OFF THE PAGE 05/28/2002
Artwork by Sardax
CUTTING-EDGE LITERARY NEWS FROM AROUND THE GLOBAL VILLAGE
by Andrew Gallix
COPYRIGHT © 2002, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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3AM überbabe Kimberly Nichols will soon be launching a new column: "Off The Page will feature interviews with editors of literary and small independent magazines." In the debut column, Conduit's William Waltz will talk about "fluidity, memory and the poem." Kim is looking for editors who can "speak passionately about their mag, the craft, the scene" and hopes, through this column, to "get a glimpse of clarity into new experimental things." Editors who want her to consider their mags for inclusion should send an e-mail.
Charles Shaw would no doubt have been marching against Bush had he not been plotting his next move -- Newtopia -- in Chicago. Charles Shaw is an author, political activist, and the Politics and Non-Fiction Editor at 3am Magazine. He writes a daily sociopolitical column, Signs of the Decline of Western Civilization. 2003 will see the publication of his debut novel, Unfinished Portraits, and in 2004 he will release The Politics of Recreation: How Chicago Became Beautiful (Lake Claremont Press). He is currently writing The Sinner's Treadmill, an insider's look at the worldwide drug epidemic: "We live in very political times. We need a magazine that can make people understand the politics happening around them through what matters to them: the arts, entertainment, academia, government. This new magazine shows how the politics of the day are reflected in our culture, and vice versa, through the people and their opinions." Newtopia will be launched fittingly on 4 July. They are awaiting your submissions.
Some sections of the English-speaking literary community in Paris (Kilometer Zero in particular) took part in a demonstration against U.S. foreign policy this afternoon.
SOD THE JUBILEE! 05/26/2002
Janet Street-Porter "looks back on a high-water mark for British popular culture" in The Independent on Sunday "and wonders, will we ever see the like of 1977 again?": ". . . That autumn  I'd filmed John Lydon and the other Pistols in a filthy flat in Denmark Street. They were perfectly polite beforehand but really put on a great show gobbing and waving a stuffed rat once the camera was rolling. Next, we hired Notre Dame Hall (ironically, where Boy George plays Leigh Bowery in his musical Taboo) and the Sex Pistols played a brilliant set for the film crew and an invited audience. From the moment the film was transmitted on ITV at lunchtime on Sunday 28 November 1976, punk really took off. By 1977 punk was no longer a secret, tribal London-based phenomenon -- it had taken the country by storm. In March the Clash released "White Riot", and on 27 May the Pistols unleashed their moment of genius, God Save the Queen (which, pathetically, the BPI pretended wasn't number one, donating that slot to a crap Rod Stewart single). At last popular culture had spawned something that was a real generation divider -- crashingly loud, strident, home-made music, with nihilistic lyrics, a provocative way of dressing derived from fetishistic clothing, and a set of confrontational attitudes that were guaranteed to disgust large swaths of the elderly population, parents, and the right. Admittedly, punk might have emerged from the New York club scene -- places like CBGBs, bands like the Ramones -- but it took the demented vision of Malcolm McLaren, clothed by Vivienne Westwood (her 'clothes for heroes' concept embraced bondage trousers, kilts for men and artfully ripped T-shirts), to provide the youth of Britain with all the inspiration necessary for a full-scale style revolt. . . . [T]he combination of a movement fuelled by anti-establishment loathing was a perfect breeding ground for an outpouring of events which would fill the tabloids and make British youth the focus of the world, artistically speaking. Without punk, the 1977 Jubilee would have been a dreary event. . . ." (Photo: Debbie Juvenile in Seditionaries.)
3A.M. TOP FIVE 05/26/2002
3A.M. chief editor Andrew Gallix is currently listening to:
- "Lessons Learned from Rocky I to Rocky III" -- Cornershop (Handcream for a Generation, 2002).
- "I'm Your Man" -- Richard Hell and The Voidoids (1977; "Time", 2002).
- "Love Burns" -- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, 2001).
- "Gloria" -- Patti Smith (1975; Land, 2002).
- "We Are All Made of Stars" -- Moby (single, 2002).
UNUNHAPPY BIRTHDAY 05/23/2001
As some of you know, Morrissey turned 43 yesterday. Cheshire's answer to Morrissey -- HP Tinker -- will be 33 tomorrow. Coincidence? I think not. We love you Tink, almost as much as you love yourself, the 3A.M. team.
100 CLUB 05/22/2002
"Captain Sensible (The Damned), Patti Palladin (Snatch), Pam Hogg (snout to dj turntables), Don Letts (the Roxy Club's rasta dj), Glen Matlock (who used to be with the -- um -- Sex Pistols), assorted roadies in the beer swiller known as the 100 Club -- these and many more I did'nt recognise assembled to mark the opening in June of the National Film Theatre festival of punk films ("Never Mind the Jubilee"), curated by Jon Savage, wearing a fetching 'Bridget Riley' shirt.
A certain Billy Childish provided the entertainment -- a 'punk' set, bass, drums and guitars, Childish and cronies in dirty vests and pith helmets. Nobody listened much, as hard as he tried to embody the 'punk' spirit. Sharon (Bromley Contingent) and I felt like throwing our Pepsi bottles at him like in the good old days. We did'nt.
I sat there puffing on a joint (a very hippie thing to do) not recognising any faces. I recalled my first visit to the 100 Club with Steve Severin (then Bailey) to see The Sex Pistols. Sharon remembers a night at the 100 Club when someone slashed her ankle and her black stiletto filled up with beautiful red blood. She went to hospital. She and Tracy (shop asistant at Seditionaries and Steve Jones' sometimes girlfriend) were starting a fight down the front, right in front of the Pistols. Good for you girlies!" (Gig report by Bertie Marshall. Photo by Andrew Gallix: Bertie in the King's Road, 2002. The Never Mind the Jubilee festival runs from 7-30 June.)
THE WHY CHROMOSOME I 05/22/2002
A hot dog is an oxymoron.
HP TINKER REAPPEARS 05/21/2002
Cheshire's answer to the neutron bomb, HP Tinker, has resurfaced sporting a guilty grin. The publication of his latest story ("Son of Sinbad") in Ambit 168 brought him out of hiding in next to no time. He admitted that his attempt to grow facial hair had ended in "dismal failure" and immediately set about compiling his top 5:
- Oasis - "The Hindu Times"
- Moby - "We Are All Made Of Stars"
- The Hives - "Main Offender"
- Cornershop - "Lessons Learned from Rocky I to Rocky III"
- Suede - "Positivity"(forthcoming from A New Morning LP)
FILTHY LUCRE 05/20/2002
Controversial French novelist Michel Houellebecq has won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award: ". . . The 44-year-old author, who lives in Ireland, was picked from the shortlist of seven that included Margaret Atwood, Peter Carey and Michael Collins. The IMPAC Award is literature's most lucrative prize, worth 100,000 euros (£61,900).
Atomised has caused widespread ripples across the literary world since it was published in 2000. The compelling and often vengeful saga of modern France is enacted through the disappointing lives of two half-brothers. With its graphic accounts of anonymous sex and Houellebecq's seeming contempt for feminism, sexual freedom and youth culture, the book divided France. . . . Against accusations of being a pornographer, a Stalinist, a racist, a sexist, a nihilist and a reactionary, Houellebecq has defended his novel, saying 'I describe what happens to normal people -- people whom nothing special happens to. A reactionary is someone who wants to return to a previous state -- that's never a possibility in my books. For me, everything's irreversible in the life of a society, as well as an individual's.' . . ."
