Timdog gives Pramoedya Ananta Toer the literary parody treatment.
Inspired by recent literary bickering on the "My friend the fanatic" thread, I have developed a new hobby - the literary parody. Here I present Pramoedya Ananta Toer, as told by me:
People call me Wonky. My own name? No. They call me Wonky mainly on account of my dubious prose style. No matter: I’m too busy wrestling – unsuccessfully it must be said – with enormous historical themes to worry about the actual business of writing well.
I drank a glass of water and began work on a story for the newspaper. I was writing in Swahili. I had never formally learnt this language, but I found that I could write in it very well.
Ah, the questions! I asked myself lots of questions (that’s my character developing you see – but it’s not working very well is it? There’s not really any sense of my character at all is there? Never mind, I’m too busy with the Big Themes to worry about trifles like characterisation).
The story was finished. It was a good story, very well written and full of artful symbolism. I was a very clever boy. The Dutch editor of the newspaper said I was a genius but I didn’t need him to tell me that! My dear French friend with the dodgy leg also said I was a genius.
“Bonjour!” I said, speaking French, a language in which I was fluent.
“Bonjour uncle!” cried his daughter. I felt an urge to sleep with his daughter. But was she still too young? Ah, the questions! I wasn't sure because my character had not yet fully developed. Confusion washed over me. Perhaps it would be better to bring her randomly back into the narrative later and sleep with her then.
What job can I give this French guy? Like many writers I am unable to empathise with someone doing a real job, so I’ll have to make him something vaguely creative – a poet, maybe… I know! A painter!
[Insert here ten pages of sloppily written historical background covering the development of the steamship trade in the Dutch East Indies – wikipedia would be a useful source for this, but unfortunately it hasn’t been invented yet]
Six years later I felt my character had developed greatly. I looked back on the weak, simple youth I had been. I was much cleverer now! Oh yes, much cleverer! (Don’t let the fact that my character doesn’t appear to have developed at all worry you; I told you already – bigger themes!)
I drank a glass of water and began work on a story. I was writing in Ancient Greek, a language I spoke with ease.
My 17th wife came into the room. My 17th wife was a formidable woman, powerful, brave, intelligent, beautiful and strong!
“Oh Wonky!” she gasped, demurely, fluttering her delicate eyelashes, “I feel faint.” She collapsed and I carried her to her bed. She clasped my hand. Such strength! She died while I sat there, died like all weak, feeble women who come into contact with me die.
I drank a glass of water and sat at the table composing a letter to my dear friend Mirabule. Ah Mirabule! So wise! She was back in Holland now, far away across the sea (these white girls make me horny). I was writing the letter in Irish Gaelic.
Together with my 23rd wife I went to visit that girl from Jepara – that brave, wise girl from Jepara!
“Oh Wonky!” cried the fine, brave girl from Jepara, “I feel faint!” She took to her bed and died, demurely, like all women should. You see, I claim to think women are important and to be respected, however, I seem to be unable to conjure up a woman who is anything but cloyingly, delicately feminine – apart from this one:
Nyai had come to see me. She looked older now, but still strong.
“My child!” she cried.
“Oh Nyai! It has been so long!” We were speaking archaic Mongolian, the language we always spoke together. I marvelled at how this retarded kampungan slut had taught herself so many languages and made huge amounts of money. Nyai embraced me and I felt a flutter of arousal (it’s an Oedipus complex I think, this thing I have about Nyai Ontosoro).
[Insert several pages of slipshod and historically inaccurate background about a rebellion somewhere in the Indies in the early 20th Century here]
I founded the Budi Utomo. I created the Indische Party. I founded the Sarekat Islam. I introduced socialist thought to the Indies single handedly; I taught every child in Java to read and to eat with a knife and fork. I became the first and only Javanese governor of the Dutch East Indies. I became the king of Holland. I was the first man on the moon.
I drank a glass of water. My 78th wife was standing behind me.
“Yi-er-san-si-wo-ni-hao-shee-shee!” she said.
“I don’t understand what you’re saying,” I said, “I don’t speak Chinese.” How curious! How curious that while I am fluent in Persian, French and Welsh, without ever having had to learn them, I cannot speak one word of Chinese! Could it be because – even though I claim to be against such things – I am in fact so deeply conservative a pribumi that I have an instinctive contempt for the Chinese? Who knows! Bigger themes!
“I said, oh Wonky! I feel faint,” my 78th wife cried. Such strength! Such bravery! She took to her bed and died. Er… I don’t know where I’m going with this any more… Ah! I know! Change of narrator!
Hi. My name’s Dave, but I’m a bit tormented so I call myself Dav. It’s a fair cop gov’ner… This chap Wonky’s a rum ‘un… Wait a minute – I don’t think I’m up to creating a radically different voice for my new narrator – I’ll just have to use the old one (though I won’t let him speak so many languages – I
don’t think people would buy that).
Ah the torment! My poor soul! I was drunk, and my wife no longer trusted me! Raden Mas Wonky was dead.
