Wilful Misunderstandings

Richard Foreman’s WILFUL MISUNDERSTANDINGS

A5 perfect bound 282pp

Cover price: £8.95 (GB pounds)

Wilful-Misunderstandings9780993390104website

 

In each of the many worlds of ‘Wilful Misunderstandings’ the meaning of a word, phrase or saying is not the one with which we are familiar. So in one of these thirty-four short stories, ‘Beast’, we discover that a ‘parapet’ is a paranormal creature assigned to would-be mystics as a familiar. In another, ‘Short’, we find that if you go out ‘to stretch your legs’ you will return an inch or two taller.

Sometimes based on puns or word associations, sometimes pure whimsy, in tale after tale the nature of reality is altered by these changed meanings. Each of the book’s realities is shockingly surreal at times, at others not so very different from our own. The stories that emerge from them cross a diverse stylistic range through SF, adventure, crime, romance, horror, legend, folk tale and ‘magic realism’.

“With an unusual oulipo toolkit and a feigned bewilderment at the English language, Richard Foreman strikes a previously undiscovered seam of literary inspiration in this oddly charming compilation of deliberately misconstrued everyday phraseology. Words are the essential wallpaper of our lives and our reality, and when even the word ‘wallpaper’ can suddenly become a thing of eerie, alien beauty we are made uncomfortably aware of the peculiar worlds of possibility that lurk beneath the skin of our vocabulary. A passport to a parallel planet where nothing means quite that you thought it did, this book offers an excursion to a strangely familiar place that you have never previously dreamed of. Get your shots and book your ticket today.”  Alan MooreWatchmen, Voice of the Fire, Jerusalem, etc

Praise for individual stories

“It kept me reading right up until the end.” Krishan Couplandeditor Neon Literary Magazine

“We found the writing particularly attractive – fluent, measured, elegant.” Tim Shearereditor Confingo

“I very much enjoyed reading your work.” Harriet Hill-Payneeditor Black and Blue

“John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris (10 July 1903 – 11 March 1969) was an English science fiction writer best known for his works written using the pen name John Wyndham.  He is best known these days for his novels like The Day of the Triffids, but I have always been rather fond of his short stories, which are often neglected. They are often very English, very understated and have a gentleness of touch that one would not have imagined from his more action packed longer form writing.

“Within five minutes of picking the book up and reading it for the first time I was immediately entranced. And the first thing that came to mind was that here is a hippy John Wyndham. This is not to say that the short stories within this charming little book are science fiction. They are not, although most of them are broadly within the fantasy genre. But the thing that sets them wildly apart from the crowd is that they are set in present day scenarios of which we are all familiar.

“High fantasy is defined as fantasy set in an alternative, fictional (“secondary”) world, rather than “the real”, or “primary” world. The secondary world is usually internally consistent, but its rules differ from those of the primary world. By contrast, low fantasy is characterised by being set in the primary, or “real” world, or a rational and familiar fictional world, with the inclusion of magical elements. And this book is firmly within the second genre.

“I am not going to be disparaging about books featuring orcs, griffins, elves and the like, because many of them are great literature, but I have always preferred books set in the “real” world. My own excursions into writing fiction have all been set in some analogue of the world in which I and my readers live, and – for example – I have always preferred the Dr Who episodes set on Earth to the ones set on some faraway planet populated by entities with tentacles.  And so it is with this book.

“These stories play whimsical and mischievous games with the English language.  For a wordsmith like myself these stories are a delight, and I have spent much of what is euphemistically described as the ‘Festive Season’ proselytising about Foreman to anyone who would listen. I have found myself using the words ‘delight’ and ‘delightful’ far more often than I would have wanted to, but I truly cannot think of a better adjective. These stories are truly a delight, and my life has been enriched for having read them. I cannot wait for the next volume.

“Apparently he is currently working on a novel, and I am intrigued to see how Foreman’s writing style adapts to a longer form narrative.”

Jonathan Downes, editor Gonzo magazine – issue 215-6 (New Year 2017) – pages 103-4 – available online at: https://www.flipsnack.com/9FE5CEE9E8C/gonzo215-6.html

 

About the Author

Having completed a BA in literature at Essex University in 1973, Richard Foreman took on a variety of occupations including community arts and theatre work. In the late 1980s, writing as ‘Dick Foreman’, he became a full time scriptwriter of comic strips, progressing from one-off stories to a monthly series for US publisher DC comics. ‘Black Orchid’ ran for two years. Following this, his working life switched to other interests, but for twenty years he continued writing quarterly scripts for photo-stories/comic strips in ‘Who Cares?’, a national magazine for children in care. Since 2009 he has returned full time to writing. Following a series of well-received articles for Alan Moore’s ‘Dodgem Logic’ magazine, he began work on ‘Wilful Misunderstandings’. He has recently contributed to the magazines ‘Roundyhouse’ and ‘Tears in the Fence’ and is currently writing a novel.

 

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