Danse avec Le Loupe (or Howling in the Dark)

The Migraine Hotel
, Luke Kennard (84pp, Salt)

Rupert Loydell: When The Headache Motel arrived a couple of weeks ago, I confess I was a bit disappointed. The cover doesn't seem to me one of Salt's best and when I started reading it felt like more of the same. This morning, in the bath, it read much better; perhaps I was in the mood. Anyway, I thought we could steal the idea of a conversation in lieu of a review (or even as a review) from Gists & Piths magazine, and talk about the book. That way we can casually drop in lots of stories about Luke from Exeter, mention what a dreadful correspondent he is, and of course remind him how many pints he owes us.

Wolf: Owes
you, you mean. I only had to snarl and he paid his way. Helped clear a route to the bar too... Anyway, the book is brilliant, mainly because it has two more stories about me in it. I appreciate there could, and should, have been more, but that's the way things are. I haven't read the rest.

Rupert Loydell: That's the kind of sardonic aside the book is full of. Pithy, witty language, that somehow combines surrealism which I normally dislike intensely with the everyday. I can't decide if it's genuinely new, or a way of turning the likes of tabloid journalism, with its journalistic excesses and sense of self-importance, into populist poetry. Mind you, a genuinely populist poetry would be a wonderful thing to behold.

Wolf: I think of it all as more of a backdrop to my continuing adventures. Kennard simply describes the ridiculous pastimes of your weak and fallible race in order to mock and to make strong contrast with my presence within the work. Kennard is simply warming-up the literary crowd waiting for my appearance. You can hear the reader's applause from here...

Rupert Loydell: Kennard does write for theatre too, doesn't he?

Wold: If you can call it that. It's more a bastardized hybrid of stand-up comedy and infant school pantomime cobbled together each year for the Edinburgh Festival. Anything to get a free ticket or two.

Rupert Loydell: He hardly ever came out in Exeter, was always working on his doctorate or at home writing.

Wolf: Well, that's what he told you he was doing. It's not what he told me. Anyway, I need company, need mental stimulus and debate. Not for me your lowbrow ways and evenings spent hanging around The Stoke Arms waiting for inspiration. I was studying psychoanalysis, politics, and the sexual habits of fleas.

Rupert Loydell: Fascinating. Or not. I was genuinely trying to start a discussion about humour as a literary tool. About cycnicism as a form of social critique, but also a kind of defensiveness, something to shield the author from the world whilst also abusing it.

Wolf: You do talk nonsense, don't you? Kennard is clearly deconstructing the idea of deconstruction, pointing out your social inconsistencies and human foibles, and satirising the act of writing itself. All this while attempting to both entertain and provoke the reader. Either that or he is a literary waster and an even bigger charlatan than I have always suspected.

Rupert Loydell: Right then. Pint?

Wolf: Why not. It's your round though. Did I ever tell you about my culinary skills? Or how I learned to paint? I do hope Kennard is going to write me some more poems to appear in, don't you? I mean I am bloody good at it. I'm the best thing he has going for him at the moment.

     Rupert Loydell & Wolf 2009