What are you growing into?

I stole boxing gloves from K-Mart, it is not in the story. I masturbated to MiGs, it is not in the story. I scraped the edges of my sundae, it is not in the story. I read over my head in the library, it is not in the story. I was briefly in love with Duran Duran, it is not in the story. I identified, sometimes, with Boy George, it is not in the story. I identified, often, with E.T., it is not in the story. I beat myself with a stick, it is not in the story. My first smell in America was chlorine, it is not in the story. My father was a sly fisherman, it is not in the story. My mother was an argonaut, it is not in the story. I hid behind the wall, it is not in the story. I licked the creams, it is not in the story. I ate, sometimes, the tightly packed sausage, it is not in the story. I drank, often, the fruit of the vines, it is not in the story. I fear sterility, it is not in the story. I fear practice makes perfect, it is not in the story. I fear cold toes, it is not in the story. I fear hot coals, it is not in the story. I fear living too far, it is not in the story. I fear living too close, it is not in the story. In modern literature, I identify with the French (Michaux, Chevillard, Beckett), it is not in the story. In modern music the minimalist, it is not in the story. In modern clothing the mostly earthly, it is not in the story. The sentence is a gnasher, in the story. The words are primordial, in the story. The sounds are lubricants, in the story. An anti-novel, in the story. An anti-poetry, in the story. Me-not-me, in the story. A mismatch of everything, in the story.

Here is a reading of the story, just published by Lighthouse magazine in the U.K. Part of my ongoing novel in progress, The Dreamlife of Honey.

“Chisel” by Marcus Slease

Music & Literature

I’ve just found my favourite magazine, Music & Literature, and splurged on a one year digital subscription (£20). I don’t usually read a lot of literature online. I used to read poetry online, maybe a flash fiction, but nothing too long. Now I am using my Kindle, more and more. Although I still have plenty of paper books on my to-read shelf.

I’ve started thinking more and more about when to order the paper book and when to order the digital book. In most cases, it seems, I am trying to order the paper books only when the book itself is both a beautiful object and I love the writing. Although sometimes I have ordered an ugly novel from Faber & Faber (Victor Pelevin), but I didn’t know the book was ugly before I ordered it.

Some books that meet both form and content include: Fitzcarraldo Editions, Boiler House Press, Archipelago Books, Twisted Spoon Press, Dostoyevsky Wannabe, Influx Press, Galley Beggar, Open Pen. It is not only about the paper, but good paper is certainly a consideration. It is about the design. The texture. The feel of the book. I prefer thick pages. Minimalist design. Sometimes the book is unavailable in digital form and the print form is nothing special. This is a dilemma. An ugly book, but only on rare occasions.

It didn’t used to be this way. I collected paperbacks in the 80s and 90s. Cheap mass paperbacks. The mass paperback was democratic, more folks could afford it. A reading revolution. But now we have digital, usually cheaper, so the print form has to be something special. There are some exceptions. The paperbacks of NYRB Classics, sometimes Vintage/Penguin. A few others.

I am also thinking of music. Buying a record versus streaming/mp3 etc. It has to be something special for me to buy the record (well records are usually more expensive than books for one thing). Also, I don’t like clutter. Or owning too much. Books are the exception. I have less than 50 records.

So I’ve taken the plunge. My first digital magazine subscription. I spent a few days reading the free content from the magazine and realized it doesn’t get any better. So many international artists, often in translation, unavailable anywhere else. The latest issue features translations of Peter Bichsel (some by Lydia Davis). I love everything Lydia Davis. Each issue features three artists. There is an issue with Mary Ruefle. Another one with Éric Chevillard. I just started reading Éric Chevillard last week, his Palafox, on my Kindle. He is becoming a favourite. I am going to order his Prehistoric Times, from Archipelago Books. Thick pages.

I am reading more and more novels on my Kindle. My coursebooks for high school classes are now digital. I am making more and more moves towards the digital. I still love a beautiful print book, but I’ve become more selective. Poetry books on the Kindle? No. Not unless they are prose poems.

Disadvantages of Kindle: You cannot go back and forth flipping through pages and opening at random. You cannot look at the cover on your bookshelf and remember your reading experience. So that’s the other reason for the print book. If I absolutely love a book I’ve read on the Kindle, I usually also purchase it for the bookshelf. This has been the case with Jeanette Winterson (the paperbacks are nothing special, but I love her novels). Also Beckett somehow doesn’t feel the same on a Kindle. Maybe, over time, I will become more and more used to digital reading. Although print reading has imprinted many strong impressions from an early age. For now, and always, I’ll stay hybrid. In more ways than one.

SOUTH KOREA 2006

In 2006, after ten years of marriage and a looming divorce, he flew to South Korea. He created a good face for the job. A good face is the key.

Love? Yes please!

