Book Jacket

 

rank 5921
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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14

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Part 3

Revenge of the Sith

The Dark Side Up Close

 Darkness crept back into the forests of the world. - Galadriel, from The Lord of the Rings

Meeting The Dark Lord

Hades is not a Democracy

 Boromir: What is this new devilry?
 
Gandalf: A Balrog. A demon of the ancient world. This foe is beyond any of you. Run! - from The Lord of the Rings

I take a sip of water.  My Baptism of Fire is in 10 minutes.  Nevertheless, I'm peculiarly chipper.  The Devil, in the first days on the job, asked me to prepare various documents and presentation with the carrot that these would be taken upstairs to the MD of the Sunday Express, Goosen Dahlia, and if impressed, he might make me a fellow Prince of Darkness.  None of those meetings ever transpired (although various 20 page documents were slaved over through weekends and graveyard shifts, and later revised, and later updated).  And now was an opportunity to meet the Great Goosen Dahlia, the Godfather of the country’s bestselling newspaper.

If I was chipper, I wasn't nearly as chipper as Miss McMuffin sitting next to me.  "Un-for-tu-nate-ly tick-ets were not…" she sang as she typed…"in-clu-ded in the ham-per…"

Kookee, wearing a drab brown sweater (what it is about the people in this building, most of ‘em always wearing brown), is pirouetting around John.  John is sitting on Randy Pomelenko’s desk and loudly discussing how a cellphone company ripped him off, and something about WHITE RACIST ASSHOLES.  It's a constant source of surprise that no white people take offence; but then I don't say anything either.

"HI GEORGE, DID YOU GET MY EMAIL?" George, a programmer, is standing right next to Kookee.  

The Devil says "OH GOD!" with such bitterness and frustration you'd swear she's been defeated by a Higher Power through time immemorial.

It's not clear what The Devil is so upset about.  I have an idea it's a rogue apostrophe or an errant exclamation mark.

"I AM GOING TO HAVE A FIT AT 1O PAST 3," Kookee declares, and mercifully drifts away, her hip lime green shoes squeaking as she goes.

I’m bored.  I glance at the copy of The Express on my desk.  Someone drops one off for everyone in the newsroom every day.  The headline reads: STRANGE BRIGHT OBJECT SEEN IN THE SKY.  There is a big picture of the blue sky with the sun in the middle.

Other stories in the edition include :

Boycot, says Boycot

South Africans are poor listeners – Express offers advice

EXCLUSIVE - Agneta discusses her sexual preferences

Why AIDS isn't worth worrying about [John Story]
 
How to succeed without a matric
 
Slag off your boss and win

Why white people are more racist than ever [John Story]
 
How to cheat on your partner and get them to love you more than they do now [John Story]
 
How to lose weight by eating more ice cream [Kookee]
 
Make more money by working less [Sadie Bratwurst]
 
How to succeed without really trying [Sadie Bratwurst]
 
How to lie to people without giving yourself away
 
10 Reasons Not To Save [Sadie Bratwurst]
 
Why Fast Food Is Healthier Than Home cooked Meals [John Story]

White chefs can’t cook [John Story]

 

Behind me the subs are playing Ping Pong Question Time:

“Is it a confidence vote or a no-confidence vote?”

"Does foreground have an 'e' in it?" One of the subs asks behind me.

Another asks, "How do you spell: ambiance."

Another: “Does awesome have one ‘e’ or two?”

You wonder what is accidental when you receive a well meaning but not entirely comprehensible email from a sub asking whether I think ‘we need moar fourms’ on our ‘websight’.

I wonder whether these folks are tested before they're given a job, or whether it's first come first disservice to the public.

I recall briefly, watching the computer clock change from 2:54 to 2:55, that some of my titles have been rescued by the brilliant creativity of some of these subs.

Like: Into the Wild Kalahari becoming Miles to go before we sleep – the title is enough to put you to sleep.  It's a warning that this is a long, laborious read.  The 'Into the wild' title was purposely aimed at trading off the book and movie, and all the adventure associated with it.

Then there was: It's not just about the 4x4 (a story about a vehicle breaking down ad nauseum but still being able to enjoy the trip). It became Won't go wrong, go wrong…

 

There was also ‘Nerves of Neethling’ changed to ‘Interview with a swimmer’.

Randy Pomelenko is walking to the OK Corrall as I gather my phone.  You can see his underwear as his jeans barely manage to stay up.  Stan Kidney is watching cricket on the big screen, his shoes up on the table.  Agneta is applying lipstick, apparently using the blank computer screen as a mirror before what sounds like an imminent shopping sprint.

McMuffin is still at it: "Thank-you for your pay-shins full stop."  

"I'm off to a meeting," I tell her.  This is code for; please take a message while I'm away.

"See ya," she says, giving me a wave.

I walk around the pot plant, the girl with Dyslexia tries to say hello but I am already around the next corner, and then I step onto the escalator.  I step on three separate escalators and get drawn through the innards, the wiring of the Media House.  I'm disinclined to call it the brains of the company, because I'm not sure if there is one in all this headspace.

There's Financial Bill.  There's the super cool offices of the Sunday Express and this is my stop.  I enter the boardroom and find Goosen already seated, his eyebrows like too black months above the dark stones of his eyes.  He's in his fifties, I'm guessing, and has a craggy face, similar to The Devil's, but less yellow.

"Mr. van der Leek."

"Yes, it's good to finally meet you.  I was hoping we'd meet in dif-."

"I don't care what you think.  I'm not interested in your opinion.  And this company is not a democracy.  You are here so hear what you won't be doing in future."

At this the edge of The Devil's purple lips curve upwards like the blade of a cheese knife.

 

Chapters

14

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Caroline Hartman wrote 1086 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 1087 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 1087 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 1633 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 1644 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 1645 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 1646 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 1646 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 1646 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 1646 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 1646 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 1647 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 1647 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 1647 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 1647 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 1647 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 1647 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 1647 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 1647 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 1648 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 1648 days ago

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

Nick VDL wrote 1648 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 1648 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 1648 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 1648 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 1649 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 1649 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 1649 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 1649 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 1649 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 1649 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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