Friday, February 2, 2007

So, farewell then…

As regular readers have probably noticed by now, activity on the STML Litblog has been noticeable by its absence for some time now. Because there’s nothing less impressive than an inactive blog, I’ve decided to go into mothballs for the foreseeable future.

This is a real sadness for me personally, and I would like to think for a few of you, as it’s been fun. I’ve had a personal blog in one shape or another since 1998, and I like the format: I’ve had fun writing it, I’ve started some really interesting conversations, and I’ve met a lot of interesting people; but I’ve no intention of continuing to run what is essentially a vanity project when I can’t keep it running at a respectable level.

Events have taken over, and other activities have taken a higher precendence. I’ll continue to run the main shorttermmemoryloss.com as a personal project, and I intend to revamp the site shortly to better reflect my current interests. I hope some of you will keep on visiting, and keeping in touch via stml at stml.com. I’ll also continue to blog at booktwo.org, my site focussing on the various convergences of technology and literature, and I’m going to be contributing regularly to 3:AM Magazine’s Buzzwords blog, as well as performing editorial duties for the magazine.

Never say die, and a resurrection may occur at some future point, but for now this blog will no longer be updated, although it will be maintained as an archive, to the best of my ability. For those hungry for more book-related blog material, may I suggest BritLitBlogs for all your litblog-related needs.

To those who’ve dropped by, contributed, commented or just read this site over the years, thank you. You’re too kind. See you around.

x STML


tags: Personal History | permalink | 4 Comments

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ewige Blumenkraft

Robert Anton WilsonOne of my complete, all-time, supergenii God-like heroes died yesterday. One of the few writers who succeeded in pulling my mind out through my posterior, kicked it around the room, and stuffed it back in the wrong (or perhaps the right?) way round, filled with new and glittering ideas. Robert Anton Wilson, co-author of the mighty Illuminatus! Trilogy, and its blinding appendix, the Principia Discordia, author of Cosmic Trigger, Prometheus Rising, the Schrödinger’s Cat trilogy, and a host of other thrilling, mind-bending, confusing and enlightening literature died at home after a long illness.

If you’ve never read Wilson, it’s hard to imagine the sheer density of knowledge, wordplay and allusion present in his work – although a Joyce fixation gives some clues – or the humour of the man. I for one still believe that Dolphins can not only talk, they can travel through time and have created a canon of epic poetry that far exceeds our own in emotion and complexity. Wilson revelled in invented and revealed religions, most notably Discordianism, and formulated endless libertarian, anarchist manifestoes, including the resounding Celine’s laws. He taught me to laugh, question, and look for the fnords. I’ll try and post some of the best jokes over the weekend.

Wavy Gravy once asked a Zen Roshi, “What happens after death?”
The Roshi replied, “I don’t know.”
Wavy protested, “But you’re a Zen Master!”
“Yes,” the Roshi admitted, “but I’m not a dead Zen Master.”

Every man and every woman is a Pope. Hail Eris!

[UPDATE] So, I never did post those jokes, but if you want to know more about RAW, this article is a good place to start – links to obits, remembrances and more.


tags: Authors + Death + Personal History | permalink | 1 Comment

Friday, December 29, 2006

Books of the Year 2006

As usual, everyone else is doing it, and noone asked us. Which is fine, because we couldn’t possibly pick a winner – plus we only read about three books this year that weren’t published by friends. So. Here’s an informal, unordered list of books we read in the last few months, that we enjoyed, that didn’t make it into these pages but that we’d recommend, and, in some cases, why:

The Mad Man
Samuel Delany’s The Mad Man (1994) was conceived as a grand Fuck You to apologetic novels about the gay experience in the age of AIDS: as the protagonist John Marr researches deeper into the life of a former professor, he finds himself increasingly drawn towards his mentor’s sexual practices, which seem to have been assiduously erased from the impressions gathered from even his closest friends. The book sets out to catalogue, Sade-style, the most extreme excesses of dirty sex – sex with homeless men, foot fetishism, piss sex, shit sex – and to find in them as much validation and humanity as any other sexuality. Delany’s prose is frequently disturbing to the point of nauseousness, even for hardened readers such as us, but his genius is never in doubt. Must read more Delany: a new book, Dark Reflections – his first full-length novel since Mad Man – is due next year.

