:: Buzzwords Archive: February 2006. Click here for the latest posts.

The Coincidental Midget (published 27/02/2006)

Lisa Crystal Carver‘s controversial memoir, Drugs are Nice, will be published in the UK by Snowbooks on 6 March. Expect an interview with the author, here at 3:AM, courtesy of our newest collaborator Noah Cicero as soon as we’ve sorted out our technical problems:

“I suppose the weirdest thing for me was in this sex club I went to, this guy had his ear up to a wall listening to his girlfriend do it with a midget! It’s called ectoism or echo-ism or something like that. He was explaining it to us. He likes to hear but not see his gal doin’ it. I think the fact that the other guy was a midget was just a coincidence, not part of the plan.”

Check out Lisa’s blog here.

The Missing Links (published 26/02/2006)

Some fasinating extracts from Beckett Remembering Remembering Beckett, edited by James and Elizabeth Knowlson (Bloomsbury, out in March). Beckett to Francis Stuart: “You know, Francis, my days are filled with trivia”. Peter Woodthorpe on the British premiere of Godot: “The important thing Peter Hall said when he started was: ‘I don’t understand this play and we are not going to waste time trying to understand it’.”. Martin Esslin: “He said, ‘How very nice to meet you. You can ask me anything about my life but don’t ask me to explain my work. . . . Sam told me (and I know he’s told other people) that he remembers being in his mother’s womb at a dinner party, where, under the table, he could remember the voices talking. And when I asked him once, ‘What motivates you to write?’ he said: ‘The only obligation I feel is towards that enclosed poor embryo’. Because, he said, ‘That is the most terrible situation you can imagine, because you know you’re in distress but you don’t know that there is anything outside this distress or any possibility of getting out of that distress’.” * An interesting review of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You die (the kind of title that gives me a panic attack!) edited by Peter Boxall. * An interview with Tony Wilson (link via dogmatika). * According to Neel Mukherjee in the Observer, DBC Pierre‘s new novel, Ludmila’s Broken English, “is let down by a prose-style mannered to the point of gratuitous murkiness. The whole novel feels as if it has been written first in a normal way, then each sentence tampered with to produce a style that could be thought of as original and strikingly different. . . . The incongruity of the similes and metaphors point to effortful straining”. The reviewer concludes that “There’s a lot here to be awed by — the laughter of despair has never had an angrier or funnier source, the political satire is like uninsulated electricity, the grand guignol ending and the twists of the coda are some of the most shocking in current fiction — but the failed stylistic attempt to defamiliarise both language and the reality it embodies deals it a fatal blow”. In the Independent on Sunday, Tim Martin writes that “Pierre’s writing bleeds imagination, but Ludmila ends up proving what Vernon proposed: that though this writer is smashing at texture, he’s not hot on plot. . . . And the book seems perpetually distracted by linguistic gurning from the interesting subjects it raises: all too often what might have been a fruitful meditation on a rewarding theme (terrorism, dystopia, warfare) is stifled by a quip or a flashy passage of description. Still, Pierre can unquestionably write, even if he does so in a manner that occasionally suggests that, like Blair and Bunny, he may be on limited release from a home for the dangerously ill”. His verdict is that “reading bits of Ludmila is like looking at drawings by a schizophrenic: thrilling, electric, visionary and almost unclassifiably wrong”. * The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are back, and not a minute too soon.

Ab Ovo (published 25/02/2006)

Ab Ovo is a fascinating group project set up by the American artist Steven Hull: 19 children’s stories penned by the likes of Tony White, Trinie Dalton and Lynne Tillman. Novelist Tony White tells us that “The stories are based on character portraits drawn from 19 artists (including Mike Kelley, Cosey Fanni Tutti and others) who sat the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory — the psychological profiling test used by the US legal and penal systems. These stories were then passed on to 19 artists, including Paul Noble, for illustration. The result is an exhibition, a book and a website.” The show has been on in San Francisco and Santa Monica, and should make it to the UK in the near future.

Tony White‘s Another Fool in the Balkans: in the Footsteps of Rebecca West (Cadogan Guides) comes out in a few days (see picture).

