NEVER MIND THE BEASTS OPENING

Never Mind the Beasts, an experimental working class novel, begins in Portadown, N. Ireland, with my biological father, The Troubles, in one way or another, and then the move to London, first a homeless hostel, and then later Milton Keynes, with government social housing. It begins in the 1974 and then moves into the 80s, 90s, 2000s, and beyond.

Here is an excerpt from the opening of the novel:

NEVER MIND THE BEASTS OPENING from Marcus Slease on Vimeo.

Class consciousness

There is so much of it, and from an early age it was all about the work, working hard to climb a ladder, and we are all climbing ladders, of some sort, hoping for something better, and too much moaning doesn’t help, but it’s there, sometimes hard to put your finger on it, it’s there, less visible sometimes, in one way or another, how I tried to disguise it, changing my voice over and over, from working class Northern Irish to working class British and then just plain small town American, where the accents don’t give you away so easily, and then changing my clothing, trying to pass for middle class, and then feeling guilty, what am I really, if you like too many comforts you are becoming middle class, but that’s a narrow reality, all those small boxes of our identities. But yes, it was there, in London when I worked at a private university, as an adjunct/fractional instructor, and most of the other lecturers and professors had posh accents, and I felt out of place, tried to change my clothes and dress more conservative, and after over six years of working there I was never fully comfortable, feeling like an imposter teaching classes at a university, and I have that dream often, with variations, the imposter.

Now, here, a high school teacher, it feels more natural, but for so long I wanted to teach university, I saw the pictures, a professor in a comfortable chair with lots of books surrounding them, a pipe in their mouth, comfortable in their existence in a world of ideas and art, but that was not the reality, and high school teaching is more of a grind, but less pretentious, and I never felt at home with the university bursting with their self righteous theories, but, and yet, I did, I loved the chance to think and read and discuss, and then later, do some creative writing as a graduate student, that was something I could never have guessed existed, living breathing artists and writers, and my university days as a student were filled with wonder, especially as an undergraduate, and in America, since I went to state universities for eight years of education, I felt the class consciousness less often, although it was there too, during graduate school especially, there were quite a lot of upper middle class people there, and I tried to fit into that world, but I didn’t. What am I even talking about, I like middle class art, cinema, poetry, music, novels, and I don’t want to be confined to some narrow definition of the working class narrative, from misery to redemption, or just misery forever, and I probably wouldn’t refuse money from some fellowship or other, if it was handed to me, and I am enjoying comforts, like healthy eating, sunshine, and meditation, but my background is fully working class, for generations upon generations, but maybe I am climbing out of it, in mind, not income, and is that so terrible, and what is middle class anyway, and what am I even talking about.

Now, here, one of many foreign countries I have lived in, trying to find a sense of place (impossible), but at least somewhere I can survive financially and psychologically and create my art after a full day of high school teaching, and it is happening, I can do it, you can do it, if you make time for it, if it is really necessary. Never Mind the Beasts, an experimental working class novel, my debut novel at age 46, has just been published, and that feels like something, and I feel lucky to have it with a press very aware of class consciousness, with the editors from working class backgrounds, and very little money, and still finding a way to put out books that other publishers pass over, because it doesn’t fit the dominant middle class aesthetic and readership, and that is really something. I don’t have time and money to attend exotic art colonies or travel around on reading tours and I don’t win fellowships and prizes, I am not connected. I just work for money and survival and make time for my art when I find it, and it is a good life really, one fully chosen consciously, to attend university, despite the overwhelming odds against it, and make time for reading and thinking, even though no one I knew went there, and creating art, and to do that, since I don’t come from the money, and can’t become a bohemian with something to fall back on, I have to live a minimalist existence, no car, property, children, savings, retirement, just simple living, full time work, and great love, and that is how I make time for the art/writing, and it is the only thing really keeping me going, it is not a luxury, or a commodity, it is a necessity.

VITAMINS AND MINERALS

Art can help us see and hear and smell and taste and touch with a more attentive mind. And there is so much to explore. Art can help us have a beginner’s mind. Empty and open. Art is my medicine and also my spiritual practice.

Here is an interview, upon the release of my first novel, Never Mind the Beasts, with a discussion of some artistic vitamins and minerals (Norwegian writers and experimental jazz, surrealists, NY School poets, and more).

POST APOCALYPTIC POEMS

The experimental writer, artist, and musician Stephen Emmerson has been running a podcast entitled “Post Apocalyptic Poems.”

Post Apocalyptic Poems is a new series which imagines that an unspecified event has taken place which forces families to take shelter in underground bunkers.You can only take 6 books of poetry with you. When you emerge from the bunker after 3 or 4 years these books will be the starting point from which you can help to rebuild culture. You can also take one novel and one non fiction book. What would you choose?

The recording/discussion of my bunker poems (with one fiction and non-fiction) is available over here: Post Apocalyptic Poems Episode 2

HOT OFF THE PRESS

Super grateful. My debut novel, Never Mind the Beasts, 10 years in the making from many countries, is now available for ordering. You can choose Blackwell’s or Amazon. Waterstone’s, Foyles, and Barnes and Noble will be added as an ordering option soon.

Here is a description:

Never Mind The Beasts is Marcus Slease’s second book for Dostoyevsky Wannabe and his debut novel. Beginning in Portadown, Northern Ireland during the Troubles, the book details the author’s move with his family, as a small boy, first to Milton Keynes and then to Las Vegas before documenting his further solo travels trying to survive on the meagre pickings of a writer whilst teaching English as a second language in everywhere from South Korea, Poland to Turkey and, latterly, Spain (Madrid and Barcelona).

