Artwork by Sardax
CUTTING-EDGE LITERARY NEWS FROM AROUND THE GLOBAL VILLAGE
by Andrew Gallix
COPYRIGHT © 2001, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
HERE COMES THE SUMMER! 06/29/2001
It’s summer and Buzzwords is going on holiday. Richard Marshall will edit 3AM Magazine until September. Enough of that, here’s the summer news.
The Observer, Vanessa Thorpe reveals that Alex Garland, author of The Beach, is suffering from writer’s block: “Garland, 31, one of the wealthiest and most successful of the current generation of British writers, has been forced to halt work on his latest book and is not planning to return to the novel form in the foreseeable future. 'As far as I am concerned he still has a two-book deal with Penguin,' said Andrew Nurnberg, Garland's literary agent. 'But the delivery of the first book has been indefinitely delayed. Alex felt it was not going to be good enough.' . . . Garland is working on a film with the team who brought The Beach to the screen. Called 28 Days Later, it follows the survivors of a deadly virus which sweeps Earth. Friends say he has turned to film as a way out of his writing block.”
Rebel Inc website will soon be revamped. Film director
Francis Ford Coppola is to make a film version of Jack Kerouac’s beat classic On the Road. Brad Pitt will play the part of Dean Moriarty. According to Martin Wainwright, Russian genius
Mikhail Bulgakov is now a superstar back home: “Suppressed for most of the Soviet period, Bulgakov is now a Russian icon, a precise cliche because he is developing the trappings of a saint. His surreal masterpiece, The Master and Margarita, is the country's bestselling book and has created scores of dependent industries. You can play the weekly M&M quiz and treasure hunt on Moscow Echo radio, have your hair cut at the Master and Margarita hairdressers, and visit the book's Haunted Flat, which is now a funky tourist attraction.
In Britain, by contrast, Bulgakov has had a modest cult following since the first sensational appearance of his previously banned work in the Soviet Union in 1967, and its subsequent UK publication in 1969.” Once you’ve read Tim Parks’s interview in 3am Magazine, check out his fascinating review of Borges’ Selected Non-Fictions in
The New York Review of Books. The Batofar (a nightclub on a boat) is still one of the trendiest nightspots in Paris. Check out
coming attractions for July and August. There’s a very interesting review of Saul Bellow and Keith Botsford’s Editors: The Best From Five Decades in
The Evening Standard: “Literary magazines are not known for their longevity, but if you keep at it long enough and open a new one when the old one folds, you can achieve a kind of sporadic continuity.
This is what Saul Bellow and his long-time friend and collaborator Keith Botsford have done, and this plump yet inviting book, a perfect literary browse, is a tribute to their efforts over the years. . . . Most literary magazines enjoy what the French call a confidential circulation, a gauge either of their deserved ephemerality or of their quality. . . . An introduction by Botsford includes irreverential remarks about the New York Review, and even the TLS. Commenting on News from the Republic of Letters, their "tabloid for literates", Bellow, for his part, describes the two of them as "a pair of utopian codgers who feel we have a duty to literature. I hope we are not like those humane dogooders who, when the horse was vanishing, still donated troughs in City Hall Square for thirsty nags". Literary magazines survive on hope, and so does he. One of the more attractive oddities of the United States, he writes, is that its minorities are so large, and he remains convinced there are many Americans whom university departments of literature have not succeeded in alienating from books.”
Another excellent review is that of HJ Jackson’s Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books also in
The Evening Standard: “HJ Jackson makes a shrewd and humane case for centuries of marginal scribble as evidence that "reading has been an 'interactive' experience for thousands of years before that convenient though ungainly word was coined" (which was earlier than you might think - 1832, in fact). She puts it too mildly. Books interact with those who know how to read in ways more deftly searching and expansive than the new technologies can as yet offer with their sham chat and Your Say buttons. An adept reader "phrases" a book as Ella Fitzgerald "phrases" Cole Porter, here leaning into the words and holding them back, there partnering them as Kafka partnered Goethe in February 1912: "I read sentences of Goethe's as though my whole body were running down the stresses." Marginalia are mementos of this relay between book and audience. Coleridge introduced "marginalia" into the English language and is our heavyweight annotator at 2,000 pages of notes in the scholarly volumes which Professor Jackson co-edited. . . . She finds room for sharper commentators like Mark Twain ("This book's English is the rottenest that was ever puked upon paper") or Graham Greene recognising while he read Muggeridge's Chronicles of Wasted Time that he felt "affection for the clown, Malcolm -- his absurdity produces a sort of affection as one might have for an only dog.”
