Official Author Type Person

Seeing yourself in print brings with it a wave of emotions.

  1. Knowing that the words over which you toiled are now out there in the world, being read, is both exciting and terrifying
  2. Worrying that they may be out there in the world NOT being read is both terrifying and also terrifying.
  3. Realising that the work has really only just begun and now you need to flog the damned thing within an inch of its life is… well, they haven’t quite invented a word that sums up the magnitude of that emotion.

 

Anyway, that’s my shifty way of pasting in my first official Amazon Affiliates Link, with an eye on both this book and everything thereafter – more books, more music, possibly a set of ornate candlesticks.

Note: The above is an Amazon Affiliates link through which I do make money.

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Bisection E-Book now Available

A promotional post, I’m afraid, this one. Partially because I have grown fond of eating over the past forty-three years and my daughters keep sending me Amazon links accompanied by the word “WANT” (always all-caps, and often prefaced by the phrase “You know how you love me?”)

But also because I am incredibly proud of the work and I have pleased to hear, from those kind folks who pre-ordered the paperback, that it fulfils at least one of its remits, which is to help people to understand bipolar disorder – at least in terms of how it has manifested for me.

I cannot claim to speak for anyone else as you always see my lips move.

Hopefully, it is also funny. It was intended to be, but it’s not for me to judge.

It is available worldwide and here are some links to prove it. Please consider picking up a copy and leaving a review. It make me smile, as well as go to the shop and buy soup.

You get the idea. The audiobook will also be live soon, for those of you who wish to drift off to sleep to the sound of a ranting Canadian.
It can also be found, reviewed and recommended on Goodreads.
Thanks as always to my publishers Chinbeard Books and Spiteful Puppet.

A Towelling Tale

The autumn I turned 19, I left home.

Quite a common rite of passage, I should imagine. There comes a certain time in a young person’s life when they need to fly the nest and strike out on their own in the big, wide world.

I travelled further than most, but the shape of it stands.

I was reminded of this today, in fact, when I was nursing my depression with some literary therapy – by which I mean, going to a charity shop and seeing how many books I could get for a fiver.

As I was scanning the shelves, a conversation struck up behind me. On the one side, the two kindly women on shift in the shop. On the other, a young man in search of a towel.

He was a student, you see, and had arrived back in his University with little but the clothes on his back – his Mum unable – he said – to get there with further provisions for a couple of days.  He had been to the pound shop and bought an umbrella, and now he was in search of a single towel to tide him over until the maternal rescue party arrived.

The shop did not currently have any towels in stock, but the women in charge investigated the mysterious back room and found one that was clean enough for student purposes, but not quite unsullied enough for general sale.

He went on his way, freshly towelled, and they said, “Bless”.

And I thought, “What a good story”.

I’m telling it now, but I do wonder if he will tell it himself in the future, when he’s older and the weight of years and disappointment is causing his past to worry at him like a small, livid dog that has taken against a trouser cuff.

Because as he was in the charity shop, covering his bases dampness-wise, I was remembering the year I was 19, alone in a new country, ensconced in a cheap and threadbare bedsit – its walls bordered by divorced men who worked shifts and therefore took heavily against afternoon guitar practice.

So I read that year, perhaps more than any other, because a library card was all I could afford. I borrowed my limit and consumed them at pace, to balance a diet that otherwise consisted of own brand spaghetti hoops and tinned peaches. I must have read 500 books that year, of every stripe, outpacing even my usual rapaciousness for the written word.

500 books is a lot, I’m assured. I lose track. And 19 is an age when you are still forming, especially if you have arrived at it broken, abused and positioned at a left angle to reality.  Those books – and I couldn’t name all of them, but I remember many more vividly than some of my real life activities – undoubtedly lay some of the foundation for my thought processes and worldview.

And in the midst of it all, someone I loved lent me some towels. And a small black and white TV, despite it being 1995 and muddling the theme.

Printer’s ink and rescue.

I fear that may be my measure.

But I do know where my towel is.  And that’s not nothing.

***

Purchases of Kenton Hall’s book Bisection do not entitle to you to a free towel and we don’t know where you got that idea.

Bare Cares

I appear to have gone to war with myself again. I’m not entirely sure why, although I suspect it has a lot to do with the seismic shifts in my schedule, the alternate hope/despair axis of loosing a project into the world and my increasing awareness that my term as care-taking parent is rapidly coming to a close.

“I just don’t,” as Burt and Hal so aptly put it, “know what to do with myself.”

Once upon a time, this is where mania would have come screeching into frame, waving its banners and doing its little semi-clad dance. Madness would beckon and I’d go scurrying.

I don’t do that anymore. So what do I do instead?

In an effort to ensure that I don’t do anything other people will regret, I can feel myself retreating in to my original baseline self.

I want to read and I want to be left alone. Everything else feels like noise. The world is angry and ill-informed and I want no part of it. I want positivity, togetherness, hope – but I haven’t the energy to ford the shit river that lies between.

I’m inspired by one half of the news and deflated by the other two thirds. And livid at how poorly I’ve kept up my numerical skills.

Experience and a whole book’s worth of self-examination tells me that this moment will pass, that I know well enough how to catch a passing log and cling on. That eventually I will reach the shore again and figure out yet another way to be, to live, to laugh.

I feel, today, surplus to requirements. And yet too much in demand. It’s the kind of contradiction in terms in which I have always specialised, but I’m bored of it now.

I feel like I’m forever breaking out the defibrillators to resuscitate a goldfish.

This is the nature of mental illness – the nature of existence, really. The task is to survive until you don’t have to anymore. Which, sure, accounts for the entire history of everything but there are days when it doesn’t feel like much of a motivation.