Handke

Earlier in the year, I read two novels by Peter Handke, Across (1983) and Absence (1987). This was prompted by the repeated entreaties of Steve at This Space and Mark at RSB, who both claimed him as one of the unacclaimed and unfairly maligned greats. So. I wanted to like them, but they really got under my skin. There was something extraordinarily loveless about them – not just misanthropy, but a real self-hatred, and a kind of sexless passion. There’s also a terrible dichotomy of a writer who clearly hates modernity and its embodiment in America, but longs for wide-open spaces, grand vistas and a very American kind of freedom. I didn’t write about this then because I didn’t want to judge a prolific writer on the contents of two (oldish) novels – and they have stuck in my mind more strongly than much else I’ve read this year, so I expect I will return…

What to say about J-K Huysmans’ A Rebours (‘Against Nature’) except: tortoises, tortoises, tortoises. The STML family seat has a tortoise, named by the Grande Dame ‘Milly’, for the Millennium Dome, as it was acquired in the year of our Lord Blair, and is fed each day with live snails crushed by the matriarchal foot – a truly horrendous procedure. We also spent some time this year on the Twain-blessed isle of Mauritius, home to one of the finest specimens of Giant Tortu found upon the earth: a most magnificent specimen (more of this later). But nothing can compare to Huysmans’:

Against Nature

The tortoise was the result of a fancy which had occurred to him shortly before leaving Paris. Looking one day at an Oriental carpet aglow with iridescent colours, and following with his eyes the silvery glints running across the weft of the wool, which was a combination of yellow and plum, he had thought what a good idea it would be to place on this carpet something that would move about and be dark enough to set off these glaming tints… Alas, there could be no doubt about it: the negro-brown tint, the raw Sienna hue of the shell, dimmed the sheen of the carpet instead of bringing out the colours… Des Esseintes accordingly decided to have his tortoise glazed with gold.

… Soon it struck him that this gigantic jewel was only half-finished and that it would not be really complete until it had been encrusted with precious stones… asparagus-green chrysobels, leek-green peridots, olive-green olivines – and these sprang from twigs of almandine and uvarovite of a purplish red, which threw out flashes of harsh, brilliant light like the scales of tarta that glitter on the insides of wine-casks.

And so on. You know the rest. Suffice to say that nothing enlivens a bus trip through Hackney more than tales of decadence, and Huysmans should be taught in schools, and downloaded to all the jewel-encrusted phones.

Corvo
From one libertine to another: A. J. A. Symons’ The Quest for Corvo: An Experiment in Biography illuminated the life of Frederick Rolfe, the sometime Baron Corvo, in ways that couldn’t help but be reminiscent both of Delany passim and of the Alexander Maitland biography of Thesiger we’ve mentioned previously. Corvo was an enigmatic figure who published a number of experimental novels and biographical sketches in the early years of the twentieth century which are now largely unknown – through no fault of the writing. But it is Rolfe – or Corvo’s – life which has come down to us, a flurry of insane wanderings, incomplete, incomprehensible battles with publishers, newspaper attacks on rivals, pleas and threats to the Catholic church which denied him a priesthood, and paeans to his beloved Venice, which gave him refuge on the glittering lagoon which finally took his life. “Make a trip with Corvo,” reads the dedication in my copy, “and life will never be the same again.” Not wrong.