Check out The Paris Review’s
New Writers issue is out. The latest and sexiest issue of Suspect Thoughts is now online.
Support Pif Magazine by sending them your donations.
Gloss Magazine, a new web quarterly featuring both text and visual art, will soon be launched. They are still accepting submissions.
You can find excellent e-lectures at Boxmind if you feel like learning something during your summer hols. Random House’s webzine Boldtype features an interview with Jack Murnighan. Murnighan, famous for his “Jack’s Naughty Bits” column at Nerve.com, is the author of The Naughty Bits, an anthology of the best sex scenes in literature. Kenji Siratori has got in touch with us about his new e-book called
Spasm. Requiem For The Devil by
Jeri Smith-Ready is out now. Jeri was one of
The Santa Fe Writers Project’s winners in 2000. Here is the blurb to Professor Claude-Jean Bertrand’s Introduction a la Pornographie (Introduction to Pornography): “Since the title of the book may cause concern, let it be stressed that this is a serious study of an important topic. And directly related to Anglo-American civilization -- if only because the US is today the world's greatest producer of porn -- and has for many years been one of its most relentless nemesis.” But then he goes and spoils it all: “The volume contains no illustrations.” Check out
NewZoid which “feeds on the Net to continuously and automatically display false computer-generated headlines.
The endlessly changing, up-to-the-minute headlines resemble real ones and range from the entirely believable to the absurd, amusing, shocking and thought-provoking. It has additional interesting features but this is the essence of it. It was recently accepted into the art data base of rhizome.org.”
There’s a great essay on “Dead Mags” by Nelson James Dunford in
Tatlin’s Tower. Jason Gurley, editor of the recently "mothballed" journal Deeply Shallow and author of the recently published Close Program (Pixel Press, 2001), is in discussions with Michael Howard, a U.S. filmmaker, to adapt the title story of his book into a short film. Gurley, 22, will likely adapt the story himself, marking his first foray into the screenwriting field. Howard, 23, is currently in production on his first film,
Reality of Life. Our friend Jason also has a story in the new issue of
Eleven Bulls. In The Guardian, Alan Sillitoe, author of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, explains that “with each novel he thinks: 'It's killing me. Never, ever again!' Yet he continues because he 'has to. I write in order to keep on living. Because I don't want to die; be brain-dead, emotionally dead. I write to live.'”
Philip Hensher reviews Dennis Altman’s Global Sex: “Sexual desire is a more or less irrepressible and unchanging fact in humans. But the forms it takes are culturally conditioned and subject to influences and fashions like anything else. It is not just attitudes to sex that change in different times and places, but the act itself. The range of sexual acts is not that wide, but what a culture regards as commonplace and what seems exotic has changed and will go on changing. Until quite recently, for instance, in Western culture, it seems to me that fellatio and cunnilingus were fairly exotic acts, an occasional divertissement. When the act was brought to the attention of England in the notorious Argyll divorce case in the Sixties, it was news to many readers of the Daily Beast that such a thing was possible or desirable, but then that was in the age of the weekly bath. References to both in literature are relatively rare and always produced with a flourish; there is the whore in Pope who is 'at either end a common shore', or Nelly in Rochester, who has to use 'hands, fingers, mouth, and thighs/ Ere she can raise the member she enjoys'. Cunnilingus is probably rarer; as late as Lolita, Humbert's 'bay[ing] through the undergrowth of dark decaying forests' is still meant to shock. With the improvement of personal hygiene in the West, these, and the previously still more exotic act of analingus, have become quite ordinary pastimes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that anal sex is still an exotic item of the vocabulary and one subject to negotiations between men and women; if it is a central part of male sexual fantasy, it is also an insistent, unspoken presence in the divorce courts. In other places and times, that has not been the case; the prevalence of heterosexual Aids in sub-Saharan Africa has been widely attributed to the resort to sodomy as a form of birth control.”
I’ve just discovered the websites of two English authors we really like
Toby Litt and Alain de Botton. In Britain, Andrew Marr has sparked off a debate about the alleged death of the novel. Read Ian Jack’s defense of fiction. Other interesting articles I’ve selected for you: Salman Rushdie on reality TV,
Ben Richards on a meeting of Serb and Croat writers, Jeanette Winterson on Margaret Thatcher, Nick Hornby on his latest novel, an article on
Haruki Murakami, a review of Irvine Welsh’s Glue by Jonathan Lethem, and,
finally, a review of John King’s White Trash.
