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by Andrew Gallix



To celebrate the release of their second compilation album, Rip Off Your Labels, London's ultra-hip Angular Records are holding a 3-day festival called Triangulation in three different areas of London (Shoreditch, King's Cross and Brixton). Be there or be square…instead of angular and triangular. Shoreditch darlings Bloc Party are interviewed here. Check out Pictures from The Others' gig in the Tube. David Lodge on Nabokov's Pnin. Toothing: the new text sex craze. Marianne Faithfull on William Burroughs. Do you watch Naked News? The birth of the teenager. Decline and fall of Lambeth Walk. A review of Joseph Roth's What I Saw. A tribute to Lizzy Mercier Descloux. The Football Factory and England's Euro 2004 anthem. The Telegraph on the revival of the literary send-up.

3AM TOP 5 05/24/2004

Ben Myers, the author of The Book of Fuck (published by Wrecking Ball Press), is currently listening to:
  1. Deloused In The Comatorium -- The Mars Volta
  2. The Decline Of British Sea Power -- British Sea Power
  3. In Fine Style -- Augustus Pablo
  4. Penance Soiree -- The Icarus Line
  5. Metal Box -- P.I.L.


Our friends at Bookmunch didn't like The Little White Car, the debut novel of one Danuta da Rhodes who sounds suspiciously like Dan Rhodes. Jonathan Coe's eagerly-awaited biography of BS Johnson (Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of BS Johnson) is due out on 4 June (in Britain). Pete Libertine checks in and out of The Priory. David Mitchell on Italo Calvino. Ali Smith on Angela Carter. Morrissey plays his first gig in Manchester in 12 years. Comedy and the novel. Nicholas Royle's new novel is called Antwerp. Football songs. Who are The Dust Bunnies? The French art terrorists Bazooka seem to be back in action (they had disbanded in late 1978). Ricky Gervais in Spiked. The Kings of Leon. Lucia Joyce. Republican punks (link via 3AM's Joe Bloggs). James Kelman interviewed in The Independent: "'Well, as a writer I never believed in the idea of the Great Novel, or one Great Anything. I've always believed that for any artist it's the body of work that's important. You have to be patient - you do your work as if you'll live for ever (apart from your first work which usually you do as if you are going to die),' he says, wryly". Kelman's new novel is reviewed by Irvine Welsh. The Others have played a gig on the Tube. Keep your iPod warm with iPod cozies. Iain Sinclair answers Guardian readers' questions. Railway children locomotive to be restored. The Strokes' homecoming gig in Central Park. Poet/novelist Simon Armitage on his record collection: "Armitage blames John Peel for his love affair with 'badly but passionately played guitar music.' At his childhood home in Marsden, five miles away from his current abode, he discovered Peel's Radio 1 show in 1977 - 'the best possible year, because you had prog rock mixing in with the Clash and the Buzzcocks. You could see the way things were going and it was so exciting. I had just joined a record club. I'd only had these Uriah Heep and Black Sabbath albums a short while, but I got rid of them straight away.'" Tommy Udo didn't like 3AM's summer bash: "A long boring and traumatic week...did a reading last Saturday as part of a 3AM magazine celebration. I can't believe the sort of shit that people are prepared to sit through. At least me and Swells were a) funny and b) short. I managed to miss most of it apart from Richard Strange playing some worthless acoustic set and reading a load of junk from a notebook. I feel funny being critical of theses people, but the 'underground' just seems populated with such boring losers. I suppose it's the combination of smugness and sheer lack of talent that bugs me. Glad that I missed Marina Warner who apparently sat for half an hour droning out some story about a turnip that was an 'erotic fairy tale'. Much as I hate the mainbstream lkiterary estyablishment, I hate these cunts 10 times as much. Missed both Billy Childish and Steve Aylett, who I wouldn't have minded seeing. Went back on the tube with Swells. Talked about how this is getting us nowhere, doing these sort of events. I can't believe what people are prepared to put up with. These things convince me more and more that the world needs Attack Books". An excellent interview with Sybille Bedford. Is Michael Moore yet another radical hypocrite?