Funny Books
George Saunder’s Pastoralia and, for shame, David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day have been our humours these long cold months: one read by part in baths from here to January, the other read aloud, stoned, in a cottage in Sussex – all funny books should be consumed like this. George Saunders’ tellings of an American hinterland entirely populated by low-wage actors enacting historical dioramas is especially brilliant: somewhere, in a valley in the great South-East, there are people living day to day in their Separate Areas, Thinking Positive / Saying Positive, and, when the crunch comes, pretending to catch and eat small bugs. In fact, when the time comes, and there’s no goat in the chute, they actually catch and eat small bugs. Not to be missed.

Q

Luther Blissett’s Q kept us going for several days in a hammock: a rollicking read of surprising thud and blunder in the sixteenth century as the forces of the reformation and the counter-reformation rage across central Europe. Sure, you’ve probably all read it before, but we’d been meaning to for ages and the sheer horror, bloodshed and sacrifice carried us away. What’s wonderful about this book is the way that the contemporary politics of the authors shine through the devastation of the period: all utopias are immanent at all times, and need only the raised voice of the believer to be called forth, even if they end upon the wheel. Stewart Home puts it better, but, gottverdammt, this is good stuff.
Torture Taxi

And then there’s Trevor Paglen and A.C. Thompson’s Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA’s Rendition Flights. There have been a wealth of political, American books in the last few years, promising to lay bare the full scale of the abuses we – and I do mean we – are heaping upon our fellow man in the name of terror, but few do so with the honesty and dedication that this little book offers. Paglen and Thompson are investigative journalists: two individuals who set out to trace, as best they can, the outlines of a plot they fully admit are beyond the ken of civilians, but which none of us can, in all good conscience, bear to ignore. So they interview plane spotters, aircraft controllers, and the women with big hair who man the empty desks of those who make beasts of us all.

Fair warning: skip this para if you’re queasy. Now. But in a room not far from here, men are having their penises slit with razor blades in your name; electrodes are being attached to wet flesh in order to extract ‘truths’ which are disowned as worthless the next day; human beings are being broken on new wheels to provide us with a hazy sense of security which we don’t trust anyway. There are monsters abroad, and if Paglen and Thompason’s badly xeroxed boarding passes and flight plans save one man from the Dark Prison of international obscurity, they’re going to heaven. Read more books.

Adair, Vian, Conrad

Ach, we’re tired. But honourable mentions go to Gilbert Adair’s lyrical Love and Death on Long Island, which is more about a few square feet of Hampstead than we’d supposed, and kept conjuring visions of Ian McEwan panting over a box of kleenex; Conrad’s short stories in ‘Twixt Land and Sea, which painted Mauritius a darker and more heavy place than we found it (God it’s lovely, and so’s he, but diff’rently), and Boris Vian’s J’irai cracher sur vos tombes (‘I spit on your graves’) which we finally got around to reading, and which shocked and excited in the prescribed (and proscribed) measures.

We’ve read much more of course, and would like to have written more – two-thirds of the way through Alan Moore’s fantastic Lost Girls, for example, and haven’t even got started on our long-awaited Pynchon – but we’ll have to wait, and leave the rest to others. Catch us down the pub if you can. The New Year brings strange changes, and lots of work, but hey, we hope you’ve enjoyed yourselves, and hope to see you back here soon, or soonest, or whenever you can drag yourselves away. Merry Saturnalia – here’s to us.


tags: Personal History + Recommended | permalink | 5 Comments

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The wheel’s still in spin

So, this is what we have been up to:

booktwo.org

We wanted to populate it a little before opening it up to the grubby masses, and there is certainly enough there now to show it to you squeaky-clean folks. Read all about it, read what we have to say. And, for the last time, yes. We are serious about this. And we’d love to hear your thoughts, here, or there.