That’s it until September! Have a great summer.
ATTACK BOOK AUTHOR STEWART HOME IN SALMAN RUSHDIE ARTS COUNCIL LOVE IN 06/19/2001
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Stewart Home, the iconoclastic avant-bardist, pomo-black jokerdude pornographer has just received acknowledgement from the Arts Council for his work. At a ceremony at The National Portrait Gallery, writer Salman Rushdie presented cheques worth £7,000 to each of the writers. The winners, chosen from more than 300 applications, are: Gerda Mayer for autobiography, Sarah LeFanu and Clare Dudman for biography; Anna Davis, Kathryn Heyman, Bernard Cohen, Louise Doughty and Stewart Home for fiction; Linda Kempton for literature for young people; Philippa Scott for other literary writing; Colette Bryce, Matthew Barton, Pascale Petit, Jeremy Reed and Julia Copus for poetry.
Presenting the awards, Salman Rushdie, said:
'I was once lucky enough to receive an Arts Council bursaryŠ I have been convinced ever since of the dual importance of these awards. At various moments during the last two decades some people have suggested that direct financial support for living writers should be left to publishers. I have always argued against this. Writers need these grants both for the money and the affirmation. And we need to understand that an investment in the future of our literary culture is an investment, also, for ourselves.'
Since 1965 The Arts Council's Writers' Awards have nurtured some exceptional talents, giving emerging writers the stepping stone to even greater acclaim. 10 Booker Prize winners and 26 Whitbread Award winners number among the ranks of past winners, including Kazuo Ishiguro, Ted Hughes, A S Byatt and two of this year's judges: Carol Ann Duffy and Jim Crace. This year saw the announcement of the first Clarissa Luard Fiction Award, presented to Anna Davis. This award goes specifically to a writer under the age of 35 in memory of Clarissa Luard, Senior Literature Officer at the Arts Council who died, aged 50, in November 1999.
Stewart Home is the author of sixteen published books of fiction and cultural commentary. He also pursues feuds as a form of performance art, regularly exhibits in art galleries, and went on "Art Strike" during the early 1990s. He recently sold his archive documenting twenty years of these "anti-actions" to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Today's Buzzwords entry comes courtesy of Richard Marshall. The photo is by Richard H. Smith.
WILL SELF IN WONDERLAND 06/18/2001
Nicholas wroe has interviewed Will self in The Guardian: "It comes as little surprise to learn that the Self family library, when Will was growing up, was wide-ranging, large and jumbled. 'You got Jane Austen next to John Updike next to Laura Ingles Wilder,' he recalls. 'So it was easy as a child who was a voracious reader to leapfrog from children's books to adult books and back again.'" Will Self explains that the book that really influenced him was Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. He was recently asked to write the introduction to a new edition: "'All the hallmarks of the way my fictional sensibility developed are in there: obsessions with scale, sacrificing the sensible in favour of the intelligible or vice versa, preoccupations with transmogrification and with different levels of reality.'" The English novelist goes on to explain that he never wanted to read English at uni since criticism "'seemed inimical to what it was to be a writer, which is what I really wanted to be.'" He is currently completing a screenplay of The Picture of Dorian Gray set in the 1980s gay scene. Don't foget to check out Spike Magazine's Will Self site. A big thanks to Chris at Spike for mentioning our address change!
