The Manchester Review
David Wheatley
The Novelist
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What I enjoy about being a novelist is the chance it gives me to talk about being a novelist. Would you like to hear about my novel? I’m not sure how I managed to pull it off, but it’s a weight-loss comedy set in Bolton, written with panache and page-turning brio. Do you see what I am doing? I am talking like a novelist, saying what I want the reviews of my book to tell you when it is published. If I communicate like this, in asides, do not assume I am pitching my remarks to you in a spirit of knowingness or sarcasm. I wish you joy and wisdom from my remarks, not the smallness of spirit of an imperfect world.
         I became a novelist because Mr Squishy told me to. When in doubt, I hunch under the table and ask his advice. This was one of those times. We all need reassurance and hope, and being a novelist gives me that. Most of the time language is not very good. For example: ‘This office is shut today due to a bereavement.’ The word ‘due’ modifies ‘office’, and this is ungrammatical. The correct thing to say would be ‘owing to’, but spare me your quibbling pedantry. Even that elegant phrase ‘quibbling pedantry’ here is pushing it, to say the least. The point is to make words go away faster, to get to the end of the sentences as soon as I can. Horrible, horrible sentences. It’s all part of being a novelist, the loving abuse, the slow tickling of language to death. Catachresis, asyndeton, dangling modifier, dangling modifier. The office is shut today due to a bereavement. Starting to write at 12, the South of France has always been important to me. I think of the time with the screwdriver and the –