Artwork by Sardax
CUTTING-EDGE LITERARY NEWS FROM AROUND THE GLOBAL VILLAGE
by Andrew Gallix
COPYRIGHT © 2001, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
DEATH OF WG SEBALD 12/18/2001
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German novelist WG Sebald died in a road accident at the age of 57 on 15 December. The author of Austerlitz was also a Professor of European Literature at the University of East Anglia where he had been teaching since moving to England in 1970. Robert McCrum writes that "The tragic death of W.G. 'Max' Sebald comes at a moment in his career when his work was just beginning to find the wider audience he had enjoyed in his native Germany for many years. In Europe he was a cult literary figure; in Britain, where he had lived permanently since 1970, teaching German at the University of East Anglia, it was not until the publication of The Emigrants five years ago that he began to attract the critical attention he deserved. . . . Sebald was hard to classify or characterise. His prose wrapped itself, wraith-like, round the reader's imagination, casting a baffling and undefinable spell. Brilliantly translated by Michael Hulse, in collaboration with Sebald himself, his work seemed slightly old-fashioned, as you'd expect from a writer who had been away from the cut-and-thrust of German literary innovation for more than a generation. Sebald, German readers said, writes 'like a ghost'. . . . In recent years, the English reader has become quite used to novels that tear up the rule book, from Chatwin and Auster to Calvino and Umberto Eco. Sebald, less celebrated than these, was certainly of their company. . . ." Read an interview with the late author here.
YEAR ZERO 12/18/2001
Mark Amerika, recently interviewed in 3am Magazine, reflects upon the success of How to be an Internet Artist with a new Amerika Online editorial entitled "On Being Retro in the Zeroes": ". . . In our accelerated blur culture, The Eighties were retro in the Nineties. So the mid-Nineties can be retro in early Zeroes, no? . . . A work like my GRAMMATRON has, after four long years of web notoriety, recently been referred to as 'ancient' and 'a relic,' and looks every bit like 1993-1997. As new media art curator Christiane Paul might say, that's a kind of aura in and of itself. The truth is, GRAMMATRON is now part of art history, not just net art history. All one has to do is experience it, see it for what it is, and become educated about its historical and cultural context as well as its position in the attention economy. New media curator Steve Dietz, who nurtured my second major net art work, PHON:E:ME, into existence, once noted (while remixing the concepts of many others into a succinct phraseology, as he often does): 'This new millennium is a zero moment, a moment of profound renewal, when everything we thought we knew is wrong...' . . . If you thought net art had no major-league market value, you were wrong. If you thought that there was no difference between an internationally-renowned net art work that took four years to develop and a provocative one-liner that took a half a day to put on the web, you were wrong. If you thought that an Internet art retrospective was light years away, you were wrong. Speed is a function of time and to be is to blur. . . ."
BIG BOSS MAN 12/15/2001
Hip Hammond-driven combo Big Boss Man are playing a New Year's Eve gig at Blow Up, London's top 60s Mod spot. Don't be there, be square!
SICK SICKERT 12/15/2001
Fiachra Gibbons writes in The Guardian that American crime novelist Patricia Cornwell ripped up a canvas by Walter Sickert in order to prove that the Victorian painter was Jack the Ripper: "Even in the context of the crackpot conspiracy theories, elaborate frauds and career-destroying obsessions that London's most grisly whodunnit has spawned, Cornwell's investigation is extreme. Not only did she have one canvas cut up in the vain hope of finding a clue to link Sickert to the murder and mutilation of five prostitutes, she spent £2m buying up 31 more of his paintings, some of his letters and even his writing desk. Like so many before her, Cornwell, 45, a former mortuary assistant who amassed a £100m fortune from her Kay Scarpetta novels, is staking her reputation on her sleuthing and her reading of one of the artist's most dark and teasing paintings, The Camden Town Murder, in which a naked woman is shown trying to ward off a glowering, fully clothed man. . . . Sickert, regarded by some as the greatest British painter between Turner and Bacon, has been linked to the murders before, but usually as an unwilling accomplice in a masonic conspiracy to cover up for the Duke of Clarence, Queen Victoria's dissolute grandson, whose passion for whoring in the East End left him with syphilis of the brain. The artist's name came into the frame when a man calling himself Joseph Sickert, and claiming the childless Sickert was his father, said the painter had confessed his part in the plot shortly before his death in 1942. Cornwell is more direct, however, claiming that Sickert - who made no secret of his fascination with the killings -- was Jack himself. 'I do believe 100% that Walter Richard Sickert committed those serial crimes, that he is the Whitechapel murderer,' she told a US TV show. More sensationally still, Cornwell, who paid for a battery of forensic tests, is convinced that a defect in Sickert's penis, coupled with his failure to procreate from any of his three marriages and numerous affairs, turned him into a serial killer. . . ."
