Novel Doodlings


A doodling from a novel I’m enjoying at the moment, Lewis holding a chicken leg, the others killing a chicken:

“…I encounter Lewis. He has a shaved head, which he may think disguises his male-pattern baldness,… […] His moon-like face is given a certain definition by strategically trimmed facial hair. […] …while their heads became distended, like rugby balls hovering above their shoulders.”
— from FIRST NOVEL by Nicholas Royle (Jonathan Cape 2013, pp 20-28)

Please see comments below for anything more about this.


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35 responses to “Novel Doodlings

  1. I received the novel entitled FIRST NOVEL (2013) by Nicholas Royle for my 65th birthday a few days ago on 18th January, together with a novel entitled QUILT (2010) by another Nicholas Royle. The latter is a first novel.
    I am also reading an amazing acclaimed book about 20th century music entitled THE REST IS NOISE by Alex Ross. This was his first book.
    My own first (and last) novel, NEMONYMOUS NIGHT, was published by the award-winning Chômu Press in 2011 when I was 63.

    The above doodlings teasingly remind me of my story CLAD BONE that the first Nicholas Royle above published in his DARKLANDS anthology in 1992.
    CLAD BONE was recently republished in THE LAST BALCONY.

    • Besides the half-dozen short stories by Nicholas Royle in my database (more than I expected) I’ve also found a Tony Royle, an artist who provided one of the illustrations for The Mammoth Book of Thrillers, Ghosts and Mysteries ed. by J M Parrish and John R Crossland (1936), specifically for a D H Lawrence story, The Woman Who Rode Away.

      I’ll be looking at Clad Bone.

  2. “After all, he’s a published novelist. He didn’t self-publish either; a proper publisher bought it, and put it out because they thought it was good enough (or because they thought they could make money out of it, but having read it, I kind of doubt it).”
    –from FIRST NOVEL by Nicholas Royle.

  3. Birdprints in today’s snow of my back patio. They seem shaped somehow appropriately for doodlings from FIRST NOVEL!


  4. It has again occurred to me – temporarily forgotten in this context – that the other book I am reading at the moment is HIDDEN FACES (1944) by Salvador Dali, an excellent novel as it turns out, Proustian but also something intrinsically unique, if not overtly or overly ‘Dalian’, and this was his first (and last) novel. One with a nemonymous-type title. Here are my favourite quotes from it so far;

  5. I am about two thirds of the way through FIRST NOVEL. Really inspiring. I shall make my final observations on it here in due course. Then I shall read QUILT and also report back here.

    I have deleted the link to a review of ‘Nemonymous Night’ further up this page. Didn’t seem appropriate.


    Above is the chair in which Lewis is sitting above.

  6. …from the ridiculous to the sublime:


    This iPad photo does not do it justice, but this is a section of a large quilt created by Mrs Lewis:


    You can make it larger by clicking on it.

  7. In growing hindsight, perhaps this on-going thread represents the start of an experimentation upon a new variation within the theme of Real-Time Reviewing fiction books…?

  8. I am now about four fifths the way through FIRST NOVEL. For me, so far, a major heart-felt, ‘realistic’ novel about family life and its on-off, either-or relationships as backdropped (or forefronted?) effectively by obsessions with first novels, meta fiction, creative fiction tuition, aeroplanes and a Ballardian sex-in-small-places. Writing a first novel and then getting it published is like taking off from the ground with little faith in ailerons…?

  9. I have now finished FIRST NOVEL. I realise that my mention of meta fiction a few hours ago is not really appropriate. I’d class it as ‘future perfect’ fiction (a new genre?), not with, as the book itself describes, ‘some universal archetype’ but rather with a planeman (not a shipman) as universal plainman who deals (see page 234) with sometimes fitting, sometimes ill-fitting counterparts or counterpoints of a soaring novel he wears as conviction-reality. Cladding the bone. Putting exterior on the frame of struts and cockpit. Sexing the Ex.

    And aviator shades to hide the face (a remarkable comparison with the Dali novel).

    Author as Jekyll or Hyde? Either or.

    Otherwise, my earlier comments above a few hours ago still apply. And, as a whole, it is a major book, an inspiring, sometimes disturbing, work of future perfection, and FIRST NOVEL will have been duly remembered and noted. And honoured.

    “He wore round glasses and a sleeveless, green quilted jacket and carried a bag.”

  10. Pingback: My Real-Time Reviews | DF Lewis's Real-Time Reviews

  11. From QUILT by a different Nicholas Royle:
    “It hangs in the air like a silent spy-plane, shadowshow of gallows. That is where living backwards begins: to pronounce dead is to murder, he wrote.”

  12. Up to page 21 of QUILT, reminding me of my own father’s eventual death from MND in 2007, as conveyed by an engaging experimentation in prose style ( if that’s not a contradiction in terms) with a touch of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Not a first novel taking off, but landing??

  13. “…doesn’t mean you actually go out, like there is some plane for you to catch, or even any departure gates,…” — QUILT p24

    My short prose piece from 2007: ‘The Resident’:

  14. A site that has for many years (deliberately or accidentally?) ambiguated the two Nicholas Royles:

  15. Just discovered via Google after mentioning Hopkins earlier:

    “The novelist Nicholas Royle would be heartbroken if the ‘windhover’ were to vanish.” – The Guardian: Where have all the kestrels gone?

