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Shaun Prescott: a note on Bon and Lesley
Shaun Prescott reflects on Bon and Lesley (September 2022), his latest book of fiction following the critically acclaimed The Town.
Bon and Lesley started from a desire to write fiction based in a real-world town that I have dreamt about all my life. Other than wanting to inhabit that setting – a dream-aberrated version of a barely known place – I had no firmer plans for it, for a while. Writing fiction is often a way for me to inhabit half-imaginary places that I feel a creative urge to fill out. If the place holds my attention for long enough, the work gathers power from it, and is able to then move in other directions I’m interested in.
Four years later, that playful desire to create and inhabit a place via the writing of fiction seems to belong to another, much younger, person. I have never especially wanted to write novels that have a lot to do with obvious contemporary concerns, and I am probably not alone in feeling weary of modern novels that brush too explicitly against humankind’s currently unfolding situation. But I am an anxious human first, a parent second, novelist third, and the third is subservient to the concerns of the first two.
So this is inevitably a novel with concerns, and they are not subtle ones. I won’t list them. It’s not a journalistic novel, nor a speculative one, nor an auto-fictional one. I wanted to avoid languid, authoritative subtlety, or, in other words, that mode of fiction where the writer has a point, the reader quickly understands the point, but the point is skirted out of literary tastefulness, so that everyone tucks in feeling wiser (but still, wisely, doomed). This is a novel written by a person with no elevated understanding of the forces and phenomena that inspired its mood. I don’t have a point. It’s a work of imagination written by a parent, a worker, a family member, during a time of crisis. It’s a work of imagination contaminated by reality.
Hopefully the reader will find a lot of messy life in it, because that’s the crucial dollop. Unlike other fictions I’ve worked on in my adult life, I felt like I had to see this through to completion, that I could not write anything else until it was out of my way. Now that it’s finished, I feel like I’ve been evicted from a cold but nevertheless sheltering home.
To put it in a way my imaginary friend and fictional character Steven would appreciate: This is my doom metal novel. I hope to one day write a psytrance novel. To some it may make no sense, to others it may make too much mundane sense.
— Shaun Prescott