11 March 2015

Let's Talk About Cars

Here's Lee Rourke in his 2010 novel, THE CANAL (Melville House):
"'It's an Audi TT 225 Quattro Coupe. It's a powerful little machine able to explode from zero to sixty in six point six seconds flat. A top speed of one hundred and fifty-one miles per hour. Although, I'm positive I've pushed it further. It's specified in pearl-effect black with a grey leather interior. But the wheels—perfect seven and a half by seventeen inch rims. People would turn heads whenever I sped by. It's really my ultimate machine. You should see the engine—seventeen eighty-one cc's in size, gleaming all year round.'
"'It's simple: we are technology—we rival nature. We are able to mould ourselves into something superior. Put simply, my car means more to me than any other thing I can think of..." [p. 58]
"'I had to do it. I saw him and...I had to obliterate him from my life. I had to make him obsolete. There was no other option...It felt good, butterflies in my stomach, that type of thing, some call it a buzz...My god, the sound of the engine as I approached him, dropping a gear, there was nothing I could do except hit him.'
"'He didn't matter. We don't matter. If you could have felt what I felt behind that wheel—just the rumble, the slight tremor of surface movement, of things, bitumen, passing beneath me. The speed...the engine growling...We are limited. We need something more, we need that added extra in life. Technology provides all we need. Technology dominates a large part of our unique relationship with the exterior world. I have never wanted to hide behind technology. I have always wanted to use it, to control it, to display it. It has always puzzled me why one would want to hide one's hearing aid away from the world. Why do that? Do you understand? It is an extension. That's all. Part of us...All of us should understand that technology will be the death of us, not our saviour...It's leaving us all behind. I am just repeating the obvious.'" [p. 66] Lee Rourke, THE CANAL
Now here's me, in my as yet unagented, unpublished novel EULOGY (which was requested and is currently in the hands of an agent at Writer's House in its totality. Waiting...waiting...)
"The car, a bare-bones airport rental with nothing to speak of for acceleration—not that I could use it now—crept along the jammed expressway. I slammed my palms against the steering wheel. There had been no signs to alert me to the delays. I glanced at the digital clock on the dashboard: 7:39. Worthless piece of shit! I was so used to being a passenger in an unending series of cabs and trains I could never again feel at ease behind the wheel of an automobile.
"There was a book I had read in college, a book of poetry. I couldn't remember who it was by. Some obscure younger poet. A vanity pressing, maybe. What was it called? Something about people and cars. Rivers of Rust. Seeing the stream of traffic strung out before me on the highway put me in mind of it. The extended metaphor of the long poem—or series of poems, I forget—posited a world in which human beings had evolved an automobile-like exoskeleton: homo automobili or some such. And these car-people flowed along the rivulets and creeks and streams and rivers of their new roadway world until they gave out and were junked and their shells cannibalized for parts. Maybe it was called Driven. It might have been an allegory about death, I don't know. I was never very apt at literature. I looked at my watch. It was nearly one o'clock and I had, under the best of conditions, another half-hour's drive ahead of me. The funeral was at two. This felt nothing like poetry.
"A greasy drizzle confounded the two speeds of the car's windshield wipers: they either squeaked across dry glass or smeared the spatters of water in blurry arcs across my field of vision. To make time, I drove along the right shoulder of the road wherever I could and took every exit and sped down each on-ramp, waiting to merge with the stalled stream of traffic until forced to do so by a bridge abutment or signage or other roadside obstruction. I knew I was pissing off the other drivers who didn't have the balls to do what I was doing, but I didn't care. They would have to deal with their own timidity and jealousy. I had a funeral to make. Their rules did not apply to me." [ms pp. 244-45] Jim H., EULOGY.


(as mentioned in THE CANAL)

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