I'm super pleased to share that my experimental short story ‘Parsing Memory’ was selected for publication in Lune Journal 06: Dreamfactory. I feel honoured to be included alongside some exceptional creative writing by authors from across the world. You'll find my story around page 40.
This special edition is themed around ‘cinema memory’, which is a subject close to my heart for various reasons. Let me elaborate....
Back when I was a 90s kid, my late grandad managed The Curzon – a two-screen local cinema in Trafford. The cinema was built in the 1930s and retained a lot of its old-timey charm, from its art deco frontage, to its ice cream intermissions and red velvet seats (you know, the fold-up kind that threaten to swallow you whole when you’re kid-sized). Ah, those were the days, etc. etc.
I’d like to say I have many happy memories from that time, but the truth is I was so young I have only fleeting images. Timeworn mental snapshots* that refuse any real form or order: the general sense of excitement; the rattle of poppets in their cardboard carton; the time my grandad let me peep into the projection room. Still, that time in my life made a huge impression on me. Years later, I took a job at the local Blockbuster**, studied for a degree in European Cinema, and I now write scripts and stories for a living. Our family trips to the Curzon were big, special events, and the drive over from Westhoughton felt like journeying to another world (despite only being about half an hour away by car… that's a kid's warped sense of time for you). It was a formative experience for a little kid from a council estate.
Anyway, cut to about five years ago when I moved to Urmston, a place I’d only visited to see work friends and look at houses… or so I thought. Until one day, shortly after moving in, I set off to explore my new home town, only to turn a corner and (re)discover the familiar red brick, art deco monolith that was the Curzon Cinema. My breath genuinely caught in my chest: there was grandad’s cinema. Except now it was a dance academy. And grandad was long gone.
‘Parsing Memory’ is a story about that cinema and its ghosts. It’s part memoir, part confabulation and part pure fabrication. Sort of like the movies. With the format, I wanted to explore the tension that exists in my own practice between literary, filmic and digital storytelling forms. It's written largely as a mock ‘parser’ game (a type of interactive fiction) to give the illusion of choice when really, your memories will show you only what they want you to see.
In the days after first drafting this story, I found out the Curzon building is to become a block of flats. Someone on the local Facebook group claimed that the building is haunted. My dad and I joked that we’ll rent a flat there so we can sit and chat with grandad. Wouldn’t that be nice?
*And a cassette tape of the full soundtrack to The Bodyguard. Yes, I was a HUGE Whitney Houston fan in 1992.
**Geez, I’m really showing my age here! I could write a whole other post about my time spent at Blockbuster. If VHS cases could talk…