Your third novel is set in Canada and was written out of pure malice. It wasn’t Canada’s fault; you love the country. After all, you went there because your dad was almost a Mountie, your great-grandfather used to run a Hudson Bay Store and they were running cheap flights at the time. What you hadn’t accounted for was the deep sense of deja vu. Just as it was possible to loose an entire boot inside a pair of velvet loon pants, was it equally possible to lose an entire country in the same way? Had Canada been folded, like a banana wholemeal pancake, into a wrinkle of the time-space continuum?
Arriving from London in 1977, even while the Sex Pistols were spitting on their po-go-ing audiences, you found everyone in Ottawa wearing denim overalls, sitting on porches beneath home-built wind chimes earnestly discussing the best method of sprouting alfalfa seeds. They stared at you in mellow wonderment because you looked and sounded like a cassette tape on fast rewind. They passed the mandatory joint around, you took a drag and an entire decade vanished. It was 1969 again and you were suddenly floating in the warm tide of a country’s combined earnestness. You snarled and quipped to no effect. You tried to undermine all the genuine good feeling with your nasty, ironical old world view. In response someone offered you a plate of warm peanut cookies.
Slumping to the porch floor under the malign influence of the wind chimes, you gave in and fell for a Canadian. It had to be admitted. You liked the thought of an aluminium canoe in your backyard and cross country skis in your porch.
Some years later, unable to afford intensive psychotherapy, you turned this experience into a fantasy of retribution on all Canadians.
Three chapters of this case study were sent to six agents. After three months, five of them had rejected it. You wearily rang the sixth and left a despairing message with her assistant. Only a matter of hours later the actual agent rang back, apologised for not having read your chapters before. She was so nice, even feeling it beholden upon her to make an excuse
(something to do with a whacky intern and a crate of WKD ) Then she asked you to send her the full manuscript. Of course you agreed readily, fulsomely, excitedly. You agreed to send it immediately. Then you put the phone down and bit your knuckle. There was no full manuscript. You only had those measly three chapters, as well as a rapidly forming image of someone shooting themselves with determined precision, royally in the foot.