The Pelican School of Bird and Other Stories is Richard Batchelor’s second book and first work of fiction. His first book, The Temp Pest, a largely autobiographical half-comedy mostly set in warehouses and packing factories, is also available to download on Smashwords. Batchelor is also a musician and the front man in the longstanding rock and roll indie group, Ricky Spontane. The group have released three studio albums; Spontane Time, Hit the Town and Spontane 3, as well as a clutch of singles. A new EP, The Seeds of Doom, will hopefully be available to download by the time you’ve read this book. Batchelor has also released a solo album, Richard I.
Batchelor, who currently lives in Chartres, France, is a hypochondriac, a Fats Domino obsessive and a bungler. He is both imprisoned and liberated by his own imagination. It depends on the day. He can be contacted on: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Amendment May 2017. Though Morrissey is oft quoted and rightly so during my first book, any genius he had seems to have dissipated into idiocy and bigotry. It's a pity, but true. I have no time for the man these days.
Where to find Richard Batchelor online
The Impetuous River and Other Poems
by Richard Batchelor
The Impetuous River is a gripping, harrowing and magical tale of two otters on the run whose homeland becomes riddled with jealousy and destructiveness. The poem is composed entirely of serious limericks. As one reader commentated, 'It’s kind of Richard Adams writing Othello while sponsored by Greenpeace.'
The Pelican School of Bird and Other Stories
by Richard Batchelor
These stories feature angelic sloths, exploitation and rip-off merchantry, tripping birds, dangerous baths, a bureaucratic pig, a Hades of sorts, the price of immortality, nightmares in Paris, madness and denial of the prism of light, The Doctors of Madness, lolloping killer cretins and a hunter with a toaster for a torso. What more d’ya want?
The Temp Pest
by Richard Batchelor
(4.89 from 9 reviews)
The Temp Pest is the first e-book by Richard Batchelor, a comic, psychedelic, trip into the absurd, painful and strange world of temping, in which the 'hero' finds himself somewhat, shall we say, out of sync with his surroundings...
Richard Batchelor's tag cloud
Richard Batchelor's favorite authors on Smashwords
Smashwords book reviews by Richard Batchelor
Confessions of a Gaming Attendant
on June 30, 2012
Confessions Of A Gaming Attendant was an historic read for me being the first complete or anything like complete novel I read entirely on a computer. Belonging to the generation which still prefers the musty aroma of books, it is a testament to its brilliance that I finished it without complaint and with very few breaks to take up company with a real book. So what’s the e-book equivalent of ‘I couldn’t put it down? ‘I couldn’t switch it off’ perhaps? Addictive, compelling, just like the slot machines that are the bane of author Mikey Lee Ray’s life at work, though immeasurably more interesting. As someone who has never understood the attraction of slot machines since they are boring, repetitive, involve no skill whatsoever and certain to bring defeat and heavy financial losses in an incredibly short amount of time, it was a trillion times more fascinating watching ‘pokies’ or ‘mug punters’ as Mikey calls them, through the analytical eyes and barbed quill of the author than actually playing them. Time and again Mikey slates these foolish pitiful zombie losers yet I never got bored of it. He says it a different way every time, and this is work, not Hollywood. When you work with people you don’t like it’s every day, week in week out, year in year out and the bullshit doesn’t go away.
Right now I’m feeling sad to have finished Confessions Of A Gaming Attendant. That deflated post- brilliant novel feeling, where a parallel life unfolds alongside your own before running out of pages, be they real or on a screen. I expected to feel this way as Mikey’s first novel, Pandora’s Market, printed in 2008, was one helluva fantastic trip! Then going under the name of Matthew Schafer, Pandora’s Market was my favourite novel of the ‘noughties’ – a wild, terrifying, powerful, apocalyptic and visionary satire on the modern politico-financial system that is now ravaging our world. Don’t say Mikey, or Matthew, didn’t warn you. Pandora’s Market took on some pretty huge themes in diverse places all over the globe and the wonderful and at times deliciously despicable characters take you to a thrilling conclusion.
