Book Jacket

 

rank 927
word count 109027
date submitted 15.07.2009
date updated 20.07.2012
genres: Fiction, Popular Culture, Comedy, E...
classification: moderate
complete

Degree of Exposure

Eric Newman

Professionally reviewed as 'Witty novel ,superbly written, reminiscent of Tom Sharpe.'

Brings new hope for the dead. Even they could enjoy it.

Very sexy too.

 

On impulse Jack joins a creative writing class for something to do.

He is a bit flippant with the tutor, and is told to write 'something funny' for his first homework. The class like it, and as he adds other ideas during the course, he gradually finds it turning into a comic novel.

He fancies Janice, a beautiful classmate, and seeking to ingratiate himself with her he makes her the book's heroine.
Janice is the girl friend of the class tutor, so things get a touch tricky.

Jack's book becomes a savagely satirical and sexy piece of work, peopled with a host of comic characters behaving in an all too human way.....despicably.

It all builds up to a tremendous climax when the whole of Blackpool Illuminations (Northpool in the novel) is laid to waste by a series of clangers that drag the hero into deeper and deeper waters, from which there is seemingly no escape.

Then, with one mighty bound........ well, maybe......maybe not.

**********

.....



 
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, diabolical, disturbing, earthy, explicit, laugh out loud funny, lewd, masochistic, poignant, rumbustious, sardonic, satirical saucy, sexy

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Third Class: 

 

By the time I handed this in it was already week 3 and the class was beginning to settle down quite nicely from Frank’s point of view. No one showed any signs of leaving, and by effectively dividing us into two groups, writers and non-writers, he was able to fit everyone somewhere on to the spectrum of activities he devised for us.

As far as any actual teaching went, he was seriously light on that. His mantra was that ’writers write’, and he never deviated very far from it. Other than recommending a few books for us to read that set out the mechanics of plot construction, dialogue, and so on, he spent all his time using the material we produced as the basis for our evening discussions.

 

Janice was first in line for Frank’s attention again. At his suggestion she had given her original idea a new direction by killing off one of the other girls being filmed. The question now was whether it was an accident, suicide or a murder.

I said it might make it more interesting if the dead girl was newly pregnant and everybody thought the T.V. director was the father, but this could just be a red herring to put everyone off the track of the real killer. She liked that idea.

Frank then read bits of my stuff out again, and asked the rest of the class for ideas on the way the story could be taken forward. Most hadn’t a clue, but Janice made the point that if I was thinking of developing these ideas into a book, the Major wasn’t suitable to be the main lead. I hadn’t thought anywhere near that far ahead, but she had a point. The two scenes I’d written could form the starting point for a novel, and if Jeffrey Archer could do it, why not me?

‘I think Thwaite is really funny,’ she said. ‘But no normal woman would fancy him. What we need is a more romantic figure to identify with, someone like Rochester, or Darcy.’

‘Right.’ I said.

‘How about using that course organiser you mentioned?’

‘That’s a good idea,’ said Frank. ‘It would give the story a chance to grow organically. Maybe develop a momentum of its own.’

‘Thanks.’ I said to her. ‘You’re not just a perfect face after all.’

That did my cause no harm at all.

Frank noticed this and glowered at me. ‘But this guy is going to have to carry your whole novel,’ he said. ‘you’ll have to make him really convincing if the thing is going to stand up.’

 

Back at my desk again the following weekend, I ploughed through the pile of his recommended reading and realised their advice boiled down to just one thing really, ‘write about what you know.’ So the obvious thing to do was to make this key character I had to develop stick as close to myself as possible. He could be my age, have my background, and have made the same mistakes as me. Then, as failure has to be funnier than success, I could use my own biggest one to get him up and running.

 

What I had done, just a few years previously, was go spectacularly bust by trying to start a business without enough capital. This guy would do the same. That would lead to him also to losing his home to the bank and his wife divorcing him, as happened to me. Then he would find himself on the dole and having to live in crummy digs until he got his act together again which, as I distinctly remember, was certainly no fun at all.

There had to be all sorts of comic possibilities somewhere in that lot.

 

The way forward then for him would be getting himself a degree of some sort, as I did, and using that to lever  himself back into solvency.

So far so good, but I didn’t want to make the thing too auto-biographical,

I therefore decided it would be a good idea not to set the story in today’s world, but to put it back in time into the Seventies.

That had other advantages too. Life was so much simpler then. We just had the IRA to worry about, not Al Qaeda, and there was no Tony Blair sanctimoniously invading places. Instead Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, and whoever happened to be General Secretary of the T.U.C at the time was running the country for him.

Best of all there was no such thing as Political Correctness then, so I could write my story pretty much any way I liked

.

Then this man I needed to become Janice’s Rochester or Darcy, suddenly popped into my mind and introduced himself.

 

‘The name is Arnstruther. Ken Arnstruther.’

 

I started getting him down on paper straight away.

 

 

 

 

Everyone’s existence has to have its lowest point sometime or other, and Ken could pinpoint his exactly. It was

5. 30am on the 15th of March 1971. His business had gone bust, he was divorced, flat broke, and had a string of creditors after him. Finally, to round off this introspective tour rather neatly, he faced the fact that this day, the ‘Ides of March’ was also the morning of his fortieth birthday. He wasn’t even young anymore. If ever there was a time for the Fates he so believed in to intervene on his behalf, this had to be it.

 

When dawn did eventually come it was fittingly not up to much anyway. The rain still poured down relentlessly as it had done all night, though now it was whipped against the narrow skylight in the attic roof by a sharp wind giving promise of another freezing cold day. In the gradually strengthening light Ken could see the water driven in through a crack in the window dripping down to miss the tin he’d put there the night before to catch it.

He realised he ought to get up and do something about the spreading patch of damp on the grubby carpet, but he just couldn’t be bothered any more. It was all very depressing really, and Ken let out a sigh as he tried to re-arrange his long body more comfortably on his sagging mattress. Even this dismal hole he was hiding out in wasn’t likely to be available to him much longer. He was behind with his rent and he couldn’t see himself getting away with that state of affairs for very much longer.

 

Then a light knock on his door did at least seem to signal some change in his immediate circumstances and Ken hardly had time to register someone was outside before it opened and his landlady’s daughter waddled in.

 

Mavis Davis was a couple of years older than Ken, and a couple of stone heavier as well, which was not to her advantage given that she was only just over five feet tall.

‘Good morning,’ she said.

‘Good morning,’ said Ken, hastily withdrawing his bare feet and burrowing himself under the bedclothes as far as he could. One of his forced economies lately was to wear as little laundry as possible.

‘I’ve brought your post.’

‘Post!!!’ said Ken, sitting up in alarm. Post was the last thing he wanted to get after all the efforts he’d made to keep his whereabouts secret.

‘That’s right,’ said Mavis, eying his hairy chest appreciatively. ‘ Me mam thought it would be nice for you to have it as soon as it came.’

‘Thanks,’ said Ken automatically, still bothered about which of his creditors must have found out where he was.

Mavis continued staring, shifting her weight nervously from one foot to another until it became obvious she had something else to say and was having difficulty bringing herself to say it. His first thought was she’d been told to give him his marching orders and was finding the job embarrassing.

‘If it’s about the rent……’ he began, but before he could get any further she managed to summon up the courage to unburden herself.

‘Happy birthday,’ she blurted out. Then, with a sudden crimson blush, she put his post on the bedside table and was gone from the room almost as quickly as she’d first appeared.

 

For the first few moments Ken thought his lack of food over the last few days was causing him to hallucinate. Room service was not a normal feature of the Davis establishment, especially when the room being serviced was at the top of four flights of stairs.

Then there was the fact that Mavis knew it was his birthday, and would bother to acknowledge it. They’d barely exchanged a word since he’d been there. It was all very odd. But the small parcel Mavis had brought him was still lying there as proof that she had indeed toiled up the stairs on his behalf, and it all clearly had to have something to do with that.

It turned out to be a cardboard cylinder big enough to hold a picture or maybe a rolled map of some sort, and gingerly picking it up he found it was covered in birthday greetings stickers. This at least explained how Mavis came to know today was his birthday.

The really good news was that the damned thing clearly wasn’t from anyone he owed money to. They certainly weren’t sentimental enough to be sending him anything other than some more writs. So who had sent it?

 

The answer was Grimes, Grimes, Palethorpe and Grimes his solicitors, the only people who were aware of his whereabouts, though they normally only sent him monthly reminders of their own outstanding account, and they were under very strict instructions not to forward anything else to him that was not to his advantage.

In the case of this package though, Mr Palethorpe thought it might be a gift Ken would wish to receive. Though being a cautious man he did take the precaution of seeking a second opinion on the matter from the senior Grimes of the partnership, and then added the appropriate charge to his client’s account for this consultation, before sending it on to him.

 

Ken slowly broke open the seals still wondering what it was all about. Since his parents died he doubted more than one other person even knew when his birthday was, and she had no real cause to remember it. Not for the first time in his life though, Ken was wrong. His ex wife Kate had remembered and the package was from her. Knowing he had fallen on hard times, but not how hard, she was doing her best to cheer him up on his fortieth birthday. Her best wishes were scrawled in lipstick on the card inside and she had sprinkled the whole lot with his favourite brand of her perfume just for good measure.

He couldn’t help but smile. The fact she should take the trouble to send him a   present even though they were now well and truly divorced was, with hindsight, typical of her. She had been unpredictable since the moment he first saw her at an Earls Court Motor Show where she had languished, not over-dressed, across the bonnet of an Alfa Romeo sports car. That was in his more affluent days, and he bought the car there and then as a means of impressing her. Like the car though, their marriage promised more than it delivered and both broke down soon after,  culminating in an amicable decision by both of them that they really were not ready to consider settling down permanently with anyone just yet, particularly not with each other.

Still he wouldn’t have minded finding Kate inside the envelope to help cheer him up as well at that moment, though her extravagancies would be something he would have difficulty in coping with just then. Still she was a generous soul, he had to say that for her, and if she knew how low he had now fallen she would be the first to give him everything she had to help him get back up again.  It was just a pity his male chauvinism would not allow him to take that as an easy route out of his predicament. His pride insisted that having got himself into this mess, he now get himself out of it as well.

 

The gift itself, when he finally finished stripping of all the outer layers of paper she had carefully wrapped it in to tease him, turned out to be the roll of cardboard he expected, and it did seem to enclose a print of some sort.  With luck it might even be valuable enough for him to sell off in a pub so he could get himself a meal and a few cigarettes. Even if it wasn’t worth anything, then something to hang over his bed would be better than the mouldering purple grapes wallpaper surrounding him on all sides at the moment.

