Friday, 26 February 2010

'Il Dio Della Scopata' (A Lesson In Translation)

I tend to forget that my first novel came out in Italian. Not because I've got much bigger fish to fry, but mainly because it was written in one week in November 2000 when I was about to be evicted from the squat in Kennington that I had occupied for over three years, was published four years later in 2004 through a small press in the UK, then came out in Italy in 2005 (through Italy's biggest publisher apparently) where it is called Il Dio Della Scopata.

So I had sort of forgotten about it and also, reading it back now, it seems like it was written by a different person. A far drunker, more obnoxious person, in fact.

Not speaking Italian and the Google 'translate' function being hilariously literal  - though bugger-all use  - it's hard to know just how it was received in Italy. I think most people didn't like it. That's OK. Then today I just stumbled across a review that (I think) said that the book was the perfect size and shape for realligning wonky furniture as it slotted neatly beneath the leg of the reviewer's table.

I like that and I'm glad someone got some benefit out of it, especially as the book was quicker to write than it would take me to ammend a wonky table.

If any Italian readers have a copy of the book I'd welcome any thoughts on it. It is still available to buy through Baldini Castaldi Dalai.

Incidentally: at the time of publication I put the word out that book had been banned in Italy by the Vatican for being blasphemous (it has a swear word in the title). That was a lie. It wasn't banned. The sad thing is, it made little difference.

The cover looked OK anyway.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

3PM Magazine

Home of the world's first literary blog, and sometime publisher of my hapless scribblings, 3AM Magazine have launched a children's imprint called 3PM Magazine.

As editor Andrew Gallix explains their mission is as follows:  "What we want to do is find out if authors who usually write for adults can express themselves fully when addressing a younger, pre-teen audience. We are also interested in seeing if experimental literary techniques can transfer successfully to fiction for children: who’s going to write the first nouveau roman for kids?"

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Books, Loads Of Bloody Books...

I'm immensely biased of course but Blackheath books pretty much has got the best roster of underground / small press writers in the UK right now - and publisher Geraint Hughes has got more books on the way, all by friends of mine.

Joseph Ridgwell has a collection of short stories out entitled Oswald's Apartment and it comes with tit tassles attached to the cover. It is described as containing "tales of impending insanity, human frailty, malicious transsexuals, homicidal eggs, time travel, deadbeat jobs, relationship breakdowns, boozing - and more..." Well now. What more could you want?

Darran Anderson meanwhile has his poetry collection Tesla's Ghost on the way. From what I've read so far - and I only got a copy yesterday - it's a belter of a debut.

Jenni Fagan also has two really great books out now - one on Blackheath and the other on New Zealand publisher Kilmog Press. Click here for all the details on those...

Copies of my own Blackheath collection and Adelle's two poetry books are still available. There's only a few left mind...

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Another Obsession

I've become a bit obsessed by walking. More obsessed than I already was. If I've not squeezed in 3 miles at lunch time then it hasn't been a great day. 5 miles is better though, preferably up a big hill, then down the other side. Through mud, rain, sleet, snow, sun, whatever. It doesn't really matter.

That is all.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Lift To Experience

Lift To Experience were a good band. Overlooked really. A bit like a Harry Crews novel. Or maybe Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson.

I went to Texas once. In Houston a cab driver told me he had been to "Edinburgh, England" then charged me $50 for driving around in a circle.

That was in 2002. I was interviewing Conor Oberst.

We ate ribs.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

'Message from the Country' #7

My latest semi-regular postcard missive for Caught By The is right here.

Other thoughts:

* You know it's a dreary night when one of Kasabian slipping over is a highlight....

Watching last night's Brit awards was an uneventful as expected. It being the Brit Awards it was slightly ironic that the American acts (Jay-Z, Lady GaGa) were far more entertaining the British ones (Cheryl Cole, Robbie Williams). It also reminded how much I despise the mainstream of the music industry, and how utterly conservative it is. You think Simon Cowell is bad? You should meet some of the other execs. Personally I'd like to have seen Wild Beasts, Biffy Clyro, The XX, British Sea Power, Gallows, Lets Wrestle and The Horrors nominated. But that was never going to happen. Not when the Florence And The Marketing Machine needs to reach its foregone conclusion by completing the circle that began 12 months ago. I'm annoyed with myself that I even vaguely care about this stuff.

* A dog bit my ball sac.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Credit To The Nation

I loved this song by Credit To The Nation back in 1993. Still do. 17 year old Matty Hanson aka MC Fusion was like the Dizzee Rascal of his day, but more politicised, and operating in an era when UK hip-hop didn't try and disguise its regional accents (in Fusion's case, Birmingham) and wasn't exactly setting the charts alight. The press simultaneously loved and patronised them (or really, him) but they were great live and MC Fusion an articulate young man.