“Writing actually as love! Marcus Slease’s crinkling, crackling prose is full of sparks, full of troubles, full of wonder. Never Mind the Beasts radiates with the force, brevity and immediacy of stylists like Mary Robison, Rikki Ducornet and Diane Williams. “The demand to love,” wrote Roland Barthes at the beginning of Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes; “overflows, leaks, skids, shifts, slips.” “Writing to touch with letters, with lips, with breath,” wrote Hélène Cixous in Coming to Writing. These are the thrilling, vibratory spaces, movements and possibilities Slease’s writing opens up.”
-Colin Herd, author of You Name It

“Say Lydia Davis and Donald Barthelme had a son, and his life story was painted by Basquiat, and the paintings were ground up into a spice, then used to flavour a crazy-hot dish you just can’t stop eating while the scenery shifts around you: that taste might be something like Never Mind the Beasts.”
-Ruby Cowling, author of This Paradise

“Robust pro aktiv quixotik goes evreewher is from evreewher nouns ar verbs verbs ar yu a nu way uv intraktivitee langwage th narrativ rocks takes yu evreewher thers no conclewsyun its in th going, wundrful a great xperiens ths book.”
—bill bissett, author of Breth

You can order the novel over here: Never Mind the Beasts

MILTON KEYNES 2

Here is another excerpt from Part One of my novel, Never Mind the Beasts, coming this month (May 2020) from Dostoyevsky Wannabe.

This excerpt takes place in Milton Keynes, Coffee Hall Housing Estate, on a street called Daniel’s Welch. It is the 1980s.

Religious conversion, E.T., a used Chopper, the dole, government housing, wow comics, the toothbrush lesson, Jesus Christ Superstar, rugby and fire hoops, hammer and piggy, a millennium falcon.

Milton Keynes 2 (from Never Mind the Beasts) from Marcus Slease on Vimeo.

MILTON KEYNES 1

Here is an an excerpt from Part One of my novel, Never Mind the Beasts, coming this month (May 2020) from Dostoyevsky Wannabe.

This excerpt takes place in Milton Keynes, Coffee Hall Housing Estate, on a street called Daniel’s Welch. It is the 1980s.

Field Day, the magic of bathtubs & Milton Keynes roundabouts, a pet gerbil, Copperfield Middle School lunch room, a popped football, peer pressures, Bletchley swimming pool, hot chocolate from a machine, brussel sprouts, a man in the bushes, play dough and Worzel Gummidge, a rock through an old woman’s window.

from Never Mind the Beasts 1 on Vimeo.

Quarantine Report from spain, days 16-32

The days are moving quickly, and also slowly, it is hard to remember where we started. I am watching the news less and less, and trying to stay healthy in mind as well as body. We are now allowed out, in specific time slots, and it is good to walk out there and exercise the body, that is helping. For many weeks we were stuck inside except for groceries every few days, and it is good to climb out of that phase of our existence.

I’ve been writing quarantine reports (or lockdown reports) from Spain for The Growler. They are still ongoing in my newest novel in progress, The Dreamlife of Honey. It is nice to look back and see where we were and where we are now, which is the same day, over and over, but with some variations.

“On the rooftops people are walking in circles, keeping their social distance, walking around and around for exercise, a little fresh air from their cages, on one rooftop someone is bench pressing, walking and walking in circles, on another roof an athlete is sprinting around the chimneys, empty
buses swish past the bus stops, more and more people peeping from their balconies, we
are still here, they are saying without speaking, we are still here.”

My final installment of the quarantine reports from Spain, now over at The Growler.

WHAT IS YOUR NAME?

My name is Slease. I was born Silcock.

When I worked as a burpee seed salesperson, on the phones, or sold All-State Life Insurance, on the phones, or AOL, on the phones, or DirectTV, on the phones, or Marriot Hotel Time Shares to rich people, on the phones, I was just Marcus.

Your surname is supposed to tell you all about your lineage and heritage and prestige. Authors, who want to be prestige, have prestige surnames, some even use initials for their first names. I am not prestige.

And when I worked construction, mixing cement, running the wheelbarrow up the planks, or the graveyard shift at Chevron with alien conspiracy radio blaring in the background, or sat on the milkcrates during my break at the mercantile, or delivered papers, or wrapped plastic around crates at the warehouse, or cleaned the banks and paint factories and offices in the evenings, I had no name, and that was fine really.

My first novel, Never Mind the Beasts, a culmination of my lifetime of reading and writing and art making, is coming out this month, & I see my name again. And I am OK with it. It’s a name. But it doesn’t carry any heritage. What’s inside it might be something different. There is another name for the language, and how it is used, the various kinds of art making.

Here are some names: working class experimental fiction, hybrid novel, episodic novel, immigration novel, Irish novel, travel writing, nomadic surrealism, third person autofiction, trauma novel, bisexuality novel, poetic novel, and on and on and on it goes.

A name is a a name is a name. A way to classify. My work is porous. I am Mr Slippery.

COVER FOR NEVER MIND THE BEASTS

Feeling joy, excitement, gratefulness. Proofs finalized. My novel, Never Mind the Beasts, over 10 years in the making, coming out this month from Dostoyevsky Wannabe. The cover. A 1 dollar high roller Vegas chip, sent to the press by Jennifer Hodgson (She is the person responsible for re-publishing Ann Quin’s works with And Other Stories Press). She went to Las Vegas around a year ago on the trail of Quin’s time there and picked it up. My novel, a surrealist autofiction, begins in my hometown of Portadown during The Troubles, and immigrates to Las Vegas and beyond!