Friday, 28 August 2009

Jeffrey Lewis


We went to see Jeffrey Lewis play last night, down the road at our local working men's club. It was great. And sweaty. And funny. And great.


Thursday, 27 August 2009

'After Generation X...'


I've written this piece for The Guardian about Douglas Coupland, Generation X, Tao Lin and the emerging young American writers of today.

The coming month sees the release of two quite different but connected books. Douglas Coupland's Generation A is set in a world without bees and said to "explore new ways of story-telling in a digital world", a description that could be applied to Tao Lin's Shoplifting In American Apparel, whose fragmented approach seems to reflects a new strain of hyper-existentialism where thrills come only from bouts of pointless shoplifting...

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

"Ooh, It Gets Dark"


"Out on the wiley, windy moors / We'd roll and fall in green"...it's scientifically proven to be impossible not to think of Kate Bush up here where the sky is an angry mashed potato rollercoaster and the moors a patchwork of newly-purpled heather, stone wall skeletons and fissures and rivulets that stroll and run and gather in pools, ponds and reservoirs to water the north of England....it's a weekday afternoon and there's nowhere I'd rather be than up here with you...the rain in our face, drumming on our hoods, ankle deep in bogs and sileage...the sheep scattering at our arrival...the valley behind us, the Yorkshire dales to the north, Lancashire to the west, the Ridings to the east...and all around us layer after layer of sugar paper skies and crooked horizons...the map soggy and soaking in our hands...the rest of the world at work...stifled and stiff and stuffy and obligated...but not us, not here today...England in our lungs...the sky in our socks....the soil consuming us...the hawk above the field....me Heathcliff, you Cathy.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

'Hyperkinetic' anthology


Some words from the editors of a forthcoming anthology to which I have contributed the story, 'Panty Lies'...

Hyperkinetic: High Velocity Tales From The Inner City.

The collections brings together a range of fiction-lovin’ folk from the world of music (writers and musicians mainly) and offer them the opportunity to put their imaginations to work outside the (often tedious) constraints of the industry.

There was no specific brief other than creating something suitable for an urban audience, since the publisher, Phoenix Publishing, is also responsible for cult drum & bass/underground music magazine Knowledge.

The project (co-edited by Paul Sullivan and Joe Shooman) now has 23 confirmed contributors. In alphabetical order they are:

Will Ashon, Trevor Baker, Sarah Bentley, Adam Butler, Cat Conway, Jason Draper, JJ Dunning, Harriet Giibsone, Pat W Hendersen, Claire Hughes, Martin James, Lindsey Kent, Jake Kennedy, Tim Lay, Joel McIver, Ben Myers, Minna Salami. Cyrus Sharard, Joe Shooman, Zoe Street Howe, Paul Sullivan, Kenn Taylor and Wyndham Wallace.

The stories have all been submitted and edited and include tales of discarded knickers, imaginary cities, invisible wives, neurotic goalkeepers, hounded genetic researchers, a near case of incest, a glory-hole incident, a post-apocalyptic game of volleyball, an urban artist from Bangkok, amnesia, a contemporary take on Greek mythology -- and a far-fetched fantasy about a physical location where people go to exchange money for music in a physical format.

There's also some lavish prose-poetry, a couple of short, short stories and plenty of sex, drugs and dubstep.

Hyperkinetic will be published in late 09/early 2010.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Things To See And Hear: Recent Acquisitions


Reading
Talk Of The Town by Jacob Polley
Cracked It by George Reynolds
Poisoned Heart: I Married Dee Dee Ramone by Vera Ramone King
Freeborn Traveller by Gratton Puxon





























Listening

Goblin - The Goblin Collection 1975 - 1989
Lee 'Scratch' Perry & The Upsetters - Super Ape!
Various - The Ballad Of Britain
Juice Aleem - Jerusalaam Come
Lives At Sea - MySpace songs (www.myspace.com/livesatseaband)
Aleister X - Bangers And Beans EP
Bo Ningen - MySpace songs (www.myspace.com/boningen)
Nils Petter Molvaer - Solid Ether



