URBAN COOL CAT 05/24/2004

There's an extract from Hari Kunzru's new novel, Transmission, in today's Independent on Sunday. And here's an extract from last week's feature on Kunzru in the Observer: ". . . Kunzru received a sum approaching £1.25m for the UK, American and European rights to his first novel, The Impressionist, and, around the time of its publication, he was so predictably and so tediously hyped, there was every reason for assuming that he would soon disappear - yet another literary shout reduced to a whisper. For the truth is that however many long-haul air fares and pieces of groovy Sixties furniture an advance buys you (I gather he likes Verner Panton), such immensely fat deals are more a curse than a blessing. Even if, by some miracle, the first book is a hit, the second is doomed. This, I'm afraid, is just the way it is, and Kunzru knows it. 'Your head is on the block,' he says. 'You're the bloke who got the big advance. They've sold 100,000 copies of The Impressionist in paperback. But there is still a lot to prove.' The Impressionist was a historical novel (its deadeningly elusive hero, Pran, is conceived during a monsoon in 1903) - one that, by Kunzru's own admission, 'addressed itself to a series of stereotypes the British have about the Indian novel'. Transmission, on the other hand, is a resolutely 21st-century tale, a story of survival in a global economy where the local and the particular no longer have any meaning. . . . 'Transmission is a more controlled piece of work,' says Kunzru, when he comes to my house for lunch (we discover that we both live in the East End so, ever the urban warrior, he cycles over). 'The first book was me playing games. The characters were grotesques, and the central character had no interior life at all. In this book, I'm more involved on a human level with those I'm writing about.' The novel is concerned with movement - how powerful this can be, and how destructive. 'I'm fascinated by the emergence of a global class. They're highly mobile, they reject the idea of place. But even for the likes of Guy, who belongs to the elite, who is able to reap the benefits of globalisation, this has its dark side. There is a loss of contact with the local. Somewhere in the middle are the Arjuns; they're skilled, they're able to move around, even if it does involve a lot of effort. Finally, floating in the margins, are people who are almost invisible.' For this group, the global underclass, journeys - if they happen at all - tend to be one-way. 'They're picking lettuces, and serving drinks.' In one bleakly comic vignette, Guy, globe-trotter extraordinaire, stays in a Dubai hotel where he is attended to by a South Asian bellhop (Bruce), an Indonesian waiter (Doug) and a Chinese waitress (Carey-Ann).

. . . Hari Kunzru was born in 1969, and grew up in Woodford, an Essex suburb. His father, an orthopaedic surgeon from Agra, and his mother, a nurse from south London, met in the hospital where they both worked. It was a controversial union. 'He was the oldest son, so for him to marry outside our rather small and rather smug caste [his father is a Kashmiri-Hindu pandit], let alone someone who wasn't Indian, was a big deal. There was opposition from his family. My mother was taken aside and told, "It's fine for you, but how will you feel about pushing a pram with brown babies in it? It's like being a whore." That was the implication, even if the word was never used. But when it became clear that they were determined to do it, everybody accepted it.' . . . At school ('the £9,000-a-year Bancroft's School', as the Mail on Sunday - of which, more later - likes to put it), Kunzru was first a Mod, then a Casual. The other Asian boys were 'mostly hard-working would-be dentists', and he didn't feel particularly close to them. On the other hand, whether he liked it or not, he was of their number. 'We were all Pakis, and we were all greasy and smelly. My memory of school is that I could very rarely escape the fact of my greasiness and smelliness.' . . . From Bancroft's, Kunzru went up to Oxford, where he read English and got a first. In previous interviews, he has referred to Oxford as 'toffworld', and scoffed at it as a place where he was an exotic, a hit with girls from the Home Counties who were simply full of The Buddha of Suburbia. But he and I are contemporaries, and my own memory of the time is that Hari was rather in with the posh set; certainly, he seemed a different creature from the urban cool cat that he is now. Anyway, after Oxford, he did an MA at Warwick and then he moved to London, where he worked, intermittently, as a freelance travel journalist and, for a time, at the ultra-hip techno magazine Wired (during this period, he wore Day-Glo orange). The journalism subsidised his own writing and, in his twenties, he produced two (unpublished) novels. One was a 'Pynchon-esque' little number about the M25; the other was a 'bitter, post break-up thing about masculinity'. And then the finger came out of the sky and pointed at him. The deal, the result of an auction engineered by his agent, Jonny Geller, was big and it was 'scary'. Honestly? 'Yes. Everyone was throwing money at me. It was absurd. I was in a bar when I took the phone call saying it had been sold in America. But instead of doing an extravagant champagne-for-everyone, I thought: Oh... my... God... I'd seen a friend get a large advance. He thought that was it. It was going to be bitches by the pool in LA. But the fact was that his book didn't sell. At that point, nobody wants to touch you. I was going: is there any way we can tone this down? I didn't want them to pay a lot. I wanted them to pay enough . A rather worrying number of people assumed I would go off the rails. There was a period of six months where I'd walk into a room and there'd be this appraising quality. They'd be waiting for me to rip off the mask and reveal that I was Puff Daddy.' . . . He does not, he says, regret for a moment his decision, last November, to turn down the John Llewellyn Rhys prize on the grounds that it is sponsored by the Mail on Sunday - a newspaper that, in a statement read out by his agent at the award ceremony, he accused of 'vilifying and demonising asylum seekers' (he asked that his £5,000 prize be donated to the Refugee Council). 'When I heard who sponsored it, I felt sick. I knew I couldn't accept. Then, it was just a question of whether I refused quietly or loudly. People were upset. They were there for a nice lunch and I'd made them feel bad.' . . . Kunzru feels he has at least 'another couple' of books in him and has signed up to deliver them, but he tells me - and I really do not think he is being disingenuous - that he worries about being a writer with a capital 'W'. 'I can see a version of my life where it all becomes meaningless. On a good day, writing seems noble. Other times, it's narcissistic and pointless.' . . ."

