Book Jacket

 

rank 5904
word count 18259
date submitted 17.10.2009
date updated 19.10.2009
genres: Fiction, Popular Culture
classification: universal
incomplete

The Devil Smokes Dunhill

Nick van der Leek

The media is mad.

 

The mainstream media from the inside, is a cesspool of insecure misfits, and courtyard keepers. Everyone suffers from chronic attention deficit disorder. Everyone is addicted to something. Words are their weapons of choice, life an after-thought, terminal diseases - especially cancers, tumors and anal brown-nosing - a certainty. Nick van der Leek, in this brilliant satire, uncovers the real story behind who and what makes the media, and suggests we stop caring. The folks who work tirelessly behind the scenes, splattering bullshit on the front pages of newspapers - the sub-editors, journalists [suckers], the cubicle slaves and other subhuman characters - do they know what they're doing? In a word: Hell no.
We live in a world where the news today is indistinguishable from spam, and spam [according to Wikipedia]'provides very little in terms of vitamins and minerals...it has been listed as a food that is a poor choice for weight loss and optimum health and as a food that "is high in saturated fat and sodium".' The news, the people responsible for writing it, editing it and stupid enough to read it get skewered in this devilish yarn.

 
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tags

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Chapters

12

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Belching Fumes

Harping

 

I glance at an article lying on Randy Pomelenko’s desk.  Randy is swaggering over to get some coffee.  Whenever he walks he looks like he is walking down a street in the Wild Wild West, towards the O.K. CORRAL.  You’d swear he had a holster on those hips, because when he walks one seemed heavier than the other.  He could really do with a tighter belt, I notice now.  His pants seem to be falling down.

I glance down at the newspaper.  John came down earlier and he probably left the paper here for Randy to read his piece.

“White Racists in this country the most racist of the world’s racists.”

This is the headline, which covers two lines.  The article has various mug shots of white people – some are buying toilet rolls at a supermarket, others are filling their cars with fuel, others are mowing the lawn, others are sitting on a toilet whilst being interviewed.

I read a caption: “I prefer white because black is bitter.”

The man in the picture looks angry, and is holding up a finger.  Almost out of frame though is a cup of tea, although the kettle is more obvious.

“Great story,” Randy says behind me.  “He spent nights working on that one.”

“Right.  Did he interview you?”

“C’mon dude.  I’m not a racist.”

“Well, you’re white.”

“Fuck off.  I guess since I’m Jewish I can’t be an anti-Semite,” Randy offers brightly.

“Good point.  Jeez, I didn’t think of that,” I say, running a hand over my head.

He sips his coffee behind me, I can hear the newspaper being folded as I settle down behind my desk.  The chair makes a soft tsssht sound as the hydraulics fill with compressed air.

Samantha’s phone is ringing constantly and I’m trying to remember whether she is sick or on some assignment.

Ping/Tong.  An email from Agneta Acacia.  “We’d love to use your movie review.  I’ll ask our film critic Bobbie to get back to you.”

I  promised not to offer any further writing on the Morton affair to The Devil, and I kept my word.  I offered a movie review instead to Agneta Acacia.

But after a few days, having not heard from Bobbie, I email Bobbie to ask him what is going on? 

 

I prefer to write my own movie reviews, and those I don’t write I pull off the New Dork Chimes. Kind Regards, B.

 

You didn’t even bother to interview this guy, and he was in the building.  Now I’m offering you a story and you want to protect the fort?  Grow fucking up!

 

Hey Bobbie

Thanks for getting back to me.  Did you read the piece I wrote though?  I provided some background material from one of the animators, including a few photos, to go with the review.  It will also compliment the competitions we have running on the site…

 

A few days later the following article appears in The Express.

 

Morton is a Mess – by ET Snott, for the New Dork Chimes.

What distinguishes “Morton Hears a Humbug!” is that it is not one of the worst movies ever made. That’s faint praise, I know, and I’m even willing to go a bit further…

 

“C’MON GUYS, CHECK THIS OUT. THIS IS SOOOOOOOO FUNNY!”

“Ummmm…NO!”

 

I start to gloss over the diarrhoea that remains.  The last sentence is as condescending as the rest of it.  I glance down at the Reader Comments.

