I said that I'd write about the influence reading Samuel Beckett's Molloy and Malone Dies is having on my writing, and like Tristram Shandy I will be sure to give my readers that which I have promised them. Unfortunately, I find that I am completely unable to really say what Beckett's been doing to my prose. Or at least I can't talk about it in any general terms. So I give you a paragraph from Cocke & Bull, my work-in-progress. All the text in red is stuff I can safely say was added under the influence of old Sam:
"They will hang me tomorrow," the prisoner said. He sat on a low cot in the darkness of his cell, his eyes closed and his hands in fists. For a month he’d languished in jail, doing nothing, waiting while the magistrate came up from Annapolis to pass judgment upon him. The trial had taken only half an hour once the magistrate arrived, three days ago. It seemed hardly worth the effort. The prisoner had not bathed since before his arrest and he tried to remain still, as if by not moving he could keep the smell of his dirty clothes and skin away from the priest who’d come to hear his confession. The priest sat on a three-legged stool just outside the cell, one long hand resting on the rough iron bars that caged in the prisoner, fencing him off from the innocents of the world.
So what do I think I can say about that? Possibly the "doing nothing" has to do with the sense of the futility of action in Beckett's work. The "hardy worth the effort" and preceding sentence are of course a joke, again about futility of action. The last part, with cages, fences and innocents is partly a Beckettian claustrophobia about enclosed spaces (is it any accident that most of Molloy and Malone Dies takes place out of doors?) and it also sets up a central irony about guilt and innocence that runs through the whole narrative.
Where does that get me? Jokes and discouragement, I guess. I also note a recent tendency to mention dirt and soiled objects more often, and I will claim that as a fingerprint of Beckett.