Confessions Of A Gaming Attendant has a more localised setting; mainly casinos in various parts of Melbourne. You have the impression Mikey knows from experience what he’s talking about. It’s my favourite book from the 2010s so far and although it’s early days in the decade I reckon it has a fairly good chance of still being there in 2020, though who knows what other gems the author has up his proverbial sleeve.
Written in diary form with each day titled with an often brilliant word play in a style that reminds me of 1960s/70s beatnik/rock ’n’ roll journalism, enjoy Mikey’s weird and strangely exotic headfuck of a trip through casinos and all the absurd, disastrous and depressing shenanigans that go with it, from the point of view of a total outsider. Mikey Lee Ray doesn’t want to be working in casinos watching people put coins into slots and serving them coffee. He dreams of greater things and we share the dream. Enjoy the characters in Mikey’s world, notably two unwillingly drug-induced versions of himself who morph from the symbolic to the frighteningly solid. He tells us and we have no reason to disbelieve him, that 2010 is a drink and video game free year. Presumably these vices were taking up too much of Mikey’s psyche in 2009, but straight, sober and unaddicted, 2010 will turn out to be weirder. Sometimes characters have marvellous names; ‘Caesar’s Ghost,’ a slick silver-haired Tory politician lookalike of a slot junkie is a hilarious example. He fancies himself as debonair but is pitifully deluded and drunkenly bullshits his way through his tragicomic evenings. We all know a ‘Caesar’s Ghost.’
‘The High Roller,’ a dodgy-as-fuck shady bastard who is nonetheless kind to Mikey in his way, is comic and sinister, at one point described as’ a huge orange and green creature in a fuzzy suit looking like a cross between a bad guy out of Super Mario Brothers and a monster from Pokemon.’
Then there’s the aptly named ‘Gigantor,’ a monster of a woman hopelessly drowning in every addiction going.
I love the way the diary lurches from action to relationships to philosophical musing. Hearing Mikey think is a whole lotta fun, and he has some pretty original thoughts. His pet hates crop up often as he snarls his way through the year with biting Gonzo wit. Gonzo journalism may technically be defined as ‘unobjective’ but Mikey immaculately defends what he says as an ineffable logic often runs alongside his venomous pen.
A few pet hates to whet your appetite; Nicholas Cage movies (ha ha); Baby Boomers (ha ha again a whole generation dismissed with a wave of Mikey’s sweeping, slot machine killing hand, though we can see why as the generation which spawned pop luminaries such as Lennon, Dylan and Hendrix who promised a new world, tragicomically and pitifully end up as discourteous semi-cretins playing out their old age putting coins into machines which take your money. As the author points out, they have families, why are they dying here? ); Queen Elizabeth, who somehow still appears on the Australian dollar bill, and the English in general – the world ‘British’ or ‘English’ is irreverently never written in capitalized form (ha ha again though I say to Mikey that surely some Australian revenge has been exacted with the export of Rupert Murdoch); people who pay for small purchases by credit card (right on brother), vampires and Obama-style happy-clappy optimism. There are others but let’s not make the write-up a spoiler.
Mikey has enough confidence in his intellect to label Aristotle a ‘moron’ and Sherlock Holmes a ‘klutz.’ Love that.
The diary is a full calendar year and as in real life there are few clean cut conclusions as Mikey rails against mainstream stereotypes, clichés and hackneyed plots and becomes a spokesman for the post-financial collapse generation with the same conviction and force which heralded the onset of the now failed Baby Boomers.
There is intrigue as he gets involved with dodgy deliveries and gangsters, goes underground with his mates he sees as family and carries out some pretty serious anti-greedhead measures. He also gets mixed up with a pretty unpleasant pervert and a jealous writer. Hell hath no fury like the jealous artiste. Ask Mozart. Through all this the backdrop of the soul-sucking, life-bleeding slot machines remains a constant.