 

Comment 1

Morton is the best animated movie I’ve seen in the last decade, really, it is a masterpiece.
 
 

Comment 2
 
Please, don’t listen to Snott, the New Dork Chimes reviewer. Despite his eloquence, he fails to comprehend basic human emotions, and completely misses the cinematic value of this movie. Snott is pathologically biased, and was a serial killer before he became a writer.  Click here to view a .pdf of his criminal record over the past 15 years.

 

Comment 3

The movie illuminates an interesting concept -- that we Earthlings are all on a tiny speck floating through space and Someone larger than we are is taking care of us. Morton is a fun flick that can spark a thought-provoking conversation if you take the time. Click here to take the time.

 

Comment 4

You can go ahead and judge a book by it's cover, just don't write a review about it.   Book design cover samples here.

 

Comment 5

I loved it. This movie was awesome. It was funny, charming, great animation, and just overall enjoyable. Read more jokes on my blog, here.

 

Comment 6

It’s a movie for kids not for grown up criticism.  Billy, 6

 

I leave the newspaper and get myself a cup of coffee.  I hate the taste of coffee, but a dark whirlpool has started forming under my desk, and the fumes of too many cigarettes is starting to give me a headache.  And oh yes, I am pissed off by this shabby, queer and contemptuous review of my pet project.

 

Styrofoam cup of coffee in hand, I take a sip and walk back towards my desk On my way past the NASA console (there is live coverage from CLOUDY-TV of a nuclear blast going off above Tehran, but Stan is filling in a crossword puzzle and Agneta is smearing her bare shoulders with cream) I walk by the desk of Bobbie Bourbon.

Keep going.

I stop.

This kid is a whack-job, don’t even bother.

“Hi Bob.  Bobbie.  I’m Nick.”

He glances up, his fine features ridiculously alert, the sharp edges of his wide thin lips tilt down slightly as he glances up with beady eyes darting like balls in a pinball machine.  I consider offering my hand to shake hands, but Bobbie is still 80% ensconced in what he is doing and is only half, no a quarter looking me.

“Hmmmm?”

The other thing is I have no idea what he has been doing with that hand.

I put my hands in my pockets.

“So I see you used an article by ET Snott…”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

Walk away.

I make out a distant “Ummm…”  I glance up and for a second The Devil on the far end of the room notices me as she squirms, looking for Mickey I imagine, but spies me standing all the way over here.  A black cloud immediately materialises above her and starts roiling.  The blinds near her desk flutter irritably in the growing gust.

“I watched this movie, Bob.  And friends of mine watched it. And I interviewed the fucking animator.  And it’s been voted the number one movie in this country and also in America.  So I wonder, since you didn’t watch it, and we’re promoting these animation movie studios on our site, why you – when you had the choice to choose a positive review – you chose Snott’s review.”

His beady eyes are now firmly on me.

“I guess if a reviewer who works for the New Dork Chimes has a different opinion to yours, he must be right.”

“I’m sure Snott is a great writer, but in this case, he was a bit off.”

“Because you say so?”

“No.  Anyone who saw this film would say so.  I saw it, and so I’m saying so.”

“Oh.  I see.”

“See, Snott is definitely not reflecting popular opinion, and it doesn’t serve-.”

“I happened to agree with EVERYTHING ET Snott wrote, and Bobbie has my full support,” Agneta says, immediately behind me.  She screws on the top of her bottle of lotion, and gives her shoulder a sniff. Then she her nig Greek nose turns back towards me, and pouts.

“And I think we need to preserve some editorial independence,” Bobbie says. He ensconces himself back into his computer screen.  I glance dumbly down at his desk.  He has one of those microscopic zen garden thingies, with a small plastic rake.  I consider raking it, because the sand is a clumpy, God awful mess.  And so are you, Bob.

Above his head is a small glittering party ball, suspended on fishing line.

Time to go Nick.  Walk away.

“Well, I guess we have to decide whether we’re here to render a public service.  You know - to communicate an intellectual view of something that most people won’t agree with but it’s in the public interest, or what we decide is the public interest even if the public isn’t interested.”

Nick The Devil is staring at you like she doesn’t know WHAT IN HELL you are doing! What ARE you doing?  Sit down.

“Or we are in the business of selling newspapers, and making money, and promoting some of the brands in the TREACLE portfolio, and some of the products in the-.”

