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by Andrew Gallix



This year's Meltdown Festival to be curated by Patti Smith (London's Royal Festival Hall, 11-26 June). Charlie Higson's Bond prequel is a hit. Edwyn Collins is very ill. An interview with young French novelist Chloé Delaume. Punks Jump Up. Looking for laughs in The Bible. The 2005 National Magazine Awards finalists for Fiction. Nicholas Royle bids farewell to Goldmark Books in The Indie. Fiction from Iceland. The top 10 literary blogs. Iain Sinclair on the river Thames. Steve Almond's "The Idea of Michael Jackson's Dick" in The Bloggies and Photobloggies. Bruce Wagner interviewed in Nerve. The Vice Creems. Michael Holroyd gets the David Cohen Prize for Literature. The South By Southwest festival. Wired on iPod identity: iPod, therefore I am. London's New Piccadilly cafe and disappearing pubs. The author of Sideways. The Paris Review has a new editor. Flickr madness: check out 3:AM Magazine's Flickr group. Reality doesn't outstrip language, according to Craig Raine. Caravaggio. Tim Parks on violence in literature. Punk with a laptop (more here). Dave Eggers interviewed in Salon.

3:AM TOP 5 03/17/2005

Nottingham based Love Ends Disaster! have just released their debut EP ("Stories For the Dislocated") on Denial Records (home of the first ever Bloc Party studio recordings), prompting Rough Trade to state that "by the end of the year this band will be massive". Listen to "Warning: Robots" here. Love Ends Disaster! are currently listening to:
  1. "Ready To Wear" -- Felix Da Housecat:
    "A 'song' that doesn't seem to go anywhere but is bouncy and synth-y and unbearably sunny and sexy nevertheless. It's nice to get away from all that angst once in a while. Long live electro! Even though it' 80s-ish".
  2. "Floods" -- Lo-Ego:
    "Fellow Nottingham band who are most likely to be massive very soon thanks to their squalling guitars stolen from the Volta and ludicriously histrionic vocals that sound like a very VERY upset Thom Yorke. Bleak, so bleak, and yet so good".
  3. "Tunic" -- Sonic Youth:
    "Where else do guitars sound THIS good? The Youth all seem to be playing completely different songs on their respective instruments, Kim Gordon is reading out a weird suicide letter to her mom, it stops three minutes in and starts again...but it all feels so RIGHT".
  4. "There She Goes My Beautiful World" -- Nice Cave & the Bad Seeds:
    "A whopping great orchestral piece filled with passion, energy and soul. Simply amazing. Makes us believe in strings in rock music again".
  5. "Storywriter" -- Supercar:
    "Vaguely obscure Japanese outfit that churns out wimpy J-pop with added glitchy electro noises and angular bashes on the ol' 6-string. How do they make those funny rabbit-bleeping sounds? Must try and copy them for the next LED! Record."


