A photograph by Russian photographer Sergey Maximishin provides some of the eccentric and pleasingly chromatic soil in which this Absurdist novel first took root. I saw it on boingboing.net. The date assures me this was September 3rd 2009. I can’t quite believe it from this point in time, when I have just uploaded the novel to Amazon’s Kindle self-publishing site, having failed to find an agent or publisher willing to take on this surreal, crude, ingenious, absurd and controversial novel.
Strangeness, sadness, and wonderment in this image. Three clowns on a bus in Saint Petersburg. Such a melancholic and mysterious juxtaposition. They appear to be a musical troupe. But what, one wonders, is their story? Whither are they headed? On their way to perform, or back home to remove those incarnadine cheeks, those crimson noses? Something has caught their eye, all three clowns turn to gaze in synchrony at something. What could possibly catch a clown’s eye so? Yet it is our eye that marvels at this gorgeously eccentric vision, in which humdrum suburbia (a dreary bus with its murky, steamed-up windows) and comic-bright unreal life (clowns - just look at the novelty of those hats!) combine so satisfyingly. Here is something new, something wonderfully unexpected.
In that time the novel has morphed from a screenplay based around the character, Mr. Worst Case Scenario, and the guts of two previously aborted novels (Posit ennui, Noir this), novels in which solid-enough characters dawdled in a very poor plot, as all around them thinly-disguised autobiography reared its unimaginative peruke. To paraphrase a disgusted Frenchman, Beurk!
For a long time, the novel was Send in the Clowns! until someone said I shouldn’t hide behind someone else’s famous title. And, in any case, this phrase has been slowly denuded of meaning by its over-exposure. So as it steadily metastasised over the next three years, the novel took on a more serious, philosophical, and rather grandiose title. Perpetual Verdure, a phrase purloined from Sir Thomas Browne’s wonderful Hydriotaphia, or Urn Burial: A Discourse of the Sepulchral Urns Lately Found in Norfolk.
Until a month ago, the novel was sat dormant in a folder on a hard-drive, as I despaired of ‘placing’ it somewhere. Now it is alive. Sort of. At once everywhere and nowhere, held like a prayer in the luminiferous æther of the Internet. And returned to the title I had temporarily denied it, shying away from the word ‘clown’, as if one could deny what one is, as well as the literary overtones of this most rightful of nomenclatures: The Circus Clowns’ Desertion.