Admin update (links to my books). Continue reading
This is a pure blast of creativeness from Clive Barker. Depictions of power beyond reckoning are blended with normal everyday life. The novel defies description but in some senses is less than the sum of its parts – the pace in the fantastic narratives does not always fit well to the mundane parts. I was left with the feeling of creative but disparate excursions and as a result not always a smooth flowing read. Although much attention went on the Fugue, it felt incidental – set up just to be destroyed – a great deal of invention wasted. It deserved a separate treatment and on reflection it might have been strong enough for a stand alone novel.
Weaveworld’s cosmogony lacked an overall cohesiveness that would have given it a more plausible edge. Normally, an indication of the overall hierarchical structure can be elicited by the activities of supranormal entities. I looked for signs of an overall pattern but was unsuccessful. The great nemesis, the Scourge, begged a larger setting but this wasn’t forthcoming.
I would call this 2½ novels
• The Fugue,
• The Scourge
(both separately interesting) plus
random linking narrative (½ a novel of the mundane)
Despite these criticisms, Clive Barker gets a thumbs up for the vision.
[* edited 06/08/2016]
To blog or not to blog. I shuck off thoughts of Grant Morrison’s Invisibles (Vertigo Comics) and retellings of The Fisher King.
Once more I am at Kulturá at the Kavá in Todmorden. In another life, things change; our landlord has given notice – the ultimate owner of our renterd home – the Church of England – has let it be known that they are putting a man of the cloth back in. We have until the end of September to be out. This consumes me but it isn’t all. Several writing groups I go to are in flux, (Irwell Writers, Hasiwriters) or even closing down. (Cheetham Street Writers).
Contemporaneously I realise that my time with Relate Lancashire is coming to an end. I have found excuses not to leave for the past six months but it isn’t paid and is an enormous distraction. The big strategic decisions have been taken. A Time of Changes. Robert Silverberg wrote that. I don’t remember the details of Silverberg’s (aka SilverBob’s) book. His most enduring novel is Dying Inside – a 1972 Science Fiction work (with plenty of literary / other allusions). What happens? A guy is born with telepathic powers. He abuses his gift which eventually fades. It ought to be more widely read.
This time I am early, but I haven’t checked what’s on tonight. To make up for this I will have to jot notes doubly fast. As best as I can make out, the first slot will be Ed Reiss – a poetry lecture. Ed lectures at Bradford University. Let’s do a recap of Kavá at Kulturá. The format is
Coffee breaks / refreshments between. Things move on. A poem is distributed, The White Ship by Jeffrey Hill, and it’s time for…
We look at The White Ship. This had two versions; the first 1956 and the second in 2013. The 2013 edition uses some of the thoughts and lines of the 1956 edition; essentially different poems. Ed analysed these and for the most part I conclude this is Hill trimming deadwood. Some find joy in this exercise. I feel the process segue into whimsical reading and analysis. A ready made mental framework leaps off the printed page and with Comic Book Pop Art enthusiasm imposes order on the mind of the poet.
My mind wanders. My next novel – Lucky – is thirty thousand words to the good. It’s dealt with existential aspects of life at the bottom of life’s ladder in the UK and now it’s time for things to take off.
I note a couple of unnecessary rhymes and imagine a cavalcade of stanzas, all in forced emotive language. Not my taste but has its place. I found the analysis dull* but eventually I’m brought back to life.
In the first interval I acquire A Slow Blues, new and selected poems by David Cooke (The High Window Press, 168pp, £10). On first sight this is a reasonably put together volume. It is A5 paperback format and has been produced using Lulu’s print-on-demand technology. It’s Lulu so the format is fine. The subject matter is okay; I’m immediately drawn to the section title In The Distance bringing to mind a short story of mine that played on those words. The layout, however, seems overly standardised which denatures it (sameness is more noticeable in longer collections) and I’m curious as to whether this was the poet’s intention. Different layouts are possible eg Has You Like It mixes of things up without being messy. To be technically pedantic, all that’s required is Styles (from my experience of formatting 30+ self-published books / editions, these are a great help) which convert perfectly well to PDF. It’s perfectly possible to do wandering words.
My mind drifts back to Lucky: the role of The Treacherous Campbells slots nicely into the McIvor connection.
Mandy is a poet, editor and novelist; lives in West Sussex and is published by Sentinel Poetry. She reads The Hama Stones from her Neolithic sequence, which is to my taste; I also find At Solstice rewarding. As she progresses through classical and pre-historic times, I find myself following a bucolic thread that weaves in and out. My funds however have been squandered on A Slow Blues so I don’t get to buy one of Mandy’s books. I decide to check her works later — I dig up the following:
• The Onion Stone (Pewter Rose Press) – Novel
• Bee Purple (Overstep Books)
• Frost Hollow (Overstep Books)
• Allotments in the Orbital (Searle Publishing)
• All the Invisibles (Sentinel Books)
• Poems for a Liminal Age (Sentinel Books)
We break and I realise, backtracking I haven’t noted the favourite poem, or the reader — a name floats out of memory: Charlotte — even though she’s been sat next to me most of the evening (hi Charlotte ). With the impending closure of Cheetham Street Writers, I once again wonder if there is a writing group in Todmorden. A question for another time.
Eventually it’s open mike time. Hindsight tells me that I rated Richard (actor) and John. Delivery is all.
Things conclude and I comfort myself with the notion that between them, Plato and Aristotle have a lot to answer for.
The next Kulturá is 25/08/2016 at 7:30 pm. The current programme expires at the end of 2016. Sponsors are of course welcome.