 

But in making this guess he vastly underrated Kate’s originality. It was neither a print, expensive or otherwise, nor a reproduction ancient map of his home town, which was another of his guesses. It turned out instead to be a large and really quite imposingly ornate imitation vellum scroll, proclaiming in gilt lettering, some at least an inch high, that he, KENNETH ROBERT ARNSTRUTHER, had been awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of the World Academic College, Kerrytown, Yuma, and henceforth would be entitled to be known as ‘DOCTOR KENNETH ROBERT ARNSTRUTHER’ at all times.

A heavy wax seal, accompanied by several imposing signatures executed in flawless calligraphy as if by medieval hands, further attested to the legitimacy of his new distinction.

The final touch was a small printed attachment to the document certifying that this was one of a special limited edition of their deluxe hand-blocked degrees, and pointing out he could earn himself a £10 rebate on any further diplomas he bought from them, or for each additional scholar he introduced.

The accompanying note from Kate explained she couldn’t resist getting it for him when she’d seen it advertised in ‘Private Eye’, and pointed out it might even come in handy for him one day if ever he did push his luck too far and find himself in need of a qualification of some sort.

 

Ken couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer incongruity of it, even allowing for the unintended appropriateness of his present circumstances.

 

The gift was well up to her usual standard of novelty and he became increasingly amused as he read the literature that went with it.

Under the heading ‘Instructions for the Use of Your Degree’, the World Academic College Authorities made the point that they were a properly constituted body and legally entitled to award their degrees to whomsoever they chose.

It just so happened at the moment they were choosing to award them to anyone who sent in the appropriate amount of cash either on their own, or anybody else’s behalf, thus following the principle already used by established by universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, of giving out their Ph.Ds to business men clever enough to slip them a backhander in the shape of another college, a new library building or a largish telescope.

The world Academic College also pointed out it was operating in line with the newly inaugurated British Open University, who were committed to admitting students with absolutely no qualifications whatsoever. Even total illiterates were not to be turned away, their money being as welcome as that of anyone else to this pioneering institution. The instructions went on to explain that because of the College’s belief in the open ended and continuing nature of the learning process, the subject of the doctorate was left blank, as it was felt that recipients of sufficient sagacity to avail themselves of this opportunity could safely be left to fill that part of it in for themselves.

 

It was as brilliant a gimmick in its way of adding style without content as putting the holes in doughnuts, and Ken took off his imaginary mortar board to whoever it was who had first thought of it. Then he couldn’t resist doing what everyone else who has ever been awarded a degree couldn’t resist doing either; he tried it out. Getting out of bed and going across to the yellowing mirror, which gave his features an appropriately sepulchral tinge, he adopted what he thought to be a suitably learned stance and declaimed out loud to his reflection, ‘Doctor Kenneth Robert Arnstruther, I presume?’

 

‘Oooo. Yes,’ answered a voice.

 

The shock of getting a reply, half mentally conditioned as he was already to being on the end of a practical joke, made him spin round to see where it was coming from.

‘Something wrong,’ asked Mavis, coming into the room again and catching sight of his contorted features.

There was indeed. He was stark naked.

‘I knocked,’ lied Mavis, her gaze continuing as unperturbed as his was not. ‘But with you talking you mustn’t have heard me’.

 

Ken wished the W.A.C.K.Y. had at least sent him a replica college scarf or a mortar board to cover his embarrassment, but it hadn’t, so he had to make his way as rapidly as possible past Mavis to grab a pillow instead. ‘What do you want?’ he yelled.

‘Me mam’s sent you up a bit of breakfast,’ said Mavis, putting down the tray she was carrying. ‘An’ after you’ve had that, I’ll be back to change your sheets.’

‘What !!!’ said Ken, stunned.

‘You should have said you was a medical man right off, then we would have known wouldn’t we?’ said Mavis.

‘Medical man?’ said Ken, not comprehending.

‘Yes,’ she said, beginning to back awkwardly out as if leaving the presence of royalty. ‘Me mam says she’ll have a word with you about that when you come down,’ and with that she waddled out again, leaving Ken to wonder just what on earth was going on.

Breakfast being served in his room was unthinkable. He didn’t pay for any meals in this place, and a notice on the back of his door said ’No food to be consumed on these premises’ plainly enough.

He’d even fantasized that was why there were so many false teeth stains soaked indelibly into the top of his bedside table, maybe their owners had  died of malnutrition and lain there for a couple of weeks before anyone noticed the extra smell.

 

It took a moment or two for the penny to drop, then another look at the wrapping paper on his present was enough to show why what had happened, had happened. Kate, keen to be the first one to use the title she had bought him, had sent it addressed to ‘Doctor R.K. Arnstruther’, so allowing the eagle eyed Mrs Gwladys Davis downstairs to register his new status even before he had   noticed it himself.

 

It didn’t then need much more deductive work on his part to realise that to Mrs Davis anyone who was a doctor was a doctor, plain and simple. If told there were people entitled to be called doctor who weren’t real doctors at all she would simply have either not believed them, or put it down to perverts trying to take advantage of simple souls like herself and her daughter Mavis. Furthermore, the social standing of having a doctor residing in one’s establishment would constitute a big plus for Glwadys Davis. It would be one in the eye for all the other local harridan landladies playing Bingo with her at the old The Mecca Ballroom round the corner.

Such a catch would be well worth buttering up to he guessed as, with a certain satisfaction at hoisting them with their own petard, he reached out to make a start on the free breakfast he’d just been provided with.

His birthday wasn’t turning out to be too bad after all.

 

As far as this basic diagnosis went it was correct. What Ken could not be expected to realise was that his landlady, as crafty as all the Welsh are reputed to be, was already several moves ahead of him in this particular game. There truly is no such thing as a free lunch, or a free breakfast come to that.  Gwladys, in her search for an explanation for what had just happened and with a lifetime’s experience of dodgy tenants, had already put enough twos and twos together to come up with a solution complex enough to run into double figures.

 

Looked at from her side, her ideas were understandable. She was already suspicious of someone boarding with her who was as well spoken, well mannered and well dressed as Ken. Notwithstanding he only had one suit, it was of very good quality. Mrs Davis was also aware of the fact his only previous mail had come from a solicitor’s office. Her interesting conclusion that whereas Grimes, Palethorpe, Grimes, and Grimes had always addressed him as plain ‘Mr’ Arnstruther, this parcel forwarded to him by them from someone else and revealing him to be really Doctor Arnstruther, meant something very fishy was going on.

Not having a very complicated mind, the first and obvious explanation of what it could be was that he was involved in the sort of trouble members of the medical profession often get involved in, by using their privileged position to tell women to take their clothes off, so they can have their way with them in the privacy of their surgeries, and getting paid for doing it too. Her Sunday newspaper was full of cases like that.

She then further deduced he was hiding away in her place, incommunicado to all but his legal people, until the heat was off. The final proof of all this to her was the expensive perfume his parcel was steeped in, so there had to be a woman involved hadn’t there?

All that being so, she felt it would be very foolish of her not to use this situation to try to solve a problem of her own that was getting larger year by year……. her daughter Mavis.

 

Mrs Davis, in spite of her outward appearance, was human. She loved her now not so little girl as much as any mother could, and given that Mavis was not a ‘full shilling’ as the locals put it, she was understandably very protective of her. The problem as she saw it was that when she was eventually called to join the late Mr Davis again, there would be no one to look after her only offspring. The likelihood then would be some con man taking up with her until he’d got his hands on the deeds of this boarding house and that would be that. He’d sell it, bugger off with the proceeds, and the poor girl would be left destitute. The most urgent need in her own life time then, was to get her daughter safely married off, by fair means or foul, to some respectable person who would carry on the burden of looking after her.

It wasn’t an easy task she realised, and if the truth were known she’d lately almost given up any hope of succeeding. But suddenly, miraculously, there might be just such a person upstairs, someone nice and blackmailable, who could fit the bill perfectly.

 

Reviewing now all the various promising elements of this revelation of Ken’s‘ real identity, and with her aspirations reinforced by a particularly favourable deposit of the tea leaves in her cup that very morning, Mrs Davis lost no time in coming to the conclusion that her long wait to get her daughter fixed up might soon be over. She realised it was still a long shot of course, but she still reasoned, reasonably enough, that stranger things happened in the papers every day, so why shouldn’t something like that happen to her for once.

 

Mavis, when it was all carefully and slowly explained to her, was quite taken with the idea. The only difficulty she foresaw, which she didn’t mention to her mother, who never listened to what she said anyway, was what if, as her mam said, doctors weren’t allowed to do to a  woman what her mam said men always wanted to do to women, was a woman who was a doctor’s wife counted as a woman or not?

Because if she was, and the doctor couldn’t, it would be a pity really as all the other girls at school had reckoned sex was nothing like the awful thing her mam told her it was. That lot never seemed to get enough of it behind the bike sheds then, and were still all at it now, judging by all the babies they were pushing around. After all her mam kept going on about her eating peanut butter too, and she liked that well enough.

Either way, she agreed with the idea of having a husband. It would be really nice to have someone else to go out to the Bingo with, and perhaps he’d even just watch his own card and wouldn’t be going on at her all the time when she missed a few numbers, like her mother did.

 

Back in his room Ken was working his way steadily through his meal. On his side he’d already decided he’d be foolish not to take every possible advantage of the mistake the Davis’s were making while his good fortune lasted. For instance, that sheet change Mavis had promised him would be very acceptable. Happily he was unaware that changing his sheets meant exactly that. Clean ones being unobtainable in that establishment without due notice, Mavis intended to do the next best thing by simply swapping hers for his.  But this little detail was neither here nor there, given the pace of the developments already taking place four floors below him. Before he even had chance to finish his burnt toast Mavis was back in the room again, panting with the exertion of climbing all those stairs for the third time that morning, but all set to fire the first shot in her mother’s campaign get Ken firmly within their grasp.

 

Catching him in still bed for warmth and comfort, she went across and leaned over to surround him with sufficient of her cleavage to make any escape from her impossible without committing indecent assault.

‘I got something in my eye,’ she said, ‘Can you get it out for me doctor?’

It was a small enough request. Little return indeed for all her efforts in toiling up and down so often on his behalf, and Ken did feel genuinely sorry for Mavis. It wasn’t her fault she was as she was, and she must have plenty to put up with from that formidable mother of hers.

