Popular Posts

Saturday 2 May 2009

A Stoku

A stoku, I have been reading, is an amalgam of a short or flash story and a haiku. It is a story as it inclines towards a flash moment, insight, vision or paradox. Totally new to me, so I thought I would have a go. And this is it. I don't think I made it, I think I ended up with a short story, but see what you think.

The Interview

The interview was not going well. He didn't need to look at their faces to realise that. He didn't even need to catch the glances that passed between them. He could have felt the vibes with his eyes shut and without a word being spoken. It hadn't gone well at the beginning, it hadn't gone well later and it wasn't going well now. This last small episode was the crowning humiliation: he had been given a card on which had been printed a story. They had given him as long as he needed to read the story silently and inwardly digest. It had told of an immigrant family celebrating their first Christmas in this country, and of the excitement of the children at their first encounter with real snow. Of course, there had been much more than that to the story, but those were the salient points, the points that would haunt him for the rest of his life. They had not, however, seemed so salient when he had replaced the card on the big mahogany desk and the head had asked, kindly enough, had he read it thoroughly. He had nodded his reply. For starters they asked him a few questions about the make-up of the family and about the family dynamics. He had been happy with those and replied, as he thought, well enough. But then, what should have been two much simpler questions:
Had they come from a warmer country than England, this family, or a colder one? followed by;

And how do we know that?

He had dealt with the first one easily enough: no hesitation at all: Warmer.

But the follow-through had stymied him. He had known why well enough reading the story. Obviously there was something in the story that had made the answer to their question quite evident. And obviously his brain had registered that something, but just as obviously, the wretched something had been noted by that part of the brain that operates below the level of consciousness. And it was patently evident that that part of his brain wasn't talking to the rest of it.

Later, in fact the moment he got outside the door, the two parts would connect and he would know what he should have said, but for now... blotto.

I don't know... he had mumbled.

They had smiled and assured him that it was fine. Fine? If that had been fine, he had silently hoped never to encounter a disaster. Now, though, the priority was to put it all behind him. Damage limitation. Try to salvage whatever might remain of the interview.

What do you want to be when you leave school?

The question cut in above his thoughts. Almost an intrusion. He felt a little spurt of confidence. He had considered the possibility - certainty almost - of this question and had decided that it would be best not to say artist, for he reasoned that they would be hoping for an aspiration rather more academic than that. He had decided to raid the family fantasy rather than reveal his own. The family had long decided that, with his interest in drawing, he was going to design the houses that his younger brother (more practical and "good with his hands") would build.

An architect.

He had said it with a touch of pride, as though it was a done thing, something already accomplished.

Murmurs of approval greeted the answer. The first such that he had heard.

Interesting... the world could certainly do with a few more good ones... and if you were to be asked to design a school like this, what would you put in it to benefit both pupils and staff?

He had expected something more technical, perhaps. Less mundane. Something to get excited about, maybe a question about styles of architecture or what he thought of all the new materials now coming on stream. Town planning, inner-city regeneration, modernism, the big picture... but how could he reply to such a boring question while still demonstrating something of his knowledge and his passions?

Good heating, lighting and air-conditioning...

And where had that come from? Must have been from that part of the mind that had been holding out on him earlier. It took a few seconds for him to realise that he was home and dried. He was in. Job done. There could be no doubt. The atmosphere in that small room had changed dramatically. There were a few more questions still to come, but the attitudes now indicated that there were no more that mattered. Everything now was a formality. And then the final pleasantries and the show was over.

Even so... radiators and ventilation grills? It was a disappointment. He had never given such things a moment's thought, his knowledge of them was zero, his interest in them less than zero, so from where had that blinding flash of inspiration come? It had seemed to come out of the ether, but he suspected - and suspected very strongly - that it had something to do with the brain, the brain that was beyond his power to control, a dark, mysterious level of thought. Something almost magical, but something more trustworthy, it seemed, than the upper reaches and their rational, academic machinations. When the interview finished he was out of that room like a shot, telling his dad, who had been sitting in the corridor the while, that not only had he found his way into that school, but, six or seven years down the line, his place in art school had also been assured.

Earlier this week Lizzy Frizzfrock honoured me with the above award.

Later in the week I was again honoured, this time by Watermaid, with this further award.