That said, we have no intention of letting STML die. It’s still a personal site, in case you hadn’t noticed, and we still love books. There’s been some excellent stuff on the lectern recently, incidentally, we’ve just been busy, so here’s to hoping there will be more reviews, views, tangents and dirty lit here before too long. Thank you for reading.


tags: Book 2.0 + Personal History + Publishing | permalink | 6 Comments

Friday, September 22, 2006

Not dead, only sleeping

And in honour of that get-out-of-jail-free headline, we’d like to present our favourite headstone in one of our favourite and most literary cemetaries, the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris:

[Stolen, shamelessly, from this lovely Flickr stream, but will be replaced by our own photos, and a longer post, as soon as the monkey on our shoulder has stopped trying to chew through our ear.]


tags: Death + Personal History | permalink | Comments Off on Not dead, only sleeping

Friday, August 11, 2006

Like a fiery animal of some description

‘Value This Man: the work of B.S. Johnson’ is scheduled for the evening of Thursday August 17 and will feature Jonathan Coe, Paul Tickell and David Quantick in conversation, as well as other special guests and possibly even some screenings. It all takes place from 7.30pm, upstairs at The Crown Tavern, 43 Clerkenwell Green, London EC1. The entry fee is £2.00.

Find out more over at Through A Glass Darkly.

*

In other news: together with Ben (from Splinters), Steve (from This Space), Mark (from RSB) and the eponymous Spurious, STML’s James gets annoyingly flip interviewed over at Bloggasm.


tags: Events + Personal History | permalink | Comments Off on Like a fiery animal of some description

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

The Last Of England

Dungeness

This weekend, STML and l’amant headed down to the South Coast to enjoy the balmy English summer (ha!). One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Dungeness, the strange, other-worldy headland that juts out into the English channel from Romney marsh. Dungeness is Britain’s only desert, a shingle wasteland punctuated by strange plants and even stranger human interventions.

The twin Dungeness nuclear power stations are the most obvious of these: giant, humming boxes that divide the land and slice the sky into pyloned sections. But even they cannot subdue the landscape, and more impact is made by the two lighthouses erected to warn seafarers away from the treacherous, marshy point: rising out of the flat land, they signal at least some intention to transcend rather than subdue the flattened earth.

Scattered around these trig points are the homes of the small but diverse Dungeness community: a mix of fishermen and hermits, madmen and artists seeking the last areas of seclusion on the English coast. One of these is better known than many others: Prospect Cottage, the former home of artist, writer and filmmaker Derek Jarman.

Derek Jarman's cottage and garden

Prospect Cottage is famous not only for its artistic associations and awe-inspiring setting, but for the garden that Jarman laid out in his later years, a exercise in natural sculpture that harmonises the bleak surroundings with the tenderness of home. In his journals, collected in Modern Nature, Jarman wrote:

Prospect Cottage, its timbers black with pitch, stands on the shingle at Dungeness. Built eighty years ago at the sea’s edge – one stormy night many years ago waves roared up to the front door, threatening to swallow it… Now the sea has retreated, leaving bands of shingle. You can see these clearly from the air: they fan out from the lighthouse at the tip of the Ness like contours on a map.

Prospect faces the rising sun across a road sparkling silver with sea mist. One small clump of dark green broom breaks throught the flat ochre shingle. Beyond, at the sea’s edge, are silhouetted a jumble of huts and fishing boats, and a brick kutch, long abandoned, which has sunk like a pillbox at a crazy angle; in it, many years ago, the fishermen’s nets were boiled in amber preservative.

There are no walls or fences. My garden’s boundaries are the horizon. In this desolate landscape the silence is broken only by the wind, and the gulls squabbling around the fishermen bringing in the afternoon catch.

There is more sunlight here than anywhere in Britain: this and the constant wind turn the shingle into a stony desert where only the toughest grasses take hold – paving the way for sage-green sea kale, blue bugloss, red poppy, yellow sedum.

The shingle is home to larks. In the spring I’ve counted as many as a dozen singing high above, lost in a blue sky. Flocks of greenfinches wheel past in spirals, caught in a scurrying breeze. At low tide the sea rolls back to reveal a wide sandbank, on which seabirds vanish like quicksilver as they fly close to the ground. Gulls feed alongside fishermen digging lug. When a winter storm blows up, cormorants skim the waves that roar along the Ness – throwing stones pell-mell along the steep bank.