Nevertheless this would have been the proper time to make it clear to both of them that he was not medically qualified and could only comply with her request on the basis of one human being doing another human being a simple human kindness. But the lure of more free breakfasts and the possibility of no more hassle about his rent arrears proved just too strong.

‘O.K.’ He said, and leaning forward he took the proffered grubby handkerchief and surveyed the problem. A quick inspection of her eye revealed the large foreign body Mrs Davis had carefully inserted in it just a few minutes earlier, and a quick swipe soon removed it.

‘ Oooo that’s lovely,’ said Mavis, as whatever it was fell quietly into his egg.

‘Ta very much’.

 

It was from that moment then of missed opportunity to put the record straight, once and for all, that Ken could be said to have strayed from the straight and narrow path we are all supposed to tread at all times, and turned off instead on to the broad and winding one, leading to more and more trouble, that most of us are more familiar with.

That further trouble wasn’t long in coming looking for him either. Breakfast over and with his sheets swapped as promised, Mrs Davis made a point of being on hand by the front door as he made his way to go out for the day as usual.

‘Good morning,’ she said, offering the first smile he had ever seen on that craggy face.

To look at she was simply a much larger version of her daughter, but there was an obvious air of cunning about her too. It was her eyes really. Small and glaring, they remained boring into his for the length of any conversation he had with her.

‘Good morning,’ said Ken, not knowing quite what else he should say.

She remained impassive, placed so that he would have to push up against her to get past, and waiting for him to say something else. ‘Er, thanks for the breakfast, I enjoyed it,’ he said finally.

‘Good,’ she said ‘and it wasn’t just a one off birthday treat for you Doctor. Mavis will be bringing some up every morning from now on.’

‘No, really, there’s no need,’ said Ken, already beginning to feel slightly uneasy about his situation.

Nonsense,’ said Mrs Davis. ‘The exercise will be good for her. You’ll know that right enough, being a man of your profession, and I reckon you could do with a good breakfast inside you to start your day.’ She looked at him pointedly, ‘Seems to me very much like you’ve been neglecting yourself lately’.’

That was true; his clothes were beginning to hang off him. ‘It was kind of you all the same.’

‘There’ll be no charge. We’ll just reckon it as part of your rent. Bed and breakfast from now on eh?  And don’t you be worrying about those arrears of yours either. A man of your standing has got to be good for a bit of credit now hasn’t he?’

‘Er, yes,’ said Ken,‘I suppose so.’

‘We’ve all had our hard times, and you’re free to settle up whenever it suits you and not a moment before. Now I can’t say fairer than that can I?’ she said shrewdly.

Indeed she couldn’t, and despite his slight inner forebodings Ken couldn’t help but be grateful for the respite from his other creditors it gave him, and he really didn’t fancy being reduced to sleeping rough. ’That’s very civil of you Mrs Davis,’ he said.

‘We’ll say no more about all for the moment then,’ she said, standing aside to allow him through. ‘Have a good day doctor,’ and with that parting shot she disappeared back into her own sitting room.

 

Striding along the street outside Ken could hardly believe his luck. O.K. there might be price to pay for it all later, but if she wanted to use him as some sort of ‘loss leader’ to maybe attract better clients, then he could live with that. This harmless doctor thing would all be put right as soon as he had scraped enough cash together to pay her off and move on to decent lodgings. It could just be passed off as a bit of a misunderstanding then, and they could all have a laugh about it.

 

It is remarkable really how quickly people can adapt to sudden changes in their circumstances. Within weeks a working class winner of the Lottery can be behaving as eccentrically and extravagantly as any earl with generations of idiocy bred into him. Ken was no exception to this rule.

 

The new regime at the Davis household soon took an increasing hold on his life and almost before he realised it he was acting in a way that would have been unthinkable just a few short days before.

Mavis made it easier for him because of her shyness. In spite of her mother’s explicit instructions that she should make herself as agreeable to him as possible, she was too much in awe of all he was supposed to be, to do anything other than act as a sort of unpaid servant to him.

So the main thrust of Mrs Davis’s plan initially remained hidden from him. In retrospect he realised this lulled him into a false sense of security.

.

Mrs Davis reasoned that if by any lucky chance he was suspended, in danger of being struck off the medical register for dodgy behaviour of one kind or another, or already was struck off, then it would increase their hold on him if she could get him to to treat her and Mavis at a time when he wasn’t entitled to treat anyone. Removing the dirt in her daughter’s eye was only the thin end of a wedge she intended thickening at all possible speed.

 

Ken therefore soon found himself manoeuvred into giving them advice about the headaches and stomach upsets to which the two ladies suddenly became prone. No more than any other reasonable person would give of course, but like a previous fictional doctor he soon found the Hyde side of the character playing an increasingly large part in his affairs. The Davis’s were both long time hypochondriacs anyway, and they revelled in the attentions he was called on to give them, from dandruff at one end, to in-growing toe nails at the other, not to mention flatulence’s in between. The pair of them steadily forced more and more of themselves before him for scrutiny and diagnosis, so it became less and less possible for him to start suddenly refusing their requests.

 

The thing that kept him going, was his firm belief that this breathing space he’d been given was there for a purpose. Maybe his guardian angel had taken a knock recently, just like he had, and needed a bit of time to get his cloud sorted out before giving him a lift again.

But as the days continued to slip by without any ideas emerging to start him back on his way up again, or any opportunity to improve his situation presenting itself, he began to despair. And the web Mrs Davis was spinning round him grew tighter and tighter. Could it be his fates were just playing a game with him, throwing a frayed rope to a drowning man?

 

When the inspiration he was waiting for did finally come it took him completely by surprise, and he felt the same way the Flemings must have done when the ideas for Penicillin and James Bond came to them.

He was in the commercial sector of the local reference library at the time, getting a free look at the newspapers to see if there was anything in them that might be of interest to him. The ‘Job Vacancies’ sections were of no use of course. He had never been a ‘wage slave’ since he stopped being an office boy, and had no intention of ever becoming one again if he could possibly help it. His attention was therefore focused on the ‘business opportunities’ pages, where there was hopefully some real money to be made.

 

His presence there did not go unnoticed. These reading rooms of provincial libraries are small worlds, usually only inhabited by the same bunch of unemployable old codgers just in for the central heating, so the regularity of his attendance soon attracted the attention of the assistant librarian. She would be a reasonable looking girl if she came out from behind her large glasses, which fact soon attracted his attention too.

Before long pleasantries were exchanged and she was naturally interested in why he, obviously not a tramp or layabout, was coming in so frequently. Ken, seeking to distance himself from the rest of her regulars, and gain a bit of kudos in her eyes had come up with a cover story and once launched on to his tale was surprised how easily it seemed to roll off his tongue.

‘The name’s Arnstruther,’ he said ‘ Doctor Arnstruther actually. I’m ah, a government consultant, researching into small business activity for the Department of Trade and Industry. It’s all bit confidential actually.  We don’t want anything to get out before ….’

‘Green paper stage?’ said the assistant, who knew about such things.

‘Exactly,’ said Ken wondering what on earth that was.

‘Gosh,’ she said. ‘The most exciting thing I get to do is fine someone for a late return. Anything I can do to help just let me know.’

‘Thanks,’ said Ken’ ‘Who shall I ask for?’

‘Penny,’ she said ‘Penny Smithers.’

He’d been without the benefit of female company for some time now, so there was plenty she could have done to help him, but lacking the means to even buy her a cup of coffee there was nothing he could do about it at the moment.

‘It’s good of you to offer Penny,’ he said, “I may call you Penny may I?’

‘Oh yes Doctor,’ she said warmly.

‘No, please, it’s Ken to my friends,’ he said, though he had to admit hearing her use his title did bring a certain amount of music to his ears.

‘Very well, Ken it is then,’ she said, giving him another encouraging smile.

Definitely an invitation to get his feet under the table there he thought, and suitable cheered by the progress he’d made with her  he wandered off to his usual seat by a radiator to bury himself yet again in the esoteric world of men on the make.

 

The opportunities open to him this particular morning, were very much run of the mill stuff. Thousands of yards of super fast selling fabrics the advertiser was unable to shift himself were available at a bargain price, and there was enough fire damaged stock on the market to make Ken think there must be someone with a large furnace somewhere singeing the stuff especially for the purpose. Not to mention failing shops, commission only work and endless opportunities for ‘door to door’ salesmen.  It was all so predictably depressing he found his attention wandering involuntarily to the next table where two young men he had never seen in there before, were conversing in the sort of whispers used in libraries, where normal speech is very much frowned on.

As his ears gradually tuned into their muted conversation he learned they were friends from their teacher training college days, whose meeting this day was a chance reunion.

The one with the deeper voice seemingly had done very well, landing a lecturing job in the business studies department of the local university. The other one was just teaching geography in a comprehensive school.

These two facts were of no real interest to Ken, but what did catch his attention was the difference in attitude between them. The brasher one was happily laying it on with a trowel about the interest and importance of the research work he was doing, but instead of taking it all with the large pinch of salt it undoubtedly called for, the other one was lapping it up.

 

Lecturing and teaching, said the lecturer, were entirely different things. One was concerned with the advancement of knowledge conducted as part of the job; the other with the mere reiteration of last year’s teaching material.

The teacher agreed, and even went so far as to say that what he and his colleagues at the comprehensive really would like would be an opportunity to attend university type seminars again,  like they used to do as students, so they could keep up with any advances in knowledge in their field.

‘Doesn’t your education office lay on training courses like that?’ asked the other one.

‘I’ve never seen any advertised,’ said the teacher

‘Now you mention it, there used to be lots of requests on the University notice boards for people to tutor on them, but there haven’t been any lately.’

‘Money must be getting tight I guess,’ said the teacher ‘and they probably don’t want us taking time off to attend them.’

‘You could be right. They still do have training officers though don’t they? So there must be money for them to use somewhere in the system.’

‘I suppose so.’

 

News of unspent money in the vicinity of an unsatisfied demand was just the sort of thing Ken was on the lookout for, and he leaned forward eagerly to get as much more information about it as he could.

Unfortunately Penny Smithers chose that moment to appear on the scene. ‘Would you mind going somewhere else to hold your conversation,’ she hissed to the two men ‘This is a reference library and Dr Arnstruther here is engaged on research work of national importance.’

‘Sorry,’ said the teacher, the easily more abashed of the pair.