I sincerely hope neither will be offended when I say that I made the decision some time ago not to place awards permanently on my blog. In fact, I decided at one point not to show them at all, but have since thought that I should show them as a post or as part of a post. The decision not to show them permanently is no reflection of my feelings on being given such an award or my gratitude towards those making it. It stems in part from a desire to slim down the blog and thereby decrease the time it takes to load. My most earnest hope is that no one will take this personally. I am so appreciative of all those who follow my blog, who give helpful comments and advice - and, naturally, who make awards. The awards that I have accepted in the past and are still to be seen on the blog will be removed in due course. I had meant to do it earlier but have been obsessed by other things of late. Again, it will be due to no negative feelings towards them or their givers. My grateful thanks to all who have supported me. I have created a label for the awards so that it will be possible to access them.


Jinksy said...

Interesting story - will now have to research Stoku !

Jinksy said...

You may like to see what I've just found here:-


Sorry I still can't get email to you.

Karen said...

Dave - Like jinksy, I don't know enough about stoku to decide if you did or did not accomplish one, but I can say that I enjoyed reading the story. Your characterization of the narrator is layered well and your style is enjoyable. Now, for stoku...off to see.

Unknown said...

Hi Dave,

Seems I'm in good company here, not knowing anything about stoku either! But I enjoyed your story too, so I'll accept it simply as that!

Helen said...

Whatever we want to call your creation ~ I thoroughly enjoyed it. A lesson to be learned here! Stay firm and true to your dreams.

Rosaria Williams said...

We see a bright young man who is looking to the interviewers and trying to gage how his responses affected them. His brain clicked in in a magic way, he thought. This is what he would have thought at that time, the magic part of those impulses.

This is a very satisfying story, and if the definition is applied, the flash insight concept was satisfied too.

We both branched out into fiction this month. Why is that, do you think?

Aniket Thakkar said...


Like other, I too have to look up Stoku now.

But the story was captivating from the start and it puts the reader in the seat of the character and think like him. That's a great feat to achieve.

Congratulations on your awards! You thoroughly deserve them.

A Cuban In London said...

Whether it's stoku or not, I enjoyed your tale as a short story. I smiled internally as the main character changed 'artist' for 'architect'. Does he know that architecture is part of the creative and cultural indsutries, i.e., an art :-)? Wonderful description of those two naughty parts of the brain that hold us back sometimes (yes, they do alternate).

Recently, there was an article in the paper bemoaning the demise of the short story. Please, dave, go and show 'em, will ya? Some 'critics' do need to go out and visit the blogsphere. They would be amazed at the little jewels that abound in these places. Many thanks, those two prizes are well deserved.

Greetings from London.

That Janie Girl said...

Love the story...and applaud your decision to keep your blog easily loading!

Fantastic Forrest said...

I like your story very much, Dave. Wondered about how to construct a stoku, though. That's hazy for me. Guess I would make a bad architect. Ha ha!

Michelle D. Argyle said...

I've never heard of a stoku. So thank you very much for sharing your piece!

I feel the same about awards. I keep one post where I put them all, and just link to that on the side. :)

Cloudia said...

Everything you write is instructive and worthy to my eye!

Michelle said...

I have no idea about Stoku, but the story was great. Was it you??

The lady in Red said...

Dear dave, I am always learning with your posts. Fantastic. I will search Stoku. Have a very nice week,
Best wishes,

Poetic Artist said...

Also do not know about Stoku..Research, you always make us use our brain..Very clever..
I enjoy never the less.

Ronda Laveen said...

I always love morphed concepts and Stoku is no different. In order to determin if you "made it" or not, I will have to read "official" Stoku and then compare. However, I did love this work. Mayhaps if it is not Stoku, you have created somethin new. Very nice.

Ronda Laveen said...

Typo corrections (too quick on the trigger): "determine" and

Dave King said...

JinksyThanks for the address. I shall certainly check that one out.
I thought I had changed my address with Blogger to the Googlemail one. I shall try again. Use that in the meantime.

Karen Thanks for those comments. I think I need to mug up on it a little more.

Derrick Much appreciated. Thanks.

Helen Yes, true. I'm quite encouraged if that came across in the story.

lakeviewer Yes, I think your analysis of the young man's inner machinations is quite correct.
To answer your final question: great minds think alike, possibly?

Aniket Thanks for those much-appreciated comments.