GEEK REVENGER'S COMEDY 12/15/2001
An article by Kevin Jackson explaining why the adaptation of BS Johnson's Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry still hasn't hit the screen recently appeared in The Independent: ". . . Freely adapted and updated by the director Paul Tickell and his screenwriter Simon Bent from a 1973 short novel by BS Johnson, Britain's best-beloved experimental writer, Christie Malry's Own Double Entry is the balefully funny, wilfully amoral story of a slightly nerdish young man (played naif-deadpan by Nick Moran) who -- driven by the twin motivations of adolescent rage and the eternal beauties of the double-entry bookkeeping system -- decides to wage a one-geek revenge campaign against the rest of the world, starting with mild acts of petty vandalism and escalating to all-out mass murder by means of bombs and poisoned reservoirs. It was uncomfortable material even in Johnson's day -- he died by his own hand just a couple of years after writing the book -- and has become all the more so in a world that has grown familiar with vengeful solitaries such as the Unabomber; yet the film, like its source, manages to embrace these horrors in gleefully comic style. . . . Perhaps the oddest aspect of Christie Malry, and probably the one that has done most to set the distributors running scared, is its hybrid nature: while most of the film is set in present-day west London, and adheres fairly faithfully to BS Johnson's plot, it repeatedly flashes back to a quite separate story set in the Italian Renaissance, and beginning with the invention of the double-entry system by a monk, Fra Luca Bartolomeo Pacioli. The initial licence for this sub-plot was a number of allusions to Pacioli's work in Johnson's text, although it soon took on a life of its own. 'Lots of the book is about fiction-writing, and the question of where fiction-writing ends and reality begins," Tickell says. "I think that's an essential part of the book, and that if you do an adaptation you have to try to capture that spirit in some way. One path you could have gone down was to make it a film about film- making, but I don't like all that sub-Godard stuff where you see the camera and are told that you're in a film... So I went down a different path. The Italian Renaissance part, the parallel film or the sub-plot - and you're never quite sure whether it's supposed to be Christie's fantasy -- all that was invented to capture those parts of the novel which are about fiction itself, asking questions about reality and what a novel is... Johnson also quotes from Brecht a lot, and what I like about Brecht is that he played with that sort of thing, but in a way that was witty and accessible' . . ."
CASTIGAT RIDENDO MORES 12/14/2001
Matt Wells reports in The Guardian on the debate sparked off by The London Review of Books' coverage of the September 11 events: ". . . In the aftermath of September 11, the magazine ran a series of essays, 'Reflections on the Present Crisis', from 29 leading writers -- or the 'usual suspects', depending on your point of view. One contributor, Mary Beard, a Cambridge classics don, provoked much complaint with her view that the World Trade Centre bombers had committed 'an extraordinary act of bravery', and suggested that 'however tactfully you dress it up, the United States had it coming'. She concluded: 'World bullies, even if their heart is in the right place, will in the end pay the price.' This provoked an outraged response -- even a boycott, led by a formidable Stanford professor, Marjorie Perloff. That in turn sparked a fierce debate that has spilled over into the letters pages of national newspapers and is still burning a hole through the LRB now. . . . All this in a magazine that, on its website, meekly devotes itself to 'carrying on the tradition of the English essay'. Its editor, Mary-Kay Wilmers, is still somewhat bemused. (One gets the impression that she lives in a permanent state of bemusement, but then, that's bookish types for you.) 'I'm amazed. Only a psychopathic lunatic would think that a middle-aged woman sitting in Cambridge would think that 5,000 people deserved to die. I can see that it should have been more carefully worded -- perhaps it was bad editing on my part. But that it went on, really puzzles me. If you try to understand something, that doesn't mean you forgive it.' . . . The LRB lists among its contributors Alan Bennett, Jenny Diski, Christopher Hitchens, Frank Kermode, Tom Paulin and Edward Said. Many have been there since its inception - born out of the troubles that afflicted its main rival, the Times Literary Supplement, which ground to a halt at the time of the Times lockout in the late 1970s. A number of literary figures, largely drawn from the TLS, the Listener and other similar publications, got together to set up the LRB, which was then part of the New York Review of Books. The first issue was a runaway success, but it suffered when the TLS restarted - and the NYRB spun it off. Arts Council and philanthropic funding helped it to its feet - now, 21 years later, it boasts an audited circulation figure of 37,778. . . ."
