A tip of the hat to people and their work. Share with others
A tip of the hat to people and their work. Share with others
Issue #16 of “Button” has just arrived courtesy of editor/publisher Sally Cragin.
The format is bigger, which is too bad, but the content remains odd and interesting.
The issues theme is communication and it has a lot of vintage telephone stories.
Well worth the $6.00 for three issues. Send her three forever stamps with your check!Filed Under Recommendations
by Mark Edwards reviewed by Doug Mathewson
Before the very first page of “Clearout Sale” author Mark Edwards tells us his purpose. The dedication page simply states, “for my mates.” I for one am glad Mr. Edwards has kindly included the reader within this circle. Clearout Sale (Andromache Books London UK,146 pages. 2008) is a love story. Not romantic love, though romance does appear more than once as a topic with in these pages. Rather love of place and people, love of language and the interplay of conversation. The title may suggest a clearance of odd remainders, a clearing out of mismatched bits and pieces the author has yet to find homes for, but this notion would be both untrue and a disservice to the author. What he done in fact is carefully assemble a fascinating and delightful collection of brief prose poems and equally brief fiction pieces.
The first section of the book is poetry. Short prose poems that are the strongest work featured in this volume. Our setting is contemporary urban Scotland, our cast an assemblage or well crafted everyday working people. Friends and neighbors of the author one assumes. The prose, the actual language is fascinating and exotic you my American ears. Read these poems aloud for a real treat. More than the accent Mr. Edwards conveys to us with his fanciful spelling is the cadence, the rhythm of of his characters speech. Among my many favorites a few are exceptional. In “kev” the author beautifully captures a man tell us a bit of his life. “CV -Promises” provides lasting images of high-rise life. My favorite “yir all shite” is simply brilliant. For anyone who is a poet, knows a poet, or has every attended a live poetry event this poem alone justifies the volume’s purchase. A drunken poet tells all assembled, in no uncertain terms, of his might and prowess. At a recent University open mic event I was sorely tempted to rise from my seat and read this piece aloud. If only I could manage the accent.
Short fiction, very short fiction that fits the ever changing description of flash fiction
comprises the second half of Clearout Sale. While the language and characters remain
just as captivating the selections themselves are not as strong or as lasting. Fiction that comes to us as “a slice of life” is often quite good. Tasty and memorable. When the “slices” are very small, as in all forms of micro-fiction, two problems arise. Which tiny slice to pick, and does it leave the reader satisfied? Mr. Edwards has mixed results in this area. Several stories are good. One that stands out is “Drama.” This short piece, too long for current flash fiction guidelines, tells a complete story well rounded between our central character’s internal dialogue and the well written dialogue he has with friends. “Holiday” is memorable as well. This first person narrative memory of childhood is done with just the right mixture of innocence, desperation, and humor.
I for one was glad to have read this book, and happy to recommend it. Being both poetry and fiction may work against it. Perhaps a future edit might intersperse the two,
arranging the work more by topic or theme. Happily would I read future works by Mr. Edwards, and look forward to additional offerings from Andromache Books.
Perceptions of Receptions
Often news stories describing art gallery openings or artists receptions are about the venue and the attendees. Who wore what, who was escorted by whom, the band, the cheese and crackers, the gallery owners, but rarely it seems about the artists or their work. Most sound like “red carpet” interviews. The author never seems to actually go inside. Look at what passes for entertainment news. Which film grossed highest over the weekend. That is business news. Read the Los Angles Times for a closer look at the production and promotion side of movie industry.
Reading artistic mission statements is always fun. They make great poems. Make one up and read it aloud. But surely there is a journalistic balance that would be interesting and informative. Personally to see the art and the artist together helps me to understand them both so much better.
At a recent i-park Open Studio program I met two exceptional artists. Art and the whole creative process continues to fascinate me.
Claudia Borgna is an international art gypsy (gypsy in the romantic American sense, not the sometimes derogatory European sense) who travels the world making art with her recycled plastic bags. This is far more exciting than it sounds. The impact her outdoor installations is really impressive. She keeps expanding farther and farther on natural themes with unnatural (man made) materials creating hyper-natural environments.
