three-quarters of my pie. Still, it seems she will not be satisfied until she can have all of my precious innards. Her delusions of victimisation feed the legal’s greedy gobs, and they give me my just desserts while she gets custardy. However, the blame does not lie solely with the on the acidic spewing of her legal-types. Those friends of hers are faecal sponges, who never could see the succulent blueberries underlying my dry crusty exterior. Hither, a dirty rat. Tither, the possibility of another dirty rat.
The fetching hostess asked if I could write short films for the chosen few, with long pretentious words. I said there wasn’t any long words to label my tenacities, but only long laments. I merely wish to demonstrate that hate hides in the cheese without scent, in the sterilised bread. Now a drink to the handsome barman that has me questioning my indemnity and my undertints. Lustrous doorknobs could lead the way to a new passion, a new raison d’être. Can candles hope to dream my sufferings end? Olive skin under the mercury lamp light smothers my resolve. Loins of curdling buttermilk! Ahhhroooooe…
To my new pate! Nevermore the case-moth society! Nevermore the jacketed pleasure trove! Nevermore in the class of thieving whatsits!
Chapter 2- Slandering sycophants don’t deserve pudding
I finally find myself in Caravaggio’s island hideaway, without a care and, by my side, a naïve young satyr to churn the butter. He keeps me churning along, this Kevin.
Antiquing is my newest fixation, ancient objects my sweet balming agent. The accumulation of gargantuan Keys is especially nourishing. You must unlock the door before you turn the knob, of course you must. This market is an arid wasteland, populated by hairy dormice that want my crusts before they’ve fallen. Worse, the tourist woman is a dreadful toady, tell them you’re a writer and they’ll suspend their eggs. How did I ever tolerate the vanity of the chiding evolution? I crave transcendent regression.
That key looks Manchurian. Perhaps it will slide graciously into the lock if I apply enough sunscreen. Pathetic rustic caustics. The contrarian fellow refuses to know my size. He just wants my Kevin’s tattling aperture for his own cankered nut. The oaf’s beaked nose offends, and I must tear at his pocketbook. His crab eyes are spiny and calloused. What can he….ooodprahhhhhhhhhhhhh.
*Sadly this is where the tale ends. It is a great tragedy. Not since Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon have I encountered an unfinished manuscript with more potential.