12 thoughts on “Breathing Through My Nose – Ralph Robert Moore


    0ADB761D-1F59-4DAC-9D0B-1B410481C005 THE JOB

    “I bring him out of the valley, arm around his waist, holding him up, if he’s still alive. Piggy-back if he’s dead. Either way, we get paid.”

    That’s was the original plan. By Winnebago and four horses, some helpers and forty-something Andrea Burnett whose plane-crashed husband in the wilds of the desert, to be spotted from the last balcony cliff or crest, they seek dead or alive. She says something that I hadn’t thought of. Was the narrator Don called Donald Duck at school? Is he gay or straight, I often wondered. That’s sort of answered I guess in the natural showers they had.

    “We might run into some crazies. There’s a type of person who gets drawn to the desert.”

    We’re crazies, too, I guess. Coming into this story and its cooking preparation jobs on roots etc. and thoughts of rib-eye steaks, etc. The RRM culinary fleshpots, I might call them.

    Rabbit gutting, and what with the piggy-back above, and a man and woman going as it were into the wild, it is perhaps remarkable I read SCRATCHINGS here just before reading this novelette..

    “He said I should start jogging counter-clockwise, to even out the effect.”
    ​”Makes sense.” ​
    “He also said I was wearing my fingerprints away, because I handle so much paper.”

    Crazies are often killed before getting to the end of the story. Metaphorically, at least, but I still didn’t get to the point of the ending. But that seemed dead right. Some beautiful writing here, crisp as well as sometimes textured like meat, and sometimes with good stuff between the legs for honest succulence.

  2. I read the next story in 2018 and reviewed it as follows in its then context…



    “In the bathroom, a roll of white toilet paper left on the sink, the roll flattened, so the squashed inner cardboard tube looked like someone’s asshole.”

    Another RRM Classic, no mistake. I liked the way this story developed with potential motives changing in my own unreliable mind, as it were, … of a man hearing neighbours (a Male-Female couple), then grooming them with chat and possible lies. But who is grooming whom? There is a feel of femsplaining here, more than once. The backstories of each are intriguing and worrying. The innuendo and the possible conspiracy. The Twin Peaks 3 type incident at the end. The ornate recipes of cooking. The veal as someone’s last meal. The lam, as escape valve as well as shortened meat? The “Me too.” sentence, as meat, too. Music as direct empathy with its composer’s mind. The scrunched eyebrows. Carrots and orange skin. The wonder of migrating birds and tiddlywinks. Chicken flavoured brownies with ice cream. Bravo!


    “I’m the one who’s gonna end up with the biggest gravestone of anyone. Even white folk. That’s what lasts forever, your grave. That’s how people remember you.”

    “I’m naked in bed with this guy I really like, talking about outer space, and Gnosticism. Eventually, we fall asleep.”

    A touching story of a white woman having fallen in love with a black man, now hiring our narrator (Donald Duke I assume), as hitman to finish off someone connected with her being raped, raped so badly she almost lost a leg. Someone who helped getting acquitted the man whom the white woman believed to be the culprit. White and Black issues in a compelling story that any clue as to what happened would spoil. All I will say is that I am now not even sure that injustice was done. RRM always makes you THINK. No political correctness here. But plenty of business with sexy food — tapas and cashews and words aka gooseberries

    “I find myself thinking things like, how do the pictures on my wall get crooked? I straighten them out. How do they get crooked again?”

    …and that is one of the seminal messages of RRM fiction, I say.

    “I’ve got one of those headaches you feel low down at the back of your neck, in your reptilian brain?”

    And did Purcell compose music about a purple people eater? Or was that Bon Jovi?

    “… why would God ever confine a child to a wheelchair;”

    Broken hands are worse or better than having dirty ones?

    “I have plunged my arms up to the elbows in excrement and blood. And what else should one do?” ― Jean-Paul Sartre, Les Mains Sales


    “I put a pile of pale noodles on my plate, added a heavy scoop of the red gravy, different types of meat sliding down the noodles’ slope.”

    Hilarious and disturbing. Relatively brief compared to the other stories so far. Surely a classic, as we follow our hero-narrator hired to rid a regular retired middle-class couple of an anti-social schoolboy harassing them. Yet it was the items of culinary stuff in this work that really got me in the gut. Just two examples – amid many others – as shown in the quotes above and below. (Did you know Kafka was fascinated by slopes? I only learnt that earlier today. I’ll prove that if anyone wants to contact me.)

    “It was wonderful. That type of pizza slice where the front triangular tip dips down under the weight of its toppings, olive oil dripping off.”


    “The shrimp were carefully arranged in a half circle on the plate, plump curves set with a military precision, facing a big red dab of cocktail sauce.”

    …like the man’s tie in all photos, military precision. No slope at all.
    The man who, as a client of DD of these stories, hired him to kill the youth called Jake — what a pair of shrimps, I say, that Jake and his Tiny! The two of them had polyhedroned the client’s daughter Jane, the eldest of his four daughters, Jane who was also friend of someone called Megan (I didn’t like the sound of her) …

    “So what does he do, sit here in his locked study, dragging the tip of his letter-opener across his blotter?”

