Giving Atlas a Voice

It was a tough book to write. Henry Ludlow, that sorry excuse for a protagonist, never stood a chance. It was unfair. He didn’t get much of a character arc. George Abbot said something like, in the first act, your hero gets stuck up a tree. Then, in the second, you throw rocks at him. Finally, in the third act, you get him down from there. He has changed, he has progressed.

Henry doesn’t, though. He gets plenty of rocks thrown at him and his tree is more like a thorn-bush. And in the end, he’s not allowed to come down. It isn’t a Disney ending and it certainly isn’t what people seem to want the story to be. There’s nothing really uplifting or inspirational.

Sure, you want Henry to succeed. You want him to find some strength within, some untapped resource that he needs to discover. You want him to figure out life. You want him to get it.

But he doesn’t get it. He can’t, and that’s the problem. That’s the goal of the story. Henry is doomed. He is doomed and the people who can save him won’t, or can’t. Either way, it doesn’t matter. He’s not a super hero, he’s barely an average guy.

I doubted that I was actually doing something wrong, there. Was I being needlessly cruel? He’s just a character, after all. But he’s not just a character. He’s more than that.

Then I read a couple of Franz Kafka books and I realised, yes, not all books needed to have fairy-tale endings. Not all books needed to even have likeable characters. Maybe Atlas, Broken, isn’t a nice book, or a happy book, or a readable book, but it’s a book that I had to write and now, I’ve figured, I might as well do the audiobook as well.

The setting is in suburban Melbourne. The folk are typical suburbanites. There are Tim Tams and seagulls and beer. Really, this should be right up my alley. Let’s see.

Captain Underpants

Had holes in my jocks. It’s a thing, you know, when your undies are old and you’ve worn them so much there’s nothing left in the rear and it looks like a farmer has gone and blasted you with rabbit shot.

Normally it’s a matter of going through the drawers – no, not like that, the drawers that hold the drawers – and fishing out the knickers that don’t look like they can survive another round with Mr Crotch. Those with flaccid elastic or holey rumps get tossed into the bin, neither reprieve nor quarter.

Today was different. Today we had a problem. Lock-down says we need to wear a mask or face a fine – real money – and I wasn’t about to hand over my dosh for want of a piece of material across my snoot.

The Mother of Invention tapped me on the shoulder and presented the two problems before me: Worn out smalls and the need for a facial cover. What else was there? The front of the noodle bag has a gusset, or is that a pleat? Whatever it is, it’s the bit that holds the goods and it’s shaped perfectly to form a chin. Heck, it’s like the guy who designed them used his own face as a model.

So what was left? Trim off the bits on the outside, seal the edges, put some elastic down the sides and add some pleats (or gussets?) around the nose, and job done:

Real super-heroes wear their undies on the outside!

Holds my sideburns and goatee, doesn’t flop around and it’s made out of that soft material that can sit against your skin all day long.

Don’t worry, they were washed beforehand.