The view from my kitchen at the back of the house is bounded to the left by the old Dungeness lighthouse, and the iron grey bulk of the nuclear reactor – in front of which dark green and gorse, bright with yellow flowers, have formed little islands in the shingle, ending in a scrubby copse of sallow and ash dwarfed and blasted by the gales.

In the middle of the copse is a barren pear tree that has struggled for a century to reach ten feet; underneath this is a carpet of violets. Gnarled dog roses guard this secret spot – where on a calm summer day meadow browns and blues congregate in their hundreds, floating past the spires of nettles thick with black tortoiseshell caterpillars.

High above a lone hawk hovers, while far away on the blue horizon the tall medieval tower of Lydd church, the cathedral of the marshes, comes and goes in the heat haze.

Dungeness Power Staion from Jarman's Garden

At the end of his last book before his death from AIDS, the polemical At Your Own Risk: A Saint’s Testament, Jarman (who has just been canonised on the beach by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence) writes:

I’m alone again. I sit watching the sun go down, peach as my grandmother’s table-cloth behind the nuclear power station. A great orange moon hangs over the sea and the winds die bringing in the night.

[…]

I am tired tonight. My eyes are out of focus, my body droops under the weight of the day, but as I leave you Queer lads let me leave you singing. I had to write of a sad time as a witness – not to cloud your smiles – please read the cares of the world that I have locked in these pages; and after, put this book aside and love. May you share of a better future, love without a care and remember we loved too. as the shadows closed in, the stars came out.

I am in love.

Dungeness Lighthouse

*

Apologies for the poor photographic skills, but you can see the full set of these photos of Dungeness at Flickr.

Wikipedia has lots more information on Derek Jarman and Dungeness.

For those interested in visiting Dungeness and Prospect Cottage, it should be noted that the house still belongs to Jarman’s long-term partner and discretion should be observed at all times. There was no one at home the day we visited.


tags: Artists + Personal History + Travel | permalink | 9 Comments

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The inevitable consequences of moving into a house with no shelves with another person incapable of relinquishing books

Wall 1

Wall 2


tags: Personal History | permalink | 1 Comment

Sunday, July 23, 2006

From the inbox

Dear Amazon.co.uk Customer,
As someone who has purchased books by Marquis de Sade, you might like to know that Justine or Good Conduct Well Chastised: The Original Sadist Novel Retold for Today’s Reader is now available. You can order your copy for just GBP 5.95 by following the link below.

Justine or Good Conduct Well Chastised: The Original Sadist Novel Retold for Today’s Reader
by Marquis de Sade, Rex Saviour
Our Price: £5.95

Release Date: June 13, 2006

Synopsis
If de Sade had submitted the original version of Justine to us (from prison) in 1791 we would have rejected it, because it is pure sadism, as is to be expected from the original ‘sadist’, even though it is wrapped up in philosophy. However, it is now freely available in English as a classic, and has been so for quite a while. This version is simplified rather than toned down, but the actual ages of juveniles have been omitted. de Sade uses his narrative as a vehicle for expressing his opinions at very great length. This and the obscurity of some passages, and the constant repetitions, makes it difficult for the average reader. Here is an effort to rectify this, an honest attempt to make the essence of a masterpiece more easily available by… Read more

Best wishes,Editorial team
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk


tags: Personal History | permalink | Comments Off on From the inbox

Monday, June 19, 2006

Blood and Guts, again

As we lay upon the slab last week, biting down on the leather strap and waiting for the sawbones to whip out the furious appendix, we thought two things:

  1. Why ‘The Whittington’? God forbid, will the future force poor invalids to be carved up in a hospice called ‘The Livingstone’?
  2. And yes, yes, I shall turn again.

Turn again to London, to South London (gesundheit), to the old ancestral pile, to recuperate in the June sunshine, with the parakeets chirruping in the pear tree and Test Match Special drifting gently from the potting shed. And what better companion in our malingering than le Carré, so timely plucked from the oak-panelled library, with its oft-beaten generations of STMLs gazing sternly down from dust-shadow’d walls? Etc.