But even in the midst of it, I’m thinking about a book I’m quite enjoying, that I’d like to get back to. I’m thinking about a book I’d like to write. A trip I’d like to take.

I’m thinking about what to feed the kids that will weary me least to hear rejected. I’m pondering how I folded an entire load of laundry last night which contained only one item of clothing that belonged to me – and that was a sock with a hole in it, which I then threw away.

Life, in other words, goes on.

I also know that the most difficult part is that I’ve, painstakingly, taught myself not to scream. And that’s what I truly fancy doing right now. Having a good old scream.

I wish I could care less. I wish I didn’t have to win this one.

But I do.

So, the pain is a good sign. It means I’m still healing.

***

Previously on Kenton Hall:

Bisection is out now.

They, the People

I attended a climate change demonstration today, along with the fractionally older of my two daughters, both because I believe strongly in the need for action and to show solidarity for her burgeoning political conscience.

Frankly, the number of attendees, of all ages and degrees of hemp ownership, was heartening. Particularly in my adopted country, that level of passion, on open display, tends to attract disdain. You could sense it radiating from the far, outer circle –  cynics rubbernecking and tutting to themselves.

From the inner circle moving out, the pure, unsullied intensity of youth. Fury and hope flirting like drunks.

It was… an experience. And I’m glad my daughter was motivated to go.

The placard game was a bit weak, I’m afraid, but that’s a writer’s kvetch, to which you should pay no mind.

But the demonstration itself is not actually what I wanted to talk about. It simply brought home to me something that I’ve been noticing a lot lately: I respond increasingly poorly to crowds.

I always have, to an extent. An aptly-named crush of people has always triggered mild claustrophobia and my erratic sense of self has always dropped a double album’s worth of loneliness and panic mash-ups when confronted by humanity en masse.

But lately, it’s not the numbers or the concentration that have been giving me pause. It’s simply the existence of them all. At some point recently, the reality of people has swum from the back to the front of my mind, and when out in the world, I feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of lives out there – fumbling, broken, gleeful, despairing, loved-up, roughed-up, messy lives. I can feel the waves of emotion – positive, negative and unreadable – rolling off of them, and it makes me feel like I’m drowning.

I don’t know if it’s symptomatic – I have been struggling with depression recently – or a function of age, but it’s bone-deep terrifying. With many of the odd or complex thoughts that plague me, the articulation of same tends to mitigate their horrors, but the more I write, the less clear it becomes.

You’re nodding in agreement at this point, I’m sure.

I simply don’t know what to do with this unwanted global empathy.  I feel as though there must be a way to use it in the service of others, but it’s buffeting me so hard, I’m barely standing. It would be a route to perspective if there weren’t so damned many of them, but cut the numbers and it rapidly begins to dilute the point.

I can’t tell if my mind is slipping its moorings again, or I’m just experiencing a flash-growth of further maturity. I may also be hungry, in need of a nap, sickening for something or simply overwhelmed by the selfish, prosaic concerns that currently lurk closer to home.

I’m sure I’ll figure it out, or a distraction will hove into view, and this will all seem like a blip. I collect blips, like stamps or heartbreaks.

In the meantime, could you all stop thinking for a bit? I’m struggling to hear myself talk.

***

Bisection – which is far less convoluted than the above is available now.

 

 

Scenes from a Mild Relapse

I’ve been fighting off a stress-triggered depression the last few weeks, the first serious one I’ve had since I owned up and took my medicine three years ago.

I’m going to be honest, I haven’t missed it.

It is what it is, and diluted by medication to boot, but I’ve kind of set out my stall as being open about these things, so there you go. I am not mended, simply mitigated.

And, also, quoting myself, which is appalling.

Thankfully, for the moment, it has confined itself to the odd bout of tearfulness, a couple of intriguing – if wildly impractical – fantasies about running away from home and, most intensely of all, a desire to line up all my books to the exact edges of the shelves on which they sit.

Leaving aside that that there are many, many, many books that live here and only just the requisite number of shelves to keep them happy, I do, generally, find this activity soothing.

In doing so, however, I was reminded that my copy of Out of Africa has both the author’s pen name (Isak Dinesen, as originally published) and a version of her real name (Karen Blixen, short for Baroness Karen Christenze von Blixen-Fineckeon – not even slightly a joke and, worse, in German-speaking countries they call her Tania) on the spine.

My books are in alphabetical order and I now have a new nemesis.

Which is good, because I saw a twentysomething man earlier talking absolute shit while wearing AirPods and he was briefly in the running.

***

Bisection has only one name on the spine, like a sensible book.

The Books I Love, Part the Second

Ahead of Armando Iannucci’s new film version, I just started re-reading David Copperfield.

I haven’t tackled any Dickens for years, largely due to his name being most often conjured by the twins alongside some inventively profane oaths about overdue essays.

Still I remember, with what passed for pleasure in my younger years, tackling the entire oeuvre when I was about 15. That was the kind of thing I did, then and now, having mistaken Simon and Garfunkel’s “I am a Rock” for an aspirational hymn.

To return to the matter at hand, lest this become an accidental companion piece to the novel in question, David Copperfield is still fucking hilarious and clearly had more impact on my writing style than I had recalled.

The so-called classics get a bad rap from those who haven’t actually read them, have been forced at teacher-point to pen commentary on them, or, for whatever depraved reason, do not find that wondrously twisty sentences require them to decamp to their bedroom for some alone time.

Go. Read David Copperfield. Actually, buy my book, read it when it arrives next week, THEN read David Copperfield and write me an essay comparing the two, referencing the treatment of mental illness in the character of Mr Dick.

***

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Bisection not by Charles Dickens