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.
By Samuel Stolton, Editor @SamuelStolton This summer’s reading pool, fattened by the inclusion of a number of works determined by my recent travels, has been disposed to a broad and expansive character. So much so, that I believe it to be may be one of my most nauseous reading lists, a dizzying circus-market of philosophy, [...]
By Callie Hitchcock, Intern Stepping into Anaïs Nin’s world has been interesting to say the least. Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diaries 1939-1947 chronicles the emotional fluctuations of a life drunk on love and writing. And who wouldn’t want that? Then, I am inhabiting the more private world of Sara Maitland in her book How to be [...]
By Anna Aslanyan, Reviewer @anna_aslanyan Earlier this summer, talking to fellow reviewers about books we pretend to have read, I promised, rather unwittingly, to read The Man Without Qualities. Although Robert Musil never finished his trilogy, I feel bound by my word to read it from cover to cover. The only choice left is the [...]
By Steven J. Fowler, Poetry Editor @stevenjfowler Poetry: Stephen Emmerson’s Comfortable Knives Colin Herd’s Glovebox Tim Allen’s Tattered by Magnets James Davies’s Two Fat Boys Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water Tom Jenks’s On Liberty, Repressed and Crabtree Anna McKerrow’s Regressive Poetics Tom Chivers’s Flood Drain Chris McCabe’s in the catacombs Essays Tom Chivers & Martin Kratz’s Mount London [...]
By Joanna Walsh, Fiction Editor @baudade This summer I’ll be in Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, Zagreb, Trieste, Paris, London, and Oxford. That’s a lot of train reading. Summer seems a good time to read thick books. A thick book, when you’re travelling, gives you a place to be. I’ve already started on the proof of Elena [...]
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A selection of Richard Marshall's End Times interviews published by Oxford University Press