‘There is a coffee shop just across the street,’ she said “you could hold the rest of your conversation there.’

‘It’s alright, really it is,’ said Ken, wanting to hear more. But both of them were up on their feet now.

‘We were about to go anyway,’ said the lecturer, wanting to make it clear he wasn’t to be pushed around by someone as low in the pecking order as Penny.

 

 

 

Ken could only seethe inwardly as the two of them then made their way out together.

‘They had no right to be disturbing you like that,’ said Penny, glad of the chance of doing him this small favour.

‘They were no trouble, really they weren’t,’ he said

‘You’re the kindly sort who would say that whether they were or they weren’t,’ she gushed, mentally deciding to try to master contact lenses again, now that she had him as an incentive for improving her appearance.

 

But the fragmented conversation Ken had just overheard proved just sufficient to start his mind mulling over the opportunity it might present to him.  By the time he had settled himself down again, the seed of the idea just planted in his mind had already grown to beanstalk proportions, and he was already half way up it in search of the pile of cash he thought might well be waiting for him at the top.

What was to stop him using his toy town degree to organise just such a course as that teacher wanted. He could hire some lecturers for it like the twit he’d just been listening to. The trick then would be to lay it on at a weekend to get round the problem of taking the teachers away from their classroom duties, maybe then a whole classroom full of them would come flooding on to it. Getting the money out of those unused training budgets shouldn’t be too difficult either. A few visiting cards and fancy brochures printed with ‘Dr Kenneth R. Arnstruther’ prominently displayed on them should do the trick.  No one ever bothered to check out things like that, and these Town Hall types are experts at not getting value for money, and if that approach failed he could always go back to first principles and bung a few quid in their direction to clinch matters.

 

The thing to do was to make sure those attending the course were looked after properly. They’d be the ones to spread the word about how good it all was, so as to attract repeat business. Therefore it mightn’t be a bad idea to hold it in some nice select hotel, maybe by the seaside somewhere.  And at this time of year, just out of season, he’d be able to get a good rate for bringing them business when they would otherwise be empty.  It could really be the start of a new career for him.

There had to be a few problems he couldn’t foresee at this stage,  so he’d start off with a smallish pilot course first, just to get everything going on the right lines, then go on to develop the idea to its full potential. The main cost would be the tutors, and the beauty of that was he would be dealing with academics there, and they hadn’t a clue when it came to commercial matters. It simply couldn’t be simpler.

It was almost as good a business opportunity as the first double- sided nude jigsaw.

 

Napoleon said the best ideas only take about a minute to formulate, and he was right.  Within that time span Ken had decided to call himself a ‘Consultant Educationalist’, designed his visiting card, and was well into mentally drafting the fancy literature he would need.  He would also want a decent accommodation address in the centre of town.  It wouldn’t cost all that much, and as soon as he started getting his hands on the deposit he’d ask to reserve places on the course, he’d be in funds again.

 

Then he came down to earth. He wasn’t likely to get any of that lot on tick, and all he had in his pocket at that moment was the piece of toast he’d sneaked out with him from his breakfast that morning. It could be his lunch or his dinner, but either way it was not negotiable currency.

 

It is at times like these when the really hard decisions in a man’s life have to be taken, that his true stature is revealed. George Washington found he couldn’t tell a lie, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton found they could.  Ken realised he now had a Rubicon of his own to cross and quite surprised himself at the speed he got over it without so much as getting anything wet in the process. His sudden need for stake money was more than enough to sweep all other considerations aside. Gone instantly was his life long resolve to always stand on his own feet and never accept a handout from anyone ever. His contempt for welfare state benefits had previously been total, but not any more. Easing his conscience by reasoning he would only be using the money for business purposes and not simply to live on, he made the decision to ‘sign on’ and claim the cash that was fairly due to him after all the years he had spent stamping his own National Insurance cards.

 

What is more, he would do it that very morning. 

 

 

 

Chapters

4

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Cly wrote 1352 days ago

Hi Eric,
As I've stated in previous comments, I think you're an absolutely brilliant writer! This book is hilarious, when I wasn't laughing out loud, I was at least smirking to myself. I was drawn into your story, both of them, not only by the vivid descriptions, but by the ease with which you tell the story, not to mention the surprise developments, one after another, each more bizarre than the last. I have not been this excited about a book in very long time. As far as comedy, it may very well be the best I ever read. Thank you for a most enjoyable read!
Kind Regards
Cly

Jared wrote 1595 days ago

Eric, this is a wonderful premise and how well you carry it off. I knew from reading your bio page, which is simply brilliant, that I'd love this book. You have an instinct for comedy, whether it be broad or subtle, and the skill to express yourself to maximum effect. I've read all you've posted, enjoyed it all hugely, and placed an order with Amazon for the completed book. You'll have probably guessed by now that I've loved your book.
I found nothing that warranted bringing to your attention; this is writing of professional quality, honed to perfection and an object lesson to many of the members of this site, myself most definitely included, in how to present a piece of work that requires no further editorial attention. I was also pleased to see you had included "rumbustious" as one of your tags. A splendid description of many aspects of your work. As a counterpoint, I'd also add "sensitivity."
Backed with enthusiasm.
Jared.

sodyt wrote 1604 days ago

I'm up to chapter 9 and I can barely wait to continue. This is a masterful story-within-a-story. And did I say my face hurts? From laughing? I'm driving my family nuts -- "Come here, you've gotta read this" or "Listen to this paragraph or this line."
And it's not that you've created outlandish characters or situations (not much anyway) - it's grounded and real and that makes it even funnier.

Backed with wild enthusiasm - checkbook in hand waiting for the first copy to hit Borders.

Diane
The Guardian Chronicles: Seduction


Hi Diane.
Thanks for backing D of E.. and for the heartwarming, rib tickling, ego massaging comments. You have made an old man quite pleased !!!
Assuming you are not pulling my leg, Degree of Exposure is available on Amazon Books. (Borders is apparently now going bust) Actually several kind Authonomists have already bought copies for Xmas for family and friends.
Have WLd your opus and will be back to you witjh comments shortly. Eric

Maria Luisa Lang wrote 1692 days ago

Dear Eric, I’m having a wonderful time with this highly entertaining book: I enjoy how you interweave Jack’s novel into yours, using the evolution of the latter as a parallel to Jack’s involvement with Janice and Frank. Indeed, along with two stories containing hilarious characters and their antics, you also manage to include a very accurate demonstration of how fiction is written.

Your own writing would impress even Frank: the narrative is vivid, quick, and filled with telling images and phrases; the dialogue is replete with realistically superficial exchanges that pass for communication, but become painfully funny when caught in print.

Characters that look and sound as funny as yours are truly rare: it can’t simply be that you meet particularly peculiar people, so I must attribute to you a knack for identifying human peculiarities generally. I also see a fertile, deviously comic imagination at work here: you brilliantly select and exaggerate to achieve the fullest effect, and, as with all masters of comedy, your timing is perfect.

An extremely high degree of pleasure. On my shelf. Maria, The Pharaoh’s Cat

Mandy Lee wrote 29 days ago

Dear Sodyt,
Very funny first chapter. You seem to have left this website alone for a bit. You shouldn't. I'll read more. I like being entertained by funny, intelligent blokes!
Mandy
Stupid Cupid

sodyt wrote 200 days ago



Hi Sam Thanks for your kind and helpful comments on Degree of Exposure. I have WLd your book and will comment on it very shortly. Cheers mate. Eric

This is an extremly funny book. Very sardonic, even satricial. Keenly observed observations about the human world. I'm sure i said something about liking the cover and Blackpooltower/Northpool too...which I have visited a few times myself like many others. I love the whole novel within a novel idea explored via creative writing classes.

The opening chapters are extremly well polished. There were just a few very minor nits along the way:

Chapter 10 after the 3rd paragraph the break is longer than the others to the 4th.
Comma after 'in the pub'? Same sentence has 'all' close together. Maybe delete or re-phrase one of them?
Comma after 'to the stage' at the end?

Chapter 9 Should it be 'intending to use...'?

Chapter7 'Like Hitler invading Russia...' indent needs to come in a few space to the margin i think.

As I say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first ten chapters today. This has the potnetial to me a comical masterpiece. High stars. I'd love it if you could offer your thoughts on 'Dax' but only if you have the time. i know everyone is mad busy these days.

All the best, Sam Barclay ('Dax')

Sam Barclay wrote 200 days ago

Hi Eric...I'll try again...the first time I sent this the computer froze. It was more detailed originally but here goes:

This is an extremly funny book. Very sardonic, even satricial. Keenly observed observations about the human world. I'm sure i said something about liking the cover and Blackpooltower/Northpool too...which I have visited a few times myself like many others. I love the whole novel within a novel idea explored via creative writing classes.

The opening chapters are extremly well polished. There were just a few very minor nits along the way:

Chapter 10 after the 3rd paragraph the break is longer than the others to the 4th.
Comma after 'in the pub'? Same sentence has 'all' close together. Maybe delete or re-phrase one of them?
Comma after 'to the stage' at the end?

Chapter 9 Should it be 'intending to use...'?

Chapter7 'Like Hitler invading Russia...' indent needs to come in a few space to the margin i think.

As I say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first ten chapters today. This has the potnetial to me a comical masterpiece. High stars. I'd love it if you could offer your thoughts on 'Dax' but only if you have the time. i know everyone is mad busy these days.

All the best, Sam Barclay ('Dax')

sodyt wrote 234 days ago
sodyt wrote 234 days ago
sodyt wrote 234 days ago

Hi Maeve.

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to give me such a very useful crit of my book. I really am most grateful.

The fact that you have already hit the Ed'sdesk with one book and are about to do it again shows that comedy writing can make it, tho seemingly I can't !

I have self published this book and had a few sales in paperback and on Kindle. It has now to been
taken up by an american publisher and will come out here at the end of the year, but I really don't fancy its chances. More British north country style really than any Yankee flavour.

Look forward to your comedy listing. Could do with a few laughs myself !