Everyone has sampled Nirvana since then, but 'Call It What You Want' got there first, and in fine style.

I just read that they are back in the studio, recording a new album for release later in the year. I'm glad about that.

(Incidentally, Credit To The Nation make a tiny cameo appearance in my forthcoming novel.)

Monday, 15 February 2010

Found Photos

I just found these pictures of myself, Adelle and Matthew Coleman online. They were taken sometime in the first half of 2009 at the ICA gallery by 3:AM founder Andrew Gallix.

It must have been about a year ago. I think it was early spring because it was balmy and the air was heavy, and I remember eating a florentine from Maison Bertaux and sweating quite a lot that day. A hell of a lot actually. Since then Matthew has been making some great art and taking lots of great photos. You can see some of them here.

Despite the sweat memories I like these pictures a lot.

Friday, 12 February 2010

That sinking feeling

I have calculated that I written 76,025 words of a new novel but have just experienced that sinking feeling that you get when you read your own work back: Oh no, I thought. This is really mediocre. It's nothing like how I imagined it to be (engaging, edgy, interesting, etc). I'm going to have to re-write it. Then re-write it again. Then probably again. And maybe again. Then again. And possibly again. Then maybe I won't get that sinking feeling. At this stage though it is very difficult to tell.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

'Literature of the Homeless'

Here is a piece that I have written on - for want of a better term - 'literature of the homeless' for The Guardian.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

"A drug town with a tourist problem"

Writer Mark Piggott wrote an interesting piece about my nearest town of Hebden Bridge in The Times at the weekend. The article has received criticism from some quarters, but I thought it was a well written, sad and evocative article about the loss of innocence amongst a circle of friends (though I am a relative 'blow in' - a newcomer to the area).

Hebden has been getting a lot of coverage of late due a film that has been made about it being seen as a suicide hot-spot and the perception of it as a "drug town with a tourist problem". The latter is an unfair description, I think. I should know: I've lived in places where drugs are fair more accessible and available, and the problems evident. Pretty much everywhere in England, come to think of it.

In other news: I'm currently enjoying Pollard by Laura Beatty, after reading a recommendation by Frank Cottrell Boyce who, in turn, had been recommended it by Jeff Barrett over at Caught By The Don't the best books and albums always reach you this way? I think so. Jeff also just told me that Laura Beatty is the sister of Alice Oswald, a great contemporary nature poet. Possibly the best actually. Pollard is an amazing read - exactly the type of book that can make a writer both inspired to create yet also insanely jealous that they hadn't written it. I'll not bother describing it when The Guardian can do it for me, but it is the best thing I've read since Cormac McCarthy.

Something else: Plan B magazine, which ran from 2004 to 2009 and who I wrote a few pieces for, particularly during the earlier days, is available to download online here. All 46 issues for free.

Over and out.

Monday, 8 February 2010

'Ruby Soho'

Here is one of my preferred current bands Vampire Weekend doing a cover of 'Ruby Soho' by one of my favourite old(er) bands, Rancid.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Return Of The Mc

Picador are re-issuing all of Cormac McCarthy's novels, a formidable body of work by anyone's standards. Probably the best by a living writer, in my humble opinion.

They very kindly sent me all of the books in one big parcel. I like the new covers a lot and I often find myself thinking about Cormac McCarthy. Nearly as much as Knut Hamsun. Sometimes I whisper under my breath "I wonder if Cormac McCarthy has to do this?" (eg. writing silly blogs, unblocking the kitchen sink with my finger, talking to estate agents, 'work').

The McCarthy books that I have read so far are:

Child Of God
The Road
Outer Dark
No Country For Old Men
The Orchard Keeper (just started)

(I wonder if Cormac McCarthy has to pick up dog shit 2-5 times per day?)

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

'Legend Of The Calderdale Claw'

Once upon a yesterday I found this, the claw of an unidentifiable beast, lying in the morning snow.

What can it mean? Is it the remnant of a nocturnal ritual?

The savagery of a new species born during this, the coldest of winters?

And what strange portent does it bring to the valley?

(click to enlarge)

We can but only guess at what malevolent creature is capable of such unholy barbarism.

~ 'The End' ~

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

More Books

While I was away I went to my favourite (and possibly the best in the country) book shop, Barter Books, in the old train station in Alnwick, Northumberland. Naturally I got myself some new reading matter. More books.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Hear Us O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place
by Malcolm Lowry
The Women At The Pump
by Knut Hamsun
Straw Dogs
(aka The Seige At Trencher's Farm) by Gordon Williams
by Dan Rhodes
The Fruits Of The Earth
by Andrew Gide

Monday, 1 February 2010

'Perspective, Gained'

I've been away, squinting at the grey tumultuous North Sea for four days, in order to 'gain perspective'.

I think I gained it. That and some smoked kippers.