Beneath the Earth

Free Beneath the Earth by John Boyne

Book: Beneath the Earth by John Boyne Read Free Book Online
Authors: John Boyne
had it with publishing, resolved never to write another word, and while living in Tittmoning with my cows I realized that the reason my writing career hadn’t worked out was because essentially I simply wasn’t very good. Although I had one thing that a lot of disappointed novelists lack: an ability to recognize my outstanding lack of talent. This insight made my life a lot easier and somehow I got over my failure and became quite happy in my new role as Tittmoning’s leading
kuhliebhabermann
, but I won’t pretend that it didn’t sting when I heard that Arthur, my old childhood friend Arthur, big-dicked Arthur, had sold a novel to a far more prestigious publishing house than mine and that there was a lot of buzz within the industry about it. (For some reason, I had kept up my subscription to
The Bookseller
website and even though I genuinely don’t care what goes on in the literary world any more, I visit it a few times every day just to keep abreast of developments.)
    What did Arthur have that I didn’t have, I asked myself? Certainly not talent. On that score, we were each other’s equals.
    The galling thing was that I knew immediately that things would go right for him in the way that they had gone wrong for me, and when his book was published I could see in every half-assed sentence and overwritten metaphor that he was essentially a conman and all those fuckers in the publishing houses and all those cunts in the media and those bastard bitches in their book clubs sitting around talking about character development and narrative arc and empathy would just lap it up because they’d all be too fucking stupid to recognize a case of the emperor’s new clothes when they saw it. They’d latch on to his worthless piece-of-shit novel and proclaim it a work of genius and the media would flock to Arthur and call him the voice of a new generation or some other tired old cliché and I’d have to spend the rest of my life listening to his cunting voice on the radio talking about the shit he produced and pretending to be self-deprecating when it was obvious to everyone that he believed they should just give him the Nobel Prize right away and save everyone a lot of time and trouble and I’d be left, like I’d always been, alone with nothing and no one and no talent and no future and no girlfriend and no media campaign and no prizes and no reason to wear a tuxedo ever and no one thinking I’d done well for myself and no one envying me and everyone who knew me when I was a kid saying hasn’t Arthur achieved a lot and what’s this I hear about Pierce getting involved in some scandal in Germany with a herd of cattle? And now Mother was dead on top of everything and it seemed that even she thought he could write a better eulogy than me, the author of
The Dead Game
, who
Time Out
had once called ‘possibly a novelist to keep an eye on in the future in case he produces something more interesting’. Fuck that shit.
    â€˜No,’ I said to Audrey, looking at her as if I’d never been asked anything so stupid in my entire life. ‘Why on earth would I be jealous of Arthur?’
    The wake ended with a song, Arthur singing a piece he had composed for the occasion called ‘The Bride of Battlerea’ on a bizarre instrument called a Chinese erhu, a long-necked monstrosity that resembled a pooper-scooper, with two pegs at the top and a set of strings hanging down into a sound-box. Why he chose this title is anyone’s guess, for there is no such place and if there is – which there isn’t – Mother did not come from there. But there isn’t anyway, so it makes no difference. Although it would be unfair of me not to admit that his voice was at least passable. There were even one or two people who appeared to be wiping tears from their eyes.
    Mrs Burton, our next-door neighbour while I was growing up, laid a hand on my elbow as she spoke to me.

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