Hoisted On Her Own Petrarch [a story I will never write]

Printer-friendly version

Hoisted On Her Own Petrarch

[ A Story I Wish I Could Write, But Never Will ]
By Iolanthe Portmanteaux


I know this should be a blog entry, but if I do that, I'll never find it again.


There is a story I wish I could write, but it is utterly beyond my powers. It requires a POET.

Also, I would need to find a quote... from an article I read long, long ago, about the resurgence of interest in Jane Austen. Maybe it was a particular anniversary of her birth? It doesn't particularly matter. What mattered at the time was that films were being made out of everything Jane Austen had written. I don't know if it was in the same space of time, but Jane Austen was such a hot commodity that there was even a book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on the best-sellers list. It was a surprisingly good read!

So, anyway, a writer or editor or whatever he was, was discussing the current popularity of Jane Austen with his boss, the publisher. The publisher asked in all innocence,

"What do you think the chances are of getting her to do a book tour for us?"

Well, the woman died in 1817. She just might manage a book tour for the zombie novel, but she certainly wouldn't be giving any autographs.


With that anecdote in mind, I was reading one of the BEST STORIES ON BCTS, which is Ceri's On Her Own Petard, when in my head the inevitable title appeared:


It would be an homage to Ceri and to Ceri's story, mainly by echoing (or stealing) the title and the mechanism of the blog, but the story would go like this:

The year is 2004. The main character is Lane Delaine, and he is a very junior editor in a publishing company.

Lane has a bachelor's degree in English Literature. His particular passion is for Petrarch. He is nuts about Petrarch.

If you know anything about Petrarch, you know that he was in love with a woman he called Laura. She was married when he first saw her on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1327, but poor old P was smitten. He spent the rest of his life writing poems to her.

He never consummated his love for her in any way -- not even superficially. As far as we know, they never kissed or touched or actually spoke to each other.

Petrarch had it bad.

So, 2004 happens to be the 700th anniversary of Petrarch's birth, and Lane's boss, the publisher, is not very literarily aware, but he does have a nose for the market, and feels that the company ought to put out something to do with Petrarch.

He discovers a blog called Laura's Letters to Petrarch and wouldn't you know? THEY ARE JUST THE THING!

But guess whose blog it is? None other that his employee: Junior Editor Lane Delaine!

So he leans on Lane; gets him to write more letters. He works them up into a small book. A booklet, really. It's a nice-looking item, in time for the holidays.

Lane does a radio interview -- oh, this story takes place in New York City, so the interview gets widely heard and even more widely syndicated.

Of course, this being a BCTS story, Lane's voice sounds rather feminine and so people assume he's a GIRL.

Shenanigans ensue. Because of one thing and another, Lane goes on tour, giving lectures at universities, readings in auditoriums and bookshops -- all in a dress, with makeup, yes, and earrings and heels and oh my God.

Maybe he even goes to England! And what about Italy? Home to Petrarch and his hopeless love!

Lane is rather stick-like, so people love the female Lane for her mind, not her body. Even so, romantic stuff follows Lane EVERYWHERE, and oh this handsome man's face is so close to Lane's... and they kissed! But Lane also kissed this other guy earlier and oh no! Inner conflict ensues, and help! Who can Lane talk to? His boss is all full steam ahead so no help there. And Lane's mom is very curious about what's going on, but he lies to her outright -- until everything boils up into a full-blown crisis! Many tears are shed, and ultimately all is forgiven.



So what is my problem?

The problem is this: a story that uses this artistic output, which is supposed to be Laura's response to Petrarch's body of poetry, well, you'd have to show some of that, wouldn't you? And who's going to write it? Not me. I'm not familiar enough with Petrarch, nor likely to become so, and I doubt that I have the poetic or romantic chops to do these imaginary letters justice.

Then of course, I have no idea how the story would end. Maybe Lane could get bonked on the head and wake up in Petrarch's arms thinking the year is 1327 and I'm actually a real girl! and Petrarch figures, well you're no Laura, but nobody's perfect!

Or maybe Lane will wake up and Petrarch was only a dream, and now he's driving off in a speedboat with Joe E. Brown.

Lane: Is this really the end of the story? It's so unlikely, and way out of left field. And I'm not even sure I'm awake!

Joe E. Brown: Well, nobody's perfect!   [He adds, in an aggressive undertone]: I'll fix that Petrarch for stealing my line! And for trying to steal my girl! Why I oughta--



And THAT is the story I wish I could write, but never will.

53 users have voted.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos! Click the "Thumbs Up!" button above to leave a Kudos


I'm certainly not

Angharad's picture

taking up the challenge, I tend to do more doggerel than poetry and even that doesn't rhyme for me anymore. As for Petrarch, I know very little about him and even less about Laura so I shall let that just fade away and keep to my prosaic prose.