Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller

The current issue of The Short Review (always a worthwhile read), features a very interesting review of The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller.

I'm definitely adding this to my ever-expanding reading list ...

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

New Review - Smaller Than Most

A great review of Kristine Ong Muslim's flash fiction collection Smaller Than Most in Neon Magazine here.

"There is an element of the poetic in the careful selection of phrasing and placement. These pieces read snappily, catchingly and incite a compulsion to read on, despite some of the horrors held within."

(Many thanks to Laura McDonald.)

Read the collection for free on the Philistine Press website here.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Cafe Irreal

Cafe Irreal (currently on Issue 39) is one of the most interesting online literary magazines. Everything they publish is of the highest quality, and interestingness (if that's a word) appears to be one of their main criteria for publication.

Equally interesting is the question of what irrealism actually is. An essay by G.S. Evans asks: "What is it, it might be asked, that distinguishes irrealism from these other contemporary genres of literature and art that also ask us to accept the impossibility of their physics? One of the key differences is that, in these other genres, there is an internal consistency to the "impossible" physics of the story; that is, once the reader understands and accepts this alternative physics, he or she can assume that the story and the world it describes will be consistent with it."

More here.

The main Cafe Irreal website is here.

Friday, 23 September 2011

McGough and McGear

More McGough stuff here - well, McGough and McGear to be exact about it...

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Trouble With Snowmen by Roger McGough

'The trouble with snowmen,'
Said my father one year
'They are no sooner made
than they just disappear.

I'll build you a snowman
And I'll build it to last
Add sand and cement
And then have it cast.

And so every winter,'
He went on to explain
'You shall have a snowman
Be it sunshine or rain.'

And that snowman still stands
Though my father is gone
Out there in the garden
Like an unmarked gravestone.

Staring up at the house
Gross and misshapen
As if waiting for something
Bad to happen.

For as the years pass
And I grow older
When summers seem short
And winters colder.

The snowmen I envy
As I watch children play
Are the ones that are made
And then fade away.

More on

McGough's official website is here.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

David Hailwood and FJ Riley

I'd like to take a moment to congratulate David "more customer reviews than Charles Dickens" Hailwood, and FJ "ten times higher in the Barnes and Noble sales rankings than Thomas Hardy" Riley on the extraordinary success of what's become Philistine Press's most popular ebook, Not a Lot of People Know That.

Judging by the customer reviews on iBooks and Barnes and Noble, the book appears to be dividing the reading public in a curiously Marmite-like fashion.

Various readers appear to have been fooled into thinking the facts in the book are true (despite the fact that the book is filed under "humour" and the fact that there is a pair of flaming pants in the cover). This isn't necessarily due to a lack of intelligence on the readers' part. Many of the fictional facts in the books are strangely plausible, which is all part of the fun.

Anyone who hasn't read it, I'd advise you to click here.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Favourite stuff

I was asked in an interview once, "What's your favourite poem, and what's your favourite short story?"

I don't have an answer to either of these questions, so I picked the first two things that popped into my head.

The story I picked was Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis, and the poem I picked was Gil Scott Heron's B Movie (video below).

As to whether they're the best things that ever existed is up for debate, but you must admit, they're pretty damn good.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Best European Fiction

Possibly the best two books I've read in the last two years are Best European Fiction 2010 and Best European Fiction 2011.

These two books contain short stories from (almost) every European country and have introduced me to many great authors who I had absolutely no idea about.

They don't quite live up to editor Aleksandar Hemon's bold claim about the 2010 edition, "How could we call ourselves a literate culture without it?" (Come on, pal - get a grip.) Nonetheless, these books are extremely important, and I don't know of any other anthologies operating on this kind of grand scale.

Long may this fucking excellent series continue.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Observer / Cape Graphic Short Story Prize

Take a look at this Guardian blog post on the Observer / Cape Graphic Short Story Prize, which includes links to the work of previous winners. Very interesting stuff, and worth lots of attention.

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Flood by Emile Zola

Some stories work better when they're read out loud.

Zola's classic, The Flood, is one such story.

Here's a link to the free Librivox audiobook.

It's good :)

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Don Giovanni at Soho Theatre

If you’re after some culture in London over the next couple of weeks, can I heartily recommend the performance of Don Giovanni at The Soho Theatre. It’s not for the purist (I doubt opera purists frequent this site, but just in case), but it is thoroughly good.

The company (Opera Up Close) specially commissioned a new English translation; it is full of comedy and pathos in equal measure. The story is one of a libertine lothario who finally gets his comeuppance. You can get (very reasonable) tickets here until the 17th of September. And you don’t have to wear a tux.

The update features ‘Jonny’ (see what they did there?) who is a banker leading the high life, immorally working through the women of London, abusing all around him in his rapacious greed. I can’t possibly guess what point the company might be making about capitalist money men; can you?
You’ll love it. See what the fuss is about opera, shorn of all of its pretentions.