Tag Archives: the wanderer

In the event…


I’m delighted to be participating in a reading on Saturday 4th October in London with two good friends and fine authors, Douglas Cowie and Timothy J. Jarvis. All three of us were at the University of East Anglia at the same time, Tim and I undertaking an MA in Creative Writing, Doug working on his PhD in the same.

Since those heady days among the UEA ziggurats, Douglas Cowie has published a novel, Owen Noone and The Marauder (Canongate) and a diptych of shorter novels under the title Sing For Life, individually entitled Tin Pan Alley and Away, You Rolling River (Black Hill Press) — books about America, music, friendship and loss. I’m privileged to know a little about his hugely exciting new project, on which he’s been working for a number of years now.

Timothy J. Jarvis has long been interested in the weird, the antic, and those odd little corners of fiction and indeed of geogrraphy. His debut, The Wanderer (Perfect Edge), is a wonderfully weird quote-unquote horror novel that’s so much more: a disquisition on the mythology and hidden places of London, a knowing reworking and retelling — wonderfully, done utterly straight — of horror tropes, and a valuable addition to the canon of dystopian literature.

In writing up this post, it’s occurred to me that the odd one out of this trio, not having a PhD to my name. With three weeks to go, I probably shouldn’t embark upon one right now. I’ll be reading from The Glasgow Coma Scale — or, possibly, from something new (I haven’t decided yet).

The event will kick off at 8pm at The Alleycat on Denmark Street — aka Tin Pan Alley, fittingly. There’ll be readings, a chance to buy books, and DJs until late — so do come along (you “hoped for but doubtless chimeric” reader, you). Entry is free!

Summer Reading

Everyone is else is talking about the books they’re going to read this summer (including, ahem, an exceptionally well-curated list at Refinery29) so here are my picks. These are the titles – well, eight of them – I’ll be reading in the park round the corner, on the annual pilgrimage to Festival-glitzy Edinburgh next month and, with a bit of luck, on some short European trips in September… September still counts as summer, right?

'Yellow King' curtain fabric not included

‘Yellow King’ curtain fabric not included

All My Puny Sorrows – Miriam Toews (Faber)
Animals – Emma Jane Unsworth (Canongate)
These two have had knockout reviews, the former from my editor, who has (ahem) impeccable taste. I read Emma Jane Unsworth’s first novel, Hungry, The Stars and Everything, and suspect there will be some commonality in theme despite their very different settings: Hungry in a fancy restaurant where a reviewer has a very strange meal, Animals in a shared house where two girls inspire each other to go on ever more (self) destructive benders.

Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys – Viv Albertine (Faber)
I’m a sucker for music memoirs – even when, as in this case, I don’t know all that much of the work of the musician in question. That said, I did go and see Albertine – of The Slits, The Flying Lizards and latterly playing solo under her own name – play a gig at the Old Blue Last in 2010, and she seemed astute and likeably self-effacing. And her book has a great title.

The Eyrie – Tim Winton (Picador)
A new Winton is always an event; on the surface, this looks like the poet of the Australian landscape has turned his attention to more urban matters. Winton’s prose is always wondrous, and there’s a fableistic quality to the writing, especially in the more straightforward (and short) novels like Breath, his last novel, whose descriptions of surfing elevated it from a sport to a sort of transcendental experience.

From the Fatherland with Love – Ryu Murakami, trans. Ralph McCarthy, Charles De Wolf and Ginny Tapley Takemori (Pushkin Press)
I’ve been meaning to read ‘the other Murakami’ for a while now and, as is often the case, it was the cover of this new reissue from the estimable Pushkin Press that sold this one to me. It sounds entirely bonkers.

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts – Amos Tutuoloa (Faber)
The bold new geometric jackets Faber’s given their reissues of six paperbacks by Nigerian author Amos Tutuola make them utterly irresistible. Faced with the choice, I plumped for the one whose title I knew from the David Byrne/Brian Eno record.

Sum – David Eagleman (Canongate)
I stayed away from this when it first came out, as it suggested something a bit whimsical or cod-religious, until a friend recommended it recently. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but here are forty stories/thought experiments postulating what one could be like.

The Wanderer – Timonthy J. Jarvis (Perfect Edge Books)
I was lucky enough to read this book in manuscript a while back, and to be able to give this incredibly imaginative, splendidly weird book a blurb. I’m looking forward to revisiting a book which both celebrates and subverts the tropes of weird, Gothic and horror fiction – found manuscripts, immortal beings, the anthology format – so gleefully and masterfully.