DOT.COM DOWNTURN 06/09/2001
Ezines are dropping like flies left, right and centre. The most worrying trend is that the latest casualties are the most established online journals. Feed Magazine have announced that they are ceasing publication for the time being: “Six years and three weeks ago FEED was born. Six years on the web is a long time, and the anniversary would be a cause for celebration had we not also run into what is commonly referred to as the ‘economic downturn’ or ‘dot.com fall out’ or ‘the burst bubble’ or also, our favorite, ‘the return to reality.’ We all know that lots of investors lost their senses in the late 90s, dispensing money like Pez candy to all sorts of people with all sorts of ideas related to the internet, most of them bad. Here at FEED, we were too incompetent and also, to give ourselves a little credit, too sensible to secure tens of millions in financing for our web site. We maintained that there is a certain organic scale to web sites and internet companies -- really to any enterprise whatever its purpose -- and that FEED was by nature a small business that, under the right circumstances, could be a profitable one. Believing that alone FEED was not big enough to support a full ad sales team and business staff, we merged with Suck and formed Automatic Media, Inc. about a year ago. Most of you know this. In January, Automatic Media created Plastic.com -- an eight-week process from conception to launch -- which was the heart of the Plastic network. From many perspectives Plastic has been a wild success, and wanting a piece of the action, FEED co-opted some Plastic DNA and formed the Filter section. All this we did in a climate not unlike those mini-ice ages that set in periodically, causing mass migration, starvation and death. [S]adly, we are feeling the effects of the recent chill. While we still very much believe that content on the web can support itself, Automatic Media is not able to succor us until we see that day. As of today, we are in suspended animation, cooled to a temperature at which our metabolic rate is near zero. We'll be posting some reruns this summer and looking for a new home. We hope to find one and continue on in some fashion. And we will be so lucky to work with such a talented dedicated crew again. We wish we were able to turn all the good wishes and kudos and thanks into cold hard cash but, in the absence of such a technology, we bid you instead what we hope is a temporary goodbye.” Another online heavyweight, Salon, reports: “Two of the Net's oldest and best-known original content sites, Feed and Suck, ceased operations Friday when their parent company, Automatic Media, announced that it had run out of cash. ‘We are effectively going into a kind of suspended animation state,’ said Steven Johnson, co-editor in chief of Feed. Johnson founded the site with his counterpart Stefanie Syman in May 1995. . . . Sam Lipsyte, a writer and editor for the site from 1995 to 2000, said, ‘I think a lot of people saw it coming, but I just think it's sad. Six years later, there really is not a lot of smart writing on the Web.’ . . . According to Johnson, the three sites -- Plastic, Suck and Feed -- draw ‘just shy of a million users a month’ and cost about $50,000 a month to run. While the apparent demise of Feed and Suck is sure to generate speculation about the viability of original online content, Johnson sees the Plastic model of user-generated content as the Web's future. ‘That's why we started Plastic. We think that's really what works on the Web. I wish that we'd had a little bit more runway to provethat's what works on the Web.’
Salon itself is in dire straits according to The Guardian: “Does anybody out there want to buy a respected magazine with a great brand name and 3.5m monthly readers? Quick sale preferred. All bids considered. The answer, if you happen to be Salon.com, one of the original general interest webzines, appears to be no. The San Francisco-based magazine, which includes Garrison Keillor and Camille Paglia among its roster of columnists, is struggling to stay alive. Its attempts to find a fat corporate sugar daddy have come to nought as its losses have continued to mount in the past few months. Its woes suggest that the media adage ‘content is king’ is fine until the kingdom starts running out of cash. Investors, who gave themselves a lot of credit for financing an online magazine back in the 1990s, would be far happier today if there were a willing invader. Salon lost $5.5m in the first three months of this year, bringing its annual losses to almost $20m. Multiply that by six for the number of years the company has been up and running and you can see why the original band of investors -- dubbed ‘angels’ for their desire to finance unknown start-ups -- are beginning to feel devilishly unhappy. Time is also running out. Like so many dot.coms that rushed to list on the US stock exchange to take advantage of the craze for internet shares in 1999, Salon has seen its value plummet in the past 12 months. Since the beginning of February, Salon has become a penny stock: its shares are trading at less than $1. When the company first listed, its shares rose as high as $9, valuing the entire group at about $135m. With a stock market value of less than $5m today, Salon is in danger of being kicked off the once-hot Nasdaq stock exchange because its low value makes it a pointless investment.
GUILLAUME GETS HITCHED! 06/09/2001
On June 9, 3am Magazine contributor, writer, academic and erstwhile neo-Hydropathe Guillaume Destot betrothed Kim-Da. The whole team wishes them a very happy life together.
