March 30, 2007

Attack of the Giant 50s Thatcher Babe

I'm posting this up again cos it fell off the front page and it's just so.. bright and, er... colourful. I don't think my reputation at Faber has ever recovered from insisting that the pin-up's hair had to be more Thatcherite... but it was for thematic reasons! Not because... oh God, no. How could they think that..???

In other news, happened across a quite amazing archive of poets reading their poetry at Pennsounds - the University of Pennsylvania's online resource for, uh, poets reading their poetry. Obviously something of a US bias but if you're interested in hearing Mayakovsky, Apollinaire, WC Williams, Robert Creeley, Tom Raworth etc etc, you 're in luck. Oh, it also contains a quite hysterically awful version of Blake's "Songs of Innocence and Experience". Sung. By Allen Ginsberg. Lovely man, I'm sure, but could he hold a tune..?

March 21, 2007

Cold Lampin'

Not really got owt to say for myself so here is a picture of my stylish light source in the glamorous writing bunker I call Sick Building Syndrome. Stuck on the wall behind is the gigantic chart on which I scrawled ideas etc for my re-writes on my (old) new book. And now that's done and delivered I've taken the paper down. I miss it. It made it look like I was working...

March 19, 2007

Chris Ware Is In The Building

Chris Ware's new book, "Building Stories," has been being serialised in the IoS for a few months now but, for some odd reason, I keep forgetting to read it. But it turns out you can find the whole thing so far online here. There's something rather beautiful about looking at all the pages laid out as thumbnails and seeing how he changes the colour scheme and the way the boxes fit together month to month. Being as it's Chris Ware it looks amazing and centres on loneliness and a mountain of small sorrows. Going back to an earlier post, surely influenced by Monsieur Georges..?

Foot Notes

Michael Foot was on t'radio this morning, reminding me of what a wonderful individual he is (though I was a little stunned by how much faith he seems to place in Goldon Brown). Ah, the glorious days of the early eighties when Thatch whipped Labour's arse, but at least we knew we were right (definitively and absolutely)... Anyway, Today are streaming the full interview online, but unfortunately you have to find it on the site as they don't seem to believe in offering direct links. Fools.

March 15, 2007

Their Office, no.3

"I used to be like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah,' but now I'm like, 'Yeah.'" Pause."'You did fight in a war. For freedom... and rights... and all that kinda stuff.'"

March 14, 2007

Darkness Returns

I've abandoned my ill-advised flirtation with a red, gold and green website at least until Jah contacts me personally. The moral of this story is - customisation is for buffoons.

Brightness Falls

As you can see, I've fallen foul of the urge to "customise" my blog, with the result that it looks fucking horrible. Whoops.

Andrew Holmes has started the Secret Santa mixtape exchange festivities again. The first couple of reviews suggest an authorial bloodsport. It's not pretty. Neither my review or the review of my cd has yet been posted. Gulp.

March 13, 2007

March 04, 2007

Perec Anniversary

It was only by chance that I discovered that yesterday (Saturday March 3rd) was the 25th anniversary of the death of Georges Perec (Wednesday 7th is the 71st anniversary of his birth). I've rootled around a little on the internet but there seems to be nothing in the way of new tributes to the man and his remarkable work, even in French. I would have thought that this sad jubilee was worth marking in some way, so here are my thoughts, for what they're worth.

Georges Perec is, for me, one of the most important authors I've read. I can think of few other writers who combined formal innovation with emotional clout so effortlessly, so that nothing in his work ever seemed gratuitous or there for show. Or who were so self-effacing and generous to their readers, so that, despite an underlying note of sadness, you can take his books almost as you want.

But more personally than this, Perec occupies a crucial place for me as he rescued me as a wannabe-writer from a trap of my own making. In my time as a student I became increasingly obsessed by the strand of modernism that seemed to find its final expression in the late work of Samuel Beckett, the slow boiling down of language that led to "Worstward Ho," "All Strange Away" and, in particular, "Ill Seen Ill Said." I wanted to write but couldn't see where the room was left for me and, in particular, my desperate story-telling urges, which seemed a little vulgar when set against, "White walls. High time. White as new. No wind. Not a breath."

A friend of mine showed me "Life: A User's Manual" just after I left college and suddenly I could sense something like a way forward - a way to fold endless stories and tales in on themselves without sacrificing any of the rigour or, indeed, the emotional weight of those austere short novels I had been so affected by. It's probably the only book I've consistently re-read over the following seventeen years and each time I return to it I find new ways to view it, different aspects of its construction becoming clear, even the compulsive imagining of seventies furnishings becoming increasingly poignant as they (and I) age. As a writer I've failed again and again to come anywhere near the formal beauty of any of Perec's hugely broad body of work, the quality of its writing and, perhaps most damningly, the generosity of its vision. He remains a (profoundly humbling) inspiration.

March 02, 2007

Fresan on Bolano

Those clever bastards at The Believer only give you the start of the articles online and then get you to buy the magazine. And I thought they were meant to be charitable or sutt'n? Anyway, there's the beginning of an essay by Rodrigo Fresan on Roberto Bolano up there at the moment and the opening is so good that I guess I'll have no choice but to purchase. I was lucky enough to meet Rodrigo Fresan after his excellent Kensington Gardens was published in English a year or two ago and he spent a considerable part of the evening extolling the virtues of Bolano, which was how I first came across his writing. You have no choice but to believe, I'm afraid...

What The Girl In The Headscarf Said Into Her Phone Whilst Riding The 69 Bus

You’re fuckin disgustin you are -
'Couldn’t handle 16 inches'.
Fuck off -
'What would ya do for twenty pound'!
She paused for laughter, then