The legendary Richard Hell -- whose new novel, Godlike, will be published in July -- is interviewed in Bookslut by someone he describes as "a condescending twat". The actual interview is prefaced by Hell's spirited response to the interviewer (Adam Travis)'s intro. When Adam Travis states that Hell's poetry could have been better if he hadn't spent so much time playing music, the original punk lets rip: "Fuck you. If you want to say something like that, say it to my face. You don't hear me making claims about how 'good' my poetry is, but who the fuck do you think you are? All this writing of yours is presented as if you're a person called upon to make judgments from some position of earned respect. . . . You sought an interview from me, I was kind enough to grant it, and now you're being an asshole by exercising some grotesquely deluded misapprehension that your role in this includes some call to fucking critically assess my skills". Strangely enough, the interview is excellent and well worth reading. Iain Sinclair talks about psychogeography and his favourite cafes: "I like that idea of one culture imposing its culture on top of another in bits and pieces. The kind of thing I'm looking for is these caffs that change ownership all the time. As you move out from the centre and the immigrant groups come in you get a big turnover of places: Albanian cafes, Vietnamese cafes. . . . I guess cafes and coffee took off from people buying into that whole era of French existentialist culture. It was the last time you had that leisured, dole culture of people hanging round talking. Earlier in the 50s the cafe was pre-eminent. Soho and the start of pop and all that. But it all devolved to pubs culturally there was a moment of division there. You used to get science fiction writers like Michael Moorcock and JG Ballard meeting in these select pubs and discussing imaginative writing and Sci Fi. If those days come back it'll be a pastiche, a parody, with people pretending to read Colin Wilson. But now the whole culture has speeded up so that people just queue to get takeaways. And it's the death of cafes. Who's going to spend days hanging out at cafes? It's gone." Iain Sinclair has also penned an excellent article on Patrick Hamilton's novels, films an pissing competitions with Malcolm Lowry. The Patrick Hamilton retrospective is on at London's National Film Theatre until 26 March. Bookmunch run the first review of the new Nick Hornby. Clothes for heroes. Pitchfork on the Misfits. The Peter Pan sequel and a James Bond prequel. The Orange Prize longlist. Can anyone save the ICA? The Observer interview JT LeRoy (3:AM's interview with LeRoy was abandoned by Andrew Stevens due to the author's "child-like state"!). Ian McKellen to play the part of a "dodgy novelist" in Coronation Street. There are interviews with David Thomson (Pere Ubu) and Damo Suzuki (Can) over at Spike. 10 writers tell tHe Guardian where they eat. Here's Adam Thirlwell: "I think novelists write about food because all they do is eat. That's all they know about. They are stuck at home, and think, 'I'll make myself another sandwich because it's [the writing] going really badly.'" Excellent articles about Kenneth Tynan and Prince Tambi (the editor of Poetry London) in The Indie. First-time novelists talk about being published. The Bloggies 2005 are in: My Boyfriend is a Twat (writtenn by a Belgium-based Brit expat) wins Best European Weblog, wins Best British or Irish Webblog. Dooce is Best American Weblog. Gothamist wins the rather baffling "Best Non-Weblog Content of a Weblog Site" category. Bookslut is Best Topical Weblog and Boing Boing clinches the Best Weblog of the Year category.

3:AM MAILBAG 03/14/2005

Tokyo Explode!!!'s eponymous debut album (on Fire Records) has been panned by PopMatters and virtually everybody else, but I must admit somewhat reluctantly that it ranks among my guilty pleasures. Granted, the faux-naïve lyrics are often excruciating especially when they veer into twee indie territory ("I Love Horses"), and the manga-punk trio's often derivative music suffers from a chronic identity crisis, but when they really put their minds to it ("Diesel Mercedes") Tokyo Explode!!! can plumb depths of camp brilliance: it's so bad it's good. With "Schoolmaster" pidgin English grows wings and soars to new heights of linguistic ineptitude ("You have stinky, stinky doggy breath") while Bowie's "Suffragette City" is given the kind of trouncing unseen since The Rapture's methodical deconstruction of "Louie Louie". As compelling as listening to a car accident. Unlike the aforementioned record, Love Ends Disaster!'s first outing -- a spiky, scratchy angular, post-punk of a 5-tracker -- is garnishing well-nigh universal praise from the likes of Xfm, Drownedinsound ("…the first GREAT single of 2005") and Bloc Party's Gordon Moakes. Stand-out tracks: the slow-burning "Little Lost Causes" which is reminiscent of Radiohead and two seething rabble-rousers ("Sendai" and "Warning: Robots) which conjure up a myriad references while managing to add up to more than the mere sum of their parts. Out now on Denial Records. Based in the West Midlands Tindall Street Press continues to give national coverage to "fiction from the English regions". They recently published Dreams Never End, a pulp anthology edited by the mighty Nicholas Royle (who we interviewed in January) which includes several stories by our resident genius HP Tinker. The Prague Literary Review, which describes itself as the "preeminent English-language literary magazine" on the European Continent, is also related to us. 3:AM contributor, poet/novelist/journalist Travis Jeppesen sits on their editorial board from where he probably influences the publication's interest in "deviant sex". Dennis Cooper's in there, as well as (our) Matthew Wascovich and an article on (his) Slow Toe Press and pictures by Six. Ahadada Books is another independent press (launched in 1999) which got in touch with us at the end of last year. The recently-published Ahadada Reader I, an anthology of international avant-garde poets, sounds very interesting indeed.


