DON'T BOTTLE IT UP!
LET IT ALL OUT!
"Readers Problems Answered" Is Here To Help
With This Week's Guest Editor:
Irish Novelist, Short Fiction Writer and Postmodernist Dramatist
Samuel Beckett didn't bottle things up, certainly not when it came to writing all those novels, such as Molloy, Watt, and The Unnamable; shorter prose works like Imagination Dead Imagine, Ill Seen Ill Said, and Ping; and plays, for example Waiting For Godot, Krapp's Last Tape, and Not I. You might not like what Sam tells you, but he always gives it to you straight:
- "What a rest to speak of bicycles and horns. Unfortunately it is not of them I have to speak, but of her who brought me into the world, through the hole in her arse if my memory is correct. First taste of the shit." -
-Molloy, Part I
(that'll cheer them up, then - Ed.)
Dear Samuel Beckett,
we are having a very difficult time with our son, Daniel, who is away at University in Norfolk. Dan was always close to his mother, and we were worried that he would struggle to make friends and get on at Uni. Now we hear from a colleague at my husband's firm whose daughter is at the same Uni, that Dan has apparently become, and is notorious for being, something of a womaniser, having been with many girls, including the above-mentioned daughter. Dan has never mentioned any of this to us, always talking about how hard he is working in our telephone calls. Now we understand why he didn't come home for Christmas. I am beside myself with worry. We were always so close. What can we do?
Mrs Edie Puce,
Samuel Beckett writes: I knew a woman once, her name escapes me, they all do, it all does. She had a somewhat hairy face, or do I imagine the hair, soft and downy about her mouth? Was it possible, such an encounter? For I mean to say, that I have rubbed up against many men in my time, but few women. This one, though, was extraordinarily flat. Such fine hairs, about her upper lip. Yes, I once rubbed up against a woman. I do not refer to my mother. I did far more than rub up against my mother, but let me not bring my mother into this, for once. In a cold room, in February, there were two empty blue teacups. A fire gone out, a cur dog beyond the unvarnished door whimpering to be let in, apostle spoons straddling the chipped saucer, there was a hole between her legs, not the rectum, or perhaps it was that, I am indifferent. Would it have been true love? I mean, in the rectum, with the cur dog clawing at the door? She lifted her skirts and bent forward. I had seen dogs in the act, so I did at least have some idea, though she had to take hold of me, to plant what there was of me. It was the sciatica forced her to adopt that position. We first met by the rubbish dump, I was going in, she was coming out with a soiled mattress on her back. She died, it was a Thursday in Lent, she had just taken a bath, as she generally did before our congress, so she died clean, and before I had entered her, on the soiled mattress. It was a poignant moment, for all the world, as the evening fell among the sycamores. What was I to do with a cur dog? Just after she had died, there was a second when I wondered if I should have her, as a mark of respect, but I could not manage to turn her over, so I went for the priest. The cur dog was licking at her. It was a long walk, by the river whose ruddy water lapped at sandstone slabs. It was raining. No it wasn't, I lie.
Dear Mr Beckett,
I wonder if you might be able to help my mother? It is nearly five years since my father died. He was a good age, and died suddenly, at breakfast. This was of course a shock for my mother, for there she was, having to lift father's face out of the porridge, what with Terry Wogan on the radio, and the coalman at the door. In time, she did seem to have come to terms with the loss, as we all did, despite the vagaries of father's somewhat mystifying will, but let me not go there, only to mention in passing such surprise beneficiaries as the Thistlehurst Home For Retired Pantomime Dames and the Burnham Wood branch of Ladbrokes. Mother, we thought, was happy, with her Womens Institute and her doilies, but this Christmas seems to have brought back old memories, and she is very weepy, and, though my wife and I have had her to stay, she would not join in our festive charades or Blind Man's Morris, preferring to sit with her gin and stare out of the bay window. Have you any advice for how to handle this?
T R Paulin,
Samuel Beckett writes: They give birth astride of the grave, the light gleams an instant, and is gone. I remember, or do I, the tedium of it. A tedium only bested by the retelling. It was late October, and the swollen sky was purple, against which the leaves glowed like dying coals. My Uncle Job stood by the hole. In the yard, the terrier, I think his name was Rat, or was it Cunt, he was always being called Cunt, the terrier was eating a nest of young rats. Their perfect smooth pelts were velvet blue, before the teeth tore them from the world. Uncle stood by the great hole. The trailer, with its load, a huge black heap against the sky. They were four hours at it, in the top mires field, burying the horse. In the end, they had it on its back, they were banging on its knees with their spades to get it down and in. I looked at its lips, all brown and wrinkled and ridged, and the fat tongue as purple as the bulbous cloudbank. I ran away. They came back in when they had finished. Malone was there, who had shot it, he had to, it had got wrapped in what we called the 'barbarous wire'. The men drank stout, and had their pipes. Uncle spat. He missed the fire, the green oyster fizzed and bubbled on the grate. The next spring Aunt Bathsheba gave birth to a stillborn daughter, and Eamon, her midget brother, came to stay. I searched everywhere but could never find the place they'd buried the dead baby. Perhaps they gave it to the dog, or buried it in the churchyard. I wondered, too, about the upside-down horse inside the hill. The earth is full of the dead, it groans in labour to be free of their crouched and hunkered forms.
Dear Samuel Beckett,
I wish to ask you about a problem called loneliness. Being a single woman of mature years who has never married though has always kept busy what with having many interests not least my garden, the brass rubbing, bell ringing and delivering the meals to the elderly infirm of Stuttering-with-Qualms, I have never had what might be termed strictly intimate friendships but have many acquaintances with whom I am on good terms on a daily basis and my home-made cordials are legendary at the village shows in the district, I have no pets to speak of, but do write to a gentleman in Hastings who has been a pen pal for seven years. The fact is, I am beginning to wonder if occasional rosettes for a special cordial, and our monthly trips to the local churches to take a rubbing, are enough. Sometimes I lie awake, listening to the owl and my own breathing, and long for the firm, rough, masterful hand of a, of a, - well, the question is, is this loneliness that comes creeping into my bedroom in the midst of the night with the song of the owl?
Samuel Beckett writes: It's praying I am, I might be, praying to the Worm, all that old rigmarole, praying to the silence, he is made of silence, he's in the silence, he must be somewhere, he must have some substance, or who do I speak to, I can't speak to the silence itself, if there is nobody else, only me, then where did I come from, I must have come from something, from out of the silence, so he must be in the silence, where it all begins and ends, he who speaks me, not I, who speaks this, making words sing in the silence, he has no body, he has no voice, the only body, the only voice, are mine, who is spoken, in these words, which are spoken, from the silence they pour forth, if only he'd stop we'd be done, we'd be finished with all the old rigmarole, but still it goes on, year after year, page after page after page, hour upon hour of the silence, who is he, the one who makes it all, the one whose words I babble, whose words babble me, not I, what is the, where is the, how is the story to be told except by me, who speaks another's words, they're all I have, I can't go on, how can I go on, perhaps it will stop, perchance it will cease, and the silence will prevail, I think it must, in the end, if there be an end, will there be an end, where did it start, where did I begin, was there a first word, how can I tell, nor can I know where it will end, or what that will be like, how can I continue, how can I go on, I can't go on, I'll go on
German Composer and Pianist LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
(Please remember that Ludwig cannot answer all your letters personally. He is currently very busy writing a series of very demanding String Quartets.)