Serial Fiction Beta Reads

Seed, Part 7

The Prof

Steve Fendt
5 min readNov 9, 2022

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Girl in a Whirl | Steve Fendt

Author’s note for this beta read

  • Please go easy on the highlights.
  • Please, please comment! Be as honest as you like.
  • I’m putting all 12 parts up simultaneously. You can use the list at the end to move between parts.
  • Language warning. Plentiful c-words, f-words and other delights await you.

Of Jelka’s art school friends, there wasn’t a single one he liked.

The antipathy was mutual. They saw in him a potential Svengali to their friend and peer. The fact that there was no sex involved just heightened the weirdness.

‘He doesn’t want to get into your pants?’

‘No. Shrug emoji.

‘What’s this creep after, then?’

Laughing, she read him the text exchange with Don, a gay male friend.

He grimaced in response, the closest to a smile he could manage. This is how it starts to end: so soon? He didn’t have it in him to ingratiate or appease, he knew that. He had only two responses to hostility — flight or escalation.

They took to referring to him as ‘The Prof’. It was a snark at his tacit — and sometimes explicit — claim to intellectual and artistic superiority. It was also a programmatic statement of the distance between them.

He in turn saw them as entitled little prigs, largely talentless; preoccupied with the politics of arts funding and progressive virtue signalling, not the pursuit of fine art as a serious profession. He made no attempt to hide his disdain when the conversation turned to inclusivity, cultural appropriation and social justice.

‘Art speaks for itself,’ he ranted to Jelka, walking home after one of these clashes. ‘It’s a dialogue between the creation and the viewer. Whether the artist was Gandhi or Pol Pot — it’s fucking irrelevant.’

‘We’re denying the primacy of the artist today, are we? That’s a rabbit hole which takes us to Duchamp and the so-called “End of Painting”, which you were calling “an intellectual wank” only yesterday,’ she objected mildly. ‘And what happened to “Art is always political,” your favourite…

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Steve Fendt

https://stevefendt.substack.com Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Stories of the Australian beach and bush.