:: Fiction archive ( 2000-2005, click for articles pre-2006)

A Pound of Panguitch published 28/07/2014

Allen Ginsberg may have been Chögyam Trungpa’s humblest pupil, but he was Ezra Pound’s most assiduous stalker. He actually beat Tolliot to the Poundian punch at Saint Elizabeth’s. The prototypical beatnik had been “forgiving” Mussolini’s former propagandist for decades. It’s not been widely publicized, but the twentieth century’s most famous instance of poetical osculation, in Venice, on Pound’s eightieth birthday, was in fact a re-kissing.

An adapted excerpt from Tom Bradley’s footnotes to This Wasted Land and Its Chymical Illuminations by Marc Vincenz.

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tribute published 30/06/2014

Spanish for cover version is versión. The word versión makes it seem like a cover version is closer to the real thing. Versión is not just wrapped around something like cover version is. Versión is like a shard of some broken whole which could be joined if you were ingenious enough in your copying. Nobody is, and this is why we lose hope: though there are other reasons to lose hope also.

New fiction from Tim Smyth.

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Vulgar Things published 28/06/2014

‘I don’t know what he was up to . . . some kind of moral crusade, as if he was trying to right all his ills . . . The thing is, it’s all a jumble, and I can’t make any sense of it. Then there’re the recordings . . . The recordings, his diary recorded each year, on random days, explaining to those who’ll listen . . . As if he’s talking to me and no one else.’
‘Maybe that’s how he wanted it to be, messy like real life, over before you can take hold of it . . .’
‘It’s these recordings, hundreds of them, spanning decades . . . all his daily frustrations are spilled onto them . . . words, language is such a mess when you are confronted with it . . . head-on, you know . . . Him, leaning in, staring, facing the camera in his favourite chair . . . No one in my family knows they exist, and I don’t know what to do with them. The ones I’ve watched, hours of footage, he’s just so . . . angry and lost . . . and he’s drunk and high on weed so much of the time that he’s practically incoherent, to the point where he’ll burst into song, usually something by Dr Feelgood . . .’

We are proud to bring you an exclusive extract from Lee Rourke‘s new novel, Vulgar Things (Fourth Estate) out on 3 July.

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A Somnambulist in Amman published 06/04/2014

A man emerges from a shop on the passageway in front of where I’m sitting. The man is holding his hand in the air just above himself, looking a little downwards as at something hanging from a thread, invisible to me. I realise that it must be a spider. Very carefully the man carries the spider across to the other side of the passageway, to a dark opening into an anonymous building, and gently attaches it to a wall there. I smile and try to make that smile a gesture of solidarity. The man doesn’t notice. I don’t mind. I wonder if I wouldn’t want to sit here all day, waiting, watching, barely visible, if it were possible to remain in this state of suspension.

By Michael Reid.

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GIRL 3 published 09/12/2013

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She is here and here and here, in the regions of my body and the invisible spaces. She is in the incomplete memories. They will come in the night. Something terrible will happen that night because of its fearful truth. Night is a quick-silvered box, night is another country. I am not seeking definition but complete explanations and only she can talk to me without even mentioning its name. She knows everything and I have no reason to lose her again.

By James Miller.

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A visitor in the night published 14/10/2013

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I can’t sleep anymore. I’ve called off the search. All evening, buried in my armchair I’ve sat and waited for the waves to take me. But as they started to reach the walls, as the eddies took up the things in my room, a frogman slowly opened the door. Green water rushed in and over his heavy form, ran over the carpet, raced up towards the ceiling. He walked towards me clumsily as if at the bottom of the ocean. Then, taking off his glove, he placed on my table a pebble. A phosphorescent pebble glinting in the shadow growing thicker. I could no longer see the diver after that. Just in the middle of the night this white pebble.

Excerpts from Journal of a dead man by Marcel Béalu, translated by Andrew Robert Hodgson.

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The 1983 Advisor published 03/10/2013

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The President was in the middle of a speech when someone with a deep but feminine voice cut in, jamming the broadcast. Naturally I couldn’t hear him, but he gesticulated wildly, so I suppose he must have been told what was happening. The woman’s voice, pitted against his theatrical seizures, revealed that insurgents had taken over a northern province.

By Susan Daitch.

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from Madeleine E. published 26/08/2013

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It is Scottie’s idea to go to San Juan Bautista. It is prompted (as was certainly planned) by Judy/Madeleine’s dream, but the timing is left up to Scottie. And if he had not thought of San Juan Bautista? Gavin Elster, in the tower, waiting with a dead woman, his wife, Madeleine, for hours, perhaps days. How, for that matter, did Elster get Madeleine’s body into the tower? Does Judy scream because this has not, after all, been the plan? Are we so sure that she knows that she is impersonating a dead woman so that that woman’s murder can be covered up?

By Gabriel Blackwell.

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Spray Can Romance published 10/08/2013

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It was to be a final, fervent declaration of love, sprayed scattershot throughout the city. He hoped, through such dutiful replication, to command her attention, provoke her into getting in touch. With a rattle he would summon her face from the ether; black toxic clouds, filtered, would see her smiling face emerge. A love declared through repetition. If the night went well then by sunrise her face would be resplendent across the city, her stencilled ubiquity hard to ignore. She would wake oblivious to her domination of the city’s walls. He would cease spraying only once she had broken her silence.

By Stuart Snelson.

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Head to toe portrait of Suzanne published 23/07/2013

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My God, I’m too fat. No one loves me. I’m still young, kind of. But it has always been like that. At school they called me Oinker, and later Big Belly or Lard Ass, or Big Lard Ass Fatso. God, how I suffered. I alone knew the wealth of purity that was hidden beneath my barrels of fat. The others considered with disgust this body which they believed to be the physical representation of my moral state. It’s like how visitors at the zoo recognise guilty elements of humanity in the animals, condemned to expose their degradation for all to see. The monkey is an obscene man and the tiger a deceitful man, the serpent is a vile man and the lion a proud man. Me, I’m a pig. A dirty gluttonous pig. My spirit is incapable of raising itself up from the floor. Divine gravity dictates to me this law: my body resides at ground level, there must rot my soul.

An excerpt from Roland Topor‘s Portrait en pied de Suzanne, translated by Andrew Hodgson.

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