TROUBLE AT WILLOW GABLES 05/20/2002
The latest London Review of Books essay concerns Philip Larkin's Trouble at Willow Gables and Other Fictions. Jenny Diski writes that "Life is too short to read Philip Larkin's juvenilia. Reading Trouble at Willow Gables and Michaelmas Term at St Brides is up there with stuffing mushrooms: there is a part of me which, as I read -- or stuff -- has precognition of the moment of my death and the very last conscious thought, which is the blinding awareness of the precious hours wasted on Larkin's schoolgirl stories or mushrooms when I might have done something more positive with them such as sleeping or filing my nails. . . . The above describes the typescript of a spoof essay, "What Are We Writing For?", written by Larkin in 1943 in the guise of Brunette Coleman, a lesbian writer of girls' school stories. . . . Many writers and non-writers have dabbled when young with a bit of porn or pastiches of childhood reading. It's a kind of youthful arrogance, like playing Bach as 12-bar blues instead of doing five-finger exercises. . . . But enough of poetry, tell us of the pornography, I hear you cry -- sorry, the Brunette style is catching. Well, there isn't much. There is one rampant lesbian senior, Hilary ('a big girl, with a strongly-moulded body, damp lips, and smouldering, discontented eyes'), who has a crush on Mary, a sporty junior who causes the words 'strong tawny young lioness' to roll around in Hilary's head. Hilary almost has her way with her as Mary nods off over cocoa and biscuits. There is a vigorous punishment scene when an innocent Marie is unjustly caned to within a yard or two of her life by the headmistress while being held down by two burly prefects ('Then she began thrashing her unmercifully, her face a mask of ferocity, caring little where the blows fell as long as they found a mark somewhere on Marie's squirming body'). There is a mixture of the above two incidents when Hilary beats up and then nuzzles Margaret, an in this case guilty junior: ('Lust had turned into anger, and anger into cruelty, and now cruelty, partly sated and partly still hungry, was turning into lust again. With a smile she stroked Margaret's cheek where her blows had landed, and felt under her hand a solid body.') One of the maids gets titillatingly tied up by Marie as she makes her escape from her locked room, and there is a moment in the second novel, in which the girls have gone up to Oxford, when Mary (the sporty junior, remember?) finally melts willingly into bed with the still damp-lipped Hilary. . . . It's pitiful pornography, and feeble erotica, but it does provide something for the voyeuristic gaze to rest on. The words offer little other than pictures for the imagination to take in and manipulate. . . ." Read an extract here.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK 05/20/2002
The literary editor of The Observer wonders if magical realism is dead?: "For just over a generation, magic realism has been the default position of the world's new fiction, the modish literary style to which aspiring novelists in English, Czech, German, French or Spanish, of course, would resort in the perpetual struggle to make an ordinary narrative seem extraordinary. . . . One Hundred Years of Solitude did more than blow away some rickety old literary tenements, it brought to light the extraordinary fiction of Latin America and helped to make fashionable the work of García Márquez's gifted contemporaries: Julio Cortázar, Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, to name three of the most celebrated. The literary press dubbed the movement 'el boom' and for a while it was the only game in town, reaching its apogee when Hollywood began to exploit magic realist tales such as Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits and Laura Esquivel's Like Water For Chocolate in blockbusting films. By the 1990s, magic realism had begun to rival football as Latin America's greatest cultural export. But the parade of literary fashion eventually passes and now, according to a report in Newsweek, magical realism is dead or at least ready to receive the last rites. To put that another way, there's a new generation of writers from Latin America, particularly Chile, who take issue, creatively, with the way the world sees their fiction. Where Márquez explored the sultry, deranged paradise of Macondo (where rain could fall for a hundred years and the sky could smother the city streets with a silent storm of yellow flowers), the new generation, led by Alberto Fuguet (to Newsweek 'the agent provocateur of Latin American letters'), wants to explore a globalised community pulsating with sex, drugs and pop music that is emphatically not a paradise, a place, ironising Márquez, they call 'McOndo', derived from McDonald's, Apple Macs and condos. It's also a name they've given to a collection of short stories by 18 new writers, all under 35, launched at a branch of McDonald's in Santiago. . . . It may seem a long way off, in a faraway country at the other end of the world, but it provokes the thought that here, in Britain, the time cannot be far off when a new generation begins to challenge the orthodoxies of the old, a time when death and infirmity begin to thin the ranks of those who have grown up and prospered in the age of magic realism. Last year saw a first attempt at such a challenge. As in Santiago, a group of writers subscribing to a radical new literary aesthetic published an excitable paperback volume of stories entitled All Hail the New Puritans. For about 15 minutes, the 'new puritans' attracted quite a bit of attention in the literary press but despite making a lot of local noise, they failed to attract the support of the most influential new names in contemporary British fiction and their book flopped badly. For the literary old guard, bespattered with the debris of previous conflicts, marching in step towards that familiar critical cannonade, the conspicuous failure of the so-called New Puritans should provide only a temporary frisson of satisfaction. Everyone involved in the world of books knows that it is only a matter of time before the new kids on the block will start to call the shots. . . ."
I'M ALWAYS TOUCHED BY YOUR PRESENCE DEAR 05/20/2002
Deborah Harry, who used to front Blondie, played a gig at The Barbican (in London) yesterday with avant-jazz combo The Jazz Passengers. Ms Harry was recently interviewed by Sean O'Hagan in The Observer: "I was not entirely looking forward to meeting Debbie Harry. The first time we crossed paths was all of 25 years ago, when I waited patiently outside the stage door of the Hammersmith Odeon in leather jacket and jeans and newly shorn hair, to pay homage to her band, Blondie, the consummate punk-pop outfit of the time. Back then, she looked like nothing on earth: porcelain skin, red lips, and to-die-for cheekbones framed by that signature shock of blond hair. Though, at 32, she was inordinately old by punk standards, she seemed like a Hollywood starlet from another era; like the pop icon she would soon become. I stared in wide-eyed wonder as she signed autographs, posed for photos, and dropped one-liners in a flat New York drawl that, to me, was the epitome of cool. Then she disappeared into the tour bus, accompanied by her partner, Chris Stein, who, along with the other three members of Blondie, had lingered around in her shadow, feigning nonchalance, fated for ever to be the Di Maggio to her Monroe. . . . In many ways . . . Deborah Harry's collaboration with the Jazz Passengers is not so surprising. Way before punk, in the pre-swinging mid-Sixties, she hung out with the boho set in Greenwich Village, joining various avant-garde groups, including the intriguingly named First National Unaphrenic Church and Bank. She was, she says, 'always drawn to the exotic'. Her childhood seems to have been relatively uneventful, although she was adopted, born in Florida, and brought up in New Jersey by a salesman, Richard Harry, and his wife. Perhaps this accounts for her distinct sense of otherness, that slight blankness -- she was Warhol's favourite pop star -- that, even at the height of her popularity, made her intriguingly difficult to read. As a child, she daydreamed that Marilyn Monroe was her real mother. . . . Her ambition was evident from the start. Asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she answered, 'to be famous, what else?' As an adventurous teenager in New Jersey in the Fifties, she listened to the liberating rhythm and blues of Fats Domino, Bo Diddley and the rest, but her first real awakening came with the Beats, and with the birth of modern jazz. 'I had a boyfriend who was hip. We'd go to the Village to see bands. Back then, there was that sense that everything was up for grabs. Kind of like punk later on. Those moments are important. They sweep away a lot of old-fashioned stuff and bring in a whole new attitude. 'Attitude,' she adds, biting into her BLT, 'is important.' During punk, when attitude was all, Debbie Harry evinced a kind of timeless cosmopolitan cool that was both sassy and sardonic, slightly detached and off-hand in that peculiarly East Coast way. She had already been around a bit, having worked briefly as a Playboy bunny, then a waitress at CBGB's, the down-at-heel home of New York glam rock and, later, punk. Her previous group was The Stilettos, an ironically exaggerated version of classic Sixties all-girl groups like the Ronettes or the Shangri-las. Blondie, formed by Harry and her long-term partner, Stein, took elements of that tradition and welded them to a melodic power-pop that effortlessly transcended the sum of its influences. Stein was the group's guitarist and residing genius, co-composer and arranger of a string of hits that began with 'Denis' and 'I'm Always Touched By Your Presence Dear' in 1978, and continued through the Seventies and into the early Eighties. . . ."
