Strangled (Story by R.C. Peris)

My name is Alastair Humboldt. I have been a book critic for the Literary Review of London for thirty years. I have read and reviewed hundreds of books. I became well known in the book world for my scathing commentary. I have extinguished, with my words, many literary lights. I have ruined writer’s careers before their careers even began. Several years ago, an author I reviewed killed herself. Twitter was buzzing with comments. Some were saying I caused her death or rather my review caused her death. Honestly, even if I had known she would kill herself I still would have written the same review. Her book was about the Civil War and was unforgivably close to the overrated and wildly historically inaccurate Gone With the Wind. I had not a single kind word to say.

In September I retired from the Review and since then I have been working on my first novel.

“Will it be a ripping good yarn?” asked Nigel. Nigel was my friend, my only friend, who had an apartment on my floor. “How many pages do you have?”

I decided not to lie to Nigel. “I have one page.”

“One page? Bloody hell. You’ve been working on it for two months. What’s the hold up my dear Alastair?”

“I have a mental block.” I sipped some port and then gulped it.

“A mental block?” He sounded astonished. “More like anxiety. You’re frozen. No one writes with anxiety. I say, are you afraid of a bad review?”

I nodded. I was so afraid of bad reviews that the glass in my hand shook. If it were brimming there would be port all over my lounging clothes.

“Nigel, I’m positively petrified. What if what I write is rubbish?”

Nigel pursed his lips and balanced his port on his slouched chest. “Dear Alastair, you might have been a tad too strident in your reviews. You were dastardly in criticizing creativity and because of that, you killed your own creativity. You should have been more receptive. Even mediocre books can have some value and teach you about the craft of writing.”

I nodded. “Yes. I have murdered all exuberance in me and without exuberance, there is no creativity.” I wanted to cry but I would never do that in front of Nigel. I faced years of retirement where I would create nothing and enjoy nothing. I should have been a barrister like my father wished instead of a critic and then maybe I could write all those stories inside me that are strangling me.

[amazon_link asins=’054458290X,0547485859′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’200wordshort-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d8031def-2160-11e8-a6f9-e95743e8bd93′]

1 thought on “Strangled (Story by R.C. Peris)”

Comments are closed.