Towards the Heavenly Void
Short story published by Serpent’s Tail, 2006.
Text commissioned for The Alpine Fantasy of Victor B and Other Stories artist’s short story collection published by Serpent’s Tail. The narrator, singer Dermot Bucknall, describes how a writer’s ghost appears before him in a dressing room mirror. The ghost is the ‘original’ comedian Les Dawson, who claims he gave away his identity to the other famous Les Dawson, who we all know and love. His monologue, peppered with old jokes, explains his motives, and how he eventually dies in the attempt to join Che Guevara as a guerrilla in the South American jungles.
The story was inspired by the true story of Les Dawson’s journey to Paris in the early 1950’s to become a writer, the failure of the attempt, and Dawson’s subsequent mythologizing of this period. It is a story of artistic and political ambition arising out of desperate conditions, an ambition to transcend circumstances, that is both doomed and comically fulfilled at one and the same time.
“Paul Rooney winds out… a tale of ingenious complexity involving swapped identities, Lenin’s embalmed corpse, Che Guevara, and Les Dawson that is in essence a warm tribute to the billowing, ludicrous but masterful word-pictures conjured by the latter in his famous comic monologues.” Jeffery Dennis (The Art Book). Feb. 2008 review.
Adrian Searle (The Guardian). 6/1/2007 review.