excerpt from my not-at-all finished novel

Photo by Stacey Mark

“Just answer the question,” said Caleb, sounding increasingly annoyed.

“I can’t,” I shrugged. “It’s too broad.”

“Come on, just think about it for one second. You’re not even trying. How do you define good sex?” Caleb was lying naked at the end of the bed, flipping mindlessly through a magazine, doing his weird vibrating thing. It had been four months since we’d started dating, and by this point he was practically living at the squat. We were ‘playing house’, I suppose, but it was pretty clear that the relationship had an expiration date. Sure, he was beautiful–he had some of the most remarkable facial features I’d ever seen–but he was beginning to bore me. I’d already started sleeping with other boys. None of them let me tie them up, but I figured once I found one who did, he could be Caleb’s replacement. Unfortunately, the casting process was proving more difficult than I anticipated. But I didn’t want to break it off with Caleb just yet because… well, I don’t really like being alone, because being alone forces you to think about, you know, stuff, which is something I generally try to avoid.

“Well, there’s lots of types of sex that I would consider ‘good’,” I said. “There are too many variables. There’s no one answer. Your question is flawed.”

“OK, what about this,” he pressed: “Do you think sex is better if you really care about the person you’re sleeping with?”

“Not necessarily.”

“I knew you’d say that,” he moaned, flipping a glossy page.  

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means you’re a phony,” he said, suddenly angry. “You’re always on my case about having ‘no emotions,’ telling me I’m a fucking robot, but look who’s fucking talking. You’re the least romantic person I know. You say a lot of extreme pseudo-romantic bullshit but you don’t mean any of it. You can barely even bring yourself to kiss me when we fuck, you just like to play all those weird… games.”

“Where is this coming from?” I asked. “Is this just because I said you don’t need to be in love to have good sex? Who are you, my mom?”

“Very funny…” He was wrestling with a T-shirt, struggling to pull it over his head. His skin nearly matched the white cotton. 

“I was in love with my ex-boyfriend and we had shitty sex,” I said. “It didn’t matter; that wasn’t what it was about. Sex and love are different things–everybody who knows anything knows that.”

“I suppose that’s what you tell yourself to justify all the cheating.”

“Just because I’m in love with someone doesn’t mean I don’t still want to be fucked in back alleys by Mexican bus boys.”

“Actually, I take it back,” he said flatly, “you’re extremely romantic.”

“Fuck you.”

“Fuck you.”

Wow, I thought while lazily touching myself under the duvet, our first fight. That’s, like, a milestone or whatever. I have to admit, I was sort of excited at the idea that mine and Caleb’s relationship had escalated to the point where we could insult each other in this way. Maybe he IS the one for me…

“All you ever talk about is how I’m your ‘type,’” he said, interrupting my daydreams, “or about how I fit into whatever warped vision you’ve created of the ‘perfect boy.’ Well, what if I don’t want to be reduced to just some person who happens to tick all of your hypothetical boxes?”

“That’s what being in love is, you moron. Get a clue.” I am joking?, I thought. I couldn’t tell.

“I’m your fucking accessory!” he shouted in a voice louder than I knew he was capable of. “Your sidekick, your freak. That’s your shtick, isn’t it?: the girl with the messed-up boyfriend. You need me, because without me you’re boring.” He paused and rubbed his bony nose. “Or at least you think you are, anyway.”

“That’s the meanest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

“Oh god, stop being so dramatic.”

“Look,” I said, “you have an unrealistic view of love because you’ve never experienced it. Love sucks. It makes you feel nauseous. You can’t get anything done because you constantly feel like you’re about to throw up. It’s not fun, trust me. True love destroys you. Everything else is just a vacation.”

“You use sex as a weapon, you fucking sadist,” he shouted. His eyes were becoming puddles. “All that stuff you told me about wanting to cut me open and live inside my ribcage, about wanting to breathe for me–that was all bullshit. You’re just a bored, pontificating cunt who’s in love with the sound of her own voice.”

“I liked you better when you were a blank piece of paper.”



45 Replies to “excerpt from my not-at-all finished novel”

    1. Actually, this post is more like what the blog used to be, back when it was mainly a dairy and less about giving advice to desperate teenage girls.

    1. Yeah, it’s basically just re-worked blog entries woven into some sort of narrative story, with some extra bits added in, and with names changed. Maybe out of context this excerpt doesn’t make much sense though… not sure.

  1. Dear Karley,
    It takes a lot of bravery to put your unfinished work out into the world. You’re a really good writer and you are constantly growing and improving. Haters gonna hate. Just ignore them and keep on being yourself. Bonne chance, friend.

  2. o haai! ive been meaning to say this for a while now but i really enjoy ur blog and ur take on life/sex in general, and i like this excerpt, and i dont mean to be a mindless sycophant but i know thats how this is coming off anyway keep it up girl. :))


  3. Very nice start. I too dabble in writing, but am not brave enough to share. Maybe I should stop beating myself up for having a passion and take action to being more open…thanks Karley for the inspiration. Kisses,

  4. You’re great writer Karley, but this is trying to hard to be, like, r e a l literature. I like it better when you use a more open and less traditional form, you know? This just mostly feels like it’s written by someone who really wants to write something good that could be published. I feel bad for just judging, but I still I think you have posted way better pieces on your blog, sorry for being so critical, the last line is killer though. <3

  5. I wonder what would happen if you pulled out your favorite blog entries, did some minor editing, created a framework and put them together to create a book full of short-stories/essays about sexuality/living without boundaries/squatting in London/being a writer in New York. I don’t think your novel needs to be put into a traditional novel form (why be conventional?). Your blog is full of phenomenal ideas. I’ve learned more from this blog than I have from many university courses. Keep doing what you do!

