it has been said, more often than once, the there is a novel inside each and every one of us. i am not in any position to deny that such is the case, though thinking of one or two of the folks in my acquaintance, i'm not sure i'd like to read the results. it is, may i venture, even an outside possibility that i myself might be capable of writing an entire novel, but i can assure you it is an eventuality that will not come to pass.
several years ago, having had the cycling on islay section in place on thewashingmachinepost, i had every intention of re-shuffling the words into something more akin to a book, even though it may be more likely to remain as a pdf than ever see the inside of a printing press. however, though i can think of one or two who might beg to differ, cycling a bicycle on islay is not a fictional state of mind. were it to achive print status, it would not be filed under fiction in any of the sections in waterstone's or amazon.
i hold the same concerns regarding the commencement of a work of cycling fiction as i would apply to writing a song or drawing a cartoon strip; the stream of consciousness would dry up before the end of even one chapter. how embarrassing would that be? imagine announcing to friends and colleagues that 'twould be only a matter of months before they would hold in their grubby little paws, a work of cycling fiction that would alter the genre entirely. then by the end of week one to be sat facing a blank page on the macbook air.
however, perhaps my metier remains firmly in the world of the non-sensible, able and willing to impose daily dissertations upon an unsuspecting readership but of a non-fictional nature. which, in a nice, cosy, comfortable sort of way, keeps me on the straight and narrow. thankfully, however, there are those in that great big world out there who are afforded writing abilities beyond my ken, folks who can turn their pens to the art of storytelling in a manner that will benefit the cycling race.
keith snyder is editor of the perhaps less than imaginatively titled ride (if only because there are so many other cycling publications with a similar title), a compendium of cycling fiction that has now reached issue two, and available for kindle, ibooks, nook and kobo. i was almost afraid to commence reading this issue (having been culpably unaware of issue one), purely on the basis of having come across so-called cycling fiction on previous occasions that made me physically cringe. it seems often that the writers of short stories about cycling know plenty about their chosen activity, but pretty much sod all about writing or the civilian world in general. when considering the 147 pages of ride i need not have feared.
this stuff is brilliant. how can you not empathise with contents that open with the following phrase "For anyone set free by two wheels and their own power, especially if you brought along a Thermos?
in order to cater for those with an interest in quirky fiction, but who may not be possessed of a cyclopaedic mind, prior to delineating the chapters contained within, there is a glossary of bicycle terminology. one or two of these display a delightful humour; "tailwind: Fictitious explanation for times when you can go much faster and stronger than usual. Used by people jealous of your sudden natural ability". by this particular point in proceedings, i was already well and truly sold.
but truly the very best part about this collection of ten stories is their innate and astounding ability to have us cycling obsessives become aware of the world that might surround our self-built cul-de-sacs. for i truthfully relate that had one or two of these been not a part of a volume subtitled short fiction about bicycles, the inclusion of a bicycle somewhere amongst their paragraphs would have seemed all but incidental.
polo by eric neuenfeldt is, indeed, about bicycle polo, but then again, it's not really. bicycle polo is the setting in which the story is placed, and it is a regularly referenced subject, but truthfully, the narrative subsumes its topic beautifully. this is followed by a short story entitled ulterior motives by barb goffman, and without re-reading, i believe a bicycle only makes its presence known once, or perhaps two times. so can it truly be referred to as bicycle fiction? of course it can. the bicycle is not the be-all and end-all of daily life.
i will confess that the only name inscribed upon the cover instilling any recognition was that of taliah lempert, she of the infamous bicycle paintings. she has not only provided the cover for issue one, but also for the present issue along with the chapter headings and tailpieces. the authors are completely unknown to me, but in terms of the quality of writing, this is a mere bagatelle.
keith snyder, who edits each issue, contributes a poem entitled the rambler. i am not, as i may have informed previously, particularly enamoured of the poetic realm, but as one of three poems included in this issue, i rather enjoyed it. and i enjoyed one of its two companions; passing thoughts, by nigel greene.
Don't feel bad.
I've been training."
each story is short enough to devour at a single sitting, and if you're a non-sequential sort of person, there's not even the need to read them in the order in which they are presented. if you, like me, have been previously bitten by worthless bicycle fictions, allow me to present the antidote, one that will have you e-mailing mr snyder impatiently enquiring after the publication of number three.
ride 2 is currently available for kobo, ibooks, kindle and nook readers. there will be a print version arriving in january 2013.
Gnats top out at 5.5 mph.
This may be useful to you
at some moment
in the summer.
monday 17th december 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................