Dinos Tierotis’ second novel, The Golden Bomber Jacket, has been in bookstores (well, a few of them anyway) since May. I confess I haven’t read it. I flicked through it once, in a desultory manner. Damn it I was desultory. Of course, it took me some time to be won over by Tierotis’ debut, Perseus and the Pepper Grinder. But something about the follow-up has flicked the wrong switch entirely. It is as if the book doesn’t want to be read; as if it resents having its fresh pages turned over; its sentences violated by the eager reader’s eyes. ‘Leave me on the shelf’, it sobs, ‘don’t touch me, don’t touch me’.
Much was expected of this book, which may go some way to explaining its anticlimactic reception. Very little was expected, on the other hand, of another piece of writing by the same author: an independently published pamphlet, entirely unconnected with the novel. ‘Bonus material’ it might be called, were it not so well hidden. I was lucky enough to have found it.
The Tissue of Lies is the name it goes by; the first in a series, the back cover claims, of ‘pamphlets by contemporary writers, each exploring the true origin of a common phrase’. Tierotis’ phrase, as you will have guessed is ’tissue of lies’, which he duly investigates with wit, charm and the consummate skill of an experienced storyteller. Playfully ignoring all logic, Tierotis weaves a tale of such silliness that resistance is near impossible.
It turns out that there was once an actual ’tissues of lies’. Or should I say, ’tissue of Lies’, for ‘Lies’, it transpires, is a place. A town famed for a propensity of writers and – later – for a tissue. How the tissue got to be so famous – and how it became the origin of a common phrase – are questions I shall not answer here. It is, after all, a short pamphlet, and I should hate to parcel out so many of its few secrets here. Suffice it to say that these secrets are well worth bending an ear towards.