  6. i wouldn’t let us have sneak peaks. haters will put negative NRG on it. just write write write. i wouldn’t use “squat” though. if you have a broad audience (which i sure hope you do) then most of them wouldn’t know what that word means. you could just be like “my apartment”. good luck, best wishes, and congratulations on starting!

      1. The word ‘squat’ isn’t difficult, and even the inarticulate has access to google. I love your blog Karley and would definitely buy your book what ever form it took. Keep writing, you’re very talented! Also love the photo accompanying this post. Gorgeous.

  7. This is a real good start, Karley. I’d love to see you published, do go on with it. I’m already curious about Caleb’s replacement, or the protagonist tying Caleb up instead. You know what I’m getting at, modern lit needs some realistic bondage out there. Totez buying it.


  8. i don’t know if you know how amazing you are!
    “All that stuff you told me about wanting to cut me open and live inside my ribcage, about wanting to breathe for me–that was all bullshit. You’re just a bored, pontificating cunt who’s in love with the sound of her own voice.”

    THAT WAS GREAT. please release your novel soon! i live all the way in singapore, and i will buy your book!

  9. i wish i could cry all the tears in the world to tell you, you are brilliant and a great writer. i don’t know why i need to cry for you, but i just feel like it has to be some extreme emotion. please don’t stop believing in yourself. i don’t care what people here are saying, just do your thing, and do it the best! i believe in you, and i will buy your book!

  10. How many times do I have to read that love means being in the lover’s ribcage and sex must be clumsy (this is not written here but you’re said it several times)?
    Work something new up, use you’re imagination, be less careful!
    Writing must not be necessarily autobiographic, Kafka didn’t actually wake up a cockroach one morning.
    I hate to pass judgement, but I think that consciously or not that is what you’re seeking.

  11. The good thing about the old squat posts is that they are funny and had a real self awareness. This is tryin to hard to be dramatic so it seems less real. Please don’t buy into that hatres gonna hate bullshit either no here hates your stuff, their just offering opinions.

  12. I like it..puts more details into a life story you’ve already structured through blogging…Lorenzo, who comments that you’re starting to sound redundant may be referring to that but i don’t think he understands the necessary threadof self-exploration in your posts and the rest of your work…keep going with it…that’s what being an artist is, following your interests, of course there’s going to be a bit of redundancy…but keep it fresh at the same time…push what people are expecting, don’t just do what it seems people like, because social preferences are always changing, YOU create the preference, that’s what cultural icons do and it seems that’s what you’re going for…

    1. Yeah, maybe you’re right Brittany, but I think a novel should be more then connecting the dots (or the posts) of a blog. Karley states, I think not so ironically, that this blog is meant to represent a life more exciting then it really is, I think the novel will be worth reading if Karley will dwell in the supposedly “less exciting” parts of her self and life and find some inspiration there, otherwise I fear it will be just a watered down version of stuff we already enjoyed when fresh.

      1. I agree but isn’t it so ironic that in this exerpt, Caleb says, “You’re just a bored, pontificating cunt who’s in love with the sound of her own voice” and even she admits, she’s getting off on the fact they’re to the point where they’re fighting now..it’s almost like she’s writing about how she hates the “less exciting” parts of life..almost like she’s running from it and may be hurting herself and others in the process…maybe that’s what the book is all about?

  13. I loved it. And I’m neither desperate or a teenage girl. It’s the rawness that’s catchy? The way you’ve written it gives the impression that what’s written is somebody’s truth- Whether it’s yours, his or our own. But it comes down to personal taste.

  14. twhy not write it as journal entries (kinda lifted from your old blog entries but given a narrative) like amanda rose suggested above? kinda ‘perks of being a wallflower’ vibes! whatever you decide looking forward to reading it when its published. even if you keep it this way its going to be a great read.

  15. The part where you describe love, the nauseous life-interrupting miserable-ness…it’s spot on. You’re wonderful, Karley! Keep at it!

  16. The pace is too quick, the descriptions (the tshirt/skin complexion comparison was mediocre) between each character’s line too shallow, it’s like you’re too eager to just lay out the dialogue without setting the mood, you’re the opposite extreme of Dostoyevsky – by the time he described a character/setting/mood – you already forgot what you had read before that.

    I think there is a trend for contemporary literature (especially to reach younger audiences) to have this “angst” and hedonistic-indifference to life, making something out of the boring.

    Either way, naturally, all your “fans” would buy into it – whether it will have literary merit and credibility, is a different matter.

    Shame, you didn’t publish a “novel” in time for the Cultural Olympiad – could have jumped on the “East London” band-wagon, with all the squats and Ket fuelled dialogues and fights.

    A fellow young Ashkazeni, Ned Bauman – http://www.nedbeauman.co.uk/ Check out his second novel.
    And remember, Oscar Wilde said ‘good writers borrow, great writers steal’

  17. oh wow. people are not very kind. it’s so bold of you to put the excerpt out there. it sounds great already. i’m sure the novel will be amazing and i’ll buy it for sure!

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