Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Electric Acorn 16

I'm chuffed to report that Dublin's excellent Electric Acorn online magazine Issue 16 includes a new story of mine, The Visitor [Gorn!].

Friday, September 24, 2004

I died on my arse in Studio 95

As first of the workshop readers, I should have warmed up the audience for the subsequent authors. Instead I cooled them down. The other readers from Willesden and Harrow workshops were of a high standard, I thought. We were introduced by Dale Arndell, editor of Newspeak, a literary magazine linked to the workshops.

Preethi Nair told us about the marvellous adventure she went on for two and a half years to self-publish her first book, risking destitution, humiliation, and faced with unforeseen nightmares at every stage. Her book Gypsy Masala is about "following your dreams" and sure enough, she ended up with a bestseller and a book deal. Everything about Preethi was impressive, not least her faultless reading of the very interesting first chapter of her book "A Hundred Shades of White."

Siobhan Curham is another literary star to boast for North West London. Terrific character evocation in her readings from her new book, The Scene Stealers. She introduced four very different characters and how they begin to interact, in a setting based around a fictional grubby video shop in Ruislip Manor. She has a wonderful turn of phrase, for example in her description of a broken gate on only one hinge hanging like a child's loose tooth, a small tug away from the tooth fairy.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Wonders have ceased

After the last day of the Small Wonder short story festival, I can now:

a) Tell you what the facts are behind the Helsinki Roccamatios.*

b) Confirm the legendary arrogance of our greatest (British) short story writer".** I think he thought I was an idiot to choose 'Sleep With Me' as the book to get signed, but I didn't get a chance to tell him it was the only one I didn't already have. I still like the bastard, and his kids seem normal enough. They were helping at the book signing table.

After the accompanied reading, which was superb, one of them (about 5) asked a question from the front row of the audience, and the presenter brought him up onto the stage. The question was, 'Was that about me?' It was very sweet, and beautiful I thought. The other two kids asked questions as well, the youngest was last. The story was about him.

c) Tell you all about sex and death in women's short story writing. Apparently it's either all vicariously ranting at some unnamed ex while pretending only to be watching slasher movies for research purposes, or writing commercial serial-killer crap and trying to pass it off as serious writing by quoting your university degree.

The biggest "hit" was William Trevor on Saturday. More people bought his books, a huge line of people.

Yann Martel seemed a bit of a cold fish. Very controlled, terribly intelligent and intellectual. Dropping philosophers' names. He tried to tell us why he liked the short story, and I'm not sure if he realised it or not but he ended up telling us why he didn't like at all really. I don't think he'd know a real short story if it bit him on the arse. I didn't notice any rush to buy his books afterwards.

*In "The facts behind the Helsinki Roccamatios"*** by Yann Martel, the narrator urges the idea of co-writing a book on a friend who is dying of AIDS, and to further bore him and us, decides that a good way of doing this is to choose one fact from every year of the twentieth century, a mythical family and a location. Within that framework, they are to write something worthwhile. It's not enough to die of AIDS, without being tortured in this way, apparently. His next book is going to be about "The Holocaust". Perhaps he will take 1 fact from every month of the war, a fictitious family and location, and take it from there.

**Hanif Kureishi.

***He wrote hundreds of short stories, he says - mastering the art, y'know - but this book only contains four, longish short stories. The
creme de la creme - rich and thick.****

****Samuel Beckett lectured at Trinity College Dublin for a year, and described its intake as "the cream of Irish society. Rich and thick."

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Small wonder

I read something at the Small Wonder short story "slam" tonight in Charleston, a stately home with literary (Bloomsbury set) connections near Lewes. I got on a shortlist of five, and according a good old clapometer reading of the audience, the winner was Sean Lusk, whom I know from the West Cork Literary festival, where he was also a prizewinner. His was the best story tonight. I ran into Sean and Clem Cairns from Fish Publishing and we tried the specially brewed Small Wonder beer. My round-buying is now in the red again.

Earlier I had the great privilege and edification of listening to William Trevor read, followed by the great merriment and joy of Alexei Sayle. Tomorrow I'm going to hear Hanif Kureishi with cello accompaniment, Yann Martel and some others. Looking forward to it.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Google: Japanese women for sale on eBay

I was searching for a poetry site to repair a dead link on my website. The site was called "Japanese Women Poets". When I searched for it on Google, I got the following, listed alongside the results:

Discount Japanese Women
New & used selection. Japanese Women for sale.

Women For Sale
Low Priced Women. Big Selection!

Japanese Women Need Love
We want Nice guy to Love and go for date together.

Here, try it for yourself and let me know if they're any good.*

*Well they've gone and fixed it, but not before I got this screenshot.