The Missing Links (published )

Sales of Flann O’Brien‘s The Third Policeman soar after the book makes a cameo in an episode of Lost! * Ken Russell‘s pictures of Teddy Girls taken in 1955. * Hugo Williams explains that reading John Betjeman is “an act of mild anarchy”. * Margaret Atwood heralds the death of the book-signing tour: “A video screen will link Ms Atwood with the public, allowing them to speak to her. Then, as she signs a personal message at one end, a robot arm instantly replicates the strokes in a copy of the book at the other”. * Childish on Emin. * DBC Pierre is interviewed in the Daily Telegraph: “At 38, after a couple of years advertising in the Caribbean, he decided to build one last castle in the sky. ‘I knew I had to write the roof off the fucken world,’ he says. “I had to have a sense of permission to move on, and part of that started when I began to write.’ Armed with that permission, he customised his nickname to Dirty But Clean”. The author also reveals that his next book will be “the most excessively decadent book there’s been in centuries” (link via the revamped dogmatika). * Les Incompetents. * Soft Skull Press on myspace. * The London Book Fair. * Mountain 7 is well cool (check out their blog), but why haven’t they linked to 3:AM yet?! * The Sex Pistols snub Rock and roll Hall of Fame. In the NME, Morrissey declares (on the subject of the Pistols): “I think they changed the world and I’m very grateful for that. I saw them three times at the very beginning and they wrre breathtaking and very necessary and I simply feel gratitude. Everybody on the planet has shortcomings, and most people can’t see it through, but it doesn’t matter because most people give nothing and they gave so much and they’ve sustained”. Ian Brown: “When I was 14 they were the perfect band, they were like older brothers. I bought ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Bollocks’ on the day they came out. At that time in Manchester it was considered a bit effeminate to want to be a singer. But I like the way that when you’re 14 you’re a rebel. The Sex Pistols represented that — also, it was nice to hear a Cockney accent. They had that beautiful accent that’s disappearing. Now, everyone is talking like Ali G”. * The Cloud Appreciation Society. * Helen Walsh, the author of Brass, goes to Finland. * Stewart Home interviewed by Mark Thwaite in Ready Steady Books: “Someone else I’ve spent a lot of time looking at recently is Terry Taylor, who was a close friend of my mother. Taylor’s only published novel Baron’s Court, All Change is The Holy Grail for anyone serious about collecting British beatnik ephemera. The book was first published in 1961 and reissued as a paperback in 1965. This tale of spiritualism, jazz, drug dealing, busts and abortion set amongst London hipsters is one of the great lost works of English youth culture: a book so obscure that neither Iain Sinclair, nor any of the dealers I’ve asked about it, had previously heard of this ‘reforgotten’ classic (Jon Savage is the only person other than me that I know of who has a copy). Taylor’s story rattles along, but the author was more extraordinary than his fiction. He was the real life inspiration for lead characters in two bestselling Colin MacInnes novels: the unnamed narrator of Absolute Beginners and the pimp in the follow-up Mr. Love & Justice. . . . Baron’s Court, All Change is crying out for a reprint. The book is so cool and the prose is so fresh, that once you’ve clapped your eyes on a copy, you’ll believe it came straight from the fridge!”. * The death of handwriting. * Tim Parks‘s children have started reading his books: “‘Why ever would I teach at the university if not to have a constant supply of fit young women to shag?’ my son has just read in the first chapter of this novel. His father, of course, teaches at a university, where, notoriously, 90% of the students studying languages are young women. ‘Mick,’ I suggest, ‘if I were you I would have checked out one of the other books first. The one about canoeing maybe. The one about the Medici bank. About football.’ ‘Oh no, this is OK,’ he says. ‘Pretty funny in parts. But the sentences are way too long, Dad. You should have shortened them'” (link via Splinters). * Zadie Smith accused of not telling “the real race story” (yawn!) * The latest issue of trakMARX is a Situationist special. * Patti Smith interviewed in Another Magazine. * Dad’s the word. * An extract from the new Jay McInerney. * Hanif Kureishi at the Royal Court. * Neal Cassady‘s birthday (via dogmatika). * Nick Cave‘s Australian western. * Every song has a story behind it.