THREE PARTS 12/13/2001
Parisian English language literary review Kilometer Zero has launched its theatre company: "Our first piece will be a production of Part Two from a new play, Three Parts, by Adrian Hornsby, to be held in conjunction with an exhibition of paintings by Kaia Kiik and a musical performance by Owen O'Neill." The play runs from December 13-15 at the Châteaudun Exhibition Space, 51 rue de Châteaudun, 75009 (nearest metro: Trinité). Exhibition from 7.30, play starts at 8.30, music from 9.15. Tickets are 30 francs. Information & advance booking: 01 48 78 67 57.
TURNER PRIZE 2001 12/11/2001
Britain's controversial Turner Prize, the art world's answer to the Booker, was held on 9 December. The BBC reports that "Pop icon Madonna has presented the Turner Prize to minimalist artist Martin Creed for his work entitled The Lights Going On and Off. Creed, 33, collected £20,000 for his controversial installation, which centres around an empty gallery with a pair of flashing lights. . . . The Turner Prize selectors habitually make headline-grabbing choices -- and have often been accused of sensationalism. In 1998, Chris Ofili caused outrage when it was revealed elephant dung was used in his works. In recent years, the sculptures of Antony Gormley, Rachel Whiteread and Anish Kapoor -- all three Turner winners -- have been less controversial but just as divisive in the public arena. Read an earlier article on the Turner Prize, or playwright Tom Stoppard's attack on
British modern art.
RED MENACE 12/11/2001
Xmas is on its way, so it's time to check out Santarchy, the Santarchist website: "Each December for the last 7 years a strange phenomenon has been occurring in major metropolitan areas involving Cacophonist Santas who have been taking to streets and generating a bit of naughty Noël mayhem. It all started back in 1994 when several dozen Cheap Suit Santas paid a visit to downtown San Francisco for a night of Yuletide blasphemy. Now these Santarchists visit over a dozen cities each year and in 2001 the red menace has even spread across the Atlantic to London!" Watch the videos and sing the doctored Christmas carols. All together now:
Deck my balls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la.
Tap the keg, inflate the dolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la.
Don we now our rubber panties,
Fa la la la la, la la la.
We're a bunch of twisted Santies,
Fa la la la la, la la la.
Naughty girls are such a treasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la.
These North Poles were made for pleasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la.
Fucked the elves, fucked all the reindeer,
Fa la la la la, la la la.
Fuck the cookies, bring us COLD BEER!
Fa la la la la, la la la.
(Photograph from our friends at CostumeNetwork.com.)
LITERARY L.A. 12/11/2001
Journalist and author Lionel Rolfe is publishing a new expanded version of Literary L.A. (first published by Chronicle Books in 1981) "with new emphasis on the bohemian and apocalyptic streams in Los Angeles writing". Among the literary figures discussed in this latest edition of Literary L.A. are Oscar Zeta Acosta, Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller, Ken Kesey, Carey McWilliams, Charles Lummis, Jacob Zeitlin, Louis Adamic, Nathanael West, Robinson Jeffers, Malcolm Lowry, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Upton Sinclair, John Steinbeck, Aldous Huxley, Jack London, Theodore Dreiser, and many others. A publication party will take place at Skylight Books (1818 N. Vermont Ave. in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles) on 3 February 2002 (4 pm).
LET'S BE FRANK 12/11/2001
The longest-running English language literary magazine in France, Frank, is celebrating the launch of its latest issue and its new website at the Abbey Bookstore (29 rue de la Parcheminerie, 5th arrondissement M° St Michel or Cluny-La Sorbonne) on Wednesday 12 December at 8pm. The new issue contains work by U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, interviews with Alpha Oumar Konaré (President of Mali) and Deepak Chopra, essays by Bosnian, Polish and Turkish writers and artists, a dossier on Swiss writing as well as a lost telegram from James Baldwin.