Cheers

Eric

 
Eric,
I read the whole book as you posted it and enjoyed it thoroughly. 
I must say that this is one of the most consistently funny and witty books that I have read on Authonomy, and has inspired me to put together a list of the funniest books that I have read on he site, which this book will definitely be on. 
Comedy is a funny thing, and it is easy to find people  to disagree on what qualifies as funny. But this is very cleverly written, and so I think it that will be enjoyed by many with different tastes. 
I especially enjoyed your story within a story mechanism. It gives both stories a slightly whimsical tone which I found highly enjoyable. It also allowed you to bring in completely different styles. I particularly liked the fairy tale you have Frank write, a fun story in its own right. 
Hook and plot- I was not so certain about the beginning of this book. The classified add was a bit of a suspect start, and the mise en scene did not really promise too exciting a read. The real hook came in chapter two, with the very funny and well told (but non sequitur)  story about the Major and his indiscretion. This story showcases your wit and comedic timing wonderfully, and was perfectly delightful. 
This having been said, by the end of these two chapters I was not sure what to expect. On the one hand, this could have been a collection of short stories. On the other,  the story itself could have been completely incidental to the main plot, which could have been the love triangle with Jack, Frank and Janice. This is to say that, while in the whole I find your book delightful, I think the beginning is a bit  unassuming. It is like one of those restaurants they have in the Mediterranean, with dingy entrances leading to magnificent courtyards. 
I am not sure what I would suggest to make the start a bit more gripping. I find I don't like Frank as he is presented at the outset, and so the idea of a rivalry between him and Jack for Janice's affections did not seem very appetising as a subject, so one suggestion might be considering not focusing on either Frank or Janice in the first chapter, but devote it to a shorter, more general description of circumstances, and jump to chapter 2 faster. However, this removes the first chapter hook altogether, which I am not sure is what you want, so perhaps there is nothing for it.
After we pass chapter two, the development of the story within the story goes extremely well.  I love the inevitability of it, how you become compelled to give the Major a background, so you do so in chapter 3, and the need for a sympathetic lead bringing about the creation of Ken, in 4. From then on, the plot of the inner book hooks extremely well, with Ken early on getting himself into such a fantastic mess that we cannot help to read on to find out how he will extricate himself. 
In the real world the story is, of course, driven by the romance. I have to say that to a great degree I found myself reading through these sections to get back to his story. This is not a huge deal, and you probably don't want the two stories vying for attention too much, but I did sometimes feel that the Janice/Frank story could be a bit more nuanced. A bit more double entendre might make these sections more fun, and I really wanted the whole thing to have turned out to be a mistake- that he was in fact Janice's brother-in-law or something. That's just a thought which you should feel free to toss in the bin. 
By contrast, I really liked the side story about the computer programmer gone rogue.  It was great to see this socially inapt and somewhat daft character taking the system for a ride. Part of me felt disappointed that this subplot was not extended further.
Of the story within the story, I have very few criticisms plot-wise. I thought that  it was well paced and entertaining.  My only objection was to the ending, which was a little bit too neat for my taste. I think that the etiquette of romance writing requires the fictional Janice to get angry at Ken before the end of the book. She seems to take the revelation that he has been lying to her all along quite in stride. A bit of wrath would not have gone amiss. I was also surprised that she did not find out that he had hot-wired her car and taken it for a joy ride. The would have been a good opportunity to have her lose her temper.
Character development - I think that part of what makes the story so funny for me is that the characters are so very vibrant. Your two main characters, one in the real and the other in the fictional world, are two faces of the same individual. This allows us to meet him in more contexts that would normally be available. Minor and supporting characters are deliciously described for the most part.  Dr Zimmerman is such a well-rounded and well described character that I could probably read a whole book about him. The landlady and her daughter are almost classic literary characters, described easily in broad strokes. The Major is a fabulous comic character, with clear, though simple, motivations. Angela, again, is a great character in her own right, as are the inn staff, Sam, Wally, the coppers,  and the plethora supporting characters. 
Frankly, the two characters that I had the least feeling for were Frank and real world Janice. I think this is largely because the separation of the fictional and the real universes keep you from expounding too much on these two real world characters, so they pale in comparison to the fictional ones. However, I think that you limit your character development of these two characters a bit by the fact that  you want to keep their relationship a mystery for the sake o some romantic tension. Again, I think I would rather Frank to be perfectly adorable and for Jack to doubt his chances, only to find hat he had nothing to worry about. That would permit us getting more CD of this pivotal character. Just a thought.
Mechanics and style -  In general, this is very well written and I had no objections at all with your style. It is full of subtle and witty twists which fit in very well with the plot, and I found that it was very pleasant to read on the whole.
On mechanics,  something strange happens in chapter six and a couple of other places, where the beginning of the chapter gets repeated. 
I was not reading for typos, so I found very few. In Chapter 11, you talk about the temperature decreasing when they  turn up the heat. It should be increasing. Also, in chapter 20 you make mention of German Marks, which probably still existed when you wrote the book, but no longer do.
I think this book deserves to be doing much better than it is doing. I give it top stars and will put it on my shelf at the next shuffle.
Best of luck with it, 
Maeve

Maevesleibhin wrote 234 days ago

Degree of Exposure. 
Eric,
I read the whole book as you posted it and enjoyed it thoroughly. 
I must say that this is one of the most consistently funny and witty books that I have read on Authonomy, and has inspired me to put together a list of the funniest books that I have read on he site, which this book will definitely be on. 
Comedy is a funny thing, and it is easy to find people  to disagree on what qualifies as funny. But this is very cleverly written, and so I think it that will be enjoyed by many with different tastes. 
I especially enjoyed your story within a story mechanism. It gives both stories a slightly whimsical tone which I found highly enjoyable. It also allowed you to bring in completely different styles. I particularly liked the fairy tale you have Frank write, a fun story in its own right. 
Hook and plot- I was not so certain about the beginning of this book. The classified add was a bit of a suspect start, and the mise en scene did not really promise too exciting a read. The real hook came in chapter two, with the very funny and well told (but non sequitur)  story about the Major and his indiscretion. This story showcases your wit and comedic timing wonderfully, and was perfectly delightful. 
This having been said, by the end of these two chapters I was not sure what to expect. On the one hand, this could have been a collection of short stories. On the other,  the story itself could have been completely incidental to the main plot, which could have been the love triangle with Jack, Frank and Janice. This is to say that, while in the whole I find your book delightful, I think the beginning is a bit  unassuming. It is like one of those restaurants they have in the Mediterranean, with dingy entrances leading to magnificent courtyards. 
I am not sure what I would suggest to make the start a bit more gripping. I find I don't like Frank as he is presented at the outset, and so the idea of a rivalry between him and Jack for Janice's affections did not seem very appetising as a subject, so one suggestion might be considering not focusing on either Frank or Janice in the first chapter, but devote it to a shorter, more general description of circumstances, and jump to chapter 2 faster. However, this removes the first chapter hook altogether, which I am not sure is what you want, so perhaps there is nothing for it.
After we pass chapter two, the development of the story within the story goes extremely well.  I love the inevitability of it, how you become compelled to give the Major a background, so you do so in chapter 3, and the need for a sympathetic lead bringing about the creation of Ken, in 4. From then on, the plot of the inner book hooks extremely well, with Ken early on getting himself into such a fantastic mess that we cannot help to read on to find out how he will extricate himself. 
In the real world the story is, of course, driven by the romance. I have to say that to a great degree I found myself reading through these sections to get back to his story. This is not a huge deal, and you probably don't want the two stories vying for attention too much, but I did sometimes feel that the Janice/Frank story could be a bit more nuanced. A bit more double entendre might make these sections more fun, and I really wanted the whole thing to have turned out to be a mistake- that he was in fact Janice's brother-in-law or something. That's just a thought which you should feel free to toss in the bin. 
By contrast, I really liked the side story about the computer programmer gone rogue.  It was great to see this socially inapt and somewhat daft character taking the system for a ride. Part of me felt disappointed that this subplot was not extended further.
Of the story within the story, I have very few criticisms plot-wise. I thought that  it was well paced and entertaining.  My only objection was to the ending, which was a little bit too neat for my taste. I think that the etiquette of romance writing requires the fictional Janice to get angry at Ken before the end of the book. She seems to take the revelation that he has been lying to her all along quite in stride. A bit of wrath would not have gone amiss. I was also surprised that she did not find out that he had hot-wired her car and taken it for a joy ride. The would have been a good opportunity to have her lose her temper.
Character development - I think that part of what makes the story so funny for me is that the characters are so very vibrant. Your two main characters, one in the real and the other in the fictional world, are two faces of the same individual. This allows us to meet him in more contexts that would normally be available. Minor and supporting characters are deliciously described for the most part.  Dr Zimmerman is such a well-rounded and well described character that I could probably read a whole book about him. The landlady and her daughter are almost classic literary characters, described easily in broad strokes. The Major is a fabulous comic character, with clear, though simple, motivations. Angela, again, is a great character in her own right, as are the inn staff, Sam, Wally, the coppers,  and the plethora supporting characters. 
Frankly, the two characters that I had the least feeling for were Frank and real world Janice. I think this is largely because the separation of the fictional and the real universes keep you from expounding too much on these two real world characters, so they pale in comparison to the fictional ones. However, I think that you limit your character development of these two characters a bit by the fact that  you want to keep their relationship a mystery for the sake o some romantic tension. Again, I think I would rather Frank to be perfectly adorable and for Jack to doubt his chances, only to find hat he had nothing to worry about. That would permit us getting more CD of this pivotal character. Just a thought.
Mechanics and style -  In general, this is very well written and I had no objections at all with your style. It is full of subtle and witty twists which fit in very well with the plot, and I found that it was very pleasant to read on the whole.
On mechanics,  something strange happens in chapter six and a couple of other places, where the beginning of the chapter gets repeated. 
I was not reading for typos, so I found very few. In Chapter 11, you talk about the temperature decreasing when they  turn up the heat. It should be increasing. Also, in chapter 20 you make mention of German Marks, which probably still existed when you wrote the book, but no longer do.
I think this book deserves to be doing much better than it is doing. I give it top stars and will put it on my shelf at the next shuffle.
Best of luck with it, 
Maeve

LondonFog wrote 340 days ago

Hi Eric,

Only had chance to read the first chapter but i was impressed with your skills. The way you introduce the characters and the playful way you expose soft stereotypes , the tightness of the story is also something to be admired. From what i've read so far i am confident in saying i will be back for more. Definatley on my watch list!

Tom
Paradise, Volume I

Tornbridge wrote 356 days ago

Degree of Exposure
By Eric Newman

This is a funny opening (ooh err missus) and effortless prose. I like the line about not fancying the women on the antiques road show who know all about the toys. I liked the later comparison between life’s problems now in the 70’s with Al Queda vs the TUC.