OUR JUBILEE 05/19/2002
Former manager of The Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren, has published an article in The Observer on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Queen's Siver Jubilee: "Twenty-five years ago, at the CBS record-manufacturing plant in England, workers rescued some of the contraband records from being melted by hiding them in their coats -- copies of the Sex Pistols' new single, 'God Save the Queen'. Just one week after signing the Pistols, A&M had rescinded on their contract and attempted to destroy all the records. . . . A few weeks later, I signed the group to Richard Branson's Virgin label. The excitement from Virgin's employees was such that they wanted to conspire with me and create an alternative celebration to the Queen's silver jubilee by hiring our own boat to follow her flotilla down the Thames. The Sex Pistols were banned from playing on land, and their song 'God Save the Queen' banned from being played on the airwaves. So the only place left was the water. One of the most delirious memories I have is of seeing crowds of artful dodgers -- punk rockers -- jamming London's bridges, hanging from its lampposts, screaming and shouting merrily, throwing bottles and empty yoghurt pots down on to the boat as it blared their favourite song out across the Thames: 'God save the Queen/she ain't no human being/ she made/you a moron/ a potential H-bomb/ God save the Queen/ we mean it maaan!' It was a frenzied, chaotic, cacophonous, exhilarating, inspired moment. A ticket to a carnival for a better life. We confronted the River Police. The boat was driven back to Charing Cross escorted by the same. I was among the many arrested when we disembarked and spent the night in jail. . . . In front of the judge, I felt something in the air had truly changed. His dutiful air of smug importance made me laugh. I was made to feel a criminal, to beg forgiveness, and furthermore, he said, if I were to ever appear before him again, for a similar offence, he would have no hesitation in sending me to one of Her Majesty's Prisons where I would spend a term of no less than three months. On that same fateful day known as the silver jubilee, the media fell in love with the Sex Pistols, with the money they could potentially make, with the power they could potentially wield. That day, the Daily Mirror placed our portrait of the Queen -- a modified version of the famous Cecil Beaton photograph with a safety-pin pierced through her nose -- on its cover. The official portrait was relegated to page 3. The media preferred to love ours instead. The media's innocence and virginal attitude at that time seemed to provide us with the power of God or government or both. And with it, the ability to change the way people thought about things. It made me feel reasonable when demanding the impossible. And thereafter, it suddenly became forbidden to forbid. Pop culture had made a difference. Punk rock's musical revolution was open to everyone. You didn't need to have the necessary skills to compete with your forebears. The old stars were driven back to hide in their country houses. It was a do-it-yourself phenomenon. For a moment everybody was an artist. The culture had been de-mystified. Its old properties, once controlled and considered important by an industry, were now worthless. It was a blow against the commodification and the pop brands that purported to have control of the culture. Punk rock fans didn't need to buy anything - they just had to be. This was the most frightening idea of all for the record industry. They were simply out of control. That week of the silver jubilee, it was nearly impossible to buy the record. It couldn't be purchased in the majority of high street stores. It couldn't be heard on the radio, except on rare occasions as a news item. The record was banned from advertising itself. The commercial TV stations refused to accept our homemade ads. London Transport refused to allow our posters on the Underground. Yet the record was undoubtedly No 1. The national charts were falsified by the record industry itself. A Rod Stewart track was put at No 1, even though 'God Save the Queen', sold by the same record distributors, was outselling it by two to one. How did it ever achieve such status? This was against all normal marketing rules. It broke with such traditions and clear economic values. The consumer was an alien that they didn't understand. . . . The silver jubilee was a turning point, a moment whose impact is still felt today. Because it opened up the door to all the disenfranchised -- the young, the everyday common outlaw. The culture had been reclaimed by them. Anything seemed possible after that. This generation of punk rockers responded to an irresistible urge to choose between love and creation. They chose creation. Instead of getting married and settling down in a normal respectable job, they sought adventure, provocation, and with it, to change life. All independent minds blossomed. Independent film companies, independent record companies, independent TV companies were born. Advertising changed to accommodate the new mood -- 'less is more', 'small is cool'. Anti-fashion had become the last repository of the marvellous - and all its designers, the last possessors of the wand of Cinderella's fairy godmother. With my partner at the time, I was thrilled at how our anti-fashion ideas (the bondage trouser, the 'God Save the Queen' T-shirt, rubber skirts) created a whole new feeling; clothes created not to sell. Things new made to look frighteningly old-fashioned became an idea, a statement of intent and not a product. A useful tool to create debate. This fed into a desire never to return to normality again. Does passion end in fashion? Or does fashion end in passion? . . ."
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN 05/19/2002
The Sex Pistols will play a one-off gig to celebrate the jubilee and pay the rent at the National Sports Centre, Crystal Palace on Saturday 27 July.
CASH FROM CHAOS 05/19/2002
Those lovable spiky tops, The Sex Pistols, are releasing a 3 CD box set entitled Jubilee on 3 June. It includes live tracks from the famous Screen on the Green gig (1976), the Chris Spedding, Dave Goodman and Mike Thorne demos as well as a couple of live tracks from The Flowers of Romance (the band in which Sid Vicious played drums before joining The Pistols). God Save the Queen is being re-released as a single on 27 May. The CD and 12" versions include the original version of the song, the Neil Barnes remix followed by a dance mix.
EX PISTOL 05/19/2002
Ex Pistol John Lydon is interviewed in The Guardian: "The trouble is, John Lydon says, that the queen couldn't organise a piss-up in a palace. Here we are, golden jubilee and all, and the best she can do by way of a gig is have Elton John tinkle the ivories. 'I mean, anyone can rent Elton John these days. They've been planning it for years and the best they can come up with is Elton John.' He's explaining why he has reformed the Sex Pistols for one last glorious bash at Crystal Palace in July. Will the gig celebrate his new status as Britain's leading monarchist? 'Hahahaha! Oh yes, that's a juicy one.' Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, the man whose version of 'God Save the Queen' was banned 25 years ago, is choking on his laughter. 'You know, I was never pro them or anti them. I just think if we're going to have a monarchy it may as well work properly. I mean, we pay for it, after all. But nobody seems to care about that. Nobody cares about anything in Blair's Britain. They can't even arrange a proper jubilee bash.' He seems genuinely upset by their lack of style. So he is going to show the Windsors how to do it. 'I've come to the point of view that, bad as it all is, at least it's my kind of bad, and I have paid for it, and I want to celebrate it somehow. It's my Britain, our Britain, not hers -- fucking German tourist." . . . 'The real motivation for this is that it's the jubilee of the Pistols. Nobody seems to have noticed that. And I think it's quite poignant, you know. Going out properly with a great jubilee bash. Our jubilee bash.' . . . He insists that this will be the Pistols' final show. 'I'm not interested in re-forming the Pistols beyond this. I've got too many other interests.' Is he in it, then, for the filthy lucre? 'Why not? I've never said I'm a communist.' . . . He says the gig is going to be such a great do, such a celebration. 'Sourpusses need not apply. Don't come if you're going to be a miserable git. I want to make you proud to be British.' He says it with one of his ironic smiles. But I think he means it. There was always something of the nationalist in Lydon. If you listen carefully enough to the lyrics of 'God Save the Queen', he says, you'll realise he was having it both ways. . . ."
