Monday, December 3, 2012

THE KING OF A RAINY COUNTRY

 

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

BRITAIN'S FOREMOST LITERARY SHREW


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.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

UNLIKELY STORIES, MOSTLY

I merrily dashed the last dregs of from a magic pot o' cash across the Indian subcontinent. Because: sheep/lamb, etc. Other, less magic, pot arrived mercifully quickly. Writing of the tooth-extracting and non-tooth-extracting kind continues, of course. Details to follow.

But! In the realisation of several girlhood dreams I am a radio announcer, now. For a bit. It's all these flat vowels ever wanted. Listen to or-bits.com's 128 kbps objects here 'til Sunday. 




Monday, May 7, 2012

IT'S AN IDEA


Phew! Back just in time for the dawn of a new socialist Europe and a showboating moon.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

HULLNESS

If nothing else, at least I've located the sweet spot where West Hull meets downtown New York:

LEARNING TO LIVE ON YOUR OWN

Should you ever find yourself on a month-long research trip-slash-wild goose chase in the Midwest in pursuit of a forty-years dead writer from whom your critical distance has lapsed to such an extent that you are convinced that, like Oedipa Maas, you are being subjected to an elaborate web of posthumous booby traps, wherein you remain in almost total isolation for four weeks, attempt to read 47 novels (mostly all at the same time), become addicted to the Food Network whilst eating mainly stale taco shells and wasabi peas and spend much of your time tramping up and down freeways since that’s what you like to do when you are in America, and you find that Glenn Branca plus Fox News does not rouse you sufficiently enough to take it all out on the gym’s elliptical machine, then I recommend silencing the rattling inside your head by listening to Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson which, like alchemy, will soundtrack the up-lit marble atria, limestone and Frank Lloyd Wright-lite of your temporary home into a tense Soderbergh corporate thriller of your very own creation.

Then you’ll be like Catherine Zeta Jones or something rather than this hot, mildly-coddled woman who has her photocopies, her 27 new polyester thrift-store scores, her sunburn and far more esoteric paperbacks than will ever fit in her tiny broken suitcase, and would like to bugger off home and scoff a whole block of mature cheddar and enjoy some actual human company as soon as possible, please. Ta.








Monday, April 16, 2012

PAGING ROBBE-GRILLET

Typical. Cards of Identity* is, quite lidderally, disintegrating between my very fingers.

*Some excellent British post-war weirdness from the back bedroom of the house of fiction, to be filed alongside Rex Warner, William Sansom, Rayner Heppenstall and those lads. Available, I am duty-bound to add, in full and pristine condition at Dalkey Archive Press.

Monday, April 9, 2012

BECOMING RICHER AND DEEPER



So, I'm doing that thing again where I go to the Midwest and gawp at things for a bit. It's a bit like academic orienteering, or, well, Challenge Anneka. I'm here to dig through the archives of publishers Calder and Boyars, and, you know, seek inner peace in near-total monastic isolation, probably/most likely polish off the 70,000 remaining words of my PhD thesis, concoct half-baked cultural generalisations, complain about the food and the rest. Items in my "America is So Weird" dossier thus far include Deepak Chopra on the Fox News breakfast programme, advising viewers that the best defence against the global financial crisis is to ask oneself: "What makes me a unique human being?". Yesterday morning I was roused gently from my slumber by a television infomercial for the Brazilian Butt Lift fitness DVD, comprising the "Bum Bum" and the special bonus disc of the "Bum Bum Rapido". You can imagine the effect the tagline Higher! Tighter! Rounder! Perkier! had on my delicate hypnagogic state.

Spent Easter Sunday like a crochety toddler in flip flops, chewing my editor's red pen and squirming in my seat. Making a yah-boo-sucks face at Microsoft Word, letting the Chicago Manual of Style "have a rest" in the microwave (I'm a really excellent editor, though. Honestly. Employ me!). Wondering, idly, will this ever end-slash-will this ever start. And, as usual, now it's past eleven and I'm macro-photographing my extremely picturesque (if, like me, you're an incorrigible perv for a well-lit staircase) towel rail and thinking, yes, I could probably-definitely re-read the entire oeuvre of Jim Crace before bed. More as it comes in...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

THE ABSOLUTE RESOLUTION TO GET ON WITH THE TASK IN HAND

Fred Inglis on Raymond Williams:
Williams' prose, as the last pages of The Fight for Manod bring out, registers the deep difficulty of knowing what to do: of keeping your being and your culture, your feelings and your history in sufficient union, for you to be able to shake off sheer fatigue and bitter frustration, and know what your purposes are. Williams' power is to bring out the real meanings of that experience without glossing its obscurity, indeed at times insisting with a rare and moving honesty that it is the obscurity of experience which has to be lived with, in your body and soul, and sorted out, a bit at a time and as best you can, in terms of everyday life and work and encounter. The grappling with obscurity in his work is always brave and sustained, even if what he takes for granted as the clarities and certainties look a lot less convincing to others than he takes them to be. But it is far more than expressing the self-importance of the over-theoretic and powerless intellectual in the still comfortable West to say that Williams is one of the trio of men whose attention to the possibilities of understanding and action made imaginable by Marxist Socialism, with its tense claims to the status of science and redemptive doctrine, allied to their living a real, visible life in the polity, who mark the spot at which thought becomes valid and valuable action - that sequence of moments Marxists themselves call praxis. 
And a reminder:
...the idea of the university is powerless without the material realities of membership and friendship, as well as the rather harder and more wintry virtues of solitary independence, resistance, doggedness, and the absolute resolution to get on with the task in hand and are not to be bought out by the cosy privileges and soft snobberies which are still amply available to bright young-to-middle-aged academics. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

THE VARIED FATE OF THE LAST BATTERY HEN IN PITY ME, CO. DURHAM

If it was true that when last night before his desk he sat head on veiny forearms, a very young man though ordinarily as capable as most people at that moment as helpless as most people, until Honey called from the other room – the bedroom – it was the third time, Come to bed, without getting an answer for the third time, and again, Come to bed, and he raised his head, roared, NO, then lowered it onto his fist propped elbow on desk, staring at his blank page with an expression that looked like the mask of misery, saying to himself, it’s like being in space so empty you don’t even know whether you’re there, trying to describe what was happening so it would stop happening, this paralysis, to call it a paralysis, because he would know what to think about it and more important, what to feel about it, and she came to the door of the bedroom and moaned, What are you doing? In her blue pyjamas and the single long braid of thick brown hair that she slept in coming over her shoulder, falling like a brush between her breasts, sleepy, cranky, eyes half closed and cheeks flushed from the warmth of bed, and he answered, I’m laying an egg, she opened her eyes to a wide fuzzy, unfocused, sleepy, guileless brown, asking, You’re what?

-The Permanent Crisis, Ronald Sukenick

(Because I am too eternally grateful and delighted to be here to bitch n' moan about the minor inconveniences incurred whilst playing football for a living.)