Having originally thought The Constant Gardener to be some kind of pre-posthumous paean to the country garden, we were pleasantly surprised by the Ralph Fiennes/Rachel Weisz version, which placed the operations of big pharma within the context of global geopolitics, and even more impressed by the Bond-gone-bad movie adaptation of The Tailor of Panama, which chronicles the possible fallout of intelligence sources gone bad. The idea of one dodgy source misdirecting the offensive capacities of the entire Western world rings true from Osama bin Laden to Hussein Chalabi to Mohammed Abdul Kahar, proving that le Carré has lost none of his bite and is due for re-reading.

A Perfect Spy is an obvious candidate for such an approach: praised by Philip Roth in The Observer as ‘The best English novel since the war’ (1986, btw), acclaimed by the New York Times as the work of ‘the perfect spy novelist’, it chronicles, in Dickensian detail, the life of Magnus Pym, potential defector, and his father Rickie: conman, raconteur, bon vivant. Scenes reminiscent of Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow hinterland – châteaus under occupation; black stocks of fruit and booze; trade in women and scraps of intelligence – alternate with mittel-Europe at the height of the Cold War: drab colours, colourful sex lives, bursts of encrypted traffic satellite-bursted from the roofs of snowclad embassies. We devoured it in a weekend – although we had the benefits of the bathchair and the parasol.

Are these books read now? What is the purpose of le Carré’s pre-Glasnost thrillers – except to show up the hideous idiocies of genre classification? A Perfect Spy, A Small Town in Germany, the Smiley books, all read now as deep, incisive critiques of men and women at the edge of their beliefs and their identities; the backgrounds against which they operate fade into obscurity just as the lakeland or maritime backdrops of nineteenth century novels seem irrelevant to us compared to their interior dramas. We don’t read them, as they were originally read, for insights into the realities of our time; nor do we read them now, like Fleming or Forsyth, for nostalgic thrills; we, and they, have transcended such political concerns.

That said, of course, le Carré’s own motives may not be so sure: his own MI6 career was destroyed by Kim Philby’s defection, which provided the central narrative for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. A Perfect Spy is, apparently, his most autobiographical work: the character of Rick Pym refracted through that of Richard Cornwell, le Carré’s father, “an epic con man of little education, immense charm, extravagant tastes, but no social values” (Lynn Dianne Been, John le Carré).

Excuse us. Morphine has clouded our judgement. We do not need to cheerlead such a talent. Read le Carré: for fun, read spies, for truth, read Gardener. John: don’t die; not yet.


tags: Authors + Personal History | permalink | 2 Comments

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

One day you’re going to wake up and your liver will be sat by the bed with a very, very concerned expression

Prometheus, right. Nice guy, bad press. You know the old legend: he populated the planet and pissed Zeus off by making Man in the image of the Gods. The final straw, the story goes, was when he stole fire from Zeus’ hearth and gave it to the shivering peoples, carrying it down Olympus in a cone of slow-burning Fennel.

The legend is wrong. What Prometheus stole was was not fire, but firewater. Prometheus gave to men the secret of making alcohol, the one thing that could truly make them feel as Gods. The Tree of Knowledge was a vine: man learnt to ferment, brew, and distill its fruit. Fennel is native to Southern Europe and the countries of the Mediterranean. In Greece, home of the legend, fennel is used to flavour ouzo and its precursors, raki and arak. It is one of the ‘holy trinity’ of herbs used to make absinthe, along with wormwood and anise.

The proof is in the punishment: for his crime, Prometheus was sentenced by Zeus to be chained to Mount Caucasus, where every day the great eagle Ethon would arrive to gnaw on – get this – his liver. Fixed in the burning Central Asian sunlight, sweating, thirsting, aching, regenerating each night his battered organ, Prometheus is taking on the greatest of all hangovers, suffering for our sins, a scapegoat for all our Friday nights. His one attempt to pacify the furious Zeus was to teach the humans to make sacrifices to the Gods; violent, bloody festivals that became orgies of drinking and debauchery.