The comic style to this is obvious and it felt like putting on a pair of lovely comedy slippers. Like Tom Sharpe and even maybe the old TV series’ ever decreasing circles’, there is much wit to be tapped in the everyday life of middle England.

Having read a few chapters, I then read the bio and a couple of things fell into place. Firstly, the depth of experience you bring to the page - let’s face it you’re no spring chicken and likely remember running home up that cobbled hill from the mine with a white loaf under your arm. Secondly, you’re no stranger to writing.

Best of luck with this, Eric. I’ll give you 5 stars just for fighting in the war.

Tornbridge
The Washington Adventure

Iva P. wrote 483 days ago

Dear Eric,

After reading the catchy long pitch, I had a quick look at the first chapter. I found good stuff there and I expect to return after Christmas to read more, but for the moment I have the following suggestion:

“I certainly hadn’t expected meeting up with anyone like her in a place like this.”

The question - what kind of a place is it? - is not answered for the next five or six paragraphs. Don’t assume that the chapter title explains everything. I suggest that instead of hanging the reader in a vacuum, you should replace “place like this” with “creative writing class”. Now you have the reader instantly grounded with three simple words.

Hope this helps,

Iva

Brian G Chambers wrote 485 days ago

Oh Eric what a howler. The second chapter with them in the boat had me in stiches. I have a very visual imagination and could see exactly what you were writing. The line where she loosened her hair and let it flow, to mid ear lenghth was really funny. Then she kicked their clothes overboard. Great great stuff. You'll do well with this. Six stars from me and going on my WL.
Brian.

Janet/Helen wrote 493 days ago

Degree of Exposure. chapters 1/3 inc.
Has this book been away for its holidays? What are you Authonomy readers doing for goodness sake? Why is this not on 300 bookshelves? It is superb writing, hilarious, and just makes you laugh from one line to the next. Is it only me who likes to have a really good laugh?
6 stars, on watchlist for a shelfspace at the end of this month. Janet

Janet/Helen
The Stranger In My Life

Kit Fox wrote 495 days ago

Hi Eric,

You have had heaps of great comments on this so hardly need mine. Oh if you insist then. I love your style of writing, it is both witty and sharp. Love the characters and the idea of telling the story within the story, great idea. If I'm being critical, I would like to see more description of place and people to compliment the voices and situations. This should really have hit the Editors desk so I will hold a book shelf eviction ceremony and give you my backing.

I was a soldier once too. Excused boots rather than rifle - probably to stop me running away ;-)

All the best

Kit Fox

Software wrote 500 days ago

Oh, I like this. Its irreverent, pithy and precise with its deconstruction of myths and holy cows. It makes the funny bone ache from the off with a lively creation of instantly recognizable characters and the unforeseen affairs that overtake them. Lot of careful craft has gone into making this contemporary comedy both engaging and a page turner. Recommended and highly starred.

Clive Radford
Doghouse Blues

GOTHIC-PAGE-TURNER wrote 626 days ago

Eric,
The opening had me laughing immediately - own Teeth, haha! The initial dialogue between Janice and Jack is natural/believable.
Love it when the techy says 'My mother says I should get out more.'
I've only read first chapter but will definitely read more. Why? Because this is comical, fresh, witty.
Eric - you're a great writer - I didnt even pick up on any typo's or grammar/pov problems. Fabulous. AJB

sodyt wrote 627 days ago

Your writing is witty, fluid and all around well put together. I appreciate your sense of humor. You've clearly made good use of your decades of practice, and the fact that you've maintained your sharpness is reassuring for those of us trailing behind you. I couldn't find anything to nitpick at all, darn it! Best of luck with this.
Tod
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink/



Hi Tod. Many thanks for your kind comments on Degree of Exposure. Much appreciated.
I have WLd your book and will get back to you on it soonest. Loved the title which
promises much inventiveness within.. Cheers Eric

Tod Schneider wrote 627 days ago

Your writing is witty, fluid and all around well put together. I appreciate your sense of humor. You've clearly made good use of your decades of practice, and the fact that you've maintained your sharpness is reassuring for those of us trailing behind you. I couldn't find anything to nitpick at all, darn it! Best of luck with this.
Tod
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink/

Odette67 wrote 629 days ago

HI Eric,

i wondered if you fancied swapping books, comments etc. its taken me a while, i think imight nearly have the hang of it now?
I have put your book on my watchlist and have a read in a little while

many thanks

kate

off the rails

back to you

Colin Neville wrote 656 days ago

I like the way that this is a story within a story. The creative writing class gives Jack an opportunity to blend real life with fiction, as fiction and his present life combine in his story.

The novel starts in a subtle way and it soon became clear that the witty personal ads were part of a creative writing class. I enjoyed the writing class scenes very much indeed: inhabited by recognisable students, and certainly a recognisable tutor - both in his personality and the lazy way he ran the class.

I liked the emerging background storylines of Jack and Janice, who felt very real characters to me. The dialogue in both the evening class, and within the inner story work well too, and there were some very funny and recognisable sections - particularly in the Jobcentre and at the university (chapter 6 has been loaded twice).

The writing is assured and confident, although felt that too many exclamation marks was reducing the desired effect.

Books including scenes in creative writing classes are often of interest to readers interested in the creative writing process, so I felt, therefore, that the author could break up the inner stories a little more by describing or reflecting on the process, e.g. telling us how he is going about writing the scene; his feelings at the time etc., then returning to the inner story. I felt this would add a multi-dimensional structure to these sections and would also add additional interest to those readers interested in writing. It could also show us how Jack is relating/linking his current emotions to the inner story.

Engaging work; I particularly liked the two-tier level of writing here - a good idea.

Colin Neville

sandy-1 wrote 700 days ago

DEGREE OF EXPOSURE

I love the sense of humour!
I loved the beginning, it created a great picture in my mind, and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next in the second chapter, it was so funny.
This is a great page-turner, its well written and extremely funny.
Highly starred!
Ruby Middleton
'Will Ryan'

JamesRevoir wrote 704 days ago

Hello Eric:

Although Degree of Exposure is not my normal genre, I have to say that you have been uniquely gifted with a tremendous sense of humor. It is very rare that I encounter a book in which every character is actually likeable, but you have achieved this distinction in this book.

Best of luck and success.

James

Tod Schneider wrote 715 days ago

A well written tale, with snappy dialog and good pacing. The interwoven stories work well.
Best of luck with this!
--Tod
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink/

patio wrote 719 days ago

this is a excellent piece of narrative. i'm hooked

sodyt wrote 722 days ago

{Degree of Exposure} – Eric Newman
Chapter 1:

I like the idea and the way you open this book, with snappy dialogue that makes the reader jump into the scene. The first person works well, and I like the approach you take. Cleverly done!

Here are just some detailed notes I made, that I hope you will find useful! All humble suggestions, feel free to take or leave anything :)

Para ‘I certainly hadn’t expected meeting up…’ → the second sentence has two ‘was’ in it, and I feel it could be smoother. Perhaps reword these sentences to something like: ‘She was a lot younger than me, probably mid-twenties, looking stunning in her stylish clothes. Out of my league to be honest. Not that I’m getting past it, you understand.’ → Because of the perspective, ‘probably’ implies this is his best guess. Furthermore, I cut off the sentence at ‘out of my league’ because I thought a short phrase mimics thought process more. Put a comma in as well in sentence ‘not that I’m getting past it, you understand’ also to create some more variation in tone and rhythm.

Para ‘So what we were both looking for…’ → sentence feels a little wordy and I don’t feel that ‘along presumably’ works well in that order. How about: ‘So what we were both looking for, presumably along with everyone else in the room, was expert guidance from a published author willing to share his skills.’ → ‘with us’ is implicit, because they are the subject. I also changed around ‘along presumably’ to ‘presumably aong.’

How about just simply; ‘And we got Frank O’Malley.’ → shorter and more impact. Removed ‘was’ as well, which feels passive. I also don’t think that ‘what we got’ makes too much sense, because Frank is a person, so it should be ‘who’, then again that doesn’t fit the sentence…

Maybe some more dialogue modifiers in the section of dialogue beginning ‘No. This is a first for me.’ → Then again your writing is quite clear, and I understand wanting to just have short dialogue statements to keep the pace moving! :) Either way it works

How about; ‘Middle-aged women made up the rest of the class’ → eliminates passive voice ‘was made up’ and makes the women the subject of the sentence. Just a thought

But overall, a balanced beginning that engages the reader. Very well written too, I’m just an extremely fussy person :P so the above suggestions are all incredibly nit-picky! I look forward to reading more of this when I get the chance :)

Cara
The Awakening: Dawn of Destruction



Hi Cara .
Thanks for taking the trouble to give me your detailed comments on Chapter One of my book.

The problem is that I write with a certain style and flow. What you say is perfectly valid, but I run the risk of overwriting if I start to polish it to the extent you suggest.

As you will see from many of the other comments, it is not a problem for most people.

I have Wld your book, and will get back to you on it shortly, tho as you have spotted. fantasy is really not my thing. Regards Eric

Cara Gold wrote 722 days ago

{Degree of Exposure} – Eric Newman
Chapter 1:

I like the idea and the way you open this book, with snappy dialogue that makes the reader jump into the scene. The first person works well, and I like the approach you take. Cleverly done!

Here are just some detailed notes I made, that I hope you will find useful! All humble suggestions, feel free to take or leave anything :)

Para ‘I certainly hadn’t expected meeting up…’ → the second sentence has two ‘was’ in it, and I feel it could be smoother. Perhaps reword these sentences to something like: ‘She was a lot younger than me, probably mid-twenties, looking stunning in her stylish clothes. Out of my league to be honest. Not that I’m getting past it, you understand.’ → Because of the perspective, ‘probably’ implies this is his best guess. Furthermore, I cut off the sentence at ‘out of my league’ because I thought a short phrase mimics thought process more. Put a comma in as well in sentence ‘not that I’m getting past it, you understand’ also to create some more variation in tone and rhythm.

Para ‘So what we were both looking for…’ → sentence feels a little wordy and I don’t feel that ‘along presumably’ works well in that order. How about: ‘So what we were both looking for, presumably along with everyone else in the room, was expert guidance from a published author willing to share his skills.’ → ‘with us’ is implicit, because they are the subject. I also changed around ‘along presumably’ to ‘presumably aong.’

