The Edge ~ a call from Kyoto

Silver dress Message from Charles to Céline Jeurève, dated February 10, 2048, from Kyoto

C: I am glad we could link up this weekend – and sorry again I had to rush out to Japan at such short notice. I did not expect Azymuth to send me here, rather than one their usual custodian hacks for such events. But the Pan-Pacific conference is a moving event, with the recent invitation to the BRICS Federation! I think they want me to do a touch of forecasting on what will come next between them and the Pacific Alliance around key people interviews. The word on the street is that Japan is keen on a “rapprochement”…

Have you heard from Monica? Her last call before I flew out here was a bit desperate, she said to be just fed up with the pressure on her from her present contract with the South-African Fashion Consortium: big money comes with tall expectations she said. Can you give her a call, or a swift mail, and reassure her? Of course she will be welcome week after next if she wants a break and a change from J’burg! She’s still in Milan for a few days.

Kisses & more ;-P

Transcript of video call between Charles and Céline (February 10, 2048, 10pm Tokyo time)

– Charles you’re a charmer… So you went to the Manga museum!…

– Yep a bit of relaxation before the interviews – by the way did you know that the likely commander of the Mars mission is rumoured to be Sandra N’gebî, of the SA Air Force?

– Saw her pic in today’s news, she’s the youngest Air Force general in the federation apparently. Doctorate from Pretoria Technology Institute, studied space navigation in Shanghai and Mumbai, flies her own reconstructed F 15, for fun!

– Have to rush my love – the conference press room is at the Gosho – got my pack yesterday…

– Take care Don Juan, my special – consider yourself well…

– Aw… now… my turn… nice lil’ number you wearing…

– Steady now!

Email from Monica to Céline Jeurève, dated February 10, 2048, from Milan

Taking five secs to write, week was hectic. I love the SA people but they are tough masters, or I should say Mistresses given that both my bosses are female! The SAFC is on the up and up – have great expansion plans through the BRICS and North America. Am missing you and Charles very much, want to have time again with you two. Am off to SA before back in London week later. I hope you loved the pics. I liked the silver dress, thought of you… ❤

PS is Azymuth the same mag that published Charles’ short story last year?

Message from Céline Jeurève to her husband Charles, dated February 10, 2048, marked “late before bed”

Got word from M. Yes she’s keen. Is she keen on “us”, “you”, or “me” – or all at the same time?! She’s lovely. You saw the movie of the catwalk, they went nuts… Reminded me of that moment in Glamorama when Chloe and Victor go on stage… ‘Xcept there is no Victor as far as I can see: do you know?

Btw she remembered your story in Azymuth! When are you back, feel already itchy…? Forensic sucks. Strange how a science can attain its apogee when its use is near rock bottom!

Saw another portrait of Sandra-F15-N to nite on the newsreel. She’s stunning, currently in Moscow. Another video from the Gosho tomorrow? Please… Surprise for you if we do…

Narrator’s historical note

The reference to the Pacific Alliance in Charles’ message is interesting. Following the World Peace Conferences in the early ’30s, after the disastrous decade that preceded, and in response to the formation of the BRICS Federation, the (other) Pacific nations attempted to develop a similar structure, with Japan, the Philippines and the Australia-New Zealand Confederation at its core. The result is still evolving, slowly, due in part to anxiety on the part of the North-American Union.  The invite to Charles to attend the Pan Pacific conference, from the Azymuth magazine (a spin-off from the European Federation’s Press Academy think-tank) may be due to his early articles and short stories on the “origins of the East Asian consensus”.

#WritersWednesday: Obsession and manipulation in fictional characters

Mirror or mask?In Bret Easton Ellis’s Glamorama Victor Ward is obsessed, by his look – the better you look the more you see – by his women, or at least some of them, and finally by the solitude he faces once his devilish dad, the ominous senator and presidential candidate Johnson, has manipulated him to exile, near death, and substituted his shadowy alter ego, his doppelgänger, the fake Victor, to himself. The whole story is that of a long destruction through obsessive behaviour and manipulation of a fragile human being by people close to him. ““You want to know how it all ends?” Chloe asked, eyes closed. I nodded. “Buy the rights,” she whispered.” Spare me.

In Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl Amy Elliott Dunne starts her career as the baby obsession of her parents who end up building a fortune writing stories about their daughter. She then becomes – apparently – obsessed by her sexy and devious husband Nick: “I am fat with love! Husky with ardor! Morbidly obese with devotion! A happy, busy bumblebee of marital enthusiasm. I positively hum around him…” When Amy’s true nature is revealed to the reader, some 200 pages into the novel, it becomes clear to us who the manipulator was: she’s no Cool Girl, although she played the part to perfection for the benefit of her parents and husband: “But it’s tempting to be Cool Girl. For someone like me, who likes to win, it’s tempting to want to be the girl every guy wants.” Amy frames Nick who does not stand a chance, now obsessed by guilt about his supposedly dead wife… And when does it go wrong? “Can you imagine, finally showing your true self to your spouse, your soul mate, and having him not like you? So that’s how the hating first began…”

In my novel, The Page, Julian at first does not recognise his old flame, Melissa, who, in their youth, was obsessed by him, by his look: he was then the Cool Guy. It is now his turn to wonder, to question, to suspect that the too young woman in front of him may not be what she seems to be. But who is behind the scene? Is she the victim of an abhorrent plot? Or is she a willing actor in manipulating him? I am at the crossroad now, having to decide whether Melissa is on the side of evil, or is still prisoner of her devotion to Julian – or both?

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#WritersWednesday: Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis ~

I know who you are and I know what you’re doing.”

Glamorama Today I am taking a break from my usual #WW feuilleton to say a few words about Glamorama. I got this book as a Xmas present from son no 2, and so I read it with attention. Of course I am aware of the scandal around American Psycho, and of some of the damning reviews that welcome Glamorama in 1998, in equal number to admiring ones. I am on the side of the admirers: don’t be fooled by the jealous, this was, still is, will be for a long time, an important book. And I think Ellis is an important writer.

Since 1998 we have seen more horrors, on these shores and elsewhere, some perpetuated by us, our governments, our contractors, our armies. Others, well… We can’t be sure ever,  of what is true and what is cinema, can we?

Victor Ward/Johnson is a hero of our time. He’s possibly a great lover, in the sense of the dying years of the 20th century, in the crumbling empire named America. His girlfriend Chloe, the most beautiful of models, dies an atrocious death in Paris, capital of terrorism – after all the word was coined there! The impostor who stalks Victor, and eventually substitutes himself to him, bed his women, gets his money, and is the only victor, blessed by Johnson senior, presidential hopeful: for so it is that lies trump truth, and the beautiful people be damned.

Read Glamorama, there is one of the keys to our times.

#FiveSentenceFiction: Desolate

“Victor, I’m twenty six. That’s a hundred and five in model years.” ~ Bret Easton Ellis: Glamorama

Model They’d cut her last shoot down from one hour to forty minutes, an ominous sign.

As she walked into the studio she saw the usual lineup of girls waiting, very young – younger than ever she thought – and half naked, and it hit her like lightning: she was now a has-been.

The photographer was rushing her, no longer the admiring hulk he once was, she felt mortified, his tone of voice hardly hiding his impatience.

She had only one haste now: finish the shoot, get dressed and leave this desolate landscape, leave behind all the falsehood, the pretending, the jealousies…

Then she thought of him, the calm man she had rejected so many times, who had told her to come to him once it was over: would he still want her now, now that her supermodel career was gone?