There's an interview with Jonathan Safran Foer, the author of Everything is Illuminated, on Nerve.com: "It [his next novel] takes place in a museum. It takes place in New York. It's a series of stories that are kind of interweaving, and in between them, the exhibits in the museum. The main storyline is about this guy who knew the diarist when he was growing up. They were lovers. The diarist is gay. When the diaries were published, after the diarist's ostensible suicide somehow all the hes were changed to she. And it came to be known as this great heterosexual love story. There's this poor guy floating around New York who knows the truth. The story takes place in the museum where this protagonist goes to meet his boyhood love, and it's a confrontation of all these different realities." You can also read an extract from Everything is Illuminated here.
CHIEF OF MISCHIEF 05/19/2002
Steve Aylett, whose short story Maryland appears in 3A.M. Magazine, interviews himself in The Zone where he gives po-mo a good bashing: "The notion that there's no such thing as a fact, makes it easier for people to be manipulated. But some people don't have the luxury to pretend that everything is mutable. If you have no food, but you're told by authority that you have food, do you have food? No, the fact remains that you don't. But postmodernism (which is championed by a class of people who are never in the position of having no food) pretends that the facts are altered by the statement. If the general belief is that there's no such thing as a fact, of course you can get away with anything. Government loves postmodernism -- that total blurring and interchangeability gives full lying rights. They love it now that more people are just accepting whatever they're told because of the notion that nothing can be physically proven. They've always been able to get away with anything, but they can do it with less work now, because nothing that's said ever means anything. Words have been spliced away from the objects they signify, so when people use them, nothing precise is being said. It's like dealing with psychopaths -- even they don't know if they're telling the truth. The concept of truth doesn't really exist for them." Steve Aylett also discusses Kafka ("I like him but I'm not fanatical -- I think he went too easy on the legal system in The Trial, I'm sure he was bought off") and explains why he will never write a novel without jokes ("If you know how bad things are in the world, that we're basically in hell, you'll know we don't have the luxury to be humourless"). Aylett will be reading at The Garage on May 30 as part of a (free) Vox'n'Roll event: The Garage, 20-22 Highbury Corner, London N5 1RD, Highbury&Islington tube. On 7 June he will take part in a reading organised by Apples & Snakes at the Battersea Arts Centre. On 17 June, Aylett will appear at the Writing on the Wall Festival in Liverpool. The Velocity Gospel, the second novel in the Accomplice series, has just come out.
THE BARCELONA REVIEW 05/19/2002
Lots of great stuff in the latest issue of The Barcelona Review including an extract from and a review of Dennis Cooper's My Loose Thread. There's also an excellent, in-depth interview with Nick Hornby in which he claims that "There is a particularly dreary kind of literary writing which quite clearly aims for posterity -- I'm not interested in reading it, and I'm certainly not interested in writing it. As for the reflection of popular culture -- I don't think this has much to do with anything, because clearly one can write about popular culture in a way that excludes. I don't want my books to exclude anyone, but if they have to, then I would rather they excluded the people who feel they are too smart for them! It seems a very worthwhile thing to do to me, to write books that are about something, that aren't beach books or genre books, and that are read by large numbers of people. How much more fun it is to be told by people at a football match (as I was last night) that they enjoyed How To Be Good -- and these are not people who are going to read Rushdie or Bellow -- than to have to wait a few hundred years." Hornby goes on to say that in his opinion "Elvis Presley is a greater artist than Virginia Woolf, for all sorts of reasons". Check it!
TAKING THE PISS 05/19/2002
Marcel Duchamp's infamous 1917 urinal ready-made entitled The Fountain has been sold for $1,185,000 (£816,000). Hull University has bought the lawnmower which is thought to have inspired one of Philip Larkin's late poems: "Archivist Brian Dyson said it was likely the machine was the one Larkin was using when he accidentally killed a hedgehog, which inspired the poem, 'The Mower', published in 1979. . . . Larkin's concern for animals was not just a whim. He left half of his estate to the RSPCA. He was also an early opponent of vivisection and had an obsessional interest in the Beatrix Potter stories."
MARTIN MILLAR READING 05/12/2002
The author of the excellent Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me (Codex Books),
Martin Millar, will read from his work at Borders, 203 Oxford Street in old London town on Tuesday 14 May (6.30pm, nearest tube station: Oxford Circus; entrance is free): "Glasgow, 1972, and all the coolest kids in town are queuing up for Led Zeppelin tickets. Overhead, a Zeppelin approaches. Its passengers, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Sonny Boy Williamson and Hank Williams, think it's worth leaving heaven to see the greatest rock band in the world. Even the fairies are fans. Martin and Greg have overactive imaginations. When they aren't fighting the monstrous hordes of Xotha, they are competing for the attentions of Suzy. But she's not likely to ditch Zed, the hippest boy in the school, for the likes of them, is she? Still, with Led Zeppelin on the way, anything can happen. As a teenager, Martin Millar went to see Led Zeppelin play in Glasgow. Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me is inspired by the experience." Look out for Richard Marshall's interview with Martin Millar which will be published in 3A.M. Magazine very soon.