“What is your job here?” Agneta asks.

“What?”

“What DO YOU DO at this company?”

I’m stung by this remark.  I know it’s a subversive angle; it’s not really an attempt to discuss what we’re discussing.

I look into those big, dark Diva eyes. 

I can feel The Devil’s breath burning the wingtips of my ears: Nick, you are not a writer and you SURE AS HELL don’t work for The Express!

“I do stats.”

“And you think you can write movie reviews?”

“I think you have to be careful when you cite editorial independence as a defence for possibly alienating your readers.  I mean, who decides what this independence is, and how indepen-“

“As you say, you do stats.  Now go and do stats.  THANK YOU AND GOODBYE.”

 

 

Chapters

12

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Caroline Hartman wrote 1077 days ago

Nick, Good luck with The Devil Smokes Dunhill. I read three chapters. I'm either too obtuse, too dumb, or too old to get this. Sorry. I'm sure someone less obtuse, smarter, and younger will make sense of this.
Caroline

Nick VDL wrote 1078 days ago

The Devil Smokes Dunhill is deliberately weird, and opens with what purports to be some sort of metaphysical debate. God - are you there? Apparently so, because C2 tells me He has a sick sense of humour - but who wouldn't after flushing out all that human excrement? I guess I'm a loser, though, because reading this feels Like Ogling Someone Evidently Retarded. Sorry - couldn't resist that one!
Seriously, though - this might well appeal to some readers, but it's too way out for me. I'm sure you had lots of fun writing it, but I can't figure out what you are hoping your readers will get from it. All the best anyway.


You're right, I probably need to be quite clear from the word go that this is a rant against the media. And an attempt to poke them in the eye with a book.

Nick VDL wrote 1078 days ago

The Devil Smokes Dunhill

Hi Nick,

This works well, a controlled (and sometimes uncontrolled) stream of consciousness rant against the scrouge of modern media. That there are such two dimensional folk out there, plying the world with the rubbish you suggest surprises me not a jot. I like the way your writing tries to capture it, an interesting and very unique narrative voice that manages to somehow vent spleen from the very first line and for the four chapters I read here. Bullying seems to have been a daily occurrence, but it is the trashy and shallow motives that are perhaps the most awful things that you expose. Cynicism is, as you say in your pitch, a cancer, chewing up the world, it is in our heads and we want nothing more than to have our view that the world is shit confirmed by the media and they of course obligingly comply with this by offering us stories that focus on exactly this. The range and pitch of your anger and irritation is well judged, I was rooting for you. Strong writing, classic and individual, wouldn't this make a good movie? Well done for the work so far, will shelve this for a while to help out. If you have the time to pop and peak at my book you have no idea how helpful that would be.

Best wishes and good luck
Andrew W.
(Sanctuary's Loss)



Thanks very much for your comment Andrew, astute I think, and encouraging.

Bob Steele wrote 1624 days ago

The Devil Smokes Dunhill is deliberately weird, and opens with what purports to be some sort of metaphysical debate. God - are you there? Apparently so, because C2 tells me He has a sick sense of humour - but who wouldn't after flushing out all that human excrement? I guess I'm a loser, though, because reading this feels Like Ogling Someone Evidently Retarded. Sorry - couldn't resist that one!
Seriously, though - this might well appeal to some readers, but it's too way out for me. I'm sure you had lots of fun writing it, but I can't figure out what you are hoping your readers will get from it. All the best anyway.

Andrew W. wrote 1634 days ago

The Devil Smokes Dunhill

Hi Nick,

This works well, a controlled (and sometimes uncontrolled) stream of consciousness rant against the scrouge of modern media. That there are such two dimensional folk out there, plying the world with the rubbish you suggest surprises me not a jot. I like the way your writing tries to capture it, an interesting and very unique narrative voice that manages to somehow vent spleen from the very first line and for the four chapters I read here. Bullying seems to have been a daily occurrence, but it is the trashy and shallow motives that are perhaps the most awful things that you expose. Cynicism is, as you say in your pitch, a cancer, chewing up the world, it is in our heads and we want nothing more than to have our view that the world is shit confirmed by the media and they of course obligingly comply with this by offering us stories that focus on exactly this. The range and pitch of your anger and irritation is well judged, I was rooting for you. Strong writing, classic and individual, wouldn't this make a good movie? Well done for the work so far, will shelve this for a while to help out. If you have the time to pop and peak at my book you have no idea how helpful that would be.

