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Buzzwords » That Was the Year That Was: Books (published 02/01/2012)

In 2011 we reviewed: Fiction: Andrej Blatnik’s You Do Understand Dawn Raffel’s Further Adventures in the Restless Universe Julian Barnes’ Pulse Michael Peverett’s The Littlest Feeling Brandon Tietz’s Out of Touch Charlie Caselton’s Meanwhile Gardens: An Urban Adventure Daniel Kramb’s Dark Times Dan Vyleta’s The Quiet Twin Carl Hiaasen’s Star Island Richard Kalich’s Penthouse F […]

Reviews » Going Underground (published 30/12/2011)

ttAll three authors were such youthful ‘outsiders’ wanting in. Colin Wilson came from Leicester, the drab industrial midlands; Laura Del-Rivo from Cheam in the stuffy stockbroker belt of Surrey. Only Terry Taylor is an actual Londoner, born in Kilburn – but, in the persona of his novel’s 16-year-old protagonist, he breaks down the sprawling metropolis to its crucial hepcat constituency. The spark that crackles through all three books is the yearning for change and difference, of finding a way of living in the centre of all happening without resorting to the drudge of work – by far the biggest fault line in this generation was the one that opened up between the baby-boomers and their parents.

Cathi Unsworth takes a trip with New London Editions’ ‘Beats, bums and bohemians’ reissue series of novels.

Interviews » Vanishing Point (published 30/11/2011)

fsWhat Far South shows, I think, is that a lot of what happens in the world goes on hidden from sight. For example, Wikileaks revealed a lot of what goes on in the dark between governments. That said, some things need to go on in the dark from time to time. One government may cut a deal with another government that actually benefits ordinary people on the ground, but officially neither government will say this publicly in order not to lose face. So it doesn’t make sense that everything is out in the public domain. Sometimes it’s actually dangerous. The problem is that the worse excesses and atrocities are often concealed from the public and the world.

Cathi Unsworth talks Latin American disappearances with David Enrique Spellman.

Buzzwords » Soho Noir (published 15/09/2011)

The Bishopsgate Institute in the City of London is holding a series of ‘London in Fiction’ talks this autumn of obvious interest to 3:AM readers. To celebrate Gerald Kersh‘s Centenary and the new edition of The Angel and the Cuckoo from London Books, Paul Duncan, who has been researching Kersh for over a decade, will […]

Reviews » In The Seventies (published 06/09/2011)

bm70sThe tone of the seventies that comes through this memoir is altogether of a darker hue. The alternative society of the sixties is turning into a dangerous, paranoid place, shot through with hard drugs. As the decade dawned, America was doing its best to incarcerate its counterculture – MC5 manager and White Panther party leader John Sinclair was doing a ten-stretch in Detroit for possession of a joint; LSD guru Timothy Leary was in the Vacaville State pen facing a similar sentence, and Black Panther Bobby Searle was paraded in front of a Chicago judge bound in chains and gagged. Riots erupted in protest, during which UC Santa Barbara students burned down a branch of Bank of America, prompting the then Governor of California Ronald Reagan to comment: ‘If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with’. A month later, National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed students at Kent State University, killing four of them. The big payback for the party of the past decade had begun.

Cathi Unsworth on Barry Miles‘ next memoir.

Essays » Just Some Songs at Twilight (published 04/07/2011)

wdd‘The Rising of the Lights’ is an 18th century term and Mr Drake returns to that era for the subject matter of another of the album’s standout songs, ‘Ornamental Hermit’– a fashionable practise for rich landowners to install faux mystics to live in their grounds in order to amuse themselves and their guests. This gem of forgotten history was gleaned from English Eccentrics by that great defender of the strange, Dame Edith Sitwell, who defined the condition of eccentricity as “a kind of innocent pride” and is precisely the sort of person you could imagine bumping into down the front at a WDD gig. Does Mr Drake actively seek out oddities and curiosities – or do they have a way of finding him?

Cathi Unsworth talks Englishness, visionary music and cream tea with William D Drake.

Reviews » Total Eclipse of the Heart (published 23/06/2011)

hungrystarsThe book begins with Unsworth’s narrator, Helen Burns, walking out on her boyfriend when he proposes to her. Although Pete the chef is a decent guy and provides security, the fire just isn’t there any longer, and it becomes clear that Pete was her refuge after a passionate but disastrous affair with an unreliable physicist. We are used to the setup – the good one who’s always there but lacks some indefinable charge versus the bad one who will fuck you around but who you love for his certain, well, frisson (or brio). It’s the classic proforma from Jane Austen to Bridget Jones. And not much in the way of instruction. For the world is full of good men who have that frisson, and bad men who are also dull and unattractive.

Max Dunbar reviews Emma Jane Unsworth‘s Hungry, the Stars and Everything.

Buzzwords » Walk on the wild side (published 24/03/2011)

Fitzrovian historian, author of North Soho 999 and Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia: The Biography of Julian Maclaren-Ross, as well as the recent biography of Paul Raymond, Members Only, Paul Willets will be joining Cathi Unsworth alongside the curator of Fitzrovianoir Art Trails Garry Hunter to lead a walk into the shady streets of North […]

Interviews » A Little Man, a House and the Whole World Window (published 21/01/2011)

cardiacsFor me, Cardiacs was love on sight – sharing a bill at the old Wardour Street Marquee with John Shuttleworth, the first incarnation I witnessed in 1987 featured Tim on vocals and guitar, his brother Jim (the only other constant in the line-up) on bass, his wife Sarah on saxophone, William D Drake on keyboards, Tim Quy on percussion and Dominic Luckman on drums. All except Sarah, who wore a ballgown, were dressed in oversized school uniforms, their faces grease-painted deliberately badly. They looked almost scary, a shade of something from a half-remembered folk tale, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were some future members of The League of Gentlemen in the audience that night taking notes too.

Cathi Unsworth salutes The Cardiacs in the company of Bic Hayes.

Interviews » This Musician’s Life (published 17/01/2011)

newmodelarmyPeople have this idea of the music that we listen to, and it’s always wrong. I have always got more ideas from Tamla Motown and Kate Bush than from anywhere else. I don’t really like English folk music, it’s too twee, but I grew up with the English countryside and there is something about English traditional music, which Kate Bush has got lots of. It’s sort of Ralph Vaughan Williams, how he romanticised the British landscape, I have a love of that. And so did Robert.

Cathi Unsworth interviews Justin Sullivan of New Model Army.