The Independent celebrates World Book Day by asking "100 literary luminaries" to choose their favourite fictional characters. Dan Rhodes chooses Zazie ("Zazie, the foul-mouthed pubescent star of Raymond Queneau's breakneck Parisian romp Zazie in the Metro, doesn't just leap off the page, she also kicks you in the shins and loudly accuses you of a sex offence") while Geoff Dyer goes for Dick Diver ("In spite of all the distracting temptations offered to Dick Diver in F Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night -- happiness, success, wealth, glamour, the admiration of others -- he realizes that he will only come into his own by becoming a charmless bore, an alcoholic, a lonely failure. What willpower!") Pete Doherty performs Siegfried Sassoon's "Suicide in the Trenches" on BBC Radio4. Julian Barnes on the genesis of Flaubert's Parrot. Great pictures of Dee Generate (Eater's first underage drummer). Did you know that The Straps were back? The Observer's Nick Cohen claims that blogging is the new punk: "Over the past year, I've been astonished and delighted by the quality of British political blogs. What's happened reminds me of the punk explosion when I was a teenager. People are ignoring the established system and beating it at its own game" (link via Andrew Stevens). Londonist reports that Roehampton (my sister's uni) is launching an MA in Creative Writing with lectures by the likes of Matt Thorne. A promising new litzine: The Beat. Tim Parks's latest novel is reviewed in The Guardian: "He's a writer of considerable intelligence and great technical skill, who makes you wonder whether there's any reason he shouldn't take his place in the first rank of English novelists. His new book, Rapids, hasn't on the whole helped his case". Mick Farren has his own blog. Ralph Steadman describes Hunter S Thompson as "one of the great originals of American literature": "Hunter said these words to me many years ago: 'I would feel real trapped in this life if I didn't know I could commit suicide at any time.' I knew he meant it. It wasn't a case of if, but when. He didn't reckon he would make it beyond 30 anyway, so he lived it all in the fast lane. There was no first, second, third and top gear in the car -- just overdrive. . . . He was a real live American. A pioneer, frontiersman, last of the cowboys, even a conservative redneck with a huge and raging mind, taking the easy way out and mythologising himself at the same time. . . . I had the good fortune to meet one of the great originals of American literature. Maybe he is the Mark Twain of the late 20th century. Time will sort the bastard out." (More Steadman, Jon Ronson and others pay tribute to the gonzo meister). Poet Laureate Andrew Motion on teaching English. British publishers scramble to sign up Pete Doherty, the poet. David Smith on the origins of The Graduate. Zadie Smith on her new novel. Death of exiled Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante. Excellent punk forum.

3:AM TOP 5 03/08/2005

English novelist James Hawes -- whose excellent fifth novel Speak For England was recently published by Jonathan Cape -- is currently not listening to:
  1. Why the hell does everyone do this list-making thing these days?
  2. I suppose you could argue it's some bizarre, decaying version of a Hunter-Gathering instinct to go around collecting apparently useless Facts about the world. If you wanted to.
  3. I can't recall the last time I deliberately listened to any song.
  4. Yes I can, it was before Christmas, my girlfriend was messing about with a soul compilation and I asked if it had "Midnight Train to Georgia" on it. It did, and it was great.
  5. Sorry, that's it. Twelve years ago, I was still playing guitar and roaring in pubs (very badly) for beer-money several times a week, maybe I got an overdose, whatever, if you told me now that I would never again press "play" on any song, in any format, I just wouldn't care.


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