Dhanur Goyal www.penandinkcreations.com is a relaxed soft spoken man until the topic becomes art. Both he and his pen and ink drawings are as fierce as the bengal tigers of his homeland. Work from his show “Lost in a Lost World” is incredible. To me there are elements of Sgt. Peppers and Salvador Dali in Dhanur’s powerful images. He depicts human nature so strongly. He showed an image of two people sharing a single face. He explained that two people become one person when they argue. The more I stare at his work, the more intrigued I become.
by – Doug MathewsonFiled Under Recommendations, Running Commentary
Welcome to our friends at Creative Soup. Please visit them often via provided link or go there now www.creativesoup.org They are a creative and imaginative group of local artists who always seem to have something going on. There is much to explore here. Creative writing is most in evidence. Contributors offer their own work as well as participate in group projects. Join their mailing list to be included in what may be described “art missions”. Their upcoming writing project sounds fascinating and should be of interest to anyone who likes very short fiction. The conspiratorial aspect of these projects has tremendous appeal. Also I have had the pleasure of watching Martha Link Walsh as she creates her art and it is amazing.
Doug MathewsonFiled Under Recommendations, Running Commentary
I completely love music. Music provides incredible secret worlds in which to imagine. It is so interesting to see how musically talented people creates such beauty . While I enjoy music very much I do not write about it. While it is dear to me, all I can offer is fan opinion. “I like to drive fast when I listen to this” or “it makes me sad and romantic when I listen to that”. ” I love listening to The White Stripes, Amy Winehouse, Archade Fire and others, but so do a lot of people. It is not news. I have nothing intelligent or interesting to add. Nothing insightful to say.
Let me now make an exception. Please listen to Rasputina. Info at www.rasputina.com also see their www.wikipedia.com entry. As the bands website states it is all about cellos and corsets. They are loud, musically aggressive, discordant, punk in spirt, and lovely. Their musical style matches their “steam punk” appearance. Over the edge Victorian without the vampire campiness. They seem to arrive from the worlds of Paul D’Filippo. They could well be in opening act in favorite story of his “Little Worker”.
Buy Rasputina’s music, visit them online, look at their images, see if they have a recital scheduled near you. They are a must have for anyone who love cello music, but finds classical too limiting in structure.
by – Doug MathewsonFiled Under Recommendations
The Bird Artist
“The Bird Artist” by Howard Norman is a well written and intriguing account of a small Newfoundland village around 1910. The characters are direct and unadorned but far from simple. This could well be a stripped down prequel to Annie Proulx’s “Shipping News”. The story has a very strong meter or cadence in both character development and language. I found myself engaged in the story from the very first paragraph. The ending might be a little weak, but I liked how things worked out and would recommend this book highly.Filed Under Recommendations
Out on the West Coast there is a small company named Splaff.
But more importantly they are on line www.splaff.com.
They sell products made from recycled materials. Try their belts.
I have given several as gifts and they are very cool. I recommend the wider of the two style, the one made from mountain bike tubes. When visiting them make sure to look at the end tables they offer.
Pen Pricks Micro Fiction
I want to thank Pen Pricks Micro Fiction for publishing three of my 55 word stories in the December Issue. I like what I read on their site. It is quick on the draw and edgy, which is what 55 words is about. Please see:
“Blood and Culture”
Smash Flash Update
Elizabeth who edits Pen Pricks was kind enough to include three of my 55 word tales in the January 2008 Issue as well!
“Veeranjane”Filed Under Recommendations, Running Commentary
“Spook” by William Gibbson
I was looking forward to the release of William Gibbson’s new novel “Spook”. Online it was praised, The New York Times liked it.
And I wanted to like it too. The Novel is ok, but no new ground. It is set in more or less the same world as “Pattern Recognition” which is a much better novel. These are both accessible to most readers which is good for the author, but it was his earlier more obscure work that gained him fame. I still reread “Burning Chrome”, “Count Zero”, and “Mona Lisa Overdrive”. One thing I have always liked about Gibbson is something I first saw Kurt Vonnegut Jr. do with his alter-ego Kilgore Trout. Kilgore would toss out some wild idea to the reader and then just let it sit. Not stretch it into some pointless subplot. Trust the reader a little, please.
Support your local library, have them get you “Spook” or just read
“Pattern Recognition” and imagine your own sequel.
“Air” by Geoff Ryman is a highly insightful book. Geoff Ryman puts the reader in a near future when everyone on Earth gets full high-end web access in their heads 24-7. We follow a remote village where most people have never made so much as a phone call and now find they will be online permandently. The central character Mae offers the reader some amazing commentary on life, technology access, and the changes brought about in peoples relationships.Filed Under Recommendations