Nyai Ontosoro said, “Make sure you keep the grave clean, there’s a good man.” She’d been behind it all from the very beginning you see – like the dalang in the wayang kulit! That’s artistic genius on my part that is – symbolism too! The dalang, but she was a woman! That’s irony… is it? I’m not sure – it doesn’t matter anyway – bigger themes!
You can take the girl out of the kampung, but you can’t take the kampung out of the girl, I say.
Mas Wonky was dead, but Indonesia had been awakened from its slumbers!
[Do not edit properly; work very hard to get banned; pose for sleeve photo with an enigmatically half-smoked cigarette; get translated by a squawking Australian with doubtful qualifications for such an undertaking; fail to win the Nobel Prize – for very good reason – and die, but remain squatting like a huge naked emperor, casting a bloated shadow over all Indonesian literature.]
Gili Trawangan Prison Island 2008.
Spoken – last night while off my face on magic mushrooms.
Written – this morning, while the hangover was kicking in.
(Adopting a suitably Jonsonian tone) One would not have wished it longer.
oops… one letter h did not make it off Nusa Buru.
I’m also disappointed that you forgot to weave Plinkenboh into this rich tapestry.
I take my hate off to your creative bastardry. But first I take my sarung off (nice image ladies!!), and go to bed. x o
Awesome work !
Looks like Pak Sono Ustad of the Ukelele has just supplied the obligatory Plinkenboh reference.
Talking about translators – perhaps we could have a thread on ‘Tossers who have been Australian Diplomats in Indonesia’. I can think of at least three – the marxist translator of Pram, some pedophile who later got busted in Bali and hanged himself, and of course a certain Hawke/Keating era ambassador type fellow who was notorious for having an affair with a ‘famous’ (as in brown nosed Ibu Tien a lot) female Indonesian writer.
Another good thread would be ‘Indonesian Rumours it would be Career Suicide to Write about in the Regular Press’ – e.g. Ibu Tien the fire truck Poo Avenger and Ibu Tien Collects a load of Hot Lead and Forgets to Slap on the Customary 10% (I guess because this was where the Force Majeure Clause came into effect).
C’mon man, name-names, dong. Kinch can’t be your name outside of the cybersphere — who was the diplomat ?
Beautiful, beautiful. Please, if possible, do some more, like:
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Salman Rushdie
- Arundhati Roy
- Earnest Hemingway
I bags Hunter S. Thompson….
Do the digging yourself, Pak Sono. A former Whitlam minister who got put out to pasture in Jakarta in the 1980s. The female writer concerned wrote biographies of Fatmawati and Ibu Tien. Apparently it was scandalous enough to get hinted at in the Indonesian press of the day.
Gross, man. Why couldn’t he get a skanky 21-year old from Blok M, like any other self-respecting middle-aged Australian.
‘Self-respecting ex Whitlam minister’ has to be an oxymoron. IIRC said writer’s husband (had his snout in the Pertamina trough) eventually got tired of the gossip and gave her the heave-ho.
Achmad – I’m going to put you in the next one, but I need you to sign a consent form to say that you have waived all your rights to self-respect and will not engage in Richard Oh-style grumbling if you find yourself misrepresented… gpp?
Do your worst — yes — I give consent — even if you publish in book form. I waived my rights to self respect a long time ago.
All I ask in return is that I get to do Hunter S. Thompson.
You’re welcome to Hunter S. I’ll do Ernest Hemingway later, but in the meantime I have come into exclusive posession of the manuscript of Ayu Utami’s new novel…
“Achmad” by Ayu Utami
I am a chicken who has flown the coop, pursued by the fox I am far from home.
The hardness of the wood, the tautness of the strings, the coldness of the machine heads – what is this thing, this instrument? Is it a ukulele?
Achmad takes of his shirt and wipes the sweat from his neck, his chest, his torso. He is not a big man.
I can smell his B.O.
Achmad and I lay on the bed. He did not pressure me or force me. Is this love?
“Touch me in my special place,” Achmad said.
We had sinned.
The forest was cool. Gradually, the sun rose overhead into the sky because actually, the sun is a star and the earth, which is a planet, goes around the sun.
They walked slowly into the transmigrant village. The plantation workers, poor men from Java, were all busy raping their sisters. A small man with a ukulele sat in the corner, masturbating furiously.
He was the kind of man she found attractive, small, lean, big glasses. She began to masturbate. Her family considered her to be a whore because she had slept with well over a thousand men, all for money. But she was not a whore, she was a symbol of female empowerment, like new green shoots in the rice field.
“This is actually rather good, but does it have to be so self important?” Achmad asked.
“Yes, it does.”
“Because we are important people,” she said.
“How do you know?”
“Because Goenawan Mohamed told me, and he’s the Daddy…”
He had travelled to many countries, like a galloping wild horse, but he hated the Chinese. Light was streaming through the green leaves of the forest.
Oil. Anti-Chinese sentiments. Anti-communist purges. Masturbation. Government corruption. Transmigration. Masturbation. Girls together, gossiping about sex. The strings of the Ukulele quivered beneath his fingers.
“I have slept with 5679 men and I used the money they paid me to buy vibrators,” she said.
