In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes is, of course, Andy Warhol’s (often mis-quoted) 1968 prediction about celebrity culture. This short story collection is about fame and how it affects ordinary people; the need for it, the obsession with celebrity, the missed chance, the chance encounter.
In most of the stories the famous have only a bit part in the tale of an ordinary individual, existing just outside the action but still influencing the outcome. We get the story of a tramp in New York on the day John Lennon was shot, a doctor remembering a childhood visit to a Muhammad Ali fight, a woman’s obsession with Harry Potter following the death of a child. Some of the stories are more concerned with the personal need for widespread attention. Some feature invented celebrities.
These stories are modern, experimental, cinematic, moving and always thought provoking. Almost all genres are represented; there is literally something for everyone.
Jesus it’s cold. Mostly I don’t feel it, but after last night my butt is frozen to the stairwell and the three hats I have on don’t even take the edge off. I’m still tired when I wake, my cheeks pinched raw by the frosty morning air, my eyes crusted shut. It was a long cold night and it was too damn noisy to sleep properly.
I found my spot early, just after dark, tucked away in the thin line between two apartment blocks on a fire escape someone had forgotten to push back up. Just when I thought I was gonna drift off I was jolted awake by the bangs, about seven of them, like a car backfiring or something. Then there were the sirens - more than usual – and people shouting and running along the street. Try as I might I couldn’t ignore it. I opened my eyes and turned my head to the end of the alleyway. Blue flashing lights flickered up the road and bounced off the water-smeared walls and bulky shapes with jangling keys darted past. There was screaming – a woman. Something big must’ve kicked off alright, a shooting I guess. It all died down pretty quickly, besides, it had nothing to do with me. I make it a policy not to get involved in stuff that’s not my business. Once I’m hunkered down I don’t move until morning. It’s the only way to keep from freezing. Every night in winter I stow my most precious belongings on my lap, pull my sleeping bag up to my chin and then don’t move an inch til dawn. Not unless I really have to.
This part of town is usually quiet enough, even at this time of year, just three weeks short of Christmas when the world has gone seasonally insane and crowds fill the streets day and night. It can make you jumpy, all those extra bodies milling about. Accidents waiting to happen. It’s less frantic up here, the office parties all go downtown and the fruit loops and the junkies tend not to come up, the police are real hot on them in this neighborhood. If I can find the right spot, hidden from view, I can sleep safe and sound all night and be up early enough to catch the rich folks on their way into town. It’s not that they’re especially generous up here, though there’s a lot of money about (bankers, celebrities, folks that have everything they could want) but still, I can beg for hours and not even get a glance. Every so often I’ll get lucky, someone will remember the true spirit of Christmas and they’ll try to salve their conscience by digging deep into their pockets. If this happens I’m set up for the day, a couple of hot meals and a bottle, maybe even a bed someplace. Course, it doesn’t always happen. It didn’t happen yesterday; which is how come I’m waking up on a fire escape after a restless night, tired and cold.
I get up, stretch, and wriggle the pins and needles from my toes. I roll away my sleeping bag, stuff it into my biggest carrier, pick up the rest of my things and shuffle out of the alley and along the sidewalk to the corner of 71st Street and the park.
There are a lot of people about today. Too many and too early. It’s a little short of 7 but it feels like it’s well into rush hour. Everyone is going in the same direction - north along the park – like they’re being called by something. Entranced. I stand still to cough as the exertion of the day’s first steps catches up with my lungs. The pain in my sides is almost unbearable. It’s like this every morning. I suppose I should go to the ER but I don’t like hospitals. I’ve had friends on the street who didn’t make it out of hospital. People jostle me as they pass like they can’t see me; they send my shopping bags spinning so the handles twist like knives into the skin of my fingers. I did have a pair of gloves but they were stolen in the last shelter. I cough thick gunk up from my chest and splatter it onto the sidewalk. A man in a suit looks at me and tuts, then looks quickly away. I know what he’s thinking.
