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


Worzel Gummidge is on the telly. The father has a new calling in the new church to convert more converts, and also a job in London, driving a train in the underground. There is also Bletchley, a swimming pool with a slide, and hot chocolate, from the machine. He learns how long to brush his teeth, and also his talent for reading, but he is not allowed to watch Jesus Christ Superstar. The wrong Jesus. He is not a rock star.

An excerpt from my debut novel, Never Mind the Beasts, now available from Dostoyevsky Wannabe. This except takes place in Milton Keynes England, in Coffee Hall. It is the 1980s and the family has just been converted by Mormon missionaries from America.


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.


Battlestar Galactica is partly Mormon. Sci-fi is a big part of Mormon. Do you know the planet Kolob?

When we immigrated to America, and my family converted to Mormonism, I had a hankering for sci-fi.

Here is a microfiction about Battlestar Galactica and Mormonism in high school, in the mid 80s, from my novel Never Mind the Beasts, forthcoming from Dostoyevsky Wannabe in May 2020. It is called “A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man.”

‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ by Marcus Slease


In Vegas there was a water park. An exciting adventure, for the whole family. I was hitting puberty and my accent had changed, from Northern Irish to working class British to western American. I wanted to become hairy, it was the 1980s, Tom Selleck was a stud muffin.

Here is a microfiction about Vegas, in the 1980s, from my novel Never Mind the Beasts, forthcoming from Dostoyevsky Wannabe in May 2020. It is called “Wet N’Wild.”

“Wet N’Wild” by Marcus Slease

All American

Newly married, working as telemarketers and cleaners, the midnight beam, in Utah, pulled them to a used car lot. This is their story. From Never Mind the Beasts, the first novel in my nomadic surrealist trilogy, forthcoming from Dostoyevsky Wannabe in 2020.

from Never Mind the Beasts by Marcus Slease


Las Vegas had a show on the telly, it was exotic and foreign, hard to imagine, and we were going there, as immigrant pioneers, for a better life, like immigrants and migrants the world over, changing their languages and also adding to the host languages, the big mixing bowl, maybe.

Play Yr Kardz Right, my book from underground press Dostoyevsky Wannabe, is a radical venture. Creative spelling for word textures, in the mouth, and also for the eye. Also the voice is often of a child, although not always, and the child is from another planet, a stranger in a strange land.

Dostoyevsky Wannabe, one of the most vital underground presses in English, made a wee mix tape for the book.

The music is part of the journey. Some of the songs are from experiences as a recent immigrant to the United States in the 80s. Rocky the movie had a song that repeated living in America over and over. It was showy, this new land, and more direct, unabashed, I needed to develop something called gumption. There was also Sugarhill Gang (Jump on It) and it was one my favourites. It made me want to become a better dancer, and maybe, later, learn to breakdance, like so many of the other immigrants in the apartment complex. There are other songs too. Some more recent ones, from living in London, like Grime, and further back while living in the Northwest of the U.S. with the story of an artist from Daniel Johnston, and many others.

There is an outsider artist mentality at work in Play Yr Kardz Right, observing, but also participating from a distance. I think the music of this mixtape gets at some of the tones and emotions of Play Yr Kardz Right. Play Yr Kardz Right is part naive art, but also part of other arts too, a mix of many, a hybrid, not pure, not fully anything, and in some ways anti-poetry, via Nicanor Parra, also primitive, another kind of nomadic surrealism.

Playing your kardz right, the highs and low, good luck, bad luck, it keeps spinning, the wheel of samsara.







The opening, for now, of The Autobiography of Don Whiskers.

My novel in progress (partly a memoir).

It begins in Northern Ireland and then moves to Milton Keynes, England.

And then a trailer park in Vallejo, California.

Don Whiskers is the main character.



New Poem written this morning. True Grit. HUDD home in North Las Vegas. Then home in Hurricane, Utah. Returning home early from Mormon mission by choice. Disgrace. Trying to understand how to become more manly. The big America dream as immigrants. Samsara meat wheel. And so on . .

learning to fail better

where did that come from?

where did i get the fear of acting socially respectable. from looking toward the British as a child in Ireland? As an Irish child in Milton Keynes?

When I emigrated to America we landed in Vegas. July. When we stepped off the plane it was like stepping into a warm engine. We couldn’t find any grass but we found Carl’s Junior quite quickly. My mum became addicted to the fried zucini and buttermilk dip. I was the eldest of three when we landed. Rocky was my hero. So I lifted rocks in the desert. I stole a pair of boxing gloves from K-Mart. Or my friend did. I can’t remember. I spiked my hair like the Russian Ivan Drago cause I felt Russian. More Russian than Irish in America. Even though I had never been to Russia. When I became Mormon I thought the Mormon prophet might send me to Russia on a mission. But that’s another story.

The next eldest was my brother Aaron. He would run up and dow the hallway for hours. He had some kind of mad energy inside him. And then Shantell. Shantell popped out with a personality all ready to go. She was not afraid to speak out and say exactly what she wanted. I kept quiet. Did what I was told. Tried to be perfect. Thought I might be Jesus. Literally. Re-incarnated. I don’t think this anymore.