3:AM Top 5: Dan Rhodes (published 23/02/2006)

Dan Rhodes, author of the brilliant Timoleon Vieta Come Home, has no new product to plug. His recently-launched website indicates, however, that “sources close to the author have revealed that he is working hard on a new book, which he is hoping to finish some time this year. It will, they say, be typically short, and similar in some ways to his previous work, while being different in others. As always with Rhodes’ writing, it is anticipated that some folks will get it and other folks won’t. Expect a release some time in 2007”. In the meantime, Dan is listening to:

1. “The Theme from Voltes V” — Horie Mitsuko & Koorogi ’73: “My wife grew up loving this anime sci-fi action soap. I’ve never seen it, but I have seen a photo of her wearing a Voltes V helmet. The theme tune is one of the finest pieces of music ever composed. ‘Soldiers boldly unite, fight, fight for peace/Hand in hand, like eagles though the breeze’. Find it in various languages here.”

2. “Donkey Island” — Euros Childs: “Never mind Pink Floyd, the most heart warming rock ‘n’ roll reunion news of last year was that Euros Childs and John Lawrence were playing together again. Euros’s solo album, Chops, has a revolting cover and is great. It’s like a collection of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci B-sides. Aficionados will realise that I mean that as a high compliment. This song is about an island where donkeys live, love and swim in the sea.”

3. “Now Those Days Are Gone” — Bucks Fizz: “The best thing I saw at last year’s Edinburgh Festival was Jonny Woo’s A Night Of 1000 Jay Astons, a lip-synched drag musical about the black sheep of Bucks Fizz. I went three times and live in hope of a revival because thrice just wasn’t enough. I’ve been humming Fizz numbers ever since, and this one is the best.”

4. “Only Lonely” — S.H.E.: “I was exploring Chinese pop on a KLM jukebox, and found this ace Taiwanese girl trio. They were discovered on the magnificently-titled talent show Cruel Stage, and according to the Internet, ‘The three girls lived in a small dormitory together for a few months and passed on flus and boredom to each other. Sometimes they would cry under their blankets because they were extremely homesick. When they were bored, they opened the window, ate junk food, and watched the stars’. It’s one of the girls doing the rap, in her unusually deep voice. This song has the best ending in pop — it’s really raised the bar. Unless you’re in Taiwan it’s hard to find but you can sneak a listen here.”

5. “Native New Yorker” — Odyssey: “I love melancholy disco music, and how much more melancholy could this disco song be? None — none more melancholy.”

(Pic: Dan Rhodes at 3:AM‘s 2003 Xmas Bash.)

Greenwich Degree Zero (published 22/02/2006)

Tom McCarthy, the recipient of the 3:AM Book of the Year award, is interviewed by our friend Lee Rourke in the latest issue of Dazed & Confused: Metronome has a belief in literature that is long overdue — the conglomerates, by comparison, seem to be replacing literature with lifestyle fiction”.

The preview of Tom McCarthy and Rod Dickinson‘s Greenwich Degree Zero project took place last night at Beaconsfield (22 Newport Street, Vauxhall, London SE11 6AY) and runs until 30 April (Wednesday – Sunday 12-6pm).

“The artists’ starting point is a strange late nineteenth-century event: on the afternoon of February 15th, 1894, a French anarchist named Martial Bourdin was killed when the bomb he was carrying detonated. The explosion took place on the slope beneath the Royal Observatory in London’s Greenwich Park, and it was generally assumed that his intention had been to blow up this building — the place from which all time throughout the British Empire and the world was measured and regulated. In Greenwich Degree Zero, Rod Dickinson and Tom McCarthy re-imagine Bourdin’s act as a successful attack on the Observatory. The resulting installation reports an event that did not quite happen, blurring the distinction between fact and fiction and relocating the genuine public outrage and hysteria about the threat of anarchist terror that prevailed in the 1890s in this ambiguous space of non-event”.