As I start to walk again I notice that nobody is talking. It’s eerie. Some folks walk together holding hands, some are carrying flowers. Their faces have a haunted look, like photographs of children in wartime. I walk along with them and for the first time in years I’m just one of the crowd; suddenly a part of something (even if I don’t know what it is yet). I can feel myself smile, using muscles that haven’t worked in months.
A woman crosses quickly in front of me, I don’t see her until it’s too late. She recoils as I crash into her. The impact knocks my bags from my hands, they fall at her feet, their contents spilling onto the floor.
‘Watch it mister,’ she hisses.
I look up from her spike heel as I try to gather my belongings. Her legs go on for miles and she’s real pretty, but her make-up is thick and dark roots are showing under her bleached blonde hair. There’s a hole in her black stockings, just below the hem of her leather mini-skirt, exposing a circle of bright white skin. She’s got a faraway spaced-out expression, looking over me across the street as if I’m not even there. I remember the type. The memory makes me smile.
‘Okay princess,’ I say, straightening up.
She stares at me as though she really is a princess and I’m a dog turd on her shoe. As she takes in my appearance her face is transformed by sudden anger. Her pretty blank features contort into ugliness. She narrows red-rimmed eyes into lizard slits.
‘Fuck off,’ she shouts, almost screams, ‘you stink!’
Her words echo like a shot through the still December air.
People stop and stare at us. I’m not part of the crowd anymore - now I’m a bum harassing a vulnerable woman. I know what they all think. I hunch my shoulders and drop my eyes to the sidewalk. She carries on shouting for a while then I hear her heels clomp away. I stay as I am until I’m sure she’s gone. When I look up no-one is paying any attention to me anymore; they are all intent again on their silent migration. I’m shaking to my boots but I take a deep breath and cross the street unhindered to where I can see Cyril Patel and his pretzel cart.
Andy Warhol died on Feb 22nd 1987. Thirty years on he's still inspiring artists of all kinds, from music videos to fashion designers, to little writers like me. When I was researching this book I found out that he used to misquote the famous for fifteen minutes line at every opportunity, it was as if he couldn't believe that he was more famous for a quote about fame. When asked about it, which he…
It's been a long summer and I've been quietly working behind the scenes. You'll be pleased to know that my collection has been edited, with immensely helpful input from Unbound, and is as a result a much better book. It also has a new title. Gone is the over long full Warhol quote; the book will now be published as Fifteen Minutes. The editing was an interesting process. A lot of the…
At the time of writing I am 91% funded! I am so grateful to all of you for supporting this project. I just wrote the thing - it is you who have made the possibility of publication a reality. There have been a rush of new supporters in the last couple of weeks and if I haven't thanked you personally I'd like to do so now.
When I haven't been marketing this book I have been editing it. I've had to…
thank you thank you for your support! The title of this post does not refer to what most people say to me when I ask them to support this book but it could. Instead it is the title of a short film made by Brighton's Latest TV about the project (in my very messy and chaotic house!) Please share this as much as you can. I have about 2 weeks left to fund this project. Thank you again…
I am half way through! And it’s not been easy I can tell you. I feel like I’ve had to coax each pledge into being. My short story collection In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes is so close to 30% funded. Obviously, I need a lot more pledges to reach 100% in the next 6 weeks. I am banking on momentum. Word of mouth, people wearing down in the face of constant bombarment…
Crowdfunding a book is overwhelming. There is so much marketing to do just to eek out one or two supporters. Unbound (the crowdfunding publisher I have signed to) send you a pledge update once a week so you can see who has pledged and what level they've opted for. Everytime someone pledges I want to shout their name from the rooftops. In fact my book In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For…
Hi everyone and thanks for supporting my project. I am blogging every Thursday about this process. There have been 3 posts already on my website https://erinnamettler.wordpress.com/ and this is the 4th.
My Unbound Diary Part 4 - Crowdfunding Confidence
I'm now on week four of my crowdfunding project and I have had a bit of a confidence wobble. My short story collection…
These people are helping to fund Fifteen Minutes.