Day 5

Please forgive me if I go on a bit longer than usual. In past entries, I’ve been trying to give you a sense of the flavor of McGinn’s prose. Today, I’d like to linger a bit on matters of plot and dialogue.

Remember Mick, the guy from two entries ago who’s “always pissed” because “he has no girlfriend”? Well, the protagonist, Dave Green, was going to crash at Mick’s place, but Mick wasn’t around at the time he’d told Dave to come by. Dave was thus forced to wander the streets of London all night, having encounters with the police and reflecting on the seedy underbelly of the city.

You may wonder why he didn’t just try Mick again at some point later in the evening….

….but whatever. Let’s move on, as Dave Green has moved on.

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“‘Short of cash?’ A bulky man, fiftyish, suity, greying, Windsor knotted, stood at my side. His smile hovered a bit longer than necessary. ‘Need a bed for the night, I’d guess?’

“I turned to him, catching a gust of tangy aftershave. He looked like a well-off businessman, groomed and smooth. His eyebrows seemed thinner than they ought to be, pointier. ‘Yeah, a friend let me down, Mick, so I’ve got to spend the night out.’ As if it’s any of your business, I thought. Still, the guy’s just trying to be nice, the friendly type. Maybe he’s got a spare room or something.

“‘I’ll give you twenty quid if you do me a favor, and you can stay the night.’

“His smile racked up, but it didn’t involve the rest of his face. He looked slightly redder than before.

“‘What kind of favor,’ I inquired, as innocently as possible. I had a bad feeling about the answer.

“….He leaned in to me, stiffening the tang. ‘You suck me off and I’ll give you twenty quid and a bed,’ he said, just like that. He just came right out with it, loosing those words into the atmosphere. ‘That kind of favor.'”

“I was lost for a reply, my voice halted. What do you say to something like that?

“…Mildly, I pronounced the words, ‘I think you’ve got the wrong idea.’

“‘Okay, a wank for a tenner.’

“‘Look, I think you’d better just go away. I don’t want to talk to you any more.'”

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Of course, this doesn’t suffice, and he has to threaten to punch the guy. (“Just fuck off, okay, before I land you one.”) Later, he muses about the experience:

“I couldn’t get the pinstriped pederast out of my head. I thought of reluctant rent-boys swallowing sour spunk for low cash. Not a subject I’d given much thought to before. There’s the career for me, all right. What I really need is a girlfriend to swallow mine…”

–Colin McGinn, “Bad Patches,” pp. 19-21 and 23

Day 4

“As I fucked her I wondered if she did this kind of thing often. Not that I cared: I wanted a fuck, not a fuck with someone who hasn’t fucked anyone else lately. I put my back into it and worked up a useful sweat. My cock heaved and then spat out the usual gunk. It felt exactly like an orgasm. That was good, because there are times when it feels more like pus squirting from a pimple. So good, an orgasm, convulsive, full-throated, right up her cunt. She made some female noises as I whooshed it out….”

–Colin McGinn, “Bad Patches,” 104-5

Day 3

40 Days of Bad Patches, Day 3:

As an undergraduate, David Foster Wallace was a double major in English and Philosophy. His senior thesis on the semantics of physical modality was posthumously published in 2011 as “Fate, Time and Language.” That book includes an essay in which his thesis advisor, Jay Garfield, reflects on the experience of working with Wallace.

“I knew at the time…that David was also writing a novel as a thesis in English. But I never took that seriously. I thought of David as a very talented young philosopher with a writing hobby, and did not realize that instead he was one of the most talented fiction writers of his generation with a philosophy hobby. Of course, he returned to philosophy for a while years later, and I am sure that had he stuck with it, and had he lived, he would have been a major figure in our field.”

Of course, if that’s what he thought of Wallace’s combination of literary and philosophical talent, I can’t imagine the awe Garfield must have felt in 2012, when Colin McGinn self-published his novel “Bad Patches.”

Here, for example, is how McGinn describes the character of Mick on p. 12:

“The thing about Mick that you need to know is that he is always pissed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mick when he’s not pissed.

“…He has no girlfriend either, or didn’t when I saw him last. I hope he hasn’t got one now. Maybe that’s why he’s always pissed. Not having a girlfriend does make you pissed all the time.”

A Clockwork Handjob (40 Days of Batches, Day One)

Here, for your reading pleasure, are the opening lines of Colin McGinn’s self-published novel, Bad Patches:

“No flat, no money, no girl. Shit. Shit. I’ve got piles of nothing here. Nothing: I’m loaded with that crap.

“…..How do I get them? – somewhere to live, something to spend, someone to fuck. You’ve got to have them, right; you can’t survive without them. Bare necessities, they call them (very fucking bare).”

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Some context:

Colin McGinn was, until recently, a philosophy professor at the University of Miami in sunny South Florida. He recently resigned amid allegations that e-mailing his graduate student research assistant to tell her that “he had been thinking about the student while masturbating” may have been in some way inappropriate.

While his recent academic work has been treated unkindly in certain quarters, it turns out that McGinn possess another talent. In 2012, he self-published a novel called Bad Patches.

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In a post on his increasingly fascinating blog, he muses on the similarities between his novel and A Clockwork Orange:

“Alex is a gleefully evil character who narrates his own depravity in unforgettable prose. My antihero Dave also narrates the less spectacular story of his merely poor character–in what I hope is pungently memorable prose….Was I writing another version of Clockwork Orange without being aware of it (Cockwork Blue)?”

Excellent question. You, dear reader, can be the judge.

The sample of pungently memorable prose provided at the beginning of this post was only the beginning.

Stay tuned for 39 more!