Thursday, February 6, 2014

Scrawling, by Jonathan Gould

If you have never read anything by Jonathan Gould, you are in for a treat - he writes about playful subjects in a very adult way with a unique Aussie take. Not only that, his newest book Scrawling is only 99 cents. Less than one dollar!

Just so you can get a feel for his wonderful writing, Jonathan has been kind enough to give me an excerpt to post on this blog. Ignore the endless winter outside, make a fresh cup of tea, and enjoy:

Cover of Scrawling - available on Kindle 

Neville Lansdowne drowned in a sea of words.
Of course, he didn’t really drown. You can’t actually drown in a sea of words. But you can sink a long way down into its depths, and that’s exactly what happened to Neville.
In the beginning, it wasn’t such a problem. Sure, there were always plenty of words around—at times, things got quite slippery with them—but it wasn’t anything Neville found too difficult to deal with.
Then, gradually, the quantity of words started to increase. Whatever Neville did, he couldn’t seem to avoid them. Wherever he went, he found himself overwhelmed by words as people talked to him and at him and all over the top of him.
It began to get worse. The words were everywhere. They bombarded him from radios and televisions and computers screens. They assaulted him from posters and billboards, and the sides of buses and trains. No matter how hard he tried, Neville was unable to escape them.
As the words accumulated, they became a major impediment to Neville’s movements. Initially, they pooled into puddles of words, which Neville was forced to step over carefully. But before too long, the puddles could no longer contain them, and the words spilled out all over the ground. Neville waded through, taking high steps to stop the words seeping into his shoes, but it didn’t help. Soon, his feet were completely soaked. And the level of the words kept on rising.
Now they were up above his ankles. Neville did his best to keep moving forwards. He kicked at the words, sending them splashing through the air, and he sloshed through the torrent with slow steps. Still, the words continued to rise, up past his knees and headed towards his waist. Neville flapped his arms, trying to clear a path. Progress was becoming impossible. He felt as if he was moving in slow motion, battling against a current that threatened to wash him away.
The current grew stronger. Neville had to stand firm against the battering waves of words. He planted his feet on the ground like a statue and stuck out his chest as each swell smashed against him. With the level of the words inching up to his neck, Neville raised his head and gasped for air. The words brushed against his chin and upwards over his mouth.
By this time, Neville could barely keep his feet in contact with the ground. He was on tiptoes, doing his utmost to hang on as the waves continued to slam against his body. As the words rose even higher, Neville hopped from one foot to the other, trying to hold his position against the pounding surf. But to no avail as one final massive surge lifted him up and away from solid ground.
Totally adrift, Neville did what he could to stay afloat. He kicked his feet and waved his arms, bobbing up and down in this ocean of words like a waterlogged yo-yo. Gradually, his arms began to tire and his legs began to lose their strength. Neville had never been a strong swimmer, and all this treading water—or to be more precise, treading words—was starting to take its toll.
Neville flapped and kicked and waved and gulped. With each gasp of breath, he took in whole mouthfuls of words. He raised his arm, hoping somebody might spot him, but amidst this churning whirlpool of words, he was not to be sighted.
The battle to stay afloat was one Neville knew he couldn’t win. Once, and then again, his whole body submerged beneath the waves. Once, and then again, he managed to fight his way back to the surface. He couldn’t keep this up. Sooner or later, his strength would leave him, and then he would sink to the bottom like a…a…a Neville.
At last, the moment arrived. The waves of words tossed him like an inflatable duck. The spray washed over his face, sending rivulets running down his nose and into his mouth. With his body utterly worn out, Neville knew there was only one thing left to do. He took one last gasping breath. Then he closed his eyes, held his nose, and dropped like a stone into the sea of words.
Neville Lansdowne sank down into the words. He had no idea for how long he descended, or how deep he had gone. However, the further he sank, the more he realised things were much calmer away from the surface. Far below the bashing and crashing of the waves of words, Neville felt himself being lightly rocked by a gentle current.
He opened his eyes. It was dark. Deep down in this wordy abyss, the sunlight struggled to penetrate. But it was also quiet and peaceful. At that level, it seemed the words no longer needed to batter into each other with such force. A stream of verbs brushed lightly against his cheek. Several shimmery, shiny adjectives spun around in tidy little vortices. A collective of nouns bubbled up beside him. Neville watched, transfixed. He had never seen words behaving like that before. It was as if he had entered a whole new world.
With a light bump, Neville’s feet touched the bottom. He stood for a second, balancing himself against the buffeting movements of the surrounding words. Then he looked up. Far, far above, he could just make out the surface. For a moment, he considered taking a brief rest and then seeing if he could swim back up again. After another moment, he dismissed the idea. What was the point? He would only end up subjecting himself once more to the bashing and crashing of the waves high above him. No, it was nice down here. Quiet and peaceful—just the way he liked it.
Neville sat down and watched the words flow past: prepositional phrases now cut loose and gently drifting; subordinate clauses languidly sliding by; even whole sentences gliding lazily along. Neville felt great pleasure watching them all as they wove patterns around him. Bereft of any meaning, they formed tapestries of both beguiling simplicity and endless complexity.
At times, as he watched, Neville thought he could almost read something in the shifting textures of the words. A couple of them would combine, just for a moment, as if to form some sort of logical association. But these never lasted for more than a second before reverting back to their previous random state.
This was fine with Neville. Trying to make sense out of all those words had been part of the problem. Now, in a world where words provided nothing except endlessly changing scenery of infinite variety, Neville couldn’t have been happier.

And here is the blurb for the book: 
Neville Lansdowne drowned in a sea of words.

Of course, he didn't really drown. You can't actually drown in a sea of words. But you can sink a long way down into its depths, and that's exactly what happened to Neville.

Deep down in an undersea world constructed entirely out of words, Neville meets some peculiar new companion and soon finds himself in the middle of another strange and wholly unexpected adventure.

Jonathan Gould has lived in Melbourne, Australia all his life, except when he hasn't. He has written comedy sketches for both the theatre and radio, as well as several published children's books for the educational market.
He likes to refer to his stories as dag-lit because they don't easily fit into recognisable genres (dag is Australian slang for a person who is unfashionable and doesn't follow the crowd - but in an amusing and fun way). You might think of them as comic fantasies, or modern fairytales for the young and the young-at-heart.
Over the years, his writing has been compared to Douglas Adams, Monty Python, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, the Goons, Dr Seuss, Terry Pratchett, and even Enid Blyton (in a good way).

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