I was reading a book by a guy I've known since school. In the margins, there were little cartoon drawings of people. As the book went on, more and more space was given to the drawings, which became bigger and started to feature speech bubbles, in which the characters commented on the story. Eventually, the printed text was squeezed out completely but it was possible to follow the continuing story because the drawn characters kept talking about what was happening. One character said, "I'm glad that the guy finally caught his bus!" and another replied, "Yes! But he lost his luggage when a poor peasant picked it up. She lives in a village on top of a mountain!"
The drawings were pretty good. At the start of the book, I thought that I could detect a Robert Crumb influence. However, presumably due to pressure to meet the publishing deadline, the pictures in the later parts showed more clearly their true influence: Dr Seuss. In fact, a couple were almost tracings of some pretty famous characters. Wasn't that the Lorax talking to the Cat in the Hat? Also, some of the coloured inking was pretty poor. Actually, although the idea of having cartoon characters comment on the text in a post-modern kind of way was great, the artwork ruined the book. What a shame! It could have been excellent!
Notes for Freudian Analysis
The other day, I read "Lost Cosmonaut", a book by a guy I've known since school (Book of the Week on Radio 4, starting next Monday, by the way). It's a non-fiction book (although full of lies) about his trips to various remote republics of the former USSR and it's very funny. He writes in a tone that I always think of as Dunfermlinesque, by which I mean that he has a sort of detached cynicism that is based on an assumption that almost everything is shit but that that's not a problem and might even be a good thing.
Of course, when a friend is successful in a field that you might quite like to have some success in, no matter how unlikely that might be, your feelings are a little mixed. When a colleague asked me what I was reading, I said, "Depressingly, it's a rather good book by an old school friend who's doing very well." My feelings were much more complicated than that, obviously, but, as shorthand, it was fine. My colleague, who has one of my etchings framed in her flat, very thoughtfully said, "Yes, but can he draw?"
That planted a seed, I suppose. And then, during the night and in secret, my fragile subconscious exacted a petty revenge on my friend for having written a good book by ridiculing his non-existent drawing ability. Triumph is mine, once more, thanks to the id!