Writer, artist and Soho dandy Sebastian Horsley has died of a suspected heroin overdose, just days after after a play based on his memoir opened in London. As Toby Young says, “I’ve met a few Soho characters in my day and most of them were drunken bores. Not Sebastian.” He continues:
“He styled himself an artist, but his true genius was for conversation. Aphorisms and one-liners came pouring out of his mouth like gusts of fresh air, blowing away received wisdom and herd opinion like so many cobwebs. He was steeped in the works of Oscar Wilde, but could just as easily quote Balzac or Flaubert. I never spent an evening with him without having to write down something he’d said immediately afterwards.”
Asked by 3:AM‘s Sophie Parkin as to why Dandy in the Underworld couldn’t have a happy ending, Horsley replied, “Because anything that consoles is fake. You see, the good ended happily, and the bad unhappily, that is what fiction means.”
Today as people everywhere are raising a glass in honor of Bloomsday, Joshua Cohen traces the heirs of Joyce’s Ulysses, from Wales to Russia to Turkey to Argentina:
I wrote a book called Witz. It’s capacious (800 pages). It’s complex (puns in a dozen languages: fun in a daze of longuages). And it’s about a Wandering Jew – the Last Jew in the world.
A friend of my father called after having tried a page to say, “It’s like the Jewish Ulysses.” That wasn’t a compliment. Problem is, James Joyce‘s Ulysses is already the Jewish Ulysses; featuring, as it does, Leopold Bloom – that Dubliner born Jewish, raised Protestant, converted to Catholicism to marry Marion “Molly” née Tweedy, who at the end of the novel says “Yes” a lot. That’s what I said to my father’s friend. “Yes,” I said, “yes.”
That wasn’t a compliment either: I knew he wouldn’t get the reference. I began wondering. If Ulysses was the Jewish Ulysses – and the Irish Ulysses, too, one would think – shouldn’t other cultures have Ulyssi of their own? Having worked as a weekly book reviewer, I came across marketese like this all the time: “Known in its nation of origin as the Icelandic Ulysses” – publicity talk for “a difficult but ultimately rewarding novel by a dead man from Reykjavik.” In other words, the summa of a culture.
The best work of art, in any medium, that I’ve come across this year is Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno’s film Zidane. Almost exclusively following Zizou through an entire football game – a game during most of which he’s not really ‘doing’ much other than meandering one way and another or indulging his nervous tick of scraping the top of his foot against the grass – it’s a brilliant disquisition on time, event-space, mediation, consciousness and, of course, repetition. During half-time we pan out from the stadium to find out what else is going on in the world during the game, and see, among footage of various trade pacts being signed, space missions being launched and so on, the inevitable image of a roadside bomb in Iraq’s aftermath – and one of the blood-soaked, screaming victims is wearing a Zidane t-shirt. I think it’s a major masterpiece.
“Negative Emotions” and “The Seals” (extract) by Lydia Davis. * “Preface” by Darran Anderson. * Three early poems by Albert Cossery. * László Krasznahorkai‘s Seiobo There Below reviewed. * Kenneth Goldsmith on the artful accidents of Google Books. * The great dramas of 20th century publishing revealed in the marks left behind by typewriters, fountain [...]
To coincide with the release of Leytonstone Film Club co-founder John Rogers‘ This Other London, there’s a screening of Patrick Keiller‘s London in Leytonstone Library tomorrow night, from 7.45pm (details). A 3:AM review of Keiller’s collection of essays, The View from the Train: Cities and Other Landscapes, is forthcoming. You can also hear him on [...]
Saul Leiter, in memoriam (see picture). * Teju Cole on the late Saul Leiter. * A bibliography of boredom. * Borges as professor. * A library of the mind. * Nicholas Roeg in conversation. * Cézanne: “The artist must avoid thinking like a writer”. So should the writer. * Tom McCarthy on the quasi-religious fethishism [...]
Eimear McBride‘s A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing has won the first Goldsmiths Prize. The £10,000 prize is given to “recognise published fiction that opens up new possibilities for the novel form”. Galley Beggar co-director Sam Jordison told 3:AM: “We’re honoured and delighted to have published a book that has done this well. Fucking honoured, [...]
Penned in the Margins have just brought out a new book by SJ Fowler, 3:AM‘s extraordinary poetry editor. Iain Sinclair lui-même describes Enemies as an “overwhelming assault. The geography is unnerving, almost familiar, then stinging in its estrangement. Intensity crackles. Tension teases. At what point does collision become collaboration? When do the bandages come off?” [...]