THE BOOK OF DISQUIET 06/06/2001
A new English edition of Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet has just been published by Allen Lane / The Penguin Press (Richard Zenith is the author of the translation). In The Observer, George Steiner writes: “Was 18 March 1914 the most extraordinary date in modern literature? On that day, Fernando Antonio Nogueira Pessoa (1888-1935) took a sheet of paper, went to a tall chest of drawers in his room and began to write standing up, as he customarily did. 'I wrote 30-odd poems in a kind of trance whose nature I cannot define. It was the triumphant day of my life, and it would be impossible to experience such a one again.' Other poets, notably Rilke, have experienced such hours of explosive prodigality. But Pessoa's case is different and, probably, unique. The first set of poems was by one 'Alberto Caeiro' -- 'my Master had appeared inside me.' The next six were composed by Pessoa struggling against the 'inexistence' of Caeiro. But Caeiro had disciples, one of whom, 'Ricardo Reis', contributed further poems. A fourth individual 'burst impetuously on the scene. In one fell swoop, at the typewriter, without hesitation or correction, there appeared the "Ode Triumphal" by "Alvaro de Campos" -- the Ode of that name and the man with the name he now has.' Pseudonymous writing is not rare in literature or philosophy (Kierkegaard provides a celebrated instance). 'Heteronyms', as Pessoa called and defined them, are something different and exceedingly strange. For each of his 'voices', Pessoa conceived a highly distinctive poetic idiom and technique, a complex biography, a context of literary influence and polemics and, most arrestingly of all, subtle interrelations and reciprocities of awareness. Octavio Paz defines Caeiro as 'everything that Pessoa is not and more'. . . . It was to Bernardo Soares that Pessoa ascribed his Book of Disquiet, first made available in English in a briefer version by Richard Zenith in 1991. The translation is at once penetrating and delicately observant of Pessoa's astute melancholy. What is this Livro do Desassossego? Neither 'commonplace book', nor 'sketchbook', nor 'florilegium' will do. Imagine a fusion of Coleridge's notebooks and marginalia, of Valery's philosophic diary and of Robert Musil's voluminous journal. Yet even such a hybrid does not correspond to the singularity of Pessoa's chronicle. Nor do we know what parts thereof, if any, he ever intended for publication in some revised format. . . . Throughout, Pessoa is aware of the price he pays for his heteronomity. 'To create, I've destroyed myself... I'm the empty stage where various actors act out various plays.' . . . Yet there are also epiphanies and passages of deep humour. . . . A sort of critical, self-mocking surrealism surfaces: 'To have touched the feet of Christ is no excuse for mistakes in punctuation.'”
ORANGE PRIZE 2001 06/06/2001
Australian author Kate Grenville (51) has won the £30,000, women-only Orange prize for fiction with her novel The Idea of Perfection.
BILL POSTING 06/06/2001
The “Talmudic Wizard of Amsterdam” -- William Levy -- has got “a word flurry going…under the heading ‘Solidarity with McVeigh?’” in Exquisite Corpse’s Corpse Cafe. Mr Levy writes “As the countdown continues, it might be interesting to hear (see) some comments on his dramatic propaganda of the deed. Here's my shot:
WHAT CAUSES PURPLE?
If only advocates of
Would support gun
And gun slingers
defend free speech.
They'd be a divnine
rifles and ridicule.
That's the stuff"
Bang Bono Bang:
Timothy James McVeigh
le nouveau avant
He goes on to quote Blaise Cendrars whose play, Gilles de Rais appears (translated by Mark Spitzer) in the current issue of the Corpse: “One of my all-time favorite (fictive) stories of unbound (revolutionary) lust is from Blaise Cendrars’ Moravagine, the part about Mascha Uptschak--who like me is a Litvak. In that same chapter Cendrars claims: ‘Art, religions, doctrines, laws and immortality itself are nothing but weapons invented by men to resist the universal prestige of women. Alas, these vain attempts are and always will be without the slightest effect, for woman triumphs over all abstractions.’”
ANARCHY IN SHANGHAI 06/05/2001
A couple of months ago, we drew your attention to Wei Hui’s novel, Shanghai Baby which had just been published in France. It hits the bookshops in England (published by Constable & Robinson) on June 28. Wei Hui is 27. Her sex, drugs and rock’n’roll novel was banned 18 months ago along with her four, previously-published collections of short stories. 40,000 copies of the book were publicly burned by the authorities and her publisher was closed down. Since then some 13m copies have been distributed throughout the country on the underground circuit!
TROCCHI ON FILM 06/04/2001
Scottish actor Ewan McGregor who starred in the film version of Trainspotting is to appear in David MacKenzie’s adaptation of Alexander Trocchi’s cult classic Young Adam. Trocchi was born in Glasgow in 1925 and died in 1984. He mixed with people like Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jean Genet and Samuel Beckett and is often considered as a Scottish existentialist or beat. Canongate, who publish his works, write that Trocchi gained “notoriety in Britain for his open approach to drugs, pornography and prostitution.” Young Adam, published in 1957, was Trocchi’s first novel. It was compared to Camus’ The Outsider.