69 THINGS TO DO WITH JENNY TURNER 05/10/2002
Here are selected extracts from Jenny Turner's review of Stewart Home's 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess published in this week's London Review of Books: ". . . I hadn't read a Home book properly since 1996, when I spent six months in a room in Brixton, so damp it had plants from outside growing up the insides of the walls, trying to write about him but unable to build a journalistic structure into which Home's work might fit. I have never counted the thousands of words I drafted. I just laboured, and laboured, then gave it up. I have the print-out somewhere in one of several archive boxes, packed away with the books, leaflets, articles, pamphlets, flyers, punk CDs and 'Will Self Is Stupid' badges Home gave me to help with my researches. So many different authors, formats, purports; except that all of it was really done by him. Stewart Home was born in South London in 1962, and, until recently, has lived and worked in Bethnal Green. Since 1988, he has published 19 books: nine fiction, six non-fiction and four anthologies -- that's an average of 1.5 books a year. . . . There are also dozens of shorter texts published under aliases -- Karen Eliot, Luther Blissett, the Neoist Alliance, and so on. He has also been known to do art things, although he hasn't shown since 1996: the Necrocard, a joke organ-donor card for supporters of 'sexual liberation', is reproduced on page 23 of Matthew Collings's Art Crazy Nation (2001). The volume of work is enormous, and always growing; the volume a central aspect of the challenge the work presents. It's difficult to describe Home's oeuvre with any real precision. It's much easier to be hyperbolic, or dismissive, or to give up trying to make judgments and just stick to writing lists. I am biased I know, but I really don't think anyone who is at all interested in the study of literature has any business not knowing the work of Stewart Home. . . . In his work, Home avoids all the nice bits of writing to focus in tightly on what is difficult, ugly, ambivalent about the process. So pulp gets in, and pornography, and violence; philosophy is allowed, so long as it is not being consoling; and political theory is fundamentally what the whole thing is about - Home sometimes calls his method 'proletarian Postmodernism', and he doesn't mean that entirely as a joke. Much of Home's work is extremely funny, if you are comfortable enough with the tradition it comes out of to be able to see the humour. But it isn't warm, it isn't compassionate, it doesn't make you feel good as you read it. The irony is almost total. It's satire, unsweetened and unadorned. It has to be said that the quality of the work can be patchy. Home writes fast, to rigorous self-imposed quotas, and rather than worrying away at what is finished, is always getting on with the next thing. He seems to see his writings less as individual pieces and more as aspects of one massive dialectical life's work: so unevenness and ambivalence are inscribed, as they say, in the very nature of the project. . . . In 69 Things Home has a phrase he uses to describe writing that gives you that wonderful gleeful feeling, 'the genuine pulp-writer's trance' as opposed to the painstaking anxieties of literary fiction. As he says in the present book about the work of Alexander Trocchi, the Scottish Beat writer of the 1950s and a figure he admires, 'it rocks.' . . . A man no longer called Callum has come to Aberdeen to end his life. He has inherited from a dead magus a flat full of books, and he has set himself the task of reading them all first. The narrator, a girl student at the university, has met 'Alan' -- as she calls him -- in a pub on Union Street, and the two of them discuss the books he has been reading as they go. . . . Callum/Alan is obsessed with a book called 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess, by a cult writer called K.L. Callan. (A cult writer called K.L. Callan often turns up in Home's novels, in one way or another. It is his version of the old Necromicon fetish-text thing.) Callan's book tells of how the secret services faked Diana's Paris car crash to cover up her murder, by persons unknown, at Balmoral. The body was then given to Callan to dispose of, which he did by lugging it round the prehistoric stone circles of Grampian region as it decomposed. As well as reading books and generating pornography, Callum/Alan has set himself the task of testing the credibility of Callan's opus by visiting each listed monument in succession, carrying over his shoulder a life-size ventriloquist's dummy called Dudley, weighted with bricks. As the tale progresses, Dudley joins in the sex and takes over the narration, which gradually disintegrates in an elegant medley of old-style Modernism. . . . Unlike most of Home's earlier novels, 69 Things has no skinheads in it, no urban guerrillas, no anarchist street-fights. What it does have, though, as better-read readers will have noticed, is Berg, Ann Quin's strange, half-forgotten Brighton novel of 1964, as one of its main sources, providing the Callum/Alan thing, the ventriloquist's dummy, and the troilist structure. . . . Quin's bleak sea-swept Modernism blends beautifully with Home's inherently excellent sense of prose and narrative rhythm. The overall mood is droll and melancholy and intellectually nimble. If only Home had cut the sex and not given the book such a horrid title, it could have been published by Cape with a rainy-looking picture on the jacket. . . . Most people who have heard of Home think he is an anarchist, but he isn't. He abominates anarchism; he thinks it's chaotic, sloppy-minded, infantile, inadvertently authoritarian. . . . In philosophical terms, he's a radical epistemological sceptic. Politically, he's a life-long ultra-leftist, who will gladly, if asked, explain his position, in great detail, with reference to the left-Communist split from the Third International. In practice, this means he is a non-aligned socialist who wishes to distance himself from social democracy, and liberalism, and Trotskyism, and all forms of actually existing socialism as was. Of course, it is also a position chosen for its obscurantist snob value, the politics of a connoisseur. At the same time as it is genuine, it is also a deeply ironic, satirical pose. The same is true, in a smaller way, about the way Home positions himself as a cult writer, not that he would, I'd imagine, use such a callow phrase. . . . It is certainly true that Home does not get much mainstream acclaim for his services to literature. But he does have quite a backlist and reputation, and an international network of committed fans. Strange youths in Minnesota and Finland devotedly archive his work and spread his message in the way he did for the writers important to him in his first book, The Assault on Culture (1988), and has gone on doing in every publication since. . . ."
Steve from Spike responds in typical fashion to Jenny Turner's review of Stewart Home's latest novel in the London Review of Books: ". . . Jenny Turner writes (somewhat awkwardly) 'I really don't think anyone who is at all interested in the study of literature has any business not knowing the work of Stewart Home.' OK, let me out. If this is literature, then thank god I've no business with it. . . ." There's only one Steve Mitchelmore.
LITERARY LUVVIES REVISITED 05/10/2002
Oh what an incestuous web we weave! Editor of Spike Magazine Chris Mitchell writes: "I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Andrew Gallix, editor-in-chief of 3A.M. Magazine, and Bertie Marshall, Psychoboys author and king of the catty putdown. Over a few drinks in a squalidly glamourous pub on the book-strewn Charing Cross Road, we plotted literary world domination, argued over the definition of a crap novel and I heard them both praise Michel Houellebecq's Atomised to the rafters. I tell you this only to say that it's great to spend time actually talking about books in real life avec booze and so you can have a giggle at my somewhat dishevelled appearance on the 3A.M. site in the 1st May Buzzwords entry, as Andrew immortalised the evening with a photo. More importantly, you should check out the stacks of new material they've got there -- 3A.M. is consistently great at pulling in great articles." Cheers Chris, you're not only a great editor, but also a top bloke! (Photo: A "dishevelled" Chris, left, plotting "literary world domination" with Bertie, "king of the catty put down", in a "squalidly glamorous pub", London April 2002.)
There's an interesting article on Stuckism in the latest issue of spark-online. Max Podstolski writes: "I have sometimes thought that what the contemporary art world needs is a new art movement manifesto, to challenge and subvert the vacuous dominance of postmodernism in the late 20th / early 21st century. Something as brash and confrontational as the Futurist Manifesto or equivalent writings of movements such as Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, or CoBrA. Something which is written with a heart-felt passion capable of inspiring and rallying art world outsiders, dissenters, rebels, the neglected and disaffected. Well now we've got it, in the form of Stuckism aka Remodernism, a contemporary art movement which holds a staunchly back-to-basics position on modern art. 'Stuckism' is a self-bestowed name conveying an attitude of defiance: it is similar to those names of movements which, while at face value seem derogatory and ridiculous, become more widely known as praiseworthy (like Fauvism, Primitivism, Art Brut). Stuckism stands as much for what it opposes -- postmodern conceptual and installation art, etc. -- as for what it champions: a spiritual renewal in art, particularly painting, following the lead of its prime exemplar Van Gogh. 'Stuckism's objective is to bring about the death of Post Modernism, to undermine the inflated price structure of Brit Art and instigate a spiritual renaissance in art and society in general. This new epoch is called Remodernism. Work based on emptiness and cynicism, which was seen as great under the old paradigm, will have a very short shelf life under the new one.' . . . The history of the now international Stuckist movement, since its establishment in 1999 by British outsider artists Billy Childish (formerly Steven Hamper) and Charles Thomson, is well documented. . . . In their manifesto B. Childish (get it?) and C. Thomson have boldly asserted an alternative view of how contemporary art 'should' be. They are openly contemptuous of what passes for art in the hallowed circles of high and officially-approved art. They speak from the heart, or more aptly from the spleen: while what they say is refreshingly direct, I believe it should be subjected to some degree of rational analysis, so that is what I have attempted here. On the other hand, despite finding myself going down an increasingly critical path towards their manifesto, I can't deny feeling some empathy with Stuckism. It's that old 'head vs. heart' (or vice versa) dilemma-bearing in mind that 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions', as the saying goes. . . . My rationale for doing so is that there is a fundamentalist intolerance in the Stuckist viewpoint, the sort of intolerance that often arises from being in a position of powerlessness. It begs the hypothetical question: what would happen if the outsiders who espouse this view happened to become powerful? Would they become oppressive and vengeful like the Taliban, who destroyed those invaluable and irreplaceable ancient Buddhist statues? One can only hope not. However corrupt the contemporary art world may (or may not) be, at least most people in the West still have the freedom to make art as they choose, within reasonable social constraints, so long as no-one else is hurt in the process. Even being a completely neglected outsider artist has its advantages: the freedom to go one's own way regardless of pomo fashions and politically-correct bandwagons. . . ." (Painting: "Dog and Cat Under Water" by Wolf Howard who plays drums with Billy Childish's Buff Medways. Wolf Howard's exhibition is at Rainham Bookshop until 23 May: 17-25 Station Road, Rainham, Kent.)