3AM TOP 5 05/20/2004

The author of the recently-published Suede biography, David Barnett, who also plays bass with The Boyfriends, is currently listening to:
  1. "22 Grand Job -- The Rakes ("My favourite new band. And we're supporting them again very soon".)
  2. "Argos" -- The Fucks ("From the new Angular compilation. The whole album is brilliant, but I can't get this one out of my head".)
  3. "Bittersweet Bundle of Misery" -- Graham Coxon ("For this I will forgive him for calling me 'gayvid'.)
  4. "Irish Blood English Heart" -- Morrissey ("Good to have the curmudgeonly old bastard back!")
  5. "They Don't Know" -- Tracey Ulmann ("Not strictly new in any sense but I have recently fallen in love with this song again").


A major figure of the French punk and post-punk scenes, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, has died at the tender age of 47. Check out her bio, these great pictures and this moving message from Richard Hell ("She was the primary model for the 'love interest' Chrissa in my novel Go Now"). Richard also told 3AM that he had "a lot of intense times with Lizzy Mercier Descloux when young and she continued to be great company up till the end". Steve Almond in USA Today. Living with a writer. 3AM's Andrew Stevens interviews trio Neils Children in Joe Bloggs where you'll also find a Q&A with Jessa Crispin aka the Bookslut. Neal Pollack on bad sex. Sexy outdoor sports. Travis Jeppesen will read from his new novel Neomania at St George's Bookshop in Berlin on Thursday 13 May (7pm). Geoff Dyer on the meaningless distinction between fiction and non-fiction: ". . . I see my writing life as a move away from the home of the novel without succumbing to any lingering symptoms of nostalgia or homesickness. Although I've written novels, I've always been disadvantaged by the way that I've never been able to think of plots or stories. To be frank, I'm not that fussed about character either. If you haven't got those things going for you, then other things have to come into play -- but this can be as much a liberation as a necessity. Over time I've come to feel that, in many cases, the predictable process of novel-writing goes hand in hand with a straitjacketing of the material's expressive potential, that the novel can be stifling in the way that 'home' is. Obviously, great novels are still being written, but the assumption that the novel remains the inherent proving ground of imaginative prose is parochial in the extreme." Irvine Welsh on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. Love's strange effects. Apodyopsis?. Top London listings zine Kultureflash describes 3AM as an "unrepentantly midcult e-journal"! Tangents, the home of "un-popular culture", have launched a record label called Unpopular Records. The White Stripes talk about Coffee and Cigarettes, the new Jim Jarmusch film in which they appear. Also in nerve, an interview with Ambulance Ltd. Fifty years of pop. An excellent in-depth article about Franz Ferdinand in the Independent. A review of Morrissey in New York.


3am's Richard Marshall (pictured) is interviewed in Idealog: ". . . I think with 3AM people like it because it isn't that small and it has a 'scene' feel to it which people want to be part of. It's about an identity. We have run events and link up with like-minded mags such as The Idler. . . . The only thing that'll stop us is if we run out of ideas or contributors or we get bored but at the moment that's not on the cards. We're all doing the work because it's interesting -- keeps us out of jail -- and we have day jobs to keep us able to do this as a labour of love. The advantage about it is that we have never thought about what we're doing -- we have no rules or anything -- so long as we can keep doing it like this it'll keep running. . . . We'd like someone to come along and pay us millions so we can buy big cars and have loads of beautiful people craving for our bodies and brains but at the moment we don't seem to be anywhere near that particular ballpark and sure, it isn't really the point. We're independent so we can say what we like and that's how we like it -- nobody runs us.