Best wishes and good luck
Andrew W.
(Sanctuary's Loss)

Nick VDL wrote 1636 days ago

Chapter 10 and 11

I would think a total rewrite of an article that was already written negates the work effort. It is one thing to edit or proof but a complete rewrite of an article that you (who I believe could competently write an article) does not make sense to me.

Julie



The idea was to humiliate me and to discourage further effort. It was also to clearly establish that anything that would get written had to go through the gateway of the all knowing, all seeing, always right editor. Yes, it had nothing to do with how good or relevant or effective the copy was. It had everything to do with the editor protecting her territory under the guise of 'serving the brand'. She quite obviously was serving herself, protecting her position.

ergi1120 wrote 1637 days ago

Chapter 12

I don't understand why you can't at least find a writing mentor in this environment. Is there no one who can take you under their wing and nurture you or become an a intellectual allie to you.

Julie

ergi1120 wrote 1637 days ago

Chapter 10 and 11

I would think a total rewrite of an article that was already written negates the work effort. It is one thing to edit or proof but a complete rewrite of an article that you (who I believe could competently write an article) does not make sense to me.

Julie

ergi1120 wrote 1637 days ago

Chapter 9

Nick you have initiative and guts all the virtues that are usually revered in the USA. I find this very interesting your life has been rather like a gypsy going from one occupation to another but you should really try to publish your writing. If you want to write screenplays take a class. UCLA (Univ. of Cal Los Angeles) has an online screenwriting class. I hope to take this class sometime in the next 2 years. You said in your profile you have many projects. I would concentrate on one project (novel or screenplay) and give it all my attention and talent and see what happens. You have talent.

Julie

ergi1120 wrote 1637 days ago

Chapter 7 and 8

What a shame you couldn't photograph Ms. World contestants. Since you manage data I imagine you could get a job anywhere in the world. I am definitely for your plan to move on. You need to try the USA.

Julie

mikegilli wrote 1637 days ago

backed............brilliant exposure of a modern work experience.
I suppose you realize this site is Murdoch's pet?
I see that i reality you're freelance, so hopefully you don't
personally suffer like your hero.
All the best with this. It probably needs a more developed
storyline to go with the excellent.characters.......Mikey (The Free)

ergi1120 wrote 1637 days ago

Chapter 5 and 6

Your devil boss makes any boss or office manager of mine look like Jesus Christ. I don't know why a writer is having to do clerical work of creating databases from emails for a year couldn't that be delegated out to support staff. Your boss is keeping you down because she is probably very insecure about her own talent as an editor/writer and fears you could possibly usurp her in talent, intelligence and congeniality. Come to the US. Will read more tomorrow. You are a gifted writer!

Julie

ergi1120 wrote 1637 days ago

Chapter 4

Nick it sounds as if you are a student of life and you should have directed your career into writing in the very beginning. I know how stagnating it can be when you are not surrounded by people as intelligent as yourself or more intelligent its like a suicide of living with someone you don't love.

Julie

ergi1120 wrote 1637 days ago

Chapter 3

I worked at a Newspaper in 1996 in Kansas City, MO USA The Kansas City Star and unlike your experience I would have to say it was the only job I ever had that actually liked my intelligence. I worked in Classified Advertising and was even given an award. It was also the only job I ever held that I was drug tested for and I must say I was impressed by the caliber of non-druggy people who worked there. If you moved to the US Nick I am sure there would be a Media company or Newspaper that would WELCOME your talent. Your boss sounds like a horror show what a tyrant.

Julie

ergi1120 wrote 1637 days ago

Chapter 1 and 2

Your observations of life, luck and good an bad fortune are so true. You either excel and are happy in work and the personal life is a shit or work is shit and the personal life is all that keeps you afloat. I know you are a writer Nick and you can write very well. I don't know why a boss would not want to nurture its staff with positive kudos or at lease constructive critique. I think the devil boss is jealous (There are those who write and there are those who oversee writers, sounds like your boss is the overseer who is in the business of whipping all self esteem and confidence out of their talented staff.

