Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sorry, Cormac

So, I was at this 90s party the other week… a lot of my stories start like this, although they are not always 90s parties. I’m talking to a girl in Lisa Loeb glasses and trying to think of the name of the one hit Lisa Loeb had that was on the Reality Bites soundtrack. Then I’m thinking about how cool Ethan Hawke was in that movie and how he still rocks a goatee even though the 90s were over fifteen years ago. Then I thought, could I pull off a goatee? Would I look cool like Ethan Hawke? Then I gave up on that idea; no one could look as cool as Ethan Hawke. The girl in the Lisa Loeb glasses went to grab a drink and left me with a guy in a Kurt Cobain cardigan so bad that Kurt Cobain wouldn’t even be caught dead in. He had his head buried in his phone, checking Twitter, Grinder or whatever and when he glanced up for a split second to see that I was still there, he must have felt obliged to say something, so when he opened his mouth the most generic stranger on stranger questions came out of his mouth.
So what do you do for a living? He asked.
I’m a writer, I said.
Yeah, he said with his face lit from the phone. Written anything I would have read?
I generally don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge on what people at parties have read.
Not sure. I use a pen name.
Oh, yeah. What’s that?
A pseudonym. When you use a…
No the name?
Cormac McCarthy, I said.
The fact that Cormac is fifty years older than me, American and the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize didn’t seem to register with Cobain.

What kinda stuff you write?
I wrote All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, Blood Meridian, The Road
The Road! His head snapped away from his phone and I could see it took his eyes a moment to adjust to the real world. I love that movie!
Well, a movie and a book are two different…
My girlfriend is reading it right now! He threw a look over his shoulder and waved to a girl who was dressed as Brenda from the hit TV series Beverly Hills 90210. This guy wrote The Road, he yelled.
Brenda made her way past a couple of Reservoir Dogs and a Forest Gump to join us. You’re Comac McCarthy?
He’s the guy, I told you. He wrote the movie.
The book, I said again.
Brenda sized me up. I wasn’t sure if she was buying my ruse and I didn’t care one way or another but then she said, I’ve been trying to get into it. It’s a bit shit though isn’t it?
I looked at her, I looked at him and back to her again. What?
Yeah, I just can’t get into it. No offence.
No offence?
You should see the movie, babe. Cobain said. It’s probably better.
I left my heart and soul on the page. I said complete with hand gestures to demonstrate the process. Years!
I’m sorry, she said, I’ll stick with it.
Hey! Cobain said as if he had just had his first thought. Have you got it on you?
She dug her hand into her Country Road bag (very popular in the Australian 90s) and pulled out a movie tie-in edition of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Will you sign it?

Of course, I said. I took out a pen from my pocket, because Cormac always carries a pen with him and I flicked through the first couple of pages and scrawled out a very illegitimate signature and handed it back.
Then I took a beer and got the hell out of there.

So if you see an autographed copy of Cormac McCarthy’s movie tie-in edition of his masterpiece, The Road on ebay, tread lightly and please… I still haven’t looked it up, so if anyone could tell me the name of the Lisa Loeb song that was on the Reality Bites soundtrack, that would be awesome.


  1. "Stay (I Missed You)." No, not you, Luke, although that too of course, but it's the Lisa Loeb title on the Reality Bites album.

    I just loved your story about "Being Cormac McCarthy." How many of us have heard that question? Your answer is the best response yet, and the riff you got to play on it is deserving of a short story...written all in huge capital letters with a crayon so that your new found fans can "get into it."

  2. Luke, this story is fabulous. Americans of my vintage associate the name Luke with "Cool," thanks to the Paul Newman movie. Cool are YOU!

  3. Wonderful, Luke. I wish I had the guts to pull that off. And I'm even almost the right age!

  4. Well somebody asked for my autograph thinking I was JK Rowling. In Marks and Spencers no less. My friend had just said the phrase 'Bloody Writers' very loudly. I 'fessed up. Eventually.