Thursday 5 November 2015

Book Focus: The Beasts of Belmont Park by Hud Saunders

Today I have a slightly different post today, as this book extract comes from The Pigeonhole
The Pigeonhole is a fresh approach to publishing. We take books of all genres and serialise them direct to your phone, tablet and desktop. Each book comes bursting with multi-media extra content, real-time conversation with the author and fellow readers, and live events.
If this sounds of interest to you, I have a short extract of one their books to share with you. Please read on.

The Beasts of Belmont Park by Hud Saunders

Paul reached the corner of the road before he could even begin to make sense of the
torrent of thought that was pouring through his head. In his mind he could see an image of Laura, 
just a few moments earlier, staring at him with a mixture of hurt and anger on her face. Well, fuck 
her, he said to himself. It’s all about her, isn’t it? Her name, her house, her fucking career. 
What about me? He stopped mid-stride, stunned by this onslaught. What have I done? I’ve let her 
completely take over my role. The
man’s role.
He stared abjectly at the pavement, grey and glittering in the sunlight,
reflecting his anger back at him.
‘It’s not right,’ he muttered. ‘It’s not right at all.’
After a minute’s gloomy contemplation, the answer came to him: I’m going to find a goddamn reliable 
au pair girl and then I’m going to see Vernon. And with that decision made, he straightened his 
back and strode onwards.
Vernon Doyle was Paul’s agent, for what it was worth. Roles for Paul had completely dried up after 
the massive toothpaste campaign. Vernon had convinced Paul that this was the gravy train, the 
golden ticket, the big one. And twenty grand plus residuals that eventually amounted to nearly 
£50,000 had persuaded Paul that Vernon was right, despite the fact he’d assiduously and 
contemptuously avoided TV commercials up to that point. It was that bloody director, Francine, 
who’d swayed him though, in her short skirt and shirt unbuttoned to the bra. He’d wanted to fuck 
her  right there and then. Indeed, they’d shared a passionate snog and were getting down  to what 
swimming pool signs used to describe as ‘heavy petting’, when Brian, Francine’s producer-husband, 
had appeared unexpectedly and that was the end of that one. But by then, he’d already signed the 
contract. He’d still like to do her though.
God, she was hot. Fuck it, after that ad he was… dog shit.
‘Nothing I can do about it, love,’ Vernon had said, holding his hands out in martyred resignation. 
‘I’ve tried, Paul, I’ve really tried, but you’re overexposed. You’re going to have to lie low for a 
bit, until this has all died down, then we’ll pick things up again.’
But months had turned into years, kids had been born, and Paul had believed, with a large measure 
of self-delusion, that he and Laura were not just a family, they were a team. He reflected 
painfully on how he’d really bought into that new-age crap about role reversal and equality.
‘It doesn’t matter who does what, we’re a family, that’s what counts,’ he’d proclaimed on several 
occasions, and his listeners had always agreed, especially the women.
‘Oh yes, you’re so right,’ they said. ‘Good for you, Paul!’
‘You’re a New Man. A Renaissance fucking man.’
He laughed bitterly at it now. But when it comes down to it, he thought, fuck it, I am a man; I’ve 
got balls and I’m pumping testosterone. I’m a goddamn hunter, not a fucking nanny.
All of a sudden he felt an overwhelming sense of shame. He slumped against a
wall, holding his head in his hands, tears welling up in his eyes.
How did I let this happen to me?
A bin lorry rumbled past, shaking the pavement. Paul wiped his eyes, pushed
himself off the wall and continued walking along the tree-lined avenue.
The thing was, he considered, it all seemed to happen so naturally. It wasn’t like he’d done it on 
purpose. And, he forced himself to admit, he actually liked loafing around, doing nothing, playing 
a bit of pitch and putt in the local park with his mate Tony, or having coffee with one or other of 
his fantasy-fuck local mums. The kind of
life being a househusband afforded him. But it seemed conditional on him  suppressing some vital 
part of himself, a part that needed expression. And if it didn’t find an outlet in his work, then 
what? A vision of a scantily clad Katie Novotna popped into his head. He batted the image away. He 
was not without ambition; far from it. At one point he’d even had the crazy idea he could rival 
Laura, and had embarked upon his own short-lived literary career, spending several months in 
between playgroups and toddlers’ ballet lessons writing and embellishing a play about one of his 
favourite subjects, and the object of his boyhood fascination: Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It was 
mainly in the form of a monologue; well, more of a diatribe really, concerning the failure of 
modern capitalism to embrace, with even a semblance of compassion, the philanthropic ethics of the 
wealthy Victorian industrialists.
He’d spent so much time on the internet researching his play that he’d got sidetracked, following 
strange and unexpected paths, until he found himself becoming increasingly world-weary and cynical 
about politics and the machinations of governments and big business. So much so that, long after 
the play had been politely rejected by several theatre groups and arts councils, this newfound 
sense of postmodern angst still clung to him. Joining online debates, commenting furiously on 
recondite forums, even going on the odd demo, his anger at the world seemed to be a reflection of 
some inner trouble he didn’t care to look at. And somehow, he  considered glumly, all this sound 
and fury filled his days. Along with looking after the kids and assisting Laura occasionally, and 
holidays, and coping with Laura’s success, and…
What the fuck I am doing with my life?
Shaking his head disconsolately, he looked up, realising he’d somehow
reached the Three Kings. He stopped walking and gazed through its etched windows.
It was nearly empty, but Chiara was there, with her cute arse and friendly smile,
cheerfully pulling pints behind the bar.
Oh, sod it, just the one drink.
By the time he’d sunk his third pint, he’d calmed down considerably. After his fourth, he felt 
quite sanguine about the world and was even able to laugh about his trouser- wearing wife and the 
way things had turned out. Fuck it, if she really wants Ellie to become some kind of feminist 
replica of herself, so be it. What do I care? He pulled out his phone and dialled the landline. 
They’d had rows before and, like all the rest, he bet this would prove to be just another storm in 
a teacup. When he heard Laura’s voice on the other end of the line, he knew everything was going to 
be all right. And as he listened to his wife’s soothing and apologetic tones, he suddenly 
that tomorrow, tomorrow he was having coffee with Katie Novotna.

The Beasts of Belmont Park will launch on 5 November 2015

Hud Saunders was born and bred West Londoner, raised in the passionately feminist household of his single mother. He became a father himself at 22, shouldering the responsibility of parenthood, and struggling to make ends through a variety of jobs – builder, baker, candlestick maker. This novel pays homage to his eclectic experiences, and the even-handed attitude with which he approaches life – none of the characters come out looking good!

No comments:

Post a Comment