Julie

soutexmex wrote 1638 days ago

I read the first three chapters which is normally more than I usually read. But it wasn't until the third chapter that I felt this became somewhat normal from the obtuse beginning. This is kind of mash-up of 'How To Lose Friends' and 'The Devil Wears Prada' with a bit of Tom Wolfe thrown in.

I know what you are getting at and that's commendable. But the format may be a bit more user friendly. Keep those paragraphs short. Satire needs to be breezy.

Short pitch? Brilliant
Long pitch? Disaster

You are selling this thing in your pitches. Had I been a casual reader, I may have not stuck around. Check out my pitches in how I positioned my sales pitch to grab the casual reader.

I do like what you have here, the gist of it, and because of that I am SHELVING.

Do look forward to your comments on my book. Cheers!

JC
The Obergemau File

soutexmex wrote 1638 days ago

Before I read, just a suggestion: you may wanna not answer comments here in the comment section, you may wanna send that person a message directly instead as a reply. Better chance of them reading it as most people will not return to see your response.

Kolro wrote 1638 days ago

Holy macaroons this is certainly an odd read. The conversational style, exclamations and flickering, somewhat jumpy narration were all things I loved. I wasn't so hot on the movie quotations but they did make me warm enormously to Nick so maybe that's their intention. There were parts in this that made me laugh- 'moth in a urinal' being one. I'm gonna shelve this because I want more authonomites to see it. I see it getting a great following.

Nick VDL wrote 1638 days ago

Nick
Fantastic pitch, but please don’t quote Wickipedia. – use a more respected source e.g. the Oxford Dictionary.
Great cover – but you know what I’d like to see, just to add the icing on the cake? The cigarettes in the shape of a point-down pentagram. Just a thought.
Right then, this prose has great voice. It’s very accessible and easy to read. The opening chapter is intriguing and more than enough to keep a reader interested and wanting to read more. I appreciate the Smith/Neo reference and reckon this is a great chapter ending.
Just a few typos I’m unsure about, but it could be a US/UK thing, so have someone better qualified to give it a read.
A book I recommend to most people is ‘Self-Editing for Fiction Writers’ (Browne & King) – it’s a worthy addition to any fiction writers library.
Shelved!
David
Green Ore


Thanks David. You've hit on some details that have missed the radar so far.

DMC wrote 1639 days ago

Nick
Fantastic pitch, but please don’t quote Wickipedia. – use a more respected source e.g. the Oxford Dictionary.
Great cover – but you know what I’d like to see, just to add the icing on the cake? The cigarettes in the shape of a point-down pentagram. Just a thought.
Right then, this prose has great voice. It’s very accessible and easy to read. The opening chapter is intriguing and more than enough to keep a reader interested and wanting to read more. I appreciate the Smith/Neo reference and reckon this is a great chapter ending.
Just a few typos I’m unsure about, but it could be a US/UK thing, so have someone better qualified to give it a read.
A book I recommend to most people is ‘Self-Editing for Fiction Writers’ (Browne & King) – it’s a worthy addition to any fiction writers library.
Shelved!
David
Green Ore

Nick VDL wrote 1639 days ago

@ KJ Some super advice, and some great kicks in the pants. Thanks. Keep 'em coming.

Nick VDL wrote 1639 days ago

Wow, this is some great stuff so far! There is such style in the narration. There is a lot of appeal in what I have read so far, so I'm giving it a shot on my shelf.

L. Anne Carrington, "The Cruiserweight"



Thanks L.Anne. I'm about 2/3rds through writing the whole fucker, and these comments are very encouraging. Possibly too positive. I need to pursue the depths of despair to find the dark, funny, dystopian irony. Is there something on my back...that says KICK ME?

TheLoriC wrote 1639 days ago

Wow, this is some great stuff so far! There is such style in the narration. There is a lot of appeal in what I have read so far, so I'm giving it a shot on my shelf.

