Thursday, 18 January 2007

The first words of the novel

Not intend to be a surgeon! After six years of training? Well, what do you intend to be?’
Mr Abbey was so angry he was spluttering. He looked down at the young man in front of him. John had thought long and hard about this moment. He had waited until he turned twenty-one, knowing that now his guardian couldn’t force him to do what he didn’t want to. He steeled himself, and then looked up at the taller man, and said:
‘I want … I’m going to be a poet, sir.’
That was more than Abbey could take. His eyes widened in outraged astonishment.
‘Are you mad, John? Or just a fool? That’s absurd.’
‘I’m sorry, sir,’ said John very quietly, ‘but my mind’s made up. I’m good, sir, better than most. And I’m sure I can earn a living by writing.’
Abbey looked at him as if he were some newly discovered and particularly unpleasant species, and, with an upward sneer of his lip, he said:
‘Well, all I’ve got to say, boy, is that you’re being … silly. I’ll tell you one thing. It won’t be long before you’re forced to give up this selfish notion.’
‘I don’t think so, sir.’ How dare he call me ‘boy’? What’s the point of turning twenty-one if he’s still going to think of me as a ‘boy’?

" Robin Malan’s beautifully presented Rebel Angel is a tender, humorous and informative account of the life of John Keats ... this high-quality publication ... "

– Michelle McGrane online at LitNet 1 June 2005