Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It's based on some songs mentioned in the Bar
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer.
It’s a dozen chapters, give or take a few,
And they’re each told from a different point of view
There are lights and foxes, there are dogs and cats,
There’s a mole, a fox and a truck (but not a paperback writer).
Chapter 1: A blue canary nightlight, like a guardian angel, watches over a sleeping child. Our hero filibusters vigilantly, imagines himself in the place of his lighthouse ancestors, and hopes his devotion will be reciprocated.
Chapter 2: We meet one of those ancestors, who has a tragic tale to tell about a lighthouse keeper and his betrothed. When narrated in the lighthouse’s voice, what could be a mawkish melodrama is surprisingly affecting.
Chapter 3: Our viewpoint shifts from lighthouses to lightning rods. On the roof of a high rise, the narrator watches the clouds rolling in, the gods threatening with their thunderbolts, but vows to remain an “honest soldier”.
Chapter 4: To a faithful honest soldier of the canine kind: Laika, the doomed first dog in space, addresses Moscow from Sputnik 2 in a homage to Bowie that transcends its influences. Try not to cry at the line “Will they hear me bark from here?”
Chapter 5: Dogs will abandon their masters come the revolution, argues the fox: “When lavished scraps fall no longer from your knee, he will slip his rope and we will brothers be.”
Chapter 6: Cats, by contrast, are just being wonderfully, wonderfully pretty, licking cream off each other and curling up by the fire to sleep (it’s the grooviest thing). As renowned literary critic happyclapper notes, the first person/kitten plural is a notoriously difficult style to pull off.
Chapter 7: We return to the animal revolt introduced in chapter 5, as a mole and his hedgehog friend engage in acts of civil disobedience. If my paperback is released on audiobook, I insist Ivor Cutler narrates the mole’s part.
Chapter 8: A mounted antelope’s head observes the long, loveless marriage of the couple who shot him on their honeymoon. Look out for the tragic twist at the end.
Chapter 9: From a stuffed head to the preserved brain of Albert Einstein, disowning the horrors his genius has enabled. (There may be some poetic licence taken here, as Einstein’s brain was in reality dissected into about 240 pieces.)
Chapter 10: After 10,000 years asleep in a peat bog, the mummified body of the Jerdacuttup Man now finds himself living under glass in the British Museum, reflecting on his unlucky life (reviewers and Booker judges will note the thematic links between the previous three narrators).
Chapter 11: The stories of truck drivers are well known, but the truck’s perspective is rarely heard. While his driver sits in the café “drinking coffee and telling lies”, the truck badmouths his driving, boasting and taste in music.
Chapter 12: Our story closes with the tooth fairy belatedly replying to a letter from a girl called Jo, sent in 1997 (when she may have had a blue canary nightlight, although this isn’t made explicit in the text). She offers surprising insights into the workings of Tooth Fairy HQ, and some sound advice for life.
Alternative Authors A-List Playlist:
They Might Be Giants - Birdhouse In Your Soul -
Nickel Creek – The Lighthouse's Tale
Guster – Lightning Rod
Jonathan Coulton – Space Doggity
Nancy Kerr & James Fagan – I am the Fox
Robert Wyatt – Little Red Robin Hood Hit The Road
The Cure - The Lovecats
Philip Jeays – The Antelope
The Dark – Einstein's Brain
The Triffids – Jerdacuttup Man
Red Simpson – I'm a Truck
Gecko – Milk Teeth
Below the Radar B-List Playlist:
Joanna Newsom – Colleen
Jackson C. Frank – My Name Is Carnival
Scott Walker - Funeral Tango
Lucero – The War
James Keelaghan – Cold Missouri Waters
Grandaddy – I'm On Standby
Tom Waits – Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis
Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake – The Priest
The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing – Fox
The Weakerthans – Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure
Gram Parsons – Green, Green Grass Of Home
Harry Nilsson – Who Done It?
Hurricane Harry – The Last Meal
The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil
Guru's Wildcard Pick:
Alias - Divine Disappointment
God tells humanity what he really thinks.
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: I told it my way: songs with unusual narrators. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.