L. Anne Carrington, "The Cruiserweight"

KJKron wrote 1639 days ago

This is different than a typical piece because the narrator is such a character. It reminds me a bit of Vonnegut or Kundrea insofar as there is that feel that the narrator is speaking to you. I actually love that style. I like the allusions (some stated, some not) to movies, books, etc. There's something charming, inviting about the narrator that makes me want to read on. The way it's written, it sounds / feels like I'm having a conversation witht he narrator. If there is one bit of advice I'd give, I'd beg you not to be apologetic. Examples - "I hope you don't mind me diving into movies..." Cut that line. In the next line you explain you do that - take out the pronoun in that sentence because you'll need more clarity. Also in chapter three you say - "If you've gotten this far..." It's like you're apologizing to the reader who reads that far. Don't be silly - what you have is good. You should EXPECT the reader to get that far. There were a couple of others, but I didn't write them down. I'm really enjoying this - don't make me feel like I shouldn't be. And of course I've got to love someone who goes after the whole God thing - the reflective quality of your narrator has hooked me. Well done. Shelved.

Nick VDL wrote 1639 days ago

Hi Nick, Read the first two chapters and then jumped to chapter sixteen.

Steve Ward has put into words my observations on the firt two chapters, In chapter 16 the style appears more conventional as your MC struggles on with his corporate life. It is difficut to pick up on the story by picking a random chapter. I can relate to the scene where Tranquility is robbed and beaten. I have lived in Brasil for a number of years and such occurences fail to raise an eyebrow as they are so common. I would assume it is the same in South Africa. Your MC seems to accept it as the norm, as he carries on with his routine. Not sure how this would relate to someone from say England, where such an occurence would create paranoia. I would be inclined to try and get this over to the reader somehow.

I really like this and the downtrodden loser aspect, as something many people can relate to. I hope he evntuallycomes out on top.

Shelved with pleasure for the balls you have had in using your chosen style in the opening chaters, which I thought quite unique and refreshing

shelved
Derek
thedarkside@edating



Hi Derek

Thanks for the feedback. Interestingly chapter 16 is a slight diversion from the the rest of the cubicle slave drama, but I wanted to show that beyond the office the madness continues...in fact his whole life is mad and filled with melodrama. Someone said they didn't like the Tranquillity aspect as it was so conventional, but as you say, it paints a picture of this 'loser' existence, someone kicking their foot endlessly against the flat tyre of their world. Thanks Aagian for your thoughts, much appreciated.

Steve Ward wrote 1640 days ago

Nick,
Okay this is a little different ! Zany, off the wall, no, I'm at a loss for words but genius comes in many forms. Wow, too many characters for me to track but then again it is happy hour. Nick you have a very creative and energetic mind and you are creating something here that is outside of the box, so I don't feel qualified to suggest changes. You have a lot of great lines here like: The Devil sucks the flame through the cigarette of life. . . and The machine ratatatatat of her fingers on the keyboard sometimes sounds like a machine gun (that's how mine sound now.). I will give you and A+ for originality. Fun read, good luck with it.
Steve Ward
Test Pilot's Daughter: Revenge

Nick VDL wrote 1640 days ago

Nick, you're not a writer. Give up! NO NO don't do that! I'm only joking.

This is slightly fucked up material, but at the same time there is plenty to like about it. For a start, it's originalish. The voice is definitely one of a kind, and thirdly, I'd like to see what all the ***expert authonomists*** have to say about it. It's kind of weird and wonderful and for all my sins, I quite like it.
Best wishes
Sue


Sue you really had me going there. Felt the temperature rise for a second. I think the subject of writing and the struggle is a story almost everyone can identify with. It's an almost invisible struggle, but real nonetheless, and yes VERY FUCKED UP!

Nick VDL wrote 1640 days ago

I've read the three chapters and I do like this book. I had no trouble reading along and following the plot line.
I want to read what happens next with Nick.


Thanks Strayer. I've got more...will put it up. Need me to read any of yours...?

DMC wrote 1640 days ago

This is a great pitch. On my watch list and I'll leave some comments when I've read more...
David
Green Ore

LittleDevil wrote 1640 days ago

Nick, you're not a writer. Give up! NO NO don't do that! I'm only joking.

This is slightly fucked up material, but at the same time there is plenty to like about it. For a start, it's originalish. The voice is definitely one of a kind, and thirdly, I'd like to see what all the ***expert authonomists*** have to say about it. It's kind of weird and wonderful and for all my sins, I quite like it.
Best wishes
Sue

Strayer wrote 1640 days ago

I've read the three chapters and I do like this book. I had no trouble reading along and following the plot line.
I want to read what happens next with Nick.

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