Tag Archives: literature

Review: Sins of the Leopard – James Brookes

[Remember, dear reader, that this is a duplicate article. All Annexe fare goes up directly on http://www.annexemagazine.com now]

Michael Schuller reviews James Brookes’ impressive debut poetry collection.

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In the practice of woodturning, the block is placed against the lathe, which cuts against it on each rotation to expose a cross-section of the grain. That image – of the revealing of a mesmerising pattern latent in the structure of the material itself – is as close as I can come to summarising the poetry of James Brookes. He is a poet who has an unusual command of the language, the sort of writer that one images sites in front of a pile of books with a scalpel, rather than a page with a pen.  Continue reading

Event – Words on Cities – Iain Sinclair, Tom Chivers, Katy Darby and Clare Fisher

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We’re proud to announce that our next event will be at the end of this month. A night all about the city. Read all about it further down, and then come along, why don’t you!

The cityscape has long been an influence on modern writing. As a setting, a starting point or even a medium, the urban landscape draws a particular kind of creation from writers.

Annexe has brought together four of the finest writers working with the urban condition for an evening of talks and performances that display their hugely varied takes on the city.

Words on Cities – Iain Sinclair, Tom Chivers, Katy Darby, Clare Fisher
Thursday 25th April || 7.30pm
£7 (buy tickets here)
Toynbee Studios
28 Commercial St
E1 6AB

On the bill we have:

With a long-standing history of poetry and prose, Iain Sinclair is sits at the leading-edge for writing that deciphers the hidden aspects and connections of London. His work has reinvigorated the call for psychogeographical exploration across the globe. For Words on Cities, Sinclair will present a talk based around his forthcoming book American Smoke: Journeys to the End of the Night. When Iain Sinclair was first setting out, it was mainly American writers that influenced him, but he never visited the USA. Locked down in Hackney, the transatlantic mass was as unreal as Kafka’s ‘Amerika’.

Tom Chivers is a poet and editor residing in London. His recent work, with the Cape Farewell project, has led Tom to investigate the changing landscape of London and unearth an urban geography that has been covered by the constant growth and renewal of the capital city. His talk will focus on his practice of ‘psychogeology’ and his migration through the lost rivers of London.

Katy Darby is a writer, an editor, a teacher and the founder of the incredible storytelling night Liars League. Katy will be reading a selection of her prose work based around London.

Clare Fisher’s current project The City in my Head is an exploration of London through fiction. Each story shows a snapshot of a particular area, constructed from human experience. Claire will be reading a selection of works from the collection.

The City in my Head – an interview with Clare Fisher

[Remember folks, this is a duplicate article. All Annexe fare will be posted primarily to http://www.AnnexeMagazine.com. In a month or so, we’ll post only there! Make the switch.]

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South London writer, Clare Fisher, has been crafting a series of short stories that exist as snapshots of the city. Different aspects and different perceptions of London grow out of Fisher’s narrative description. We caught up with her to chat about the project. Continue reading

Review: Habit – Stephen McGeagh

Alexander Mee reviews Stephen McGeagh’s debut novel, Habit.

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In penance for disliking one vampire novel I have been sent another to review. Vampire books are sown from dragon teeth; there is no end to them, no possible victory against them. I see that now, and will cease to fight.

The former was a blend of fetish sex and roid-rage shamanism, this is another beast altogether. By which I mean it’s just stultifying, though by design, I’d charitably assert.

Habit reads like a social metaphor. Vampires (though they are never explicitly called this, I rush to point out, they may not even be, but they’ve got all the hallmarks) might be born or created amongst those we ostracize from our quotidian society. That they form a safety net for the prostitutes, damaged, drunken and imbalanced that we sweep aside to keep the streets clean. It makes the consumption of blood and flesh into a communion between and amongst the lost and lonely. Not power, but precarious balance is sought by these vampires’ feasting. Not dominance but a petty vengeance on their tormentors.

It is, genuinely, an interesting and thoughtful take on the mythos. For all of the gothic power fantasies of vampire lovers, it’s impossible to see how they could possibly exist but on the margins. Stephen McGeagh has recognised their futility in a world where profiting from the pain, addiction and suffering of others is unavoidable fact. We shouldn’t fear vampires, we should fear each other, our capacity for evil is greater and often unconscious and implacable. The vampires in this book are hopeless bottom feeders, a far cry from the apex predators of other works. They care for each other, and spread their sacrament to those who need help and a form of grisly self expression.

The protagonist encounters them and is given a way to escape his role as a passive factotum of inertia. A literal, and literary, blank slate. He lives in a Manchester that is grey and half remembered and floats from one event to another without asking questions or really taking action. He lacks distinguishing features, physically or emotionally, which in turn means that little personality comes through.

It’s a condition anyone with a hangover can appreciate, but it makes for a wearisome read that is so intent on being nihilistic that it drains the writing of texture and beauty. This golem protagonist could have been set down in a cloud of fog for all it would have mattered. His thin personality also means that we learn nothing about the supporting cast. A shame because the interaction feels natural, and is reasonably paced.

Sometimes a book is judged for its strengths, more often for its weaknesses. Habit is a book that needs must be judged by its absence. It lacks texture or teeth and thus I found it somewhat dispiriting to read a book with promise muddied by stylistic choices.

 

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Stephen McGeagh is a horror writer from Liverpool by way of Manchester.
Habit is out now and is published by Salt

 

 

Nightjar Press – Treasuring the short story

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Following on from our Long Live Print column, we met with Nicholas Royle, the founder of Nightjar Press. Elevating the short story as a form of fiction is Royle’s MO. Each release from Nightjar brings a single short story to the fore and presents it as an elegant chapbook with all the care and aesthetic consideration of a longer work.  Continue reading

“Print is dead! Long live print!” – A note on the present of print

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It seems that finally the furore about the ‘death of print’ is dying down. Mainly because print did no such thing. The phrase ‘death of print’ is reminiscent of swashbuckling period movies in which a rabble of sooty-looking peasants or beruffled aristocrats yell “the king is dead”. All well and good. A simple sentence with a definite meaning. Almost immediately they’d drop “long live the king” as well. Instantly everything has changed. There’s a king, so the idea of ‘king’ is still there (a constant if you will) but the body that constitutes king is entirely different. This is exactly what is going on with print. Print publishing as a concept is very much here. The reality that constitutes print publishing is becoming a whole new world. Continue reading

Review: Never Never Never Come Back – Kirsten Irving

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It is rare to find a collection such as Never Never Never Come Back. One that is wildly varied and still feels cohesive; like the work of a single author. Irving really flexes her skill with her first collection. The different styles and methods of writing are apparent and she manages to make each one her own. What is troublesome for me is that the numerous branches leading out of the book make it hard to talk about collection without making general sweeping statements about its goodness, so instead I’ll just highlight a couple of my favourites and go from there. Continue reading