How about just simply; ‘And we got Frank O’Malley.’ → shorter and more impact. Removed ‘was’ as well, which feels passive. I also don’t think that ‘what we got’ makes too much sense, because Frank is a person, so it should be ‘who’, then again that doesn’t fit the sentence…

Maybe some more dialogue modifiers in the section of dialogue beginning ‘No. This is a first for me.’ → Then again your writing is quite clear, and I understand wanting to just have short dialogue statements to keep the pace moving! :) Either way it works

How about; ‘Middle-aged women made up the rest of the class’ → eliminates passive voice ‘was made up’ and makes the women the subject of the sentence. Just a thought

But overall, a balanced beginning that engages the reader. Very well written too, I’m just an extremely fussy person :P so the above suggestions are all incredibly nit-picky! I look forward to reading more of this when I get the chance :)

Cara
The Awakening: Dawn of Destruction

Brigitte_2 wrote 725 days ago

Hi Eric, great idea for an introduction to your story. You nearly lost me with the introduction, which was too much home turf until the story took off and I want to read more.
deserves a good star rating and the rest.
Brigitte
You will dance again!

fictionguy wrote 725 days ago

This is very good and a sense of humor at last on thism site. I took to it more because I taught creative writing in college for a few years and after I retired did some teaching like that person, but I was never a hippie, though I like some of the music. Not all. You're right about couples. If you ever feel down, go toi the local marriage license office and watch the couples coming out. You'll have no idea who these people ever met or got together,
after while, you will be rolling on the floor laughing.
I like the writing style, the insights and of course, the humor. I give it four stars and will probably come back to read the rest when things calm down here.. Let me know when it is published. I will spread the word.

Tom Bye wrote 727 days ago

Hello Eric-
book Degree of Exposure-

~~read the first five chapters and then some more at random-
the cover alone is a pull in- that hat on the top of Blackpool tower - like it-

it's a very good book laced as it is with humour- of more interest to those of us, who at any stage
attended a creative writing class-

Liked this one with Frank at the helm as he thinks of the class as two divisions- the writers and the non writers-
It's written in an updated style that moves along at a fast pace-

Really enjoyed what i have read and it did have me smiling to myself-

good luck with this most enjoyable read-

Tom Bye
book- from hugs to kisses-
have a feeling that your might enjoy chapters 36-38-41- please read if you can- thanks

benedict wrote 728 days ago

Hi Eric,

this is for the read swap we agreed to.

This is great fun. I'm really enjoying it. A brilliant, witty opening that made me laugh out loud sets up an extremely funny story.

Having taught and participated in them, I can very much recognise the creative writing class atmosphere and the teacher is quite an intriguing character from the outset. I hope you continue to develop typical Cre Writ class scenarios as the book continues - over precious/sensitive writers, pretentiousness, endless emotional poetry, making people cry (something I've achieved more than once). It is a situation ripe for comedy and I will have to read on to find out.

Here are my close comments on the first two chapters
Fantastic opening
What about - Aspiring Actress seeks Youthful, Passionate, Handsome, Multi- Millionaire OCTOGENERIAN. Recent photo and Certified Accounts required.’

I certainly hadn’t expected TO MEET up
- infinitive after expect

two ladies on the ‘Antiques Road Show’
– second quotation mark

The ice breaking exercise he’d set us to start off with was quite a neat idea THOUGH. IT did serve to get us all chatting – Was a very long sentence – better divided up like this into two?

some of them can be attracted to A ‘bit of rough’ like him.
-also, maybe ‘lecturer’s perks’ doesn’t need the punctuation, it automatically makes people stop and read it ‘ironically’ and you already have another 'one in the same sentence.’ - see what I mean?

‘So what had you got in mind?’ = ‘So what sort of thing did you have in mind?’
- perhaps sounds more natural?

In this chapter I found Frank quite likeable, is that what you intended?

Ch2
,all manner of persons DESIRE all other manner of persons
-you’re not talking about love, your talking about attraction and sex.

continue to happen, ad hoc, ad infinitum, ad NAUSEAM.
-typo? (I think, I don't speak Latin, is this a special conjugation?) but I also moved the ad nauseam to the end as I feel it’s the real cynical punch line
-very funny!

was just such an archetypal case of empathy at first sight. They shared just about a
-two justs

Popeye and Olive Oyl. Suddenly there was no tomorrow, only now.
-full stop in middle

satisfy their passions. WITHIN moments they had arranged a tryst for that very afternoon, which was the earliest time the Major could get AWAY.
-full stop and deleted words at end for punchiness

swainette nevertheless
all-seeing
local rate
-unnecessary spaces in each phrase

Thornton would still be incapable in some pub
– incapacitated maybe? Incapable’s not clear

What are the ping pong balls for? Am I being naive?

Sea Goddess – no capitals also maybe sea nymph would be more fitting –she seems to be submissive in her fantasies

too much for any woman to bear. – to bear would be negative, to resist/handle would work better

All this experience he now intended TO BRING
-infinitive after intend

anything she had ever EXPERIENCED before, and in so doing his own

feelings would be transported to the very highest level the depths his depravities were capable of descending into.
-mixed metaphor intentional? Descending to the highest level...?

Too gay an abandonment IT turned out, as in her ecstasy she kicked the bag (comma) containing all their clothes (comma) clean over the side.
– jarring as you have to read it a couple of times to realise you’re not talking about clean clothes. Maybe add the two commas to slow the sentence down or delete the words between commas.

Really looking forward to reading more, let me know if my comments are helpful - though of course they are just suggestions.

highly starred!

Benedict

EllieMcG wrote 728 days ago

I won't lie. I started reading because I thought you had the funniest profile on authonomy. "Double Incontinence," indeed. With high expectations, I began Degree of Exposure. You didn't disappoint.
Your story-within-a-story in chapter 2 is perfectly ridiculous. "affection for the very young and the very dead." I've never laughed at a joke about paedophilia before, so I'm not sure if I should congratulate you, or despise you for making me feel terrible about myself for laughing aloud. The descriptions are suitably ludicrous, often hilariously revolting.
I'm up to chapter 4. I occasionally have difficulty following the second-story. Though I get the feeling this is purposeful.
Overall, great stuff. Six stars from me.
Elspeth

Margaret0307 wrote 728 days ago

A brilliant idea to weave one story into another and this has been done very skilfully. This book is well-written and very entertaining. It is also clear the author understands human nature! The various characters Frank, Janice, the Major, Ken, Mavis etc are very ‘real’ in many ways. The Major’s sexual fantasies; the rivalry between Frank and Jack regarding Janice – and having to wait several chapters before Jack finally asks Janice out; the perceptive comment about ‘how quickly people can adapt to sudden changes in their circumstances’ with the example of the lottery and Ken’s behaviour and much more besides.

It is also a great idea to then bring Janice into the book thus bringing the two stories together.

Whilst this is not usually the sort of book I would choose to read I can nevertheless still be impressed by the talent of the writer. I have rated it highly and would summarise it as witty, perceptive, entertaining and very well written.

Margaret
How do I know I know God?

scoz512 wrote 728 days ago

Eric, thanks for takig me up on the offer. I gobbled up the first two chapters and then there was an error when I got to chapter 3. I skipped to chapter 4 (stupid-I know) and got a bit lost...duh! so I will have to come back and check in on chapter 3 again some time.

But so far let me just say that your book is very light-hearted and fun. I enjoyed it from the get-go and I'm certain the rest will continue to deliver. Jack's voice is easy and honest, but not overdone in the first person like some new writing tends to be. I like his point of view, the "middle-aged women" in the class described as "groupies" had be cracking up. In short-he's believable and likable which is certainly important in an MC. I also love the writing within a writing. Not that this idea has never been done, but you don't see it very often and you do a fantastic job. I like the way Jack writes as well as thinks.
I would only say that there are a few moments where a comma could come in use (e.g.) very beginning "out of my league, to be honest" and "Not that I'm getting past it, you understand"

Also, I want to know a little more about Jack right off the bat that doesn't have to deal with the class. I'm only saying this after reading a few chapaters and I am most certain that you do more of this later on, I just wanted to point out that I'm alreadt itching for more details. Otherwise, I might get the feeling I'm back in college taking a creative writing class myself. Not so bad-but I want more of Jack's life.

That's all for now. Sorry I didnt 'get further yet, I just got distracted with that error on chapter 3

Sara

sodyt wrote 729 days ago

It was your bio that attracted me to your book. I think mine may need a bit of work. You are a very clever writer with too much wit for one man. This is a keeper, which means it must be bought in hard back and kept on your book shelf to be revisited time and time again. While I wait for it to be published I will give it space on my virtual shelf and continue to read and laugh.
My very best wishes,
Olive.

Hi Olive. Your wait is ov er!!! My book is available at a modest price, second hand, on Amazon books uk, alsoon Kindle. Thanks for the kind review. I have Wld Your book and will be back to you on it shortly. Cheers Eric

sodyt wrote 729 days ago

The structure of this story around the writer attending a writing class really works for me. I'm interesting in the class - having been to a few! - and enjoying the comedy there. It's great then, to see how the story within a story develops in response to his attending the class. Very clever!
I've read to the end of chapter 4 so far and I have lots of favorite bits but the sexual energy created by the Major's mustache will stay with me for some time!
One of the great fun reads on Authonomy, I think.
Best,
Kate
The Licenser

Hi Kate . Thanks for the splendid review. I have a bit of a moustache myself, tho its withering a bit now.... much like the rest of me !!! I have WLd your book and will get back to you on it soon. Cheers Eric

sodyt wrote 729 days ago

I found it hard to read it online - I wanted to read it in paperback - on the beach to get the full impact of the humour, the interwoven story. I hope you do well.
All teh best
Bridget
The Road from Makhonwja



Hi Spice. Assuming you are not pulling my leg, my book is available, at a modest price second hand, on amazon books uk also on Kindle. Have wld your book and will read it soon. Cheers eric

sodyt wrote 729 days ago

Dear Eric,
It is quite obvious from perusing a few of the comments below that you have won over some very fervent fans and there is no wondering why when one reads your book. It is surely one of the cleverest stories I have ever read. To say I am in love with it is an understatement. Awe and adoration get a bit closer.
With that said, I intend to prove my devotion to your work by pointing out a few mistakes that others have probably skipped over in their enthusiasm to read more of your fantastic story. I only point these out as I am sure that you will want to correct them once they come to your attention. They are minor typing errors so fixing them will only add a bit of extra shine to what is already a brilliant work of art. Here goes!
Chapter #3
1.After all her mam kept going on about her eating peanut butter...
I think a comma following ALL will make this sentence easier to read.
1a. After all, her mam kept going on about her eating peanut butter...
2.but all set to fire the first shot in her mother's campaign get Ken firmly...
There obviously needs to be the word TO inserted after CAMPAIGN.
2a. but all set to fire the first shot in her mother's campaign to get Ken firmly...
3.Catching him in still bed for warmth and comfort..
You want to rearrange IN and STILL.
3a. Catching him still in bed for warmth and comfort...
4. ...to surround him with sufficient of her cleavage to make any escape...
You want to insert a word after SUFFICIENT. I'm guessing you wanted to write AMOUNT here.
4a. ...to surround him with sufficient amount of her cleavage to make any escape...