    Corned beef hash and lovingly linked pinkies.

    This is a story that pans out like a human head ballooning, and the motivations stink like unburnable farts. And the client was worse than just stupid… don’t make me tell you everything. It will come out in time when you read about it for yourself.

    Any author who can think up such things and put them down on paper will get the due blowback, I reckon. No blotter big enough to absorb what will eventually come his way. I just need to hire my own Dead Duck, I guess.

    This author needs reading to see whether you had the guts to have read him in the first place. Then even more guts to do something about it. This review is just the beginning. Salt on the steak.


    “Don’t you know this is supposed to be ‘its’ rather than ‘it’s’?”

    “…my hands big parentheses reaching around his face, twisting left, hard.”

    Hey, RRM is cool. His characters are cool, too — some cooler than others. The coolest and most chilled-out (like DD the narrator hitman himself) usually wins the ultimate fight, despite various surprises of double-bluff, and even with the unexpected use by a foe of a snow globe as a weapon.

    Painstakingly but clumsily picking apart of frozen chicken bits by one such foe so as to dislocate the thighs from the breasts…

    “He glanced down. Pulled his pants legs away from his inner thighs, to better see all the dark red blood soaking into the wool.”

    The globe coolness of glass, yes, but also the coolness of Glass, viz. The Photographer, then the original blurring of a source photo photoshopped bigger makes it even blurrier, towards flirtation at an office photocopier. So cool DD watches his woman walk away without bothering to fuck her. And he packages up another woman with duct tape, his victim’s wife in another photocopier room. Or did I get that last bit wrong? I don’t care. Coolness reached out from the pages to affect the reader, making the reader also chilled-out…

    “…and if you press a button on the arrangement, it plays ‘You Are My Sunshine’. Are you familiar with the song?”

    Yup, yup, believe it or not, a tiny few days ago I reviewed a Rosson story here with that song title as its title. Relevant, too.

    Best to refrigerate the single tiny shrimp starter. To get rid of the nitrates. And don’t be dilatory. Load the toilet-roll holder properly. Very uncool not to do so, I say. Breathing without a nose.


    “The overall effect was of a garish bathroom that had been renovated by someone slowly losing his mind.”

    Our man DD returns to his family home for a funeral , Mum, Sister, Brother, and now deceased Dad (once a demon do-it-yourselfer). DD had hardly been in touch with them for twenty odd years. Gives some backstory depth to our man, this book’s cool hero narrator. All well-characterised, and there is a neighbour (ex cop) who had been asking for it and now gets it. “Violence works.”

    And an old flame for DD to revisit, but the flame had gone out. Seemed all in character with his attitude to women. And seeing a Dad dead in a squashed coffin is an echo of all our experiences. Or will be.

    Complete with memories of the Twist, and a Chantilly wiggle in her walk.
    Talk of swimming with hippos. And kelp.
    And things coming out.
    “Mom was crying into her Kleenex.”


    “Doorless closet to the right, lots of silent hangers on the wooden rod, as if dozens of witnesses were expected.”

    “a simple error of turning right when he was supposed to turn left”

    Deliberate?? Nails to burst the tyres on the wrong road at the right time? That would explain the ending of this classic RRM, as if fiction as a gestalt is SIMPLY meant to be. The TRUE narrator will never win through in the end, I guess. Only you the public triangulating reader will prevail.
    This is THE classic RRM when read in the foregoing context of the whole book. I felt sullied and uplifted at the same time. Don’t think less of me for that. Please.

    “It was beautiful! It’s the kind of ‘old-fashioned’ love-making I’ve always wanted.”

    A man as narrator having an affair with his wife’s best friend, a best friend who happens to be married to DD. Don’t go there, and sex here is runty as well as raunchy.

    “He blew his nose on the Kleenex she handed him.”

    All fiction has a lump somewhere in it. A cancerous lump. If only by chance you are there to feel it through the rest of the breast. The rest of the breast. Like when dividing chicken.

    “Well, I guess that’s the price of cabbage.”

    Professional tyreburst. But the untold repercussions? Well, untold, here in my review. It has been good to see DD from the point of view of another narrator. My whole image of him changed – but the throwaway line of its ending …? The shock is down to my boots.

    “Well, we market them as a healthy alternative to cookies. When you want a snack, instead of eating a cookie you munch on a dehydrated tomato slice, which has far fewer calories, but loads of good stuff, like lycopenes.”

    That is this story’s homage to the rest of the concise cooking in this book’s pages. Cooking with meticulous accoutrements to have sex with.

    “You, just ended a sentence with a preposition!”

    “Gingerly pulled out a Kleenex netted with the waving legs of small black beetles.”

    “He had gone through most of his box of complimentary Kleenex by that point, sitting next to him like a faithful cardboard pet at the bottom edge of the bed.”

    Snotting through my nose.

    THE RIGHT WAY to read this book. The final come-uppance is YOURS.

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