ALISTAIR GENTRY :
GLOBALIZATION OR GLOBALISATION?
ANDREW GALLIX ASKS ALISTAIR GENTRY IF GLOBALIZ(S)ATION IS HAVING AN IMPACT ON LITERATURE
A SHORT ANSWER
A SLIGHTLY LONGER ANSWER
To give a short answer to a question that could be (and I'm sure has been) unpacked and picked apart at book length:
PRISSY RED PEN ANNOTATIONS
To give a slightly longer answer:
Yes, and quite right too. Literature is acting like any healthy cultural artefact does. It's absorbing new material, eating itself and vomiting up new work, reaching out for new brains to live in and new ways to speak. The only static art forms are dead ones, just like the only cultures not in flux are long dead.
ENGLISH WITH ITS HAIRY ARSE HANGING OUT
One of the worrying things about globalisation is actually more about Americanisation, and the proliferation via software of a pusilanimous, non-litigious, euphemistic form of American English where confrontation and difference become (1984-style) unspeakable and therefore unthinkable (e.g. the heinous Microsoft Word with its prissy red pen annotations).
But even this kind of unpleasantness helps us in a way, because it feeds the growing worldwide realisation that the international military-industrial-entertainment complex is bad for all but a tiny
minority of us, and lethal for many of us. We've got what we need from them. Thanks for the internet. Thanks for the computer I'm writing this on. Thanks for the CDs. We know how to make them now. Oh and close the door on your way out, capitalists.
100 BLACK BOXES
I love standard English, in all it's ponderous glory, but I don't want it to the exclusion of other versions. I want more English, I want patois and pidgin and slang and idiom and accents. I want to see English in its best party frock, and I want to see English with its hairy arse
hanging out. I want English smashed, reassembled, excavated, in archaic forms and futuristic ones, I want it mangled into Japlish T-shirt slogans and virtually incomprehensible Anime subtitles. Now I'm plugged into the world, I can get English how I want it, and thousands of ways I don't. And I still spell globalise with a UK s, not a US z.
100 Black Boxes is funded by a cultural body with specific responsibility for the east of England, where I live. It is rooted in that, and in my experiences in England, in Britain, the evidence of my ears and eyes. Apart from being dead. Obviously I haven't experienced that.
100 Black Boxes is full of British slang and idiom. It's a truism that readers in the UK, USA, Australia and NZ have their own language barriers amongst themselves, despite nominally speaking the same language. They get it. 100 Black Boxes not only has enthusiastic readers in places where English is virtually an official second language - such as the Netherlands and Scandinavia - but also in Latin America and the Pacific rim. They get 100 Black Boxes too, just as much as the people who read it in the public library ten miles from my house. It's even recently been covered by the online supplement of Zona Contacto, a Chilean newspaper (http://www.elmercurio.com).
Alistair Gentry is a very talented young playwright and novelist from England. He was born in 1973 and lives in a "windswept, forgotten British seaside resort where he claims never to have had a proper job." His two novels, Their Heads Are Anonymous (1997) and Monkey Boys (1999) were both published by Pulp Books. His short stories appear in several Pulp Faction anthologies : Fission (1996), Random Factor (1997) and Allnighter. Alistair Gentry is the author of several stage plays like Spines (1997), Lucky Cows (1997) and To the East (1998). His radio play, The Unclear Age , won a Young Playwright of the Year award in 1995. He is currently working on a new hypertext project which follows the aforementioned 100 Black Boxes (100 short stories posted online between 1999 and 2000):
"At the moment I'm writing for my new web project, The Nothings. It's set in a port in the 21st century, and it's going to be a kind of literary Lego that can be stuck together in various ways to make a coherent novel. A coherent novel by my standards, anyway. The relationships of the characters are also modular to some extent. Dangerous to say it, but hopefully it'll be up by the end of this summer." Like 100 Black Boxes, The Nothings is funded by the UK's Eastern Arts Board.
Check out Alistair Gentry's fascinating website:
100 Black Boxes is currently online at :
You can also read some extracts from Mr Gentry's works on the Pulp Faction site :
3 A.M. Magazine will review The Nothings as soon as it goes online.
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