Why am I writing in memoir mode? I have no idea. In this age of “creative non-fiction” and me me me me. Hm . . what could I do any differently than all those identity driven novels and youtube videos spread out all over the world like a sickness.

Is all writing personal?

Does it matter?

I remember during my MA studying all that rhetorical analysis stuff so i could grow up and teach college composition and thinking maybe I have made it. The only kid out of an eventual 7 to go to university. Where did it come from? I wanted to do something more manly. I worked construction as a teenager. I worked many many jobs. Some of them were:

1) Burger King hamburger cook

2) Sizler disher washer upper

3) concrete mixer and framer

4) cleaner (hospitals and factories)

5) factory shrink wrap worker

6) telemarketer (3 years) (Burpie Seeds, All-State Life Insurance, Direct TV)

7) cleaner, movie introducer at visitor centre of Zion National Park (one of the more interesting jobs. Made friends with Gerald. A Navajo. Went to a sweat lodge etc.)

8) chevron gas attendent (graveyard shift sometimes. listened to alien abduction stories on the radio)
9) J.C. Penny Shoes salesman

(many many many more . . .)

I think the idea of the American dream fueled my desire for university. The idea as the eldest to succeed.

Would I have went to university if we would have stayed in Northern Ireland? Or Milton Keynes? No way of knowing of course.

In some ways I think it is less likely. But in other ways I think I had a “natural” desire to work with the mind more than the body. It wasn’t really in my environment. I mean the desire to be “intellectual” or read a lot. But somehow I think I felt an inclination towards it. I wasn’t discouraged from reading at home of course. But I think I found I got praised for it a little in school. I was good at English. That was my subject. And later anything in the humanities came naturally. Maybe that encouraged me. Also the escape into the imagination. Like most kids I wanted to be someone else. I think it became an obsession. I had natural inclinations towards obsessions. Collecting things. Writing goals all over my walls. I convinced all the people in my middle school when I came to America that I was a real ninja and if the Irish ninjas came looking for me to keep quiet. I was exotic with my Northern Irish accent in Las Vegas so I think the kids believed me. My parents were called in because the teacher thought it might lead to trouble. We were in a somewhat rough immigrant neighborhood in Las Vegas. Someone might call me on it.

But I remember believing this. Really believing I was ninja. Or earlier in Milton Keynes a jedi.

I believed I had some special powers until maybe age 20. Those powers shifted. Once I became a teenager is was more special spiritual powers. Like maybe immortality. Or the ability to heal people with my energies/priesthood.

My identity shifted a lot from Northern Ireland to England to America. From Protestant to Mormon.

Shifts in accents and cultures and so on.

I needed a hero narrative to keep me going.

And I think that is partly the wall I run up against now. What to project onto the future. I have a hard time believing in life after death. Or the personality of “me” continuing outside my body. Never mind from year to year. So there is the now. In the face of complete annihilation even the now seems absurd.

Life at all seems absurd.

I was obsessed with the future until the future caught up with me. I wanted to achieve achieve. I wanted to get a running scholarship to college. So in high school I ran 5-8 miles a day, swam a couple of miles a week etc. The track team also had many kids who wanted to make it by getting a track scholarship to college. We were all in the same boat. Except as the only white kid on the team I had a distinct advantage. Sure my background was working class and I didn’t have examples of family going to college. But being white did make it easier in America of course.

What does it mean to write a life? What is a writing life? I am not writing a life. I am writing on a blog. Blogs are personal. Well not all of course. And there are millions of blogs out there writing the personal. But maybe it is not personal versus “non-personal.”  Maybe more about interesting or not interesting? What is interesting? Well depends of course on your audience. And maybe your goal. What is the goal of this? To make sense of time. To make sense of personal narratives? To make sense of memory?


My goal in America was to succeed. Not by making lots of money. Although I had fantasies of making some money and sending it to my family so they could get out of America debt and have less stress in their life. It was more about making it in terms of cultural capital. Maybe becoming a professor. Or an artist. Or a psychologist. Doing something interesting. But that changed. I wanted to write. And I wrote starting early. Like most of those boring interviews with writers where the writer says oh I have been a writer since the age of 3 blah blah blah. But whatever. I wrote and I wanted to remake the world through writing. Like the books that shaped and re-made my world. I wanted to participate in reading through writing.

And now many years and countries and a divorce later what is the goal? How is success measured? Or happiness?

I am adjunct intructor in academic writing at a small private college in London. I make enough to live in a somewhat rough area of London in a one bedroom flat. It is giving me enough money (at the moment) to buy some poetry books. Something I haven’t done in almost six years. I am also in a good relationship. All of that is very important for my happiness. The job is rewarding in that I sometimes get to do something interesting. And it gives me more time than I have had in the last six years of teaching ESL in various countries.

But making it? Or becoming sucessful? That has completely changed since I left America and its dream behind me.


My students are doing their in-class essay as I write this. I don’t know where this came from. Maybe it will lead to a larger project. Maybe it is only an emptying out.

But I do think “creative non-fiction” is boring to me mainly because of the form. The craft aspect. And also the idea of specialness. There are millions of immigrant stories in America. There are millions of me. I am not special. But how the story is told and why. That might be something different.