A Cuban in London Yes, I am sure he did know - or at least believe - that. Hence the disappointment when the question - and his response - seemed to have little to do with aesthetics.

There was an interesting article in the Guardian (I think it was) about the imminent death - or terminal illness - of the printed story as a means of financial support and how the web can supply all that printing has of recent years in terms of creative satisfaction and exposure.
Not sure how I Get out there though!

Many thanks for your response.

Janie Thanks. I am becoming quite concerned about the overloading of some blogs. Thought I ought to make a statement of some sort. There are other considerations, though. Security, for one.

Fantastic Forrest I felt the same. Thought I'd get a bit of insight by doing. Didn't, though!

Lady Glamis That sounds like a good idea. Thanks for it.

Cloudia Too kind - but much thanks.

Michelle Too cute by half! The interview itself was based on me, yes. The resulting thoughts and decisions were fibbed!.

The Lady in Red Thanks. Ditto to your good self.

Poetic Artist Thanks for taking the time to respond.

RondaIt would be nice to think so, but I think I'm more likely to be stumbling blindly! Thanks anyway.

Kate said...

What an intriguing story! Full of irony and very well-written. I couldn't put it down! :-)
I'm looking up Stoku too. If I can catch myself with a spare minute.

Dave King said...

KatherineThanks for a very generous comment.

Stephen Dell'Aria said...

I don't know what a stoku is and I admit to have paid very little attention to what a haiku is but your writing is always engaging and you set the interaction of your characters so well. The entire story comes to life with believability.

Dave King said...

StephenMuch appreciate that, many thanks.

Carl said...

Hi Dave,

Whether or not it is a stoku it is a fascinating story. A look behind the curtain as it were of someone on the hotseat of an interview. I could feel the tension in the first few questions and recognized the whoa... where did that come from that so often happens in interviews. Thank You for sharing your gifts with us.


Madame DeFarge said...

Really enjoyed the story too. Takes you there into the room.

I've never heard of stoku either. I think your blog is a way of reminding myself that some people are infinitely better at writing than I'll ever be.

Jeanne Estridge said...

Don't know what the rules for stoku are, but I really liked the story.

Like you, I try to keep my blog as slimmed down as possible for load-speed purposes.

Dave King said...

Carl Yes, I sgree the where-did-that-come-from syndrome. Thanks for the feedback.

Madame DeFarge I don't think that last remark can be right, but many thanks for the rest of it. Much appreciated.

Jeanne Appreciate the support. Thanks.

Shadow said...

in reply to your comment, i watched a movie last night with susan sarandon who acts as doris somebody (a weathly heiress) who has a gay butler to whom she leaves everything, who is an alcoholic. and at the end they write on screen that he died 3 years after her from complications due to alcoholism. thus, the poem. too many tomorrows. when i see this kinda thing, how never-ending it actually is, i end up feeling like i wrote in this poem...

LR Photography said...

Interesting story!

Tabor said...

I was going to make a comment, but after reading the first 28, I found I had nothing new to add! Does that have anything to do with stoku? ;-)

Amritorupa Kanjilal said...

dave- i didnt know what a stoku was till i read this post. thanks for enlightening me and thanks for this lovely story.
take care. do visit...

Dave King said...

Shadow I understand. It does explain the poem, which has an air of authority, certainly. I just was hoping that you did not have to permanently carry such feelings. Interestingly (to me) I unearthed a poem in similar vein which I wrote as an adolescent. I knew I had a difficult adolescence, but that made it sound darker than I remember it.

Adrian Thanks for stopping by.

Tabor I really don't know, but thanks anyway.

Little Girl Lost Thanks. Certainly will visit - now, in fact!

Amritorupa Kanjilal said...

dave... yay! you came!
pls check this very short story out and tell me what you think...

Dave King said...

Been there, done that, signed on as a follower, thought the story great.

CailinMarie said...

well, you are quite something. I've no idea what a stoku is and so I'll fess up now and avoid looking like too big an idiot in trying to say anything about it. I did however, rather enjoy the story and felt quite connected to our young man. I hope he made it to art school. I can only imagine his brain continued to play tricks on him; perhaps he was distracted and decided to study neuro science as well. I believe I'll be back.
Thank you.

Andy Sewina said...

Hi Dave, I enjoyed reading your story very much and suspect that there's a lot of you in there too.