3A.M. TOP 5 05/10/2002
Our webmaster and author of the Toxic Thought Syndrome column, Jim Martin, is seriously "thinking about getting some hair". On a lighter note, he has just published a new story ("The Trophy") in Canadian Content and Becky, his wife, is expecting another addition to the family (are Emma and Abi excited?). This is what Jim Martin is currently listening to. He still can't count.
1. "Route 66": The Cramps (classic stuff).
2. "Wonderman": Atom and his Package (I know I'm the only one listening, but this band rules.)
3. "The Good Ship Lifestyle": Chumbawumba (Just a cool song for a May Day).
4. "You Can't Buy Cool": Mojo Nixon and the Toadliquors (If you don't have Mojo Nixon then your store could use some fixin).
5. "Payback's A Bitch": Happy Trippin (my band's changed its name...)
6. "Famous Blue Raincoat": Hayden (I'm not usually one for covers, but this is a nice tribute).
7. "The Devil in Miss Jones": Mike Ness.
8. "Don't Have The Cow": SNFU.
9. "Babycakes": The Everymen (local ska/punk band that should be international but aren't).
10. "Last Night": The Strokes.
11. "Leader of Men": Nickelback.
12. "Stagger Lee": Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.
H.P. TINKER GOES MISSING 05/10/2002
Cheshire's answer to the H-bomb and 3A.M. contributor, H.P. Tinker, has gone missing. Any information concerning the whereabouts of the finest exponent of social unrealism would be greatly appreciated.
KILLING TIME WITH CRASS 05/10/2002
Seminal 80s anarcho-punk band Crass will be at the National Film Theatre in London on Saturday 15 June (6.30pm-10.30pm): "This programme will incorporate moving image, music, discussion and spoken word performances by Eve Libertne, Steve Ignorant (see photo) and Penny Rimbaud. . . . A series of video collages Semi-Detached was assembled and shot on VHS video using material from broadcast television between 1977-1984 by Crass visual artist Gee Vaucher. Used to illustrate Crass songs during live performances, Semi-Detached offers a prolonged polemic against fascism, militarism and consumerism and incorporates some of Vaucher's acclaimed illustration work. The showing of Yes, Sir: I Will will feature a vocal remix specially produced for the NFT event. Also screening are two films Autopsy and Choosing Death from Crass colaborator Mick Duffield's Christ the Movie, along with his early short film Tea Piece." More on Crass in The George Berger Column.
UNDERGROUND PUBLISHING CONFERENCE 05/10/2002
The 4th Underground Publishing Conference will take place at Bowling Green Ohio on 22-23 June: "This is a two-day event featuring discussions, presentations, and workshops by and for people who create and participate in the world of alternative media. Mainstream media does a good job of painting a version of the world that doesn't really resemble the reality that most people live everyday. The concentration of media into the hands of a few corporations means lots more of the same old business. Even though we understand these ideas, we often feel disempowered to do anything about it. The Underground Publishing Conference actively works against monopolistic media to empower individuals to create and participate in media -- to become the media. The Underground Publishing Conference is for Zinesters, Activists, Comic Artists, Hackers, Low Power FM Broadcasters, Librarians, Web Designers, Filmmakers, Musicians, Artists, Academics, Street Theorists, Readers and Writers. In other words, YOU!" There will be a 3A.M. presence in the shape of Charles Shaw (see photo).
A NEW BARBARISM? 05/10/2002
Unsurprisingly, the Front National's recent electoral success in France has inspired countless articles. Former editor of Marxism Today, Martin Jacques speaks out against the rise of the "new barbarism": "Since 1989 we have been living in a fool's paradise. The triumphalism about the future that greeted the collapse of communism has proved to be profoundly misplaced. The reason why we should fear the rise of Le Pen is not simply that fascism and an ugly racism are alive, well and in the ascendant in one of the heartlands of Europe, but rather that the world that we now live in is in a corrosive state. Not since the 1930s has the threat of the irrational, of a turn towards barbarism, been so great in the west. It has become an arrogant truism of western life that the evils of the modern world -- authoritarianism, ethnic conflict, illiberalism -- are coterminous with the developing world. It was telling how some western leaders, including one of our own ministers, in the aftermath of September 11, spoke of the civilised world, and by implication of the uncivilised world, the dark-skinned savages of backward cultures. It is not clear how Le Pen or Berlusconi or Haider fit this world view. Europe, of course, has always been as much the cradle of barbarism as civilisation, of racism and ethnic cleansing as well as the Renaissance and democracy. Racism and fascism are part of its history and therefore always incipient in its present. Racist parties of the extreme right are in government in Austria, Denmark and Italy. And they are resurgent in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway and Belgium. But it is, above all, the reasons for their resurgence that give cause for profound concern: they suggest that we are now entering a new Dark Age. The first factor in this resurgence is the feeble state of the left. The traditional left has more or less collapsed. . . . This brings us to the second factor, the decay of democracy. The aspiration of, and ethical claim for, democracy has been as a vehicle for representing the wishes of the entire people. Democracy is not -- yet at least -- the subject of a frontal assault from fascism, as it was in the 1930s, but rather of a corrosion from within. Democratic politics is increasingly seen as a less and less useful stage for making meaningful choices about society. This is reflected in the declining status of politics and politicians. It also finds expression in declining voter turnout. . . . The third factor behind the growth of new racism is the relationship between traditional European racism and the rise of migration. In a continent steeped in racist traditions (anti-semitic, anti-Gypsy), the latent prejudice toward even more visible and even more distinctive minorities -- namely, those of different colours and different cultures who come from outside of Europe -- should not be underestimated. And the moment of engagement with these new minorities occurs when Europe is suffering a profound loss of roots and identity. In little more than 30 years, west European nations have become increasingly interwoven and more and more indistinguishable from one another. At the same time, Europe has suffered a precipitous decline in its global influence, a process that has partly been obscured by continuing, overweening 'western' -- namely, American -- power. . . . The fourth factor is the US and the dangerous turn that global politics has taken since September 11. The war against terrorism has, from the outset, worn a distinctly racist colouration, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab. . . ."