Thursday, 20 August 2009

Rhythms Of The Rain


The rain plays a paradiddle on the roof as the clouds slide down
the throat of the valley like oysters - silent and slippery but very
much alive. It rains everyday here. It rains twice every day. The
sky sits lower too. I can feel it pushing down. It is a ceiling that
I can touch if I stand on my tip-toes. Maybe one day I'll get a
ladder and climb on through it to see what lies beyond.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Mount Asbestos


Disorientated in an unfamiliar wood...we've long since lost the path...the brambles and gorse only get thicker and thicker as we walk deeper and deeper into the darkness...the sweat running in our eyes and only an apple to eat between us...I'm laughing and joking louder than normal to disguise the genuine unease that is setting in...I can see the village way down below at the bottom of the valley but whichever way we walk it just seems to get further away....it's all my fault, I brought us in here and now a half hour stroll has turned into a two hour scramble with dirty hands and scraped knees....strange configurations of litter and refuse poking through the top-soil - flapping sheets of half-buried tarpaulin, twisted plastic bottles, smashed glass, the burnt out stumps of trees, the remnants of all-night drinking sessions from twenty years ago...teenagers drinkers now in their middle age...no other soul for a mile or two around...it's all my fault...the sound of the occasional passing car a lonely hiss far, far away...no birds, no animals, no signs of life except for the tangled roots and rotten blackberries turning on their branches, mushy and inedible....over half-hidden fences we go, through barbed-wire gaps...the sweat still running in our eyes...down the hill into more brambles thickets a hundred yards deep...turn away, turn away...

So it's back up the hill...on and on until finally we climb a fence, then another and - thank Christ - we're out in the open, out in the backyard of lonely remote hilltop farm high up on the spine of the valley...we sneak past its grimy windows and restless cattle but then he appears from nowhere as if he has been watching us, following us... the farmer, muttering with discontent as he stops us and demands to know who we are and where we've been and...a skinny fellow with bad teeth, probing eyes and holes in his t-shirt...this is our Deliverance moment and I'm mildly shitting it...we plead innocence..."We're not from London you know" and all of that...on the defence we bombard him with conversation and questions to diffuse the situation..I bet this fucker has a gun, I'm thinking, a whole cabinet full of them and a trunk full of the hiking boots and ordinance maps of missing walkers...his dead mother's dress pressed and hanging in the back bedroom wardrobe..."Sorry, we got lost in the wood, we couldn't get out"..."That wood over yonder?"..."Yes"..."You don't want to go in there - that's where they dump the asbestos, it's highly toxic"...."Really?".... "Aye, we used to play in that wood as kids, not any more though - no-one goes in that wood since the council shut it off - since they found out that that stuff can kill ya. Don't you read the newspapers?..."

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Norwegian Jazz Records


My postmen brings me Norwegian jazz records.

They're not part of his morning delivery - he just thinks I might like to hear some from his personal collection.

I put them on and it turns out I do.

Monday, 17 August 2009

The Smallest Of Things


I've been finding pleasure in new areas...new ways...new pursuits...because in the absence of money and finding ourselves born into a consumerist era that's hurtling headlong into a spiritual abyss one most force oneself to seek pleasure in the smallest of things....the free things...things like a walk up a hill, in the rain, in an afternoon, the rustle of the waterproof and the wind in your ears the only music worth hearing...

...or a trip to the library to pick a book or CD at random, only to abandon it when the case is empty, or upon finding the final page has been torn out by a closet sadist....or stumbling upon a wild blackberry patch that has come into fruition that very day, and picking the whole damn lot, and boiling them in a pot, with just a little sugar...or reading the news headlines and knowing that all the politicians and warmongers and lawmakers are wrong and history will prove that the good people were right all along...