(Pic: Tom McCarthy reading at this year’s 3:AM Xmas bash.)

Prague In The Spring (published 14/02/2006)

As Andrew mentioned recently, Travis Jeppesen’s (pictured) new journal BLATT was launched in the Czech capital a few weeks back. Associate Editor Carolyn Mimran reports:

“Friday, 3 February 2006: A balmy night by Prague standards, it was a night for merry-making. BLATT had been born. Fresh as of morning from the printing press’s womb, broad-sheeted and technicolored, this new international publication of letters, literature and contemporary art came out at Cafe Metropole and Anagram Bookshop to greet already teetering well-wishers and party-goers; speeches were made, issues were sold, free food was consumed and BLATT had its very first beer. This beer was of course followed by many others as editor Travis Jeppesen toasted BLATT publisher Miro Peraica and Art Director Mario Dzurila, as well as all other attending staff members for a job well done. And a job well done indeed — BLATT looks great! Still, with only 300 copies in print, and at least half of those flying overseas into the outstretched arms of Editor Joshua Cohen in New York, for Praguers the race will be to the swift. As for BLATT, hangover aside, it will soon have itself yet another party this time in New York City, not since Paris Hilton’s 21st has a birthday been so inter-continentally celebrated, and so much fun.”

BLATT add:

“BLATT BOOKS is now taking pre-orders for POEMS I WROTE WHILE WATCHING TV, a collection of poems and images by Travis Jeppesen and Jeremiah Palecek. You may order through our website, www.books.blatt.cz, or by sending $15 via Paypal to orders@blatt.cz. Books will be shipped in March 2006, and are limited to 500 copies – so reserve yours today. Travis Jeppesen’s debut collection Poems I Wrote While Watching TV is a ruthlessly implosive meditation on the death of language in a media-saturated world. Perfectly complimented by Jeremiah Palecek’s sardonic illustrations, Poems I Wrote While Watching TV ponders the mundane and the un-nameable with a highly personal mixture of devastation and humor.”

The Missing Links (published 05/02/2006)