English novelist Julian Barnes has written a surprisingly good article on the far right in France ". . . Whatever else happens -- and there is a long way to go -- this has been Le Pen's fortnight. It is he who has set the agenda to which others respond. The two main May Day marches are 'Le Pen' and 'Anti Le Pen'. No one marches for Chirac. The outgoing president -- who on September 21 last year got the lowest poll of any outgoing president -- has been physically active but politically inert, his face an embarrassed rictus as he waits to be re-elected, knowing that the majority of those who will vote for him dislike and, in many cases, despise him. In Jarry's play, Ubu Roi, a single actor plays 'The Entire Russian Army'. Chirac has been onstage for two weeks wearing a sash reading 'I Am The Republic'. It is not much of a part. Chirac will win -- and lose. Le Pen will lose -- and win. . . . It would have been better, too, if Le Pen were just a political bully-boy, if he were fully summed up by Tony Blair's 'repellent', if he were egregious, a sudden boil on democracy's bottom. But Le Pen is far from egregious, and stands as the rough inheritor of a long tradition of the French counter-revolutionary right. If his power base is different -- Action française recruited among wealthy rural society, Poujade among provincial shopkeepers -- Le Pen's rhetoric has clear historical echoes. When he claims to be 'socially left, economically right, and nationally, more than ever, French', this is only a slight elaboration of the pre-war Fascist slogan 'Neither Left nor Right -- French!' . . . In 1979, Philip Larkin told an interviewer that he 'adored' Mrs Thatcher, not least because 'At last politics makes sense to me.' This is one part of Le Pen's appeal. . . ."
You can also check out Grant Rosenberg's article on the May Day rally in Gadfly.
PHEW! PART TWO 05/08/2002
"Ouf" ("Phew!): Libération's banner headline after the second round of voting in France's presidential election saw 82% of voters reject the far right.
PHEW! PART ONE 05/08/2002
Brace yourselves for fiction and poetry by Lina Ramona Vitkauskas, fiction editor and Web designer of Milk Magazine. The Milk Maid's style is as charming as the picture.
FOOTBALL HOOLIGANS 05/08/2002
With the world cup coming up, the BBC is broadcasting a series of programmes about football hooligans. The tale of Jed, a hooligan turned poet, is particularly interesting ". . . 'I had my experiences specifically with Stoke City where it's a very tight firm that look after each other', he said. 'There's a lot of respect and there's a lot of loyalty. The older guys and the top boys look after the young lads in match situations.' That loyalty stretches as far as helping people get jobs or weaning younger members of the 'firm' off drugs. Jed revealed the friend who first took him to a match has helped several youngsters in his firm who had become hooked on heroin. He explained: 'He's taken them to live with him for a while to get them off the gear. It's far more reaching than just making a phone call and knowing where to turn up on a Saturday morning, go have a row, get pissed and then leave again. People take care of each other,' he added. For Jed, the football firm offers a kind of unquestioning acceptance that is difficult to find elsewhere. He admits the thrill of the violence is addictive, describing it as 'a pure adrenalin rush'. He added: 'If you've been involved in a situation where you have that feeling -- maximum velocity -- and then something happens to shut it off for a moment, it's as if your veins have been washed clean with iced water'. But the thrill can become addictive, as Jed explained: 'It took over a section of my life and there were some periods when I was more involved and wanted to go more often.' . . ."
69 THINGS TO DO WITH RICHARD MARSHALL 05/06/2002
There's an interesting essay by Jenny Turner on Stewart Home's 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess in this week's London Review of Books. 3am Magazine will soon publish Richard Marshall's definitive review: "When we read in the Home novel -- 'Suzy was trying to hold a conversation, so she wouldn't have noticed the change of rhythm when the two men switched places. . . . After Suzy came Alan explained the trick he'd played on her and with Michael still humping away this provided sufficient stimulation to give my friend a second orgasm.' (p20) we get down to it. Reading, writing, thinking, fucking, keep yourself running, keep yourself in the act, in flight, in the saddle, always sniffing, always on the lookout -- changing horses in mid-coit -- that's what the symbiosis is between these two acts of writing, these two class acts of writing. The quoted passage is but one of many shags Home documents in this extraordinary novel to suggest, again and again, that the act of reading, the quest for a good book, always comes down to a sort of in-your-head gang bang. This is one reason to think about the reconfiguration of fiction writing and critical reading/writing Home is engaged with. We're used to the familiar image of critic as detective -- all those crazy po-mo masters and mistresses banging on about Sherlock Homes and their Penny Dreadfuls etc etc (think of blessed little Wittgenstein and his love of crime fiction) -- but Home is going to take this further on down. The critic becomes a gang-bang practitioner, a pimp, a wanker, not just banging about but banging, shagging, fucking the detectives, and he exposes the jokes within the coined language of the regular reader, the dynamic critic who must, after all, keep it up."
Top British fiction journal Granta has a new website.
TEENAGE KICKS 05/06/2002
Veteran English dj John Peel has been awarded a prize at the Sony Radio Academy Awards. The BBC reports that ". . . The 62-year-old presenter for Radio 1 and Radio 4 took the honorary gold at the annual ceremony, for his years of championing bands. . . . Judges awarding the prize to Peel said: 'Across four decades of broadcasting, his championship of music that is both new and different has set the style for which he's become best known. He can claim an unrivalled record of 35 years of broadcasting for Radio 1 -- along the way his unmistakable voice has cropped up, at one time or another, on all of the BBC's networks including the World Service.' . . ." (Photo from the BBC website: Feargal Sharkey, former singer with The Undertones, and John Peel, right.)
NEW WUNDERKIND ON THE BLOCK 05/05/2002
The latest literary wunderkind is one Jonathan Safran Foer, born in 1977, whose first novel Everything is Illuminated is getting critics all excited on both sides of the Atlantic. Sarah Bernard writes in New York Metro: ". . . Ever since Dave Eggers elbowed Bridget Jones off the bedside table, the publishing industry can't seem to get enough of twentysomething male authors with a taste for the post-ironic. This is especially true of Foer, the latest literary neophyte to be crowned with a $500,000 advance and a major marketing plan. Forty thousand copies of Everything Is Illuminated, the intensely inventive first novel he wrote when he was just 20, hit stores this week; next week he's off on a 38-city book tour. . . . For the past two weeks, he has been stuffing 5,000 Ziploc bags with gold pencils and four-by-six preprinted cards to hand out at his readings. The idea, which he calls "the self-portrait project," is that people will draw or write about themselves on the cards, then send them back to his new mailbox to keep the dialogue going. "I stuffed 600 the other night," he says proudly. . . . Everything is Illuminated is about the Holocaust's effect on survivors and their families. It's told in three interlocking narratives, including one about someone named Jonathan Safran Foer who travels to Ukraine in search of the young woman he believes saved his grandfather from the Nazis (true). There's also the story of Alex, Foer's Ukrainian translator (not true), who speaks in a comic broken English, à la Steve Martin's Wild and Crazy Guys. The third thread is a magical-realist history of Trachimbrod (true in name only), the town where Foer's grandfather is from. As his Princeton thesis adviser, Joyce Carol Oates, explains, "Jonathan's a natural surrealist. The solemnity is not the main point. There's an exuberance that's almost farcical at times." . . . Foer has a special brand of eccentricity. Eschewing the New York literary circuit, he rejected the offer of a launch party. . . ." Check out Jonathan Safran Foer's Project Museum website. Other post-Eggers United States authors who are currently being touted by lit reviewers include Ben Greenman, Ann Cummins, Arthur Bradford, Paul Collins and Neal Pollack who will soon appear in 3A.M. Magazine.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 05/05/2002
As you can see I'm looking somewhat the worse for wear, but there's been so much to celebrate. 3A.M. Magazine turned two years old in April. The magazine is going from strength to strength with more than 11,000 visitors a week! Then there was my birthday. Thanks for all the kind words and presents (keep em coming). Finally, I am proud to announce that one of my stories appears in the latest edition of Exquisite Corpse alongside 3A.M.'s Utahna Faith and 3A.M. contributors William Levy (whose latest story will appear in these pages very soon) and Kenji Siratori (look out for his forthcoming 3A.M. interview).
