Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Gustav Metzgers of Gentrification

On any given day I am, you might say, somewhat susceptible to feeling like I've unwittingly waded into some Pynchonian metaphysical quagmire. And thus it follows that I've been trying to work out what's going on in this photo of a cottage 30ft away from the rapidly-eroding cliffs at Aldbrough on the Holderness Coast ever since I took it last Sunday.

What could move the occupier (or someone else?) to pin such a computer printout to their door? Have they been visited by prospecting gentrifiers eager to stake a claim on this overlooked patch of coast? There would have to have been a few of them, surely, to warrant a pre-emptive sign. And these must be gentrifiers of a pretty rare bent, since by my calculations this section of coast is disappearing at the rate of one house every two years and the cottage is only two doors from the cliff's edge.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ingrid Meinz Syndrome

So there I was, feet marinating in a puddle, bicycle turning to rust and I said WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THE SUMMER, ARE YOU GOING TO GET SOME SUN? and she said, No I'll be working at home, I have six deadlines for articles I'm writing and twelve books on my shelves I haven't glanced at and a major deadline for a peer reviewed journal so I guess I'll have to open a tin of soup and spend the summer on an uncomfortable chair at my desk with my head down. And I thought, you know Ingrid Meinz THIS IS REALLY NOT VERY SEXY. You are intelligent and this should make you sexy, you are an independent attractive woman earning your living and this should make you sexy but you are not. How are you ever going to grab your self some LOVE with that tone of voice and that tin of soup. How much SEXIER if she had said, even though it might be impossible... OH YES I WANT TO GO ON HOLIDAY MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, I WANT TO TAKE OFF ALL MY CLOTHES AND LIE IN THE SUN... now that's better, she might even stand a chance of someone saying gosh can I come with you? She could have said, I CAN'T GO TO THE SUN THIS YEAR BUT I WILL BE GOING TO KEW GARDENS TO MASTURBATE IN THE ORCHID HOUSE, now that would be evidence of some humour lurking inside Ingrid Meinz, or EVEN if she'd said, I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT CATCHING UP ON THE BOOKS I HAVEN'T HAD TIME TO READ - that would have been an improvement. But as it was she stood there SO INVOLVED WITH HERSELF she did not even notice I was soaked and by this time I was shivering and had lost the momentum that helps a girl cycle the last four miles in the rain so I said good bye and good luck with her deadlines and slowly turned the pedals up the hill, and I thought I will have to call this encounter the Ingrid Meinz Syndome. [...] The Ingrid Meinz Syndrome describes an illness that means every time you open your mouth to speak the world turns grey.
                                                                                                                                            - Deborah Levy, "Conversations with Famous Artists"

Friday, August 23, 2013


Jim Crace has just had a very close shave. ‘This time last year I abandoned a book. I’d sold it in America and in Britain, I’d spent the money, they’d want the money back. We’d lose the house. It was a really, really serious situation,’ he remembers. ‘You always think, don’t lose your nerve, persevere . . . And in the past it’s always worked.’ This time it didn’t.  ‘I thought I’d lost my mojo. I thought, “I’ve got a copy date, I’ve got to deliver a book at Christmas. I haven’t got a book to write.” I was in deep shit. That was on the Tuesday. I started Harvest on the Friday.’ He mimes wiping sweat from his brow. ‘So I wrote that book in six months and I delivered it on the same day that I should have delivered the old one. Bloody hell, I thought, that was a narrow escape. I felt like some kid in a boy’s comic: “Phew! That was a close one.”’

Monday, March 25, 2013


Totally beside myself with DELIGHT to say that THIS is happening. Pat Waugh and I have brought together some excellent dudes, inc. China MiƩville, Stewart Home, Jim Crace, Maureen Freely and Vic Sage, to argue the toss about the future of the British novel. There's finger pointing, doomsaying, soothsaying and some enthusiastic repping of the GOOD LADS. And it has an extremely delectable cover by Jamie George. Buy here.


Monday, December 3, 2012



Look at this! Total thrills! Friday was the launch of Coelacanth Press' brilliant reprint of the novelist and critic Brigid Brophy's raucous and rangy 1956 forgotten classic, The King of a Rainy Country, afterword by yours truly, chiz chiz. Details here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Honoured (honoured, honoured) to have been asked to provide an Afterword for The Coelacanth Press' brilliant republication of Brigid Brophy's 1956 novel, King of a Rainy Country. She's a right one, that B.B. Here's what they say at The Coelacanth:

The Coelacanth Press, founded in 2008 and having released seven issue so far of its cult journal, releases its first book title in November 2012. Continuing the press’ ethos of uncovering the forgotten (either in the present of the past) their first book is Brigid Brophy’s “The King of a Rainy Country”.

As Ali Smith writes in endorsement of this edition, ‘This pitch-perfect novel, an inquiry into romanticism and disaffection, is witty, unexpectedly moving and a revelation again of Brophy’s originality. Entirely of its time, it remains years ahead of itself even now, nearly 60 years later, in its emotional range and its intellectual and formal blend of stoicism and sophistication.’
The Coelacanth Press has commission one of today’s best visual artist, - Bonnie Camplin – to provide the perfect package for the reintroduction of this text now ripe for re-evaluation. 

It's out on Monday 19th November and available, as they say, in all good bookshops. More here.