. . . The magazine is full of all sorts of people with very different ideas and perspectives who somehow never want to tell anyone else how to do stuff -- so it grows naturally round these people. I love the fact that I have only met a couple of the people working on the mag and yet we have a close relationship with all of us on the site... I love the work and follow my own interests and do it when I want to and don't do it if I feel fed up: it's got that ad hoc feel to it that is just the right antidote to the meat world horse trading of my day job. I think it's about being political and having a sense that some things need to be done -- the web lets you do something that before the technology was more difficult. You get a big readership so long as the stuff you're putting out is good. There's no reason why a very low-cost outfit can't be influential and do stuff to the highest level so long as the thinking is good and the concept doesn't get caught up in other distractions like trying to get money out of it." (Pic: Richard Marshall by Andrew Gallix.)

FRESH BLOOD 05/12/2004

The 3AM team is growing! Let me first introduce you to Kate Ahl who grew up in Ithaca, New York, and moved to the UK in 1995 to do a degree in Modern Greek. She worked as a receptionist, a market research executive, and a filing clerk in a colostomy bag factory before joining Routledge on their Media and Cultural Studies list in 2001. She will shortly be facing voluntary redundancy following Routledge's recent and puzzling merger with a company that does not publish books. On a more positive note, she'll be helping us edit 3AM.


Dave Eggers of McSweeney's on Edward Lewis Wallant, the US novelist who was compared to Bellow and Roth before dying prematurely aged 36. Tilda Swinton interviewed in nerve. Pictures of Franz Ferdinand's aftershow at the Batofar in Paris. Steve Almond interviewed in the Morning News: ". . . Roald Dahl did base Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory on historical fact. Specifically, the intense competition between two British candy companies, Cadbury and Rowntree. They were constantly accusing one another of industrial espionage. The Big Three are still intensely paranoid. At Mars, outside workers called in to repair machinery in areas considered proprietary are blindfolded, allowed to fix the machine in question, then blindfolded an escorted ot of the plant." Morrissey interviewed in the NME: "People always say to me, 'You changed my life'. And most commonly they say to me, 'When I was a teenager, you really helped me through the death of my hamster' or things like that (laughs) and I just feel a flush of pride. Because I think it's quite something to help people through their darkest hours." Morrissey is curating this year's Meltdown Festival at the Royal Festival Hall in London in June: The Libertines are among the guests and their drummer, Gary Powell, will be playing with the reformed New York Dolls. Patrick Hussey in the Independent on why British poetry is disappearing up its own ars rhetorica. Thom Gunn and Hubert Selby Jr are no more. Iain Sinclair profiled in The Guardian. Rowan Pelling on creative writing courses in the Independent: ". . . the very words "creative writing courses" can trigger a prolonged bilious attack in any critic whose skin crawls at the thought of all those earnest, soul-searching scribes munching digestive biscuits as they listen to one another's lyrical outpourings. We don't want writers cosily wrapped up in halls when they should be suffering in the time)honoured manner of Kafka or Camus - or experiencing the same infernal torment as the reader trying to wade through 500 pages of The Last Tuna, a postmodern satire about a flooded dystopia ruled by evil talking dolphins." Geoff Dyer on the meaningless distinction between fiction and non-fiction: ". . . I see my writing life as a move away from the home of the novel without succumbing to any lingering symptoms of nostalgia or homesickness. Although I've written novels, I've always been disadvantaged by the way that I've never been able to think of plots or stories. To be frank, I'm not that fussed about character either. If you haven't got those things going for you, then other things have to come into play -- but this can be as much a liberation as a necessity. Over time I've come to feel that, in many cases, the predictable process of novel-writing goes hand in hand with a straitjacketing of the material's expressive potential, that the novel can be stifling in the way that 'home' is. Obviously, great novels are still being written, but the assumption that the novel remains the inherent proving ground of imaginative prose is parochial in the extreme." Dogging? Everybody's at it! A literary take on the EU enlargement. The history of the orgasm and an article on porn and the novel. Douglas Coupland to perform a monologue for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Top geezer Mike Skinner (aka The Streets) is back. A short story by Magnus Mills and the rest of the recent issue of G2 edited by Franz Ferdinand including legendary rock critic Nick Kent on the desire of oblivion in rock'n'roll.


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