:: Article

The Reading

By Alan McCormick & Jonny Voss.


‘Michael and Hattie were insinuating their subconscious atrocities at each other across the breakfast table when they heard the sound of debris screaming down the chimney stack. Plumes of ash escaped from the fireplace and engulfed them in a domestic 9/11 …’ the reader begins.

Amongst the audience his opening words are digested and absorbed:

‘I idolise his pants,’ thinks the poached-egged-breast woman at the front: ‘And I especially like the way he dips and sways his crotch when he mouths insinuating; like a spitting word cobra.’

But sometimes the work is unappreciated, indigested:

‘I can do better than that shit,’ thinks the lightly-bearded bohemian type. ‘It’s so fucking do-mestic!’

‘Hattie under ash looked like a burnt soldier in the dying fire of the trenches reflected Michael,’ the reader continues.

The clink of a wine glass from a new arrival into the room momentarily inhibits the writer’s flow and fleetingly takes the egg-breast woman’s attention away from the reader and down to the shopping bag nestled at her feet: a small bottle of vodka waiting to be opened and emptied.

A Hoxton small hat frantically scribbles his own thoughts, word bebop, live writing’s scat reaction to the reader’s own words: ‘Atrocities, precocities, velocities: word ash under her belly made her look like George Melly ….’

‘Michael’s tongue entered her smoking vulva as if he was searching in a volcano for something say,’ intones the reader.

Meanwhile in the back of the room the previous reader’s melancholic but beautiful story of a lone walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands still captivates a small circle of strangers. They will unexpectedly talk about it when the readings are done, and later at home on their own they will drink a whisky before bed to toast its memory. For now they shut out the reader and let their thoughts drift away on the fine mist that tries to escape the room.


Jonny Voss creates the pictures and Alan McCormick writes the words. Further McCormick & Voss collaborations can be found in Volume Magazine and on Dead Drunk Dublin, as well as on their website Scumsters.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, January 25th, 2010.