Tag Archives: publishing

Review: Habit – Stephen McGeagh

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

habit

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

 

 

“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: Blood Fugue by Joseph D’Lacey

Alexander Mee was less than satisfied by Proxima’s latest offering, Blood Fugue. A sexed up vamp horror with all the subtlety of gravel. 

Eros and Thanatos, or Desire and Death. These are the drives that Freud believed acted within and amongst humans to motivate our heinous and holy intents as well as our internal conflicts. They are also key to understanding Horror as a genre, which plays on both at the same time. Dracula is a great example of this, the Count is a player but I’d want stake him for coming near my loved ones. Frankenstein’s monster is another, it seeks love but is doomed to destroy. Their journeys may be odysseys of furious savagery, but they are enthralling to read, and their downfalls bittersweet. Continue reading

The Launch of Annexe Introducing

Perhaps you’ve heard that we’ve put together a little festival of spoken word, music, theatre and comedy. That’s fast approaching and is set to be a cracking event. Do come along. 
What you may not have heard is that a highlight of the festival will be the launch party for our first in-print series, Annexe Introducing.

We have been, and still are, working with three writers to bring their incredible talent to the masses. To do so, we are publishing a selection of their work in beautifully designed (if we do say so ourselves) and expertly printed pamphlets.  Continue reading

Meanwhile…

This Meanwhile is a small press special. We went along to Publish and be Damned’s self-publishing fair at the ICA yesterday and here are some of the incredible exhibiting publishers that we think are well worth getting to know better.

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A Pigeon, A Kitchen & An Annexe: Sites of Alternative Publishing – Opening Night

Our exhibition with Pigeon, Very Small Kitchen and Ladies of the Press* opened last Friday to a massive crowd. We couldn’t have hoped for a better turn-out.
A huge thanks to everyone who came along, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve still got until March 4th. We’re also having an evening of talks on the nature of alternative and independent publishing on the 3rd at X Marks the Bökship.

And now, a few snaps from opening night:

Continue reading

Volumes of Text: a teaser

Here’s a little glimpse at some of the stuff we’re throwing together for the Sites of Alternative Publishing exhibition.

The exhibition opens on Friday 17th of February with a preview evening, to which you a cordially invited. Come along, have a gander at our work and say hello.

A Pigeon, A Kitchen and An Annexe: Sites of Alternative Publishing
17/02 > 04/03
Five Years Gallery
8 Andrews Road
E8 4QN

Read the full press release.