BAD SEX AWARD 2001 12/06/2001
Emma Yates reports in The Guardian on the ninth Bad Sex Award launched by The Literary Review: "A sex scene comparing an erotic liaison to Sir Ranulph Fiennes's exploration of the north pole has picked up this year's Bad Sex award. The passage from Christopher Hart's Rescue Me beat off stiff competition from Chuck Palahniuk and Jonathan Franzen, among others, to win the Literary Review's prize. . . . Now in its ninth year, the Bad Sex award was set up to 'draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it'. At an annual ceremony, London's literati gather to hear the shortlisted passages read out by actors during a boozy evening dinner. If the winning author actually turns up, he or she receives a bottle of champagne. Surprisingly, the Bad Sex award is an accolade many novelists claim to be proud to receive. . . . Christopher Hart may be less enthusiastic about his win. As literary editor of the Erotic Review, his reputation rests on his ability to recognise and write a good sex scene. . . ."
Here is the winning scene: "Her hand is moving away from my knee and heading north. Heading unnervingly and with a steely will towards the pole. And, like Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Pamela will not easily be discouraged. I try twitching, and then shaking my leg, but to no avail. At last, disastrously, I try squeezing her hand painfully between my bony thighs, but this only serves to inflame her ardour the more. Ever northward moves her hand, while she smiles languorously at my right ear. And when she reaches the north pole, I think in wonder and terror....she will surely want to pitch her tent."
EROTICA 2001 12/02/2001
Today is the last day of Erotica 2001, "the world's largest erotic festival", held at London's Olympia Exhibition Centre.
There's an interesting article on Buy Nothing Day UK in Spiked-Online: "[D]oes wealth in the West really cause global poverty? Only in the minds of the anti-shopping brigade. The idea that stopping shopping in the West is a way of 'doing your bit' to tackle poverty in the third world sounds like a chaos theory version of international relations -- as if stopping myself from buying that pink Pringle jumper I've had my eye on in Selfridges will feed a hungry family in the Sudan. This looks more like Western guilt-tripping and conscience-salving than a practical way to combat poverty in far-off places." For information on Buy Nothing Day in the United States and Canada go here.
The first issue of Taint Magazine which was launched online yesterday includes fiction by Sam Lipsyte and British novelist Daren King. Style or substance-wise, Taint Magazine is already one of the best literary publications on the Net. Daren King featured in the controversial All Hail the New Puritans anthology edited by Matt Thorne and Nicholas Blincoe. You can read Thorne's progress report on the New Puritans one year later on Fourth Estate's website: "Writing about the New Puritans nine months on, the most striking thing to me is that so many of the people involved have become more militant in their conviction that it was an important thing to do. . . . For me, the turning point came at a literary festival in King’s Lynn. We’ve talked about the New Puritans anthology in several different environments, both in London and elsewhere (Manchester, Durham, Zagreb, Osijek, Novi Sad) and intend to visit many other locations, but this was the first time we’d encountered an opposition so fierce that we were even forbidden from taking part in a panel discussion on the second day after a combative event on the first evening. Listening to the historical novelists we were supposed to be debating against, there was a collective sense among the New Puritans present of feeling, well, in the right. The debates that have followed the publication of our anthology have not been new ones. People have been arguing about whether it is preferable to write about the present or the past almost since the novel first emerged. Questions about the political implications of drawing from pop culture have emerged countless times in the past (to give just one example, Spain’s movida -- the explosion of pop culture which followed Franco’s death in 1975.) What was new was the sense of a collective. True, there have been literary groups in the past (the Beat Generation, the Bloomsbury Group), but reading the diaries of the people involved, you get a sense of superiority and sniping behind closed doors. The New Puritans are a group of writers with a genuine interest in each other’s work. And beyond that, we share a desire to communicate with other writers (published or otherwise) and to show readers that there is a new breed of fiction that provides something more than the sterile traditions of the older English writers. . . . It will probably be a few years until the full effect of the anthology becomes apparent, and trust me, the New Puritans are just getting warmed up."
