Fanfare! The Mac is Mightier than the Glock

Is it time to scrap the concept of 'literary fiction'?

18 Writers' Conferences in August 2016

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Octopus Messiah

David Holthouse is my best friend and the best man at my wedding.

David was brutally raped when he was eight years old. When he and I lived in Denver in 2002, Dave found out his rapist lived a couple towns away. He bought a gun and plotted to kill him. It didn't quite work out that way...

David Holthouse is a journalist, the most Gonzo one I know. Instead of killing his rapist, Dave arranged a meeting which he secretly recorded. He then went on to write an article called Stalking the Bogeyman which he read on one of America's biggest radio shows, this American Life. A theater producer heard the show and turned it into a play which then went on to New York and rave reviews.

That play is now in London at the Southwark Theater! I'm a bit nervous about seeing it for about a thousand reasons but I hear it's fantastic (going Monday).

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If anyone's around I urge you all to go and see it. This will be the final time Dave is going to do Q&A's after the show. (This article in yesterday's Observer tells you why).

The Mac is mightier than the Glock. I love him for proving that to me. David Holthouse is my hero.

(Dave has also been a guest on Litopia After Dark. :))
Good for him. It can take a lifetime to come to terms with abuse in childhood, as the victim often takes the blame themselves.

There's been an encouraging trend in recent years, of people opening up about their struggles with depression and other mental disorders, including problems with self-worth from being abused. Turning sad and bad experiences into art, of any form, is a way of helping other survivors.
I've seen some brilliant shows at Southwark Playhouse, I'll definitely check this out. Can't claim to understand but definitely sounds worthwhile. I'm up there weekend after next, booking tickets.
I went to the question and answer session last night where Dave responded to audience questions about his mental state in co-writing the play as well as doing tons of media not just here but in New York. Think about reliving the worst twenty minutes of your life every single day. He says he's been compartmentalizing the rape for most of his life so that's not really a problem (!) but watching a reinactment of his 32 year old self becoming more and more unhinged as he plots to murder this guy hits closer to the bone. I saw the gun-- a big ol' chrome handled Ruger .38. There's no doubt in my mind he was going to kill him.

But instead he chose the hero's path: to not re-enact the same old Gladiator/Batman/Taken revenge fantasy that's played out in so many films, plays and books over the last thousand years. Instead he used the transformative power of art not only to help heal himself from trauma but to drive the conversation forward in an effort to help change the culture surrounding child abuse. Dude's a fucking legend.

Please go see the show.
So last night, after spending a week with my buddy Dave the Gonzo journalist-- as opposed to David Holthouse the rape survivor/playwright -- I finally went to see Stalking the Bogeyman
And it was tough.

Great production, well staged, powerfully acted (Glynis Barber or Gerard McCarthy anyone?) but I think I'm too close to comment other than to say go-- this is the kind of art that drives culture. Breaks the culture of silence surrounding abuse. And it is f***ing powerful.

But all I kept thinking during the show was "Why did this have to happen to DAVID?"

Afterward, I had a long chat with Gerard who plays Dave and he said something chilling/amazing. He says every night he looks around the theatre and sees at least three people whose expression tells him they've been through the same damn thing. One guy raised his hand at a Q&A and said he'd been raped when he was five and didn't tell anyone either. Then he pointed at Gerrard and said, "But you knew, didn't you? "

Gerard also said he felt he was involved with more than just a play. And that, as an introvert off-stage (much like David) it's been really hard on him psychologically. But that nothing could compare to what Dave's been through in reliving the worst ten minutes of his life every single day in the name of fighting off the swamp monsters.

Initially, Gerard said he didn't want the role as he couldn't relate, too intense but his father told him "Do the things that scare you. Otherwise you'll never really grow."

As my buddy Mikey who I brought along said. "Tru dat, bruv. That's deep."

Then he went and told Glynis he fancied her all growing up and ruined everything. ;)
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The shame was never his, and they do say the best revenge of all is success, or else to be happy. But part of me, while understanding he is helping others, also hopes that one day he will be able to say his name, and see it written without the words rape survivor after it, as his final act of freedom.
If someone had done that to hurt my child, I might well want to hurt them, if I went to hell in a handcart for it.
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Is it time to scrap the concept of 'literary fiction'?

18 Writers' Conferences in August 2016