Five Points, Vol. 13 No. 2Fall 2010
From Glenn Patterson, “I came at the novel by a circuitous route, having attempted, in my early teens and early twenties, short stories, a screenplay, and even –God help me- a bit of poetry.”
The Arbitrarium came into my possession some two or three summers ago. I had been suffering at the time from a long depression. My wife and I had been trying for a baby for a number of years and the emotional strain upon us had taken its toll. When the divorce came through, to my surprise my wife quickly remarried and soon fell pregnant.
At the beginning that summer I had been granted a six-week leave of absence from my work. I’d had an uncertain and difficult career, having been passed over for promotion on a number of occasions, and I had begun to find it difficult to be motivated in carrying out my day-to-day duties and responsibilities. I had also found myself becoming frustrated in work situations and prone to outbursts of anger at my colleagues.
After the separation from my wife I had moved to a small cottage overlooking a bay, far from the city where we had lived and made our lives together. It should have been the perfect place for me to begin my life again, but I had been unable to establish any satisfactory routines or take any great pleasure in my new home. I seemed continually to be swimming through a sea of tiredness, and yet I found it difficult to sleep. Often I would lie awake all night listening to the BBC World Service. If I did sleep, I often dreamt so ferociously that I would have to go to another room to lie down and recover.
I noticed the advertisement for the auction in the local newspaper. The cottage had been let to me unfurnished, and apart from the mattress, a small kitchen table and chair, and a few books and personal items, the place remained completely bare. Since I now had time on my hands I thought I might take the opportunity to visit the auction and perhaps purchase some cheap furniture.
It was a long drive to the auction house. I had never before attended an auction and I had not returned to the city since separating from my wife.