DRIFTING INTO A SEA OF STORMS 05/05/2002
The author of England's Dreaming, Jon Savage, is curating the British Film Institute's Punk season entitled Never Mind the Jubilee: "Now recognised as a major 20th-century movement and a continuing teen-angst template, Punk began as an outsider aesthetic that gained international attention through its ambitious synthesis of fashion, music, gender, urbanism and radical ideology, and its potent mix of shock tactics, sheer emotional force and simple good timing. UK Punk's rise to global prominence was due to the irresistible connection between the Sex Pistols' 'God Save The Queen' and the Silver Jubilee of June 1977, as correspondents were presented with a perfect negative image to set against royal pomp. . . . As the prime art of the propagandist, film was intimately linked with Punk from the beginning. Responding to the demands of the instant and the liberating do-it-yourself ethos, Amos Poe and Don Letts used super-8 to capture invaluable records of the New York and London scenes between 1975 and early 1977. These concentrate on musical performances, but subsequent feature films - like DOA and Rude Boy - set noise against society in state-of-the-nation documentaries. The best early example of this mix is Janet Street-Porter's November 1976 film for LWT's The London Weekend Show. Punk's principal aesthetics were montage and bricolage: the attempt to break down the relics of a period of over-consumption and to render the pace of an accelerated age. This is seen clearly in the powerful images shot off-television by Crass to accompany their live performances, and in the extraordinary April 1977 promotional film, Sex Pistols Number 1. Here John Tiberi and Julien Temple, using reshot material including the Bill Grundy Show, turn a hostile media's curses into a show of strength and a final affirmation of the group's anti-monarchical agenda. While Punk's social and ideological dimension marks it out from today's largely apolitical pop culture, in other aspects, it was business as usual for the cultural industries. Although shunned by much of the mainstream, Punk was heavily featured from 1976 in the Granada TV music series So It Goes, and once commercially visible was also broadcast on BBC outlets like Top of the Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test. The Punk groups' simultaneous suspicion of and obsession with the media led to some confrontational performances: not everybody loved the camera then. If one of Punk's most attractive characteristics is its insistence on freedom - notably expressed by the ability of young females to take on all the guises you can see in Women in Punk - then its least discussed facet remains its visionary nature. Punk sought to expose Britain's hidden gnostic tradition, and this was the line taken by its two most ambitious feature films: the wilfully mythic McLaren version of the Sex Pistols' story, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, begins with the Gordon Riots of 1780, while Derek Jarman's Jubilee harks back to Elizabeth I, sending alchemist John Dee through time and space to witness the Great British Mistake of 1977. The principal aim of this season is not to seek a rerun of 1977 - after all, that is 25 years ago and Punk is now in history - but to make visible a wide selection of material from a time of crisis: 1975 to 1980. It does not offer a complete history of Punk - that would cover many seasons - but a window into a turbulent, fertile subculture that dared to tell a personal and a collective truth. After all, attitude to royalty remains a litmus test for British citizens and it's hoped that 'Never Mind The Jubilee' is a reminder that, in a democracy, dissidence remains a basic human right." Never Mind the Jubilee runs from 7-30 June. See programme for details of screenings. Seditionaries label from the brilliant Only Anarchists Are Pretty site.
HELL ON EARTH 05/04/2002
Look out for Richard Marshall's interview with legendary punk poète maudit Richard Hell coming at ya in 3A.M. Magazine very soon: "I'm working on a new novel. I like the way it's going. Once this trip to Europe is over it's my top priority. I even have agreed with my agent to see if we could make a deal on the basis of what I've done which isn't what I like to do because you're in a better bargaining position when you've finished, and you don't have anybody looking over your shoulder. But I need to get myself time where everything else comes second. I've been having to work on Hot and Cold. I don't have a regular income, so I have to make it as I go along. I don't know how I did that first novel. But I need time to concentrate on this new one. Maybe my standards have gone up. The first thing every day is I work on this new book. It's going to be really different from Go Now. . . . It's primarily about young poets in the late 1960s early '70s. But that part of the book is a book within the book because it's being written -- in the third person -- by an older guy who's writing it now, in the present, and you also hear some things in his voice, first person. He's in a hospital writing this book about the young poets -- he'd been one of them himself all those years before. Most of the story is about the seventies and in in the third person, but every once in a while the person in the present interrupts from the hospital. That's the book. Then I'm writing poems to be the poems of the writers in the book too. It's fun but it's a challenge." In the meantime (and time is always mean) you can read Hell's recently-published Hot and Cold while listening to his extraordinary compilation album called (what else?) Time. (Photo by Andrew Gallix: Richard Hell in Paris, March 2002).
NEAL POLLACK WIPES HIS ASS WITH YOUR NOVEL 05/04/2002
Brace yourself for an interview with the self-styled greatest living writer Neal Pollack, author of The Neal Pollack Anthology of Literature. Neal Pollack talks to 3A.M.'s Jim Ruland about life in the literary fast lane: "People expect me to impersonate the character [of Neal Pollack], but I wouldn't even know where to begin. I also rarely answer email questions or other questions in character. Once in a while, sure, if I'm in the mood, or if the reporter doesn't have anything better, but that would get tiring pretty quickly. I'd rather answer questions like a human being, because like most human beings, and most writers, I rarely have actual sexual escapades and I rarely live life in the literary fast lane, an oxymoron if there ever was one. Anyone who kept up the sexual pace of 'Neal Pollack' would be dead in a week, and that's all part of the joke." Watch this space.
SPIKE MAGAZINE UPDATE SHOCK 05/01/2002
The mighty Spike Magazine has been updated at long last. There's an interview with Michael Gira about life after Swans, Stefan Fatsis talks about "the torrid world of competitive scrabble playing", Stephen Mitchelmore reviews the first English language biography of Thomas Bernhard and much, much more including Splinters (Spike Magazine's weblog) and Will Self's introductory essay to the new Penguin edition of William Burroughs' Junky. Photo: Spike editor Chris Mitchell (left) and Bertie Marshall, London April 2002.
BLOOD ELECTRIC 05/01/2001
Young Japanese writer Kenji Siratori (born in 1975), who has already appeared in 3am Magazine, is publishing his first major work entitled Blood Electric: "Firmly rooted in the 21st century digital-age, Siratori's cyber-punk writing is more concerned with vivid images, pace and developing a new writing and reading experience (which echoes the Surrealists, Burroughs and French avant-garde author Pierre Guyotat) than linear narrative and character development. Vividly evoking the coming to consciousness of an artificial intelligence, Blood Electric is a devastating loop of language . . . which breaks with all existing writing traditions. With unparalleled stylistic terrorism fully embracing the image mayhem of the internet/multimedia/digital age, Kenji Siratori unleashes his first literary Sarin attack. Contemporary Japan is exploding in slow-motion, and Kenji Siratori arranges the blood-and-semen-encrusted debris with the finesse of a berserk Issey Miyake. Rendering English-language cyberpunk instantly redundant with his relentless, murderous prose-drive, Siratori transmits his authentic, category-A hallucinogenic product direct to his reader's cerebellum. A virulently warped amalgam of Tetsuo and cut-up era William Burroughs." Kenji Siratori, who describes himself as "a hypermodern writer working in a digital environment", will soon be interviewed in 3A.M. by Richard Marshall.