All this is a round-about way of saying that the 3:AM party was fun, and more than a few people are feeling a little delicate today.


tags: Events + Personal History | permalink | 2 Comments

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

His Nibs

When this website started almost a year ago, one of its main intentions – that is, apart from mouthing off in public and discussing comics and porn in the same breath as Nietzsche – was to make connections with others in the same business and of the same mind. As much to our surprise as everyone else’s, we have. Bonza.

However, there’s also been a deliberate attempt to maintain a certain anonymity (hence the excruciating use of the 1st person plural all the bloody time), and to keep work and play somewhat separate. It now appears that our cover has been blown to such an extent that it’s hard to resist going off on one about it. So, bowing to popular pressure (Cisoux, who are you? to the tune of Scooby-Doo), it is time for full disclosure:

The awards ceremony in Bournemouth was a right beano. If it hadn’t been in Bournemouth it would have been like the Oscars. Kinda. It used to be in London with the main Book Awards and all the glamorous authors, but then Richard & Judy came along and spoiled everything by making it trendy and famous and televised, necessitating keeping all us weirdos in the trade out of the limelight. Still, there were high hegions everywhere and some of them were even quite nice to us after we won. And I got to swim in the sea on a bright May morning because it was the only thing capable of relieving the crashing waves of pain in my skull.

Anything else? Oh yes: here is a picture of me wearing the award as a hat.

And that is the end of work-related discussion here.


tags: Awards + Personal History | permalink | 5 Comments

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Zine Madness!

The N Testament

For various reasons, STML has been reading around the old zine scene for a few days, and interesting connections have been unearthed.

My first contact with zines was the oversize compendium Zines! Vol. 1 published by RE/Search, possibly the greatest independent publisher of weird shit of all time, which chronicled the emergence of the zine, self-publishing and small press scene through interviews with such legends as Lyn Peril of Mystery Date, and Noel Tolentino from Bunnyhop. As the cover said: “Surrender to the incredibly strange urge… to create your own Zine!” – and I did. Several times.

Being far away from such centres of hipness as Dover, Tennessee and Detroit, Illinois, my greatest influence were the homegrown queerzines and minicomics of the mid-90s: Rachael House’s Red Hanky Panky, Sina’s Atomic Boy and especially Jeremy Dennis’ 3 in a bed. These were roughly photocopied booklets I used to get from the wonderful 30th Century Comics in Putney SW15, and I still feel that, compared to independent bookstores, comic shops are not given their fair dues as disseminators of the radical, the rare and the dirty. The first time I took a queerzine to the counter was up there with buying Gay Times in W.H.Smiths, or condoms in Boots (Now on 3 for 2!), but I soon learnt that comic shops, like indy bookstores, were havens for sallow-faced misfits. And me, of course.

I was very pleased to stumble upon Jeremy Dennis and Damian Cugley’s current website, the excellent Alleged Literature. Among various other minicomic projects, Jeremy is busy doing bad things to the bible in The N Testament, a page of which is reproduced above, continuing the theme of book abuse from the last post.

The advent of the interweb pretty much killed off the zine movement, as discussed, coincidentally enough, on Sunday, when a large number of people, including Iain Sinclair, Tim Wells of Rising and 3AM Magazine‘s Richard Marshall, turned up to watch STML listen to them discuss Self-Publishing and DIY Culture, the final event of this year’s Clerkenwell Literary Festival. The CLF’s own blogger captures the salient points here, and if you look carefully, you might catch STML in the audience. If you didn’t make it to the Fest this year, keep your eyes open and your ears peeled for next year. It’s worth it, not least because almost all the events take place in pubs.


tags: Comics + News + Personal History | permalink | Comments Off on Zine Madness!




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