    “Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;” – Gerard Manley Hopkins

    And please do search the Internet for a great poem by RAY Bradbury that was written ‘for Gerard Manley Hopkins’.

  16. “…the doctor to thank her for her help but will he ever make that call, what help, she was so pleasant and clarifying and let him die,…[…]…the pathologist confirms that his father had a knock on the head.” – QUILT p37, p40

  17. quilted stingray bag
    …a quilted stingray bag to be used when wearing green trainers.

  18. I finished up at the end of QUILT’s Part I yesterday. The idiosyncratic style so far pleases me, but I can imagine it not pleasing everyone. It reminds me of a book called COSMOS by Witold Gombrowicz that is similarly obsessed with certain words, there ‘berg’, in QUILT ‘pristine’. This seems to suit the obsessions of this whole ‘review of two books and two Royles’ thread – with pervasive ‘objective correlatives’ like aeroplanes and here, in QUILT, rayfish that are shaped like aeroplanes (!) or at least stealth bombers … such pervasion giving much food for thought, backdrop or forefront, vis-a-vis the aftermath of the protagonist’s father’s death. This protagonist turn outs – by objective observance from other characters (that include a woman doctor and woman vicar) – to be a stranger man even than I originally thought, one who wears, with his ex-wife(?), green trainers to the funeral and is starting to build an aquarium for stingrays at home.

    [The earlier quote above from FIRST NOVEL takes on a new slant?
    “He wore round glasses and a sleeveless, green quilted jacket and carried a bag.”]

  19. QUILT p77 – with our protagonist searching his late father’s room of books and other belongings, this is the point of view I naturally have, comparing it to the aftermath of my own father’s death. Yet, parallel to that, I find myself also imagining or empathising with my own son as he surveys my room (a glimpse of which is seen above earlier on this thread) following my ‘future perfect’ death…

    • This is something so often in my own thoughts, speaking as someone without family or partner. So much stuff here – books! – how to make it easier for the few friends who’ll need to sort it out one day. How to signpost the things of value, and how to place values on priceless things. Thinking it over, it’s all about ego, mostly anyway. Memory, recognition, awareness, and the important part solid objects play in supporting them.

      • Thanks, Rog.
        And , on another note, I forgot to mention in my ‘review’ above of FIRST NOVEL, the wonderful opening with the Kindle (Cf McEwan’s balloon opening!) and I quote (I hope you don’t mind) what you just said on Fac Ebook:

        Bought this item after reading D F Lewis’s Real Time Review here:

        Then reading the first pages of First Novel by Nicholas Royle at Amazon, detailing the very detailed and deliberate destruction of the author’s Kindle with a screwdriver! Brilliant!

  20. A friend’s sketch of me that was a small part of a late birthday present (sketched without him having read this thread, especially its beginning!), a present given to me yesterday evening at a dinner party:

  21. “Every noun is another ephemeroid.” – QUILT p111

    Words are creatures in a surrounding, interstice-seeking White Sea (my observation, not necessarily QUILT’s).

    And we’re now introduced to the ‘creepy’ GP: Dr Scrivens – cf: FIRST NOVEL!!!!!!

  22. I’ve now finished this first novel entitled QUILT. I have not yet read the AFTERWORD by the author as I try not to involve potential ‘extraneity-creep’ in any of my real-time reviews, owing to my life-long belief in the Intentional Fallacy… I shall read it later but probably won’t be back here to review it.

    I can forgive all potential stylistic pretentiousness, or radical change of POV, or a supposedly rushed ending with pages of word lists embracing embedded anagrams or homophones of ‘ray’, yes forgive everything for a brilliant ending. You need to read it all and embrace the words yourself, including the ending concept of the manta ray etc. I am enormously impressed and will continue thinking about this novel for years to come, even re-reading it, not least for its startling echo of the photo earlier in this thread of bird prints, plane prints in the snow, surrounding a paragraph centred on this phrase: “uncontrollable traffic of miniature chubby Concordes”.

    A double ‘wow!’ For FIRST NOVEL and QUILT! 🙂

  23. Postscript: Well, unexpectedly, I come back after having now read QUILT’s ‘Afterword: Reality Literature’ – “Reality TV is of course a fiction”, it says. And this is relevant to me in my own on-line running-commentary essays on Reality TV, culminating this weekend when the latest CBB ended! This ‘Afterword’ seems to be the author’s version of his visit to the Diary Room. But who is his interlocutor of a Big Brother? Each and every reader? Or just me?

  24. PPS: QUILT’s unique ending has also begun to remind me constructively of Robert Aickman, but still unique in its own right.

    (And possibly cf: my own story ‘The Starfish Has Lost Its Arm’ in ‘The Last Balcony’ collection.)

  25. Shaving one’s head does disguise male pattern baldness. Of course it does also visually limit one’s likeliness of being mistaken for a reincarnation of Einstein or Klaus Kinski (who I was once informed was sex on legs in Vampires in Venice, despite having a bald pate surrounded by a flowing white mane):

  26. QUILT’S ending is brought back to my mind by the ending of Steve Rasnic Tem’s story STRANGENESS reviewed today here:

  27. Pingback: The Trance of Reading | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

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