Mikey determinedly battles his way through the slots, his self-confessed inability to feel, bad trip hallucinations and other tribulations to emerge somehow victorious. Love and friendship and belonging emerge from absurdity and epiphany to leave Mikey walking off into the Sunset, in a warts-and-all, non- Hollywood, non- crap mainstream hackneyed novel sort of way.
I enjoyed walking just behind him….
English Grammar Exercises
on April 15, 2014
Very useful, especially for TOEIC classes and the like. Thanks. Just one slightly negative point - a couple of the sentences aren't grammatically correct if I'm not mistaken - may be worth a quick re-edit. It's a generous share, cheers.
How to Lose Money and Irritate People
on May 11, 2014
Ray storms back with his third novel whose title sets the tone for over 300 highly entertaining pages of sledgehammer wit and words most certainly not minced. Narrator Mike is a guy who is surely far too intelligent to be working in the 'hospitality' business - not, in this case are his customers the rich and famous but a ghastly and dissolute assortment of sad and tiresome slot junkies. The whole book is a rather circular, dizzying, nauseating motion round and round and round in circles - namely around the gaming floors from machine to machine to coffee maker to till to machine to coffee maker to till etc etc. It's a sign of the quality of the writing that I became unpleasantly claustrophobic about three-quarters of the way through and just wanted these sad gits like Big M, Angry Joe and Voula to leave me alone too! Not even an excursion by bus to a different gaming hall the other side of Melbourne gives the reader any sense of air as the bus is filled with these very same creatures. These characters are gambling junkies but of the most tragically pitiful kind - they lose most nights on slot machines which involve no skill whatsoever yet come back for the next day and moan about it before losing again. The narrator has no time for these sad and beautifully drawn characters but the descriptions leave the reader with an overwhelming sense of pity and futility. In contrast to Ray's last novel, the epic 'Confessions of a Gaming Attendant', 'How to Lose Money and Irritate people is about half the length and set almost entirely on the gaming floor. This gives it a marvellous intensity and focus - the narrator's personal life doesn't much come into play and there is no meandering from the constant click, whirr and flash of those gaudy machines. Mike's is the constant biting wit and citric cynicism of a man stuck with a small cross-section of human nature due to his job. I don't much care for cops even though I appreciate the brave job they do, mainly because many (not all I hasten to add) of them have a sneering, suspicious, sarcastic attitude towards their fellow man that mixing with criminals all the time must engender. Basically Mike is stuck with largely people who are obsessed with money but are not very good at keeping it (the pokies) and people who are obsessed with money and VERY good at keeping it (the clubs) while hardly rolling in the stuff himself.... and how much more interesting and enriching it is than reading about the rich and famous.
My favourite character is probably Julius, a deluded Walter Mitty-esque fantasist with pretentions of aristocracy. He doesn't play the machines at all yet comes to the club to chat about his impending marriage to a dead princess and drink gallons of tea. It does beg the question, why does he hang out there? Despite sounding or at least wanting to sound like a Tory and a Royal at the same time (never two things to get off on a good footing with me anyway) he is rather endearing (at least from a DISTANCE) and provides at least some smidgen of humanity among the clientele, Perhaps my favourite aspect of this hilarious and at times depressing romp is the daydreaming of the narrator. As the drudgery shimmers and fades into the background, zombies, terrorist attacks and extravagant insults fill the club until some shitty task throws Mike out of his reverie.
Anyway, buy this! You shan't be disappointed. It's hilarious, it's pitiless, it's relentless, it kind of hits many of the same funny bones Hunter S Thompson hit in its orgy of misanthropy. Fortunately Mike does have some light relief in the shape of two colleagues he gets on with, one of whom sets up the final scene of descent into farce. The main villain of the piece, a lazy and obnoxious stand-in boss, will get what's coming...