My Proposals for Story Five has been published by The Wild Pansy Press. Originally believing itself to be an exhibition, the chapters of this publication comprise an anti-handbook for Bug House reading and writing, a compendium of the possibilities and disasters of literary history and practice in pursuit of the illusive Story Five.
It is available for purchase here.
The book begins:
I was in Dublin in November and Fiona told me that before I left I should go to The Winding Stair bookshop. So I did, and I bought a book of interviews with Wallace Stegner, in which he says of Tillie Olsen: she only wrote five short stories in her whole life, but those five stories carried her “farther than a whole string of camels.”
Stegner says some other things too, like how Olsen never had a university department with which to share ideas, so became a “bug house philosopher,” which is someone who goes to public libraries to study. Bug House Philosphers have no one to test their ideas against so those ideas develop along their own idiosyncratic path.
In 1970s Austria Herman Knoflacher got annoyed by the the amount of space a car took up in the city, relative to a single human body. He invented a structure which was a wooden frame the size of a car. Put it on over your head with yourself in the middle, then walk around taking up too much space.
I thought of this when I read Stegner’s line about five stories carrying Olsen farther than a whole string of camels. I imagined each story as a frame over my head, carried about every day. Five stories each with variously sized frames, changing weight, plane and substance at each moment.
Wallace Stegner’s string of camels interested me also in relation to Tillie Olsen’s book Silences, which explored reasons, often of class and gender, why writers are silenced. I am not, says Olsen, concerned with the necessary silences, times of lying fallow and gestation, that are part of the natural cycle of creation.
Rather, Olsen says, I focus upon unnatural silences, although the metaphors she uses for such states are: seed striking stone; false spring; time of drought, blight and infestation.
David Berridge, Proposals for Story Five
The Wild Pansy Press, Leeds, 2013. 65pp. ISBN 978-1-900687-39-3
£4 plus P&P here.