“Does Achmad give you orgasms?”
“It makes me wet when he plays his ukulele.” [double meaning there – get it?]
“I’m a virgin. It’s not fair,” she said unhappily.
“Look, we have to have a virgin as a symbol of the way most Indonesian women aren’t in touch with their sexuality like me.”
“But why does it have to be me?”
“Just shut up and play with my vibrator, think about Achmad while you’re doing it.”
[Continue in really rather fine style for about a hundred pages, then abruptly, without warning, lose the will to continue, let all plot and narrative structure collapse, and leave the reader feeling a little cheated]
I still think of you. Was it wrong what we did? I ask myself this question. I also ask myself if god exists. Does god exist? You have nice breasts by the way.
I am far from you but I still hear the sound of your ukulele. Does god exist? Does it really matter? I am playing with my nipples now.
Little Riding Hood came to her grandmother’s bedroom. She was confused. The wolf had an enormous penis and the sky was the colour of blood. Compliantly she undressed and caressed the wolf’s big hairy tail.
“This is sin, but sin sells books,” said the wolf, hungrily.
Red Riding Hood’s nipples were erect. The wolf entered her and their cries mingled with the cries of the birds rising from the trees.
Is that a Ukulele in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?
I am masturbating.
About that coffee – I’ve got to do a book-signing at QB books tomorrow – can we make it Friday?
I really take my hat off, Timdog.
This is pure genius.
That was hysterical.
Awesome! Although it took 3 readings to make sense to me. You know the primary reason I don’t like Rushdie? I find his style complicated although I top my class in English and History. Seems that along with intolerance, the Indian education system also sucks…
oh my hubungan kelamin God! That was certainly something! Timdog those must have been good mushies man! Hat off as we speak!
As fragrant as a fish market at noon.
Fear and Loathing in Tangerang: a Gonzo Journey.
by Achmad Sudarsono
Tangerang. We were somewhere on the outskirts of the last Sawah when the Kratingdaeng began to take hold. Back there in the trunk was a collection of the most noxious substances known to man, M-152, Acehnese ganja, dodol, Kopi Tubruk, Temulawak. And believe me when I say there is nothing, nothing more deprived than a man in the depths of a Krating Daeng binge.
Bats, bats, bats. No, wait. Kerbau. No, wait goats.
Splat. Ok. Goat.
My attorney, Johannes Simanjuntak-Simatupang-Lubis-Purba-Hutapea was cackling like a madman, gyrating behind the wheels of the Metro-Mini bus that only we had the courage to ride.
Courage. We were embarked on a ride into the heart of the Indonesian dream. That’s right. Screw the American dream, ’60s crap, best left to go the way of ether, LSD, and unshaven armpits. We pioneers, dumb enough be totally confident.
A pengamen comes onto the bus, strumming a guitar, some stupid Koes Ploes number.
“I’ll show you how to strum,” I said, grabbing him by the scruff of the Golkar-T-shirt, grabbing my ukuele, and strumming like a maniac, like it was the Nixon campaign of ’74 all over again.
“Call me Dr. Gonzo,” I told the worthless loser, eyes bulging like a Kucing Garong on ether.
“What are you talking about, you look like Sumanto,” he said, running for his life into the macet, the traffic and the slums.
Yes, friends, 20-bottles of Kratingdaeng makes a toll road look different, somewhere between a Stanley Kubrick space-station and a discarded scene from a movie like, “Jembatan Hantu Ancol.”
But we didn’t care.
We were going into the heart of the Indonesian Dream and nothing was going to stop us.
Right Johannes ?
I once climbed a fence and crossed a toll road and before I realized they weren’t to be crossed 30 people had followed me….. it was Rendra and good poetry but bad pick up lines that did it.
Achmad – I would be willing to pay for a whole 100 000-word book of that – seriously…
Let’s keep going; maybe we could build a whole collection and then get them published… we could have a book launch somewhere poncy in Kemang and get all the Jakarta literati to flounce around telling us how wonderful we are… no! What am I thinking – we could have the book launch on Jl Jaksa… That would be much better…
What – maybe a literary anthology, something like penguin classics, or 100 greatest books of all time, with
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
See how we go after Salman Rushdie & Ernest Hemingway, perhaps. Might be fun to do some more Indonesian writers – luke Gunawan Mohammad. Yes…
Any takers for Mas Goen ?
I’ll do Rendra the Poet.
I’ll do Rendra the Poet.
you see, that’s where I drew the line…..
Well, Janma, I’m hoping my own poetic prowess can sustain my seksiness into the golden years. Va Va Voom !
Well, Janma, I’m hoping my own poetic prowess can sustain my seksiness into the golden years. Va Va Voom !
well you need to change your pic! And get rid of the vacuum cleaner byline….
Timdog- you have a talent.
But actually better than Pram.
But how did you hack Pak Achmad’s email?
very irreverent timdog however, toer was my first intro to indonesian literature and i thoroughly enjoyed the first book of his trilogy. he may not be a joyce or llosa but i rate him as very good. just the opinion of someone who has done a fair amount of reading.