Another New Puritan, Toby Litt, has published a very interesting article (written in 1997) on The Future of Literature in response to a student's question: "Of course, I have no real idea what the future of literature is going to be. If I did, I would either be writing it now or, as is more likely, not bothering to write it because that would be far too easy. While I was at university, I asked a friend why she thought I wanted to be a writer. She said, 'The fascination of what’s difficult.' I think if I'm looking for an explanation of why I write, that is it. . . . Looking at the question more widely, I think that literature is facing a particularly interesting moment -- perhaps the most interesting that it has faced. The great project of literature has been to describe the relationship between the individual and society. This is most notable in the novel; in fact, it is almost a definition of the novel. . . . The situation now, it seems to me, is one in which the particular individualism that literature has depicted (and, in large part, created) is in the process of breaking down. I would like to mention only two particular areas that interest me: surveillance and genetic engineering. . . . You and I are accidental beings. No-one has chosen any part of us. There are bits of ourselves which we'd. At the moment, we are all acts of God; in future, we will come a la carte. . . . Fiction will have to cope with these sort of changes. One way will be to oppose them, by reasserting romantic individualism in a nostalgic form. Another will be to try to find forms that express the new individualisms that emerge. I think the second is by far the most interesting. The most interesting fiction being written at the moment assumes that human beings have already changed. One of the ideas behind Adventures in Capitalism is "What Are Little Boys and Girls Made Of?" If someone has spent their childhood watching Tom and Jerry, and never read Dostoievsky, then they are more cartoon than existential angst. To bewail the fact that they haven’t read Dostoievsky is, as far as I’m concerned, a complete waste of time. Bewailment never makes decent fiction. . . ."
In the latest issue of The Barcelona Review you'll find an in-depth write-up of em writing and music 3. They also publish Chris Reid's Scorin' For Ireland which first appeared in em 3. Each December Pif publish an anthology issue made up of some of the best features published throughout the year. This time, you can re-read Diane Greco's review of Robert Arellano's Fast Eddie, King of the Bees, an extract from which will soon appear in 3am Magazine. We also recommend you take a look at Camille Renshaw's interview with Rick Moody: "[M]y argument has always been that for fiction, hypertext is redundant, because fiction is already reader-controlled. That's what interpretation is. So, while it appears to be a different kind of authorial control (a more vast, attenuated kind of control), it ends up, in my view, being the symbolic made actual, and not in a terribly interesting kind of way. Maybe it will improve in the future, as people work more with it. But I doubt it. There's something about old-fashioned storytelling that makes it simple, flexible, and attractive, in whichever medium. Hypertext clutters up this narrative impulse needlessly."
3am MODEL COMPETITION 12/02/2001
Ladies: take a picture of yourselves posing like Sardax's scantily-clad writing girl at the top of the Buzzwords page and mail it to us post haste. Alternatively, you can pose as the beautiful creature pictured here sitting at a table writing a love letter to the editors of 3am Magazine. The best pictures will be published. The very best will become 3am's official model.
JIM RULAND'S SPOKEN WORD TOUR 12/01/2001
3am contributor Jim Ruland is taking his show on the road. This week he's embarking on a spoken word tour to perform selections from The Discovery of America: A Punk Rock Picaresque. Jim will perform in LA with fellow Razorcake columnists Rich Mackin and Sean Carswell on Monday, December 3, at Zine-O-Rama, 1618 1/2 Silverlake Blvd, at 9 pm. He'll be in Hollywood with Rich Mackin and Retodd on Wednesday, December 5, at Headline Records, 7708 Melrose Ave, at 8 pm.
Finally, the tour hits San Diego, with a musical performance by Acoustipunks Union Local 138 (featuring members of Tiltwheel, Vena Cava, and Watch It Burn), and additional readings by Rich Mackin, Retodd and Sean Carswell. This takes place on Thursday December 6 at The Truth Art Gallery, 343 4th Street in Downtown San Diego. The performance begins at 8 pm.
New installments of The Discovery of America appear every Tuesday at Sweet Fancy Moses. (Flyer artwork bu Rusty Monday.)
ZADIE SMITH ON THE BOX 12/01/2001
Jason Deans announces in The Guardian
that "Zadie Smith's award-winning comic novel, White Teeth,
is to be made into a four-hour TV saga. Channel 4
has just commissioned a small screen version of Smith's story about multicultural London. . . . The four-part daptation is due to go into production in February. It will be shot on location mainly in Willesden and Cricklewood, according to George Faber, co-founder of White Teeth producer Company Television. But there will also be a 'modest amount of overseas filming' in the Caribbean and Indian sub-continent, Mr Faber said. . . ."