The Cultural Carrion: April Edition

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Mark E. Smith: R-uhh. I-yyarrr. P-eahhh.

In 2005 me and my contemporaries were going through a weird state-change into not-quite-adulthood, where the old accepted ideas of ‘cool’ had mysteriously died and everything was in flux. The neat categories in which we had formerly defined ourselves were fraying – chavs, grungers, ‘boffs’ (that be me), et al. Previously, social status depended on how…

‘The Great Wave’

Trust me to fall in love with Halil Çelik. Halil. Çelik. The boy who made my first two years of high school one long, slow, undignified retreat back into my shell. Who made me and my friends eat lunch everyday crouched at the edge of the playground. It’s not like…

5 Unconventional Ways to Read More in 2018

This post first appeared at BookRiot.  For the second year running, I’ve averaged a book a week. Hurrah! This puts me somewhere between Mark Zuckerberg(book-a-fortnight) and President Theodore Roosevelt (book-a-day). There are worse places to be, I guess. To boost your reading productivity this year, here are some tips that worked…

Confessions of a Mishima Reader

Nothing forced me to read Yukio Mishima’s Confessions of a Mask in secret. This essay would probably be more exciting if I were  a bookish dissident blazing a trail for freedom. I suppose it is about the responsibilities that come with having freedom. I have always been free. I only encountered…

‘Free at Last’

Pleased as punch to come 2nd in Writing Magazine’s single-character story competition. The judges said it ‘neatly nails the pretensions of a wannabe writer’. So rest assured that it is heavily autobiographical (or, as they put it, ‘written with warmth and affection’). Day One John staggered inside, a large parcel across both…

2017: My Year in Writing

In 2017 I could call myself a writer again. That felt good. For the first time since about 2012, I end the year with a solid body of work behind me. The mix of fiction and non-fiction, long-form and short-form, is uncharacteristic of me but in keeping with my writing…

2017: My Year in Books

Surveying my reading habits this time last year, I tended to accentuate the negative (this, you may recall, was the fashion in 2016). But this time, let’s start with the good news. Firstly, I have managed to keep reading a lot. I averaged a little over a book a week this year, putting me somewhere between Mark Zuckerberg…

One-line book reviews: 61-80

Features Ballard, Chaucer, Conrad, Peake and Lady Sashina. One-line review #61: ‘The Red and the Black’ by Stendhal. Some pretty good social observation and sexual politics (esp. the tit-for-tat between Julien and Mathilde), but it does drag on. One-line review #62: ‘The Canterbury Tales’ by Geoffrey Chaucer (modern prose version…

‘Trees in Winter’

Trees in Winter   Unveiled like veins, winter’s trees disclose Their dead ends. We have fewer winters left Than these have leaves. Then we’ll be seen Outlined, unfinished, in our entirety, The sum of our maps and of our plans. All The turns we took to slow the falling And give it the grace of…

An Older Model

This is my contribution to a collaborative project including work from various creative writing groups. It was first published here and will be included in an e-book to be published in May 2018. Our prompt was to describe a ‘scent memory’ from childhood.  Leather armrests warmed by sunlight through closed car windows. Glass…

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