“Call all hippies boring old farts and set light to them.
Suddenly you’ve become a novel idea and you’ve got people wanting to join in.”
- Malcolm McLaren
It continues, this time with a write-up in the latest edition of UK men’s style mag Arena:
THE OFF-BEAT GENERATION
While the media continues to obsess over MySpace’s continued influence over the music industry, a new generation of internet-based writers are currently revolutionizing the world of fiction…
Young, untamed, good-looking and as influenced by punk rock as they are by Proust, a new wave of loosely-linked writers dubbed The Off-Beat Generation have been blitzing the ‘net with stories and poems via MySpace and supportive sites such as 3:AM Magazine to organise events and gain publicity.
Though the writers share certain literary and musical influences it is the energy, attitude and constant communication between the Off-Beat writers that unites them. And now in 2007, the mainstream publishing world is finally catching on to this Year Zero approach.
Central to the scene is Blackburn-born, New York novelist Tony O’Neill. One time keyboardist for Brian Jonestown Massacre and Kenickie, 28 year old O’Neill has survived crack and heroin addiction and two marriages to pen a wealth of material that far exceeds his younger years and is drawing comparisons to William Burroughs and Dan Fante. His gutter-dwelling UK debut Digging The Vein (Wrecking Ball Press, £9.95) is as raw and confessional as you could ever hope to read.
“I started writing because I was sick of my favourite writers all being dead,” explains O’ Neill, author of three books. “Just like everything else, the publishing world is run by committees and by the time a book has cleared the marketing departments it has been reduced down to something about as appetising as a re-heated Big Mac. Maybe we should make pipe bombs and try to orchestrate an overnight change? The internet is still the playground of the crackpots though, the misfits, the freaks and the occasional genius. I liken it to the first wave of punk bands playing at CBGB’s. Most of the audience is just other writers, but it’s a chance to develop, to experiment and sometimes scream abuse at each other. It is – although I can taste vomit as I say this – art for arts sake.”
First discovered by Dennis Cooper, who published his acclaimed debut Victims at 23, Berlin-based US wunderkind Travis Jeppesen is influenced by “poetry, pornography heavy metal, kitty cats and chaos”. Occasionally scatological and always provocative, his new novel Wolf At The Door (Twisted Spoon) is the type of dark poetic journey into Europe that only an American abroad could write.
Meanwhile, representing the London wing is Heidi James, author of the forthcoming novel Carbon (Wrecking Ball Press, £9.95) and owner of Social Disease, a new print-on-demand publisher intent on nailing the Off-Beat literature of cyberspace to the page.
“All the print magazines considered my work too ‘difficult’ for the ‘market’,” laughs James. “With online publishing you aren’t expected to be a commodity-shifter so you’re free to experiment and take chances, you have the freedom to fuck up. It’s just a shame that a book deal legitimizes a writer, like you’ve suddenly ‘made it’ and crossed over from cyber space to papyrus.”
Born out of boredom, blogging and an appreciation for the absurdities of life, New York-based 23 year old Tao Lin’s tireless and twisted online postings earned him a book deal that saw two books published simultaneously, a novel entitled Eeeee Eee Eeee (the sound dolphins make, apparently), in which Elijah Wood is murdered by a dolphin and a collection of stories, Bed (both Melville House). As well as flooding literary sites with his words, Lin can also be seen disrupting readings while dressed as a bear and gluing his flyers onto the major corporate buildings of Manhattan.
It’s such a combination of playful mischief-making within their promotion and the deadly intent of their writings that is establishing The Off-Beat Generation as the writers of tomorrow.
First posted: Sunday, July 29th, 2007.There are currently 4 comments on this post. You can follow all the comments on this post through this RSS feed.