Okay, that's enough for now. I haven't read beyond chapter three but I certainly intend to do that in the near future. Eric, I would be deeply honored if you would perchance take a look at my humble offering, What We Live For. It is my first attempt at writing anything akin to a book so don't expect too much. Still, your feedback would be very much appreciated.
Bye for now!
Anthony



Hi Anthony. thanks for your generous comments. Much appreciated. I have Wld your book and will be back to you on it shortly.

I have taken on board that my reviews are a bit ancient and will put up some more recent ones. Happily I have plenty to choose from. Regards Eric

Antonius Metalogos wrote 730 days ago

Dear Eric,
It is quite obvious from perusing a few of the comments below that you have won over some very fervent fans and there is no wondering why when one reads your book. It is surely one of the cleverest stories I have ever read. To say I am in love with it is an understatement. Awe and adoration get a bit closer.
With that said, I intend to prove my devotion to your work by pointing out a few mistakes that others have probably skipped over in their enthusiasm to read more of your fantastic story. I only point these out as I am sure that you will want to correct them once they come to your attention. They are minor typing errors so fixing them will only add a bit of extra shine to what is already a brilliant work of art. Here goes!
Chapter #3
1.After all her mam kept going on about her eating peanut butter...
I think a comma following ALL will make this sentence easier to read.
1a. After all, her mam kept going on about her eating peanut butter...
2.but all set to fire the first shot in her mother's campaign get Ken firmly...
There obviously needs to be the word TO inserted after CAMPAIGN.
2a. but all set to fire the first shot in her mother's campaign to get Ken firmly...
3.Catching him in still bed for warmth and comfort..
You want to rearrange IN and STILL.
3a. Catching him still in bed for warmth and comfort...
4. ...to surround him with sufficient of her cleavage to make any escape...
You want to insert a word after SUFFICIENT. I'm guessing you wanted to write AMOUNT here.
4a. ...to surround him with sufficient amount of her cleavage to make any escape...

Okay, that's enough for now. I haven't read beyond chapter three but I certainly intend to do that in the near future. Eric, I would be deeply honored if you would perchance take a look at my humble offering, What We Live For. It is my first attempt at writing anything akin to a book so don't expect too much. Still, your feedback would be very much appreciated.
Bye for now!
Anthony

SpicePepe wrote 730 days ago

I found it hard to read it online - I wanted to read it in paperback - on the beach to get the full impact of the humour, the interwoven story. I hope you do well.
All teh best
Bridget
The Road from Makhonwja

katemb wrote 730 days ago

The structure of this story around the writer attending a writing class really works for me. I'm interesting in the class - having been to a few! - and enjoying the comedy there. It's great then, to see how the story within a story develops in response to his attending the class. Very clever!
I've read to the end of chapter 4 so far and I have lots of favorite bits but the sexual energy created by the Major's mustache will stay with me for some time!
One of the great fun reads on Authonomy, I think.
Best,
Kate
The Licenser

Olive Field wrote 730 days ago

It was your bio that attracted me to your book. I think mine may need a bit of work. You are a very clever writer with too much wit for one man. This is a keeper, which means it must be bought in hard back and kept on your book shelf to be revisited time and time again. While I wait for it to be published I will give it space on my virtual shelf and continue to read and laugh.
My very best wishes,
Olive.

jlbwye wrote 731 days ago

Degree of Exposure. Love the humour of your pitch, promising a lively and entangled plot.

Ch.1. Oh dear, I've never discovered what GSOH stands for - perhaps you can enlighten an ignorant old lady?
You're a professional. It stands out a mile. And I know I wont find any (unintentional) nits. (parenthesis added with hindsight).
That first scene is spot on.

Ch.2. You've got me giggling like a schoolgirl already, with that 'first attempt' at a story. '... in his wettest dreams...' And the literary inuendos, many of which I'm sure are right over my head. But I, too, was tickled by the Michael Angelo reference.
And I just love Eunice when she says 'You dont even know which direction we should be going in.' And kicking the engine - What fun.

Ch.3. This part is a bit boring, after the excitement of Chapetr 2. There's too much preamble.

Ch.4. Now you're getting down to brass tacks. This story has many levels. Clever. You're getting further and further away from the beginning ... where's the plot? Lost it?
And there's an awful lot of culling which'll need to be done to that story.
Ah - we're at last coming round to the point - but I prefer the 'real' bits in the classroom...

A masterful parody indeed, from which much to learn if one is so inclined.

Thankyou for the entertainment.
It's an honour being on your shelf. Here's a sprinkling of stars as a thankyou for being such a loyal supporter. I'm so grateful, and hope you'll continue to the end, which is now actually in my sights!
Jane.

tojo wrote 732 days ago

I have stopped at chapter 6 just to add my comment, then go back to reading it. If your feeling down and need cheering up, you could drink a bottle of whiskey or read this book. The whiskey will leave you a thumping head ache and empty pocket, this book will only leave you with a delightful ache in your thighs through laughing so much. Crits, sorry too busy laughing to notice any, there probably is, I just don-t give a damn. 6 ******

Portraits Of A Small Peasant.

Wanttobeawriter wrote 733 days ago

DEGREE OF EXPOSURE
I was a creative writing major in college so have set through classes like this where the teacher gave us a writing assignment, then read the morning paper. So identified with Jack from the start. He’s a sympathetic character because he’s trying something new. His first short story is good. I’m wondering, tho, if you want to include the whole story at this point (it really breaks up the flow of the story). Maybe have him struggle to write it and break it into small bits so his relationship with Janice can flourish? Either way, this is a good read. Highly starred and added to my shelf. Wanttobeawriter: Who Killed the President?

LizX wrote 734 days ago

The first paragraph with the abbreviated descriptions of each character made made me wonder if they were in a writing class or a dating agency. “Hello, I'm Jack Baxter.” would have been a more realistic introduction. Unless it was something Frank had them write down and hand around, it didn't come over as natural speech. Not many people describe themselves in initial abbreviations – it didn't help because I haven't got a clue what G.S.O.H was.

The rest of the chapter was good. Frank looks as though he could well take over prime position. His character and dialogue were excellent.

For some reason, I got the impression Janice was new to the class as well, but as she was familiar with Frank then she obviously wasn't. Wondered why Jack didn't have some internal thought on that.

There was a tiny slip out of pov in the sentence which started “Right,” said Frank. Jack wouldn't have known whether or not Frank thinking his leg had been pulled. As the rest of the chapter was from Jack's pov it jarred.

The comic scene which comprises most of chapter two was well executed. It's sheer graphicness in the description department made sure my feet got wet when they fell off the lilo. Ver funny and with no edit nits to distract from the action.

I was a bit disappointed in chapter three when Jack disappeared to be replaced again by the major and his wife. I wanted more Jack, more Janice and alright, I'll admit it.... much more of Frank.

The start of four re-captivated me once more with the interaction in the writing class...but I wanted more. I wanted to know what went on between Frank and Janice when he was getting a ride home. What she got up to when she wasn't in class and Frank too. They are three really strong characters which seem to have been relegated to back stage when they should be in the limelight.

Am still reading, but work calls... even on a Sunday. So will catch up with you again during the week.

Adeel wrote 734 days ago

An amusing, descriptive and well written book. Your writing style is very impressive, dialogue are realistic with vivid charachters and narrative is at great pace. Highly rated.

Eddie Santos wrote 734 days ago

I've read only two chapters from 'Degree of Exposure', as this is all the time I had left for reading today, but I wished I had more hours in my day to read all the chapters of this book in one go.
It is funny, entertaining, well written. A wonderfull piece of work. It may need a bit of editing, but I can not actually judge editing or punctuation, as English is not my first language. I can only say that this is a great book and I look forward reading some more tomorrow evening, when I may have some more time. I am rating it with 6 stars and adding to my watching list. As soon as it is possible it should be on my shelf for a few days for support, as it deserves, but I am happy to back it at any time when it get closer to the editor's desk.
Eddie

Estelene wrote 734 days ago

I laughed when I read the comment about sexual attraction keeping poets in poverty. I enjoyed reading a few chapters and will read more when I have a chance. Chapter 3 made me laugh, since I recently went to a writing workshop myself.

I will comment that I’m having an easier time hearing these characters than seeing them. Your dialogue sounds natural to my ear as I read, but I think I would enjoy reading you more if you balanced that good dialogue out with some equally good images and description.

Mindy Haig wrote 734 days ago

Hi Eric!
I just dropped in to check out your book! I really like the layout of writing a story within the story. It is very funny, well written, I did not notice any gramatical errors or typos, the only thing I did want to mention is that you have Ken in 1971 and a reference to Bill Clinton that is maybe outside his timeline.
High stars! i look forward to reading more!
Mindy
The Wishing Place

Greenleaf wrote 735 days ago

Interesting premise--a book about a writer and his book within your book. This is hilarious and well-written. I was immediately drawn in. Great job!

Susan/Greenleaf (Chameleon)

sodyt wrote 735 days ago

The first chapter is brilliant. It grabbed me right away with the conversation between the narrator and Janice and kept be interested throughout. Moreover, it's quite funny. The four characters depicted so far are all quirky and identifiable and I look forward to seeing where they go as the novel progresses.

My only quibble (but a big one) is with the punctuation in the dialogue. You need to put commas before the end quotes, not periods. With such an otherwise great piece of writing, I'd hate to see something like this turn off an editor.

As for me, I love it and look forward to reading more. Shelved, watchlisted, high stars.



Hi Daniel. Thanks for the shelving and great review. Your comments on punctuation noted. Should I get anywhere near real publication ( unlikely) I will get on to it.

I am a bit snowed under since becoming no5 on the spotters list. (God knows how I did that !) so can't promise an immediate shelving, but will comment and star appropriately on yours later today. Thanks again for your support. Cheers Eric