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.

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

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

Dostoyevsky Wannabe Spotlight

A nice spotlight on Dostoyevsky Wannabe over at The London Magazine by Robert Greer.

Greer describes the presses radical approach to publishing, in both design, distribution, and content:

“With their books retailing at around £5 each, accessibility seems to me an important part of Dostoyevsky Wannabe, and the most obvious comparison for me is the independent record label K Records in 1980s Olympia, Washington. Similarly to Dostoyevsky Wannabe, K Records ideology was based around using the technology of the day to democratise the process of making lots of art, by capitalising on the cheapness and malleability of cassette tape technology. For Dostoyevsky Wannabe, the 2018 version of this vision is to capitalise on the tools of late capitalism.”

The books are so beautifully designed. I feel very fortunate to have my book Play Yr Kardz Right with them. A terrific press with so much creative energy. One of the centres of the literary renaissance of small presses  and record labels. As Greer says, “The common strand between all them is a DIY spirit and an experimental ethic which makes Dostoyevsky Wannabe feel less like a traditional publishing house and more a platform for innovative artists and innovative literature.”

“There are so many that it is difficult to keep up, but it is worth keeping up with them on social media to see what they have going on. Their books are good, and cheap. Buy them, read them.”

Indeed!

The counter culture is alive and well. Cheap and beautiful and mind altering. Long may they live!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KIDDIEPUNK THIS IS YATES

FASCINATING 12 MIN DOCUMENTARY FROM FAYETTEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
“Less a confessional documentary than a mixtape that samples a copious personal archive, “This is Yates” pan-n-scans a wide track of time, running from the near-present back beyond pre-pubescence to home movies of time before birth.”
Available over here from the classic indie press Dostoyevsky Wannabe:

Swimmer’s Club Seven Up

Seven of my current loves over at Swimmer’s Club.

It is hard to choose seven.
They are only seven.

But maybe a good seven.

There is  the Czech nomadic surrealism of Lukas Tomin, the Canadian surrealism of Guy Maddin. Sun Araw, The Seventh Seal, Leonora Carrington, Chika Sagawa. So many greats. What a life!

Check it out: