More details of Edmund ‘The Honest’ Ek’s solitary life in the Norwegian wilderness have been dribbling forth from the habitually leaky tap of literary gossip. Investigative journalist Fredrik Ruud continues, it seems, to spy on the poor young writer, following every one of his mostly mundane moves.
The boat-building is, it appears, over; so too the construction of a small writing shed, and a warm and comfortable abode for the white cat (name unknown) that keeps our earnest scribe company. ‘Fascinating’ details concerning Ek’s diet have also emerged: in addition to the fish he catches – artic char, grayling and perch among them – he is also keen on eggs, especially for breakfast. Indeed, according to statistics provided by the ever watchful Ruud, Ek has consumed, ‘on average, three eggs a morning in the last seven weeks’. Famous keen-egg-eater (and relatively less famous book-writer) George Orwell comes to mind (see Hooting Yard for typically excellent commentary).
It seems I’m not the only one to consider this obsession over the minutae of Ek’s ‘new’ life an activity of ever-increasing vapidity. Fellow novelist Boris Yasmilye is similarly unimpressed. ‘Till we’ve seen a word from Edmund’s pen, this pointless celebritisation will only serve to embarrass us’. He adds: ‘Personally speaking, I’ve never got much from a healthy lifestyle, let alone the compulsive comsumpion of eggs. I wake at three in the afternoon and write almost entirely at night, with a large bag of cookies for company. Nothing beats the thundering stillness of a sweet and silent night’. Thanks for that Boris.
As for Fredrik Ruud, he hardly needs to be told that he is wasting his time. That much is obvious. Someone ought to tell him to get out from behind that tree on the other side of the lake and investigate something of true importance. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself for staying out there so long. Not only is he throwing away valuable resources, but he’s gone more than a month (more than a month!) without finding out the name of Ek’s cat. Ridiculous behaviour.
We’ve explored his breakfast, morning and lunch: now the question on everyone’s thin winter lips is ‘what does Turgidovsky do in the afternoon?’
Well, the forty-seven minute writing bursts continue, with a break at three fifty-four for a spot of rook hunting. Turgidovsky loves rooks deeply, more deeply than any human he has ever met, yet admits that ‘guilt is a powerful drug’ – which is why he shoots them, taking care to ensure that their death is slow, painful and perfect literary source material. He also regrets – and, in turn, derives pleasure – from stamping on shrews, elbowing calves and picking off wrens with a bow and arrow he made as a child.
It doth arrive as no great surprise that dusk is Turgidovsky’s favourite time of day. ‘It brings out the dreamer in me,’ he once wrote: a statement that might just as well be translated as ‘it brings out the nightmarist’ (if only that were a word). He likes – or likes to dislike – watching the ‘gold git of a sun’ set whilst standing knee-deep in a trough of pig’s urine and munching on pinecones. Don’t we all?
For dinner Turgidovsky treats himself to his second least favourite foodstuff. I cannot say what this consists of. Marshmallows, maybe?
After a heavy breakfast, the shit-eating scribbler of St. Petersburg (otherwise as known as Pyetr Turgidovsky) makes way his to work through nineteen boggy fields and one shallow but increasingly putrid swamp, riding a unicycle with a punctured tyre. His workplace consists of an abandoned barn, shared with thousand rats or so: ‘the perfect conditions,’ writes the Russian, ‘in which to create a masterpiece’.
He writes in forty-seven minute bursts. If he goes overtime he punishes himself by ringing his mother, who is guaranteed to remind him of everything that could possibly go wrong with an old woman’s gall bladder. If she isn’t in, he rings the talking clock, which has much the same effect.
Between periods of writing, he often washes his beard in orange juice. On other occasions he throws a needle into a nearby haystack and sees if he can find it. Once he snorted a line of pigeon droppings and had a hallucination about winning the Nobel Prize for Peace (‘the most frightening experience of that week’ he later called it).
For lunch Turgidovsky eats peaches, plums and, on Thursdays, pears. He also eats cheese, which he simply can’t abide.
After lunch, he returns to his desk and starts writing again.
Some of you may be familiar with Daily Routines, a site which reveals to the ever-eager world the daily routines of various aristic and, on occasion, merely interesting people. It is here that we may learn that Will Self has a stove on his desk, Gerhard Richter drinks chamomile tea and James Thurber used to write during parties (albeit in his head).
Wonderful as it is, however, this site has yet to feature any of the artists with whom I am inclined to deal. Where, for instance, is Koira Jupczek? Whither Johannes Speyer? Why no anecdotes about Eugene Matendré? It’s a criminal oversight, of course, though one which I have the opportunity of correcting here on my own blog (feel free to breathe that sigh of relief right now).
I could say that this will be a regular series, but I don’t wish to steer my raft in troubled waters, so I won’t. Suffice it to say that I will be supplying you with facts relating to the daily routine’s of obscure European writers only if and when they emerge.
Allow me to start with a small detail regarding the breakfast habits of Pyetr Turgidovsky, author of The Lunatic and the up-and-coming Delicious Air of Life. Most of us, Turgidovsky included, will have heard Mark Twain’s remark about eating a live frog every morning in order to ensure that one’s day can only get better. For Turgidovsky, however, eating a frog is clearly not enough. ‘Eating a frog, toad, or any amphibian life form would be, whilst destatable, a significant improvement on most of the other things I am forced to do during the course of a normal day,’ he once wrote, adding that he ‘would rather snort five salamanders up my nose than spend five minutes conversing with a friend at a supermarket’. With this in mind, he has always required something much more potent than a frog for his breakfast. But what?
How about the previous night’s dinner (digested)?
[Parts Two and Three of this article can be found here and here]