Marilyn Manson to play Lewis Carroll. * Kevin Williamson of Rebel Inc. fame has a blog! * Literary New Orleans rises from the ashes. * Night Haunts: a “nocturnal journey through 2006” by Sukdehv Sandhu. * Dennis Cooper is interviewed in PAPERMAG. On porn: “I think porn is a pretty strict form. Directors have tried to reinvent it and introduce avant-garde elements into it, and it never quite works. I think it has to be centrally about producing eroticism and desire, but I think it would be very easy to introduce into it emotional depth, drama, psychological complexity, motivation, intelligence, cleverness, etc. without destroying its purpose and actually only enhancing the sexiness. I have a notebook full of theories and plans and sketches, but that’s it in a nutshell. I think it’s a matter of leaving porn that way it is formally and giving its insides an internal life”. On his blog: “Many of the people posting are really talented artists in various mediums, and their interrelations and support for one another has been the best thing about doing the blog — so in part I feel like I’m the facilitator of that. But it’s astonishing to have the kind of connection the blog provides with my readers all over the world. Every writer cherishes their readers, and of course I do, and it’s really mind-boggling and moving me to how passionate my readers can be about my work. Considering the kind of writer I am, that’s the ideal. I just feel very lucky. It’s as simple as that”. * Being Lee Rourke does not sound boring at all: “Lee Rourke had work the next day, he would wake and then leave his flat, he would walk to work, he would do this everyday until it was the weekend again. And again, the following Sunday, you would probably find Lee Rourke sitting in The French House at 3.00pm drinking fine red or white, waiting for the two artists to start their argument. And sure enough they would. And Lee Rourke would accept this repetitive fact, knowing deep down that things probably don’t get much better than this”. * Lee Rourke is so unboring that he has just interviewed the enigmatic Stewart Home: “Sometime within the next year I’m also planning to start work on a new novel called Blood Rites of the Bourgeoisie, it will be set in the contemporary art world. However, I’m also learning ventriloquism. I just got an 8800 pound grant from the Live Art Development Agency, which enables me to take time out to learn some new skills. I’m exited about the prospect of presenting readings from my fiction wrapped into a ventriloquist act. That’s what’s really keeping me busy right now. I love ventriloquist dummies, they’re such an archetypal symbol of modernism”. * The success of Generazione 1000 Euro among young Italian readers. * Daisy Goodwin believes poetry is going the way of morris dancing: “‘Twenty years ago everyone could name a Larkin or a Betjeman poem and had read them. I think you’d be very hard pressed to find anybody who could name a poem by any of the top 10 poets today. It’s an endangered species”. * On Valerie Beston: “She talked about Francis’s work as though there wasn’t all this human drama, Sturm und Drang, going on. You’d have a painting with a man having God knows what done to him, blood all over the place, and Miss Beston would say, ‘Oh, there’s the lovely bluey-green he used before. Isn’t it pretty, the way he’s put the paint on?’ Miss Beston gave the work an odd respectability, took it into a different dimension.” * Richard Hell and David Shapiro are publishing a book of poems entitled Rabbit Duck. * Mr Hell and others reveal their guilty pleasures. Irvine Welsh‘s?: the Bay City Rollers! (Welsh has just contributed to the One City book.) * The mighty DBC Pierre in pulp.net. * Rick Moody interviewed in The Independent: “The speech act to me is terrifying and insubstantial, whereas when I write it down I can get it right”. * Paul Morley on the Eighties. * Unlike Morley, Alan Sillitoe digs the Monkeys. * Nostalgia for an age yet to come. * Dave Eggers on his passion for the June Brides: “He had, he said, long ago written and recorded all the songs he planned to. I was dumbfounded. Really? Yes, he said. After the last record, he simply felt he was finished. Were there occasional feelings that he had a few songs left in him? Sure, he said, and named a few very personal and harrowing memories that he thought might make interesting fodder for a song or two. But those few unwritten songs didn’t seem to be eating him up. Did I want another beer? he asked. He was buying”. * Jessa Crispin gives the emo-boy novelists (think Andy Greenwald) a sound spanking: “It sets my teeth on edge, raises my blood pressure and causes spontaneous swearing. Those books should die.” Edward Champion comes to their rescue. * On Joe Orton. * Gabriel Garcia Marquez‘s writer’s block. * Hilary Spurling wins the Whitbread. * Jim Jarmusch is cool as fuck (link via the wondrous dogmatika). * Elli Medeiros who used to sing with the Stinky Toys has a cool website. * More Gallix here and, especially, there.

Into The Frey: The Campaign For Real Fiction (published 04/02/2006)

James Frey has admitted telling lots of fibs in his bestselling memoir A Million Little Pieces following the Smoking Gun‘s allegations: “I embellished many details about my past experiences, and altered others in order to serve what I felt was the greater purpose of the book”. Niki Shisler in The Guardian attacks the author’s attempt at “redefing memoir”: “Frey has since tried to perform a kind of literary sleight of hand by having a go at redefining memoir. In an interview with Larry King shortly after the story broke, Frey said: ‘I think of the book as working in sort of a tradition of what American writers have done in the past, people like Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Kerouac … at the time of their books being published, the genre of memoir didn’t exist … Some people think it’s creative non-fiction. It’s generally recognised that the writer of a memoir is retelling a subjective story. That it’s one person’s event. I still stand by the essential truths of the book'”. She concludes that “This memoir was touted around publishers as a novel for a long time, unable to get a publishing deal. That should tell us everything.The book only works because we believe he really lived it. As fiction, it simply wasn’t good enough”.

In today’s London Times, Kenneth J. Harvey (author of The Town that Forgot to Breathe) turns the debate on its head by launching a campaign for real fiction: “The goal is to have every reference to fact excised from any work labelled fiction. A laborious undertaking, yet one that some brave soul must endure in the hope of returning the spirit of complete fabrication to the untruthful name of what we once believed to be fiction”.

This much-needed dose of satire will also appear in tomorrow’s Toronto Star.