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Eyepennies [Paperback]

Mike O'Driscoll , Rik Rawling
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Nov 2012
'Eyepennies' is a song written and recorded by Mark Linkous, an American songwriter, musician and producer, who recorded and performed five albums under the name Sparklehorse. The last of these, Dark Night of the Soul, co-written and produced with Dangermouse, saw Mark collaborate with an eclectic mix of performers and artists, including Vic Chesnutt, The Flaming Lips, and David Lynch. It was officially released, after contractual problems had caused a delay, in 2010. 'Eyepennies' appeared on the 2001 album It's a Wonderful Life, which was my first encounter with Sparklehorse's music. I saw them late in 2002 supporting Bonnie 'Prince' Billy at a gig in London. Throughout the hour long set, Mark's vocals were probably the quietest I'd ever heard at a live gig. This had the effect of causing the audience to concentrate all the more intently on his hushed, elusive lyrics, as we strove to understand the mysterious truths they allowed us to glimpse. Some people interpreted the title of It's a Wonderful Life as an ironic riposte to those who perceived of Mark as being preoccupied with mortality, madness and the dark side of human nature, but I prefer to take him at his word. This despite his struggles with depression, addiction and the long, painful recovery from an all too close brush with death in 1996 while touring the UK to promote his first album Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot. That Mark recovered from that, and the near loss of both legs, spoke volumes about his determination to see the rich beauty and weirdness in life. His fascination was not with death but with the simple, mundane pleasures we so often take for granted. Dogs, trees, sunshine, birds, horses, dusk; he loved motorcycles, old songs, old engines, the American south, its dark history and literature. His music and lyrics -- spooky, elusive, surreal, and raw -- are imbued with these things, though the songs speak to us obliquely, filtering his ideas and passions through the prism of an extraordinary life. They serve as surreal reminders of things we've forgotten, and reveal to us something of the dreams we never understood. Mark Linkous took his own life in March 2010. That he fought on for fourteen years after his first close encounter with death is a testament to his strength and zest for life. We are left only with his eerily beautiful and haunting songs, and for that we are blessed. I wrote this story for him. -- Mike O'Driscoll, from his Introduction to Eyepennies, the first TTA Novella from the publishers of Interzone and Black Static

Product details

  • Paperback: 100 pages
  • Publisher: TTA Press; First edition (1 Nov 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955368359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955368356
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,545,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A musician emotionally scarred by a near-death experience is haunted by his past, his present and his future in this chilling, slow burn of a ghost story. Read it! --Ellen Datlow

O'Driscoll has written a tightly-constructed and sympathetic homage to a doomed artist where one man's memory, dreams and timeline overlap to mind-bendingly nightmarish effect. If you like horror that is a bit out of left field, this will be right up your alley --Alan Kelly, Rue Morgue

Like many of the great supernatural stories the reader is left wondering whether what you are reading is real or if it is just a figment of Mark's broken mind. This is a brilliant story that pushed me as a reader, as much with its clever writing and beautiful prose as it did with some shocking scenes --Jim McLeod, Ginger Nuts of Horror

About the Author

Mike lives in Swansea. When not writing he works with adults with mental health problems. His fiction has been published in TTA publications Black Static, Interzone and Crimewave, as well as in many other magazines and anthologies, including various Year's Best collections. His story 'Sounds Like' was adapted and filmed by Brad Anderson as part of the Masters of Horror TV series. He now writes a column called Silver Bullets about television for Black Static.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening 12 Jun 2013
It is always a good idea when launching a new imprint to ensure the lead publication sets the bar for all future releases, and judging by the quality of this novella, the bar has been set extremely high.

Eyepennies, tells the story of Mark, a musician, who after suffering a near death experience, is trying to piece his life back together. However hindering Mark's rehabilitation is his concern that he hasn't come back complete, he thinks something has been left behind.

With Mark, who is loosely based on a real life musician, O'Driscoll has painted a classic tragic, battered, bruised and rather unlikeable artist. The sparse and sometimes pared down to the bare bones of writing narrative works really in conveying the demons that Mark carries around in his head. The splintered way in which the story is told, with the narrative jumping between the past and the present, also helps to hold up a mirror to the splintered mind of Mark. O'Driscoll has really put a lot of effort into making Mark a truly hateful character, from his spiting the dummy out tirades as he tries to record new music, to the shocking way he treats his wife. However there is a scene, that shocked me to the core, a scene that involves a pet, personally I don't think this scene was needed, however I can sort of see why it was included in the story.

Like may of the great supernatural stories the reader is left wondering whether what you are reading is real or if it is just a figment of Mark's broken mind. This is a brilliant story that pushed me as a reader, as much with it's clever writing and beautiful prose as it did with some shocking scenes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, Brilliant 23 May 2013
I would advise reading this book in one sitting as the story jumps back & forth in time in a non-linear fashion. Which can be a little disconcerting at first. However, the more you get into the story, the more it wont let you go. I found the book very hard to put down, as I had to find out where the character driven story was going.

The story is about Mark, a singer/songwriter who had a near death experience, from which his psyche never really recovered. Mike attributes the inspiration for this story to the real life singer/song writer Mark Linkous. After reading the blurb about the writer, it's easy to see how Mike `got into' Mark's head and how he has managed to create a full and believable, if very troubled, character.

The prose is effortless and compelling, creating images in the minds eye both chilling and insightful. The pace is brilliant, you don't realise that you are being drawn in and carried along until you reach a satisfying, and haunting, end.

I am willing to bet that you will still be thinking about this book days after you have finished the last page. That to me is the sign of a brilliant story and writer.

If this is the shape of future TTA novellas I am much impressed and can whole heartedly recommend them.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 1.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1.0 out of 5 stars Contemptible trash - fans of Sparklehorse stay FAR away 3 Mar 2013
By Johnny Bull - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Amazon needs a "zero stars" rating. This supposed tribute to Mark Linkous is the most insensitive, sickening, ill-conceived and morally bankrupt thing I've ever encountered. Horrifying - as much for the story as for the manner in which the author has chosen to try to corrupt and poison the memory of a great artist. I will be trying to get my money back from Amazon.
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