...or walking the streets at night and looking in through stranger's windows and wondering if they happy or sad or insane....or throwing your alarm clock into the bin with the fetid bones of last night's fish supper and vowing to never again heed its call...or cutting out a picture of Jordan's tits and making them into a paper aeroplane that you throw from the roof of the nearest tower block....or sleeping for four hours one night and fourteen the next....or typing the first thought that comes to mind then posting it on the internet and laying yourself bare and naked and open to criticism or adoration but mainly obscurity...


Friday, 14 August 2009

60 Revolutions Per Minute


I must have spent the entire summer of 2006 listening to Gogol Bordello. I can't listen to them without thinking of that long hot glorious season and all the old turn-of-the-century klezmer tunes that I got into as a direct result of that one Gogol album. Klezmer cranking out the windows of my old studio flat in Peckham...a stifling heatwave...police helicopters overhead every night...their searchlights illuminating my little stuffy room....grilled fish and dumpling from the Nigerian takeaway down on Rye Lane...night drives through the city...too many spliffs...falling in love...

Granted their next album wasn't so good and he made a truly awful straight-to-bargain-bin film with Madonna, but I did interview frontman Eugene Hutz not so long back and the dude was a dude. Here's a great clip from 'back in the day'.

(I hate it when people say 'back in the day').


Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Open Day At 'Ben Myers, Man Of Letters'


Welcome.

It is open day at Ben Myers, Man Of Letters. This means you can post a comment below about anything you like. A word, a poem, an expletive, a link.

You can do this any time you like of course, but today you can at least do it with a greater sense of purpose. A sense of unity even. I thought it might be a good way to better engage with people who read this blog / prostitute myself a little bit more than I already do.

Basically: is there anything more demoralising than reading a blog that has the immortal phrase 'No comments' after each entry? The answer is, of course, a resounding: yes. There are many things more depressing, like reading the newspaper this morning.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

"It's not a significant bullet"

I can't help it. Every time I think about Werner Herzog getting shot, I laugh.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Signing To Picador


Good news: Picador have just bought my new novel.

It is entitled Richard and is scheduled for publication in 2011.

If I drank alcohol I'd be popping the champagne, but as I don't a cup of tea and a nice sit down will suffice. It's pleasing.

I shall be writing more about it all over the coming months.

Watch this space, as they say....

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Message from The Country #4


Here is my latest installment of postcard writing, exclusively for Caught By The River.net

Monday, 3 August 2009

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Interview with writer Mark Hodkinson


Mark Hodkinson is not only a great writer and proprietor of one of Britain best small publishers Pomona Books, but also a fine fellow to boot.

I've interviewed him for 3AM Magazine and heartily recommend his new novel The Last Mad Surge Of Youth. It's out now.

Identity is everything. All the best writers – or bands, artists or film-makers, for that matter – have a strong sense of identity strengthened by their understanding of time and place. Mark Hodkinson’s debut The Last Mad Surge Of Youth is a perfect example of a novel that works because the author thoroughly understands time, place and his subject – in this case the rollercoaster journey from idealistic small town punk to bona fide rock star; a journey undertaken by many during the period between the late 70s and late 80s. Some emerged triumphant, never to be taken seriously again (Bono, Jim Kerr, Bob Geldof), others had a taste and declined the offer to save the world (Julian Cope, Ian McCulloch), others trod a middle ground and kept their credibility intact (Joe Strummer, Mark E Smith and co)...

You can read the full interview here.

Marmaduke Duke - 'Demon' remix














Fancy a bit of wonky trance? Good. Here's a remix of the song 'Demon' by Marmaduke Duke, former recording artists on my old record label Captains Of Industry. The remix was done by the Karoshi (formerly Karoshi Brothers) from Newcastle.

This is a world exclusive - currently unavailable anywhere. A bit of fun.

Go here to hear it. Or go here to buy the album.