Doraji doraji doraji! I walk over the pass where balloon flowers bloom. Hey-ya, hey! An ya hey say yo! I walk over the pass where balloon flowers bloom. Hey-ha hey! An ya hey say yo! Reminds me of mother and twinkling boys. Hey-ya, hey! An ya hey say yo!

Here is an excerpt from Never Mind the Beasts, available now from Dostoyevsky Wannabe.

from Never Mind the Beasts by Marcus Slease. Image: Figuras fantásticas a caballo by Leonora Carrington

NOMADIC SURREALIST TRILOGY

I have finished the second novel of my nomadic surrealist trilogy. The first, Never Mind the Beasts, has the wide lens. The next two the zoom. First person genderless.

The second novel, Hermit Kingdom, is about a language teacher from Poland who migrates to Spain for a new life. Away from the expectations, history and complicated past of their home country, they try to live a simple life, walking in nature and eating healthy, scraping by teaching English as a foreign language, and trying to make sense of existence. Suddenly there is a new pandemic and they are stuck inside, alone and not alone. What is the white monkey? Why are they learning secret handshakes through a hole in a white blanket? Who are you really? Some people are told to find someone to complete themselves and also become somebody. Some people are told to find somebody but not become somebody. Some people are told to become somebody but not to find somebody. I am somebody first and can find anybody later, but when do you know when you are somebody enough to find anybody. What is the complete equation?

The third novel, still in progress, is called The Dreamlife of Honey. It is a shamanistic self help book, with many travels. It is full of bonobos.

And alas, the trilogy is coming into focus. But I am not sure if it will stop there. I am writing a cosmos.

THE DOCKLANDS

Don Whiskers and Pineapple live in the Docklands, East London, in a council flat. They visit the river for ancient histories. They take the Mega Bus in the Mega City and visit Amsterdam. They stay on a boat called The Gandalf. Back home, they stand on the balcony from the cheap seats and look at Morgan Stanley and HSBC with glowing red lights. They find shiny dinosaurs among the monuments to finance. The monuments are too removed from the human hand. Bring back the human hand. They use their human hands to collect clippings from plants and grow them with superfood. They want them to grow big and strong.

Here is a reading from the Docklands section of my debut novel Never Mind the Beasts, available now from Dostoyevsky Wannabe.

The Docklands by Marcus Slease

BORA

While working in Trieste as a dog walker, and trying to become a writer, he imagines James Joyce, middle class or higher, like almost all artists and writers. He does not have the advantages but also the advantages, coming from somewhere else. You can only do so much, but how much.

The bora howls and howls. His relationship is failing. She wants the product and he wants the process. His wild horses are running away from him. Looking out to sea at Piazza Unita. A nomadic existence, but also stability. Trying to juggle them, like everyone.

Here is a reading from the Italian section of my debut novel Never Mind the Beasts, available now from Dostoyevsky Wannabe.

“Bora” from Never Mind the Beasts by Marcus Slease

YOUNG LOVE

He took a long time to do it, or at least a long time for some. After the mission, at age 20, he went back to N.Ireland and England, tried on a condom at his cousin’s house, just for the fitting. He wanted to become bohemian and watched Pulp Fiction at the theatre.

He met a young woman from Australia and she told him about doing it, and when you do it, you miss it, and he missed it, even though he hadn’t done it. Then he went to college, at Southern Utah University, worked at a call centre selling Burpie seeds, and before he knew it he was married. They read the patriarchal blessing. They felt the burning in their bosoms.

They moved to Bellingham, WA and then Greensboro, NC. Then, after ten years, the divorce and leaving the United States of America forever for a nomadic existence. No more alien card.

Here is a reading about those years of young love, from my debut novel Never Mind the Beasts, available now from Dostoyevsky Wannabe.

from Never Mind the Beasts by Marcus Slease

Polish elections 2020

Sad disappointing scary day with Polish elections. Here are some poems from Grzegorz Wroblewski. He was there in Warsaw in the 80’s. Part of the underground punk network, the fight against fascists and the beginning of democracy.

Poetry by Grzegorz Wroblewski (Translated by Piotr Gwiazda): jacket2.org/poems/five-poems-wroblewski
Paintings by Grzegorz Wroblewski.
Performed by Marcus Slease

THE TRIAL

After returning home early from the mission, I had my first sexual experience, it was called docking. I took off my secret garments and attended the trial, in a big wooden room. The devils were coming.

I couldn’t return to my job at the mercantile. Every job interview in the small town asked me if I still believed. But eventually I found a job, in a nearby town, as a shoe salesman, at J.C. Penny, and began dating and attending Jr College dances, posing on haystacks, trying to make myself into something different.

Here is a short excerpt from my novel Never Mind the Beasts, available now from Dostoyevsky Wannabe.