Richard Major: ‘Why I wrote the world’s first satirical novel about Trump’

IndieBooks’ Richard Major has been talking to Oxford Today about how he came to pre-write a satirical novel about Trump.

‘…In autumn 2015 my family and I were living in Budapest. On a certain night of November, a night as dark-and-stormy as any gothic yarn might require, I enjoyed an elaborate nightmare. I saw the students of a huge Northern ex-polytechnic invent a mascot, a made-up student. They cobbled its portrait together with Photoshop, using visual scraps from here and there; they registered it for its course, meaning to write its essays, and eventually get it its degree – for at this dreadful place no student need ever speak to a lecturer. Only the creators outdid themselves. They emptied into their concoction all the filth of their own ids: ideas too dire to air on their own Facebook pages. Their mascot became hypnotically awful; became nationally infamous; rose to supreme power; dragged the country into general ruin. – Such was my nightmare. 

In a way it’s easily analysed. As everyone knows, Mary Shelley had a similar dream, which she wrote up over the next three days; this eventually grew into the novel Frankenstein. We had been talking about Frankenstein before I went to bed that night; here was Frankenstein’s creature reimagined. 

The difference is that Mrs Shelley, being an optimistic Liberal, gave her  monster no political role. Its public acts are limited to murders; it didn’t stand for office in the Republic of Geneva. 

But what if it had? There’s a kink in human nature (Augustine called it the mysterium iniquitatis) which draws us toward iniquity, if the iniquity’s sufficiently extreme and bizarre.Frankenstein’s creature was so frightful, so unreal – physically as well as morally – that it would surely have spoken to the basest layer of humanity, always a lively constituency. Wouldn’t it have been enthralling? So enthralling that in the end it would be irresistible? 

Anyway, I jotted down my dream; in pious imitation of Mary Shelley I managed this in three days, between lectures. Then I put it away and pretty much forgot it. 

A year later it came to mind again because history had jumped tracks.  Autumn 2015 is a long, long time ago. The issues in international politics were the Paris climate agreement and intervention in Syria. Even American politics were adult: either Jeb or Rubio was to be the Republican nominee; the debates were about the economy. Donald Trump was low-comic relief at the margin of affairs; I’d scarcely heard of him. 

But now it’s as if Shakespeare’s hunchback had hobbled downstage, dropped himself onto the shoulders of the groundlings, been carried with howls across London Bridge, been deposited in the palace, given the crown. We have slid (suddenly, how suddenly!) into an age of made-up monsters. Satire cannot keep up with the phantasmagoria…’

Intrigued? Luckily begat is still available on our website for the special launch price of just £5.

 

Sir Reg: “Britain Backs Brexit”

Sir Reginald Futtock, the chair of the Government’s Brexit Advisory Committee and author of “Mr Brexit – the Man with the Plan” (out this September) has asked us to allow him to offer some reassurance to the country at this time of National Confusion.

I’ve been watching the results of the election from my villa in Cancun and feel the time has come to silence some of the more excitable speculation about our plans for Brexit.

Take it from me, this election has been a triumph for Brexit. After all, when you add up all the parties who back leaving the EU, it comes to over 600 MPs. The pro-EU parties have lost seats like a BA computer!

It’s hardly surprising. After all, we’ve been saying how Brexit will liberate our country and bring unparalleled prosperity (for the Few, and perhaps even some of the Many, though that doesn’t matter so much). Fortunately the People had a choice between one leader who was lukewarm for Remaining but has converted to Leaving; and another leader who has believed in Leaving since 1973.

And now the People have spoken, they can clear off again while we get back to the serious business of negotiating our way out of the European octopus and into the arms of the Chinese.

Jiānqiáng wěndìng

 

Guest Post: Jessamy Taylor on Castles

First in jessamy_taylora new series of guest posts from our authors…

What is it about Castles anyway?

Choosing a list of Top Ten Castles in fiction for the Guardian was huge fun: hours spent curled up on the sofa reading through piles of children’s books, demanding regular cups of tea and claiming that this was serious work. To be fair, there are a great many books with castles in, and they all needed checking. Castles are everywhere in fiction. But why?

In stories, castles are shorthand for importance and wealth. Something has to be quite significant before you need a castle there to defend it, and you have to have rather a lot of money before you can think about constructing such a building. So castles have automatic associations with power and riches, which are mysterious and intriguing to most of us, whether those are current at the time of the story (always good), or long decayed (sometimes even better). Big, important things happened in castles.

But at the same time, castles were homes, so we have an immediate sympathy for the people who lived in them. No-one can walk through the remains of a castle and not start speculating about the domestic details (“Kitchens, that far from the dining hall? Awkward.”) They are strange and yet familiar, and that is why they are so fascinating.