I may find the result dull but I laud the ambition – the channels for delivering art that hasn’t been mass produced are limited enough. To the consumer who demands more, the media are highly resourced dopamine generating processes who’s key function is to regulate cerebral ingestion. Creative output (& input) is limited. One vision to rule them all, one vision to bind them, one vision to pamper lotus eaters. [a pseudo post-Christian world that accommodates faith]
So, analytical or direct?
The first hurdle is this: you analyse the impact away – why would you want to do that? This becomes an exercise in frustration. A lecture is essentially an externalised inner dialogue. It is static, consistent with the tradition of contrived emotional response, shaped to prevalent poetic fashions. The tools to counter dullness are performance and delivery which drifts into the territory of what is being examined. From a distant shore I would consider the following:
“When people believe that the form is more important than the Truth, they will not find truth, but will stay with form.”
“Show a man too many camels’ bones, or show them to him too often, and he will not be able to recognize a camel when he comes across a live one.”
These sayings (collected by Idries Shah) are consistent with the world view that meticulous analysis of detail misses the point. If I pulled the legs and wings off a fly what would I be left with? These correctives come from Sufi tradition but could come from anywhere. A view from a distant shore
Art is impact. Delivery borrows liberally – from humour, the sacramental. It evokes a response if it is dynamic. This doesn’t actually fix trite content but side-stepping convention can liven up things.
Plato’s objection is over the moral filter – or lack of – it is an impediment to reaching for the light. This is where monotheism set out its stall – Christianity for centuries and… that writ still runs in Islam. Setting aside the cause of monotheism (art is sacred and it should only venerate God). Setting this aside, there are still issues about crude sensationalism. Consider the bus stop poster: product is promoted by a glitzy woman – defaced by a moustache, or maybe a penis. Is that art? It’s a reaction against convention. Following Aristotle, forced patterns just look wrong – bog standard poetry with bits bolted aimlessly on – which accounts for most of what’s out there.
Art Exhibition – BertholArthouse
Padiham, 103, Burnley Road, BB12 8BL
On the 9th June, 2016 I was invited to a preview of a pop up art exhibition (www.bertholarthouse.co.uk) in Padiham. I had the opportunity to talk to the exhibiting artists and I was struck by the pulled wool creations of Catherine Kaufman. She took me around her exhibits and told me about the creative process. Of the six pieces on display, each could take 6 months, 8 months or longer. The act of creation is experimental and the effect is achieved by the application of a single wool plucking pin. A good deal of Catherine’s technical explanations didn’t make it into my notepad but the ideas she framed require reciprocation. These are mine:
A water sprite that can become mortal.
Method: marry a human.
Catch: unfaithful husband means she has to go back to the sea.
The Little Mermaid, one of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales, gives a telling of this story. His, and later versions, include an element of moralising.
In classical times Continue reading
Normally I would post this on my Goodreads account but the site has changed recently and I can no longer log into my account there. Clearing caches hasn’t been successful so this is probably down to functionality changes for Windows 10 (my machine is limited to XP). Nothing’s broken at my end. There isn’t enough time in the world to mend remote problems.
While this goes on I have begun to cut the traces at Relate Lancashire. As Chair to the Trustees I provide strategic input. By grace, good fortune and sweat, the charity looks to have turned around. I know numbers – I live and breathe them and if the evil day has been been put off, that job is done.
I also live and breathe writing. Having completed Dragon Shard, which is a fictional excursion into interstellar space spiced with liberal dollops of horror + ruminations on what dark matter might actually be – Dark Matter? never heard of it? it’s a solution proposed by Fritz Zwicky nearly one century back to fix the problem in that the observed rotation of the galaxy didn’t tally with the observable mass – just science. Anyway Dragon Shard comes to 18,000 words; begun December 2015, completed June 2016. Let’s draw a line under it.
My next project is a return to an idea that first saw light of day in March 2013. It goes like this: a refugee from a civilisation destroying war at the heart of the galaxy, ends up on Earth. My mother was a refugee — I get the fear and the paranoia and the hate filled bile of the people that you are forced to live among. I lived a life that the middle classes have no experience of and this is an opportunity to set it down (within a Science Fiction context). So far it comes to 28,000 words and I’ve just dipped into White Van Man + Cyclists + the Scottish Clans. There’s a long way to go.
Here’s my new site http://tparchie.wix.com/tpark
Last night I went to the Kavá, a coffee shop in Todmorden. The Kavá holds a Kulturá evening on the last Thursday of each month. Last night’s event consisted of
Poetry Lecture: Coleridge and Eyes
this was followed by a poetry discussion
Feature Poet: Peter Riley, writer
recent books: The Glacial Stairway and Due North
Open Mic: 8 regional poets
Lecture, feature poet, and open mic are booked in advance. The poetry discussion would interest those with an interest in Continue reading
Over the past few days I’ve been toying with writing up my notes on Energy Risk – outside the crazy world of books is an even crazier world of finance, and risk modelling. In a former life, I did risk modelling for former regional electricity company, Norweb. It might be twenty years back but some things stick in memory. I’ve made a start but, reluctantly, I’ve put it aside. Tonight I’m off to The Whitaker.
My first point of contact for Continue reading
I’m almost ready for ScribbleCon which is being held at The Golden Lion, Todmorden on 28/05/2016. There will be comic book stalls and magazine stalls plus talks including:
Linocut Print taster workshop (age 16+)
Have a go at carving a simple image into lino and try out a range of tools and lino textures at this drop-in workshop with artist Rachael Elwell. Rachael can answer any questions you may have about the linocutting process and Continue reading