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M Keenaghan (London, UK)

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Dining on Stones
Dining on Stones
by Iain Sinclair
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excursions into Alien Territory, 22 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Dining on Stones (Paperback)
What's interesting about Iain Sinclair's fiction is the question of its categorization. What is it? What you read is true, surely? Not fiction atall? Or atleast mostly true? Sinclair loves to blur the lines, bend the rules, attempt to bewilder. He walks the twilight zone. Real meets false and false is real - if you get my drift. Self-caricatures blur into actual doppelgangers (that follow you round as you endeavour to find yourself). Dark-night-of-the-soul diary entries merge into reality, actual events, real people with real names. Stories within stories. Murders, kidnappings, expulsions, quests.

'Dining on Stones' is a great read. A jump forward (or backwards - but in advancing fashion). Sinclair's writing seems to have sacrificed much of the erudite-esoterica that gorged his earlier 'fiction' for a breeze into Kerouacian terrain: the freeflowing accessibility of real street poetry. No bull***t sentences that strike like a match. In the face. More Ray Chandler than Samuel Pepys. Crack-eyed muggers rather than ancient spectres. The industrial fringes of Essex as New Jersey (Sopranos credits). Of course, all the usual props, obsessions and characters are reliably present - for example, what would a Sinclair be without the hovering presence of David Rodinsky, Joseph Conrad or JG Ballard (who does the West ot Sinclair's East) - but you do sense that Sinclair has kept much of the excessive facts and figures to himself. Gone Beat, you could say. First-take notebook scrawling on the c2c, Fenchurch Street to Grays. Throw in Robert Mitchum, Max Bygraves and Kenneth Noye (or perhaps his doppelganger) to the mix and you're done.

And it works. The guy is down with it, on the pulse, putting mainstream 'hipster' (a contradiction in terms, I know) London writers to shame (Zadie, Will - back to your champagne parties if you please). This Hackney boy knows his subject and rhymes it well. An old guy that's to be feared (cross the road if you see him): he could out-rap the estates of Bow, Stratford and Leyton in one.

Listen to him love, hate, praise and gripe. Romanticise then denounce. That's London. You hate the decay, the dereliction, but you want it there, existing. To the point of loving it. Needing it. Get it? As for the Fairview-Barratt colonies that sprout like overnight mushrooms by railway lines, canals, on wastegrounds - don't even go there. Sinclair records the simultaneous love and hate for urban territory perfectly, uniquely. Mess with the landscape and you're messing with minds. Pen brandished like a knife. A f*** you attitude. It's all in the riffing, all in the rap, the rhymes.

In "Dining on Stones" the journeying heads further afield - Hackney to Hastings via the A13 to Purfleet and Grays (for an old copy of Dracula, what else?) - exile territory where "London has shifted", spewed away its undesirables: the flotsam and jetsam, the out-priced. Sinclair's writing is like a call to arms ("Territory" and "Orbital" providing the key, or map, if you like). It doesn't so much inspire as actually demand interaction: he walks the road, you walk the road. The books are only half written; your participation completes them. That's their design, their secret. Their demand. Beware.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 10, 2009 8:37 PM GMT


Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis & Joy Division
Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis & Joy Division
by Deborah Curtis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

69 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heart of Darkness, 18 Oct. 2005
Ian Curtis, a mesmeric frontman and renowned lyricist is every bit deserved of his mythical-iconic status. So, do you want to hear 'the story' recounted from the perspective of the cheated wife? Well, I did. And admittedly, it WAS an interesting read, revealing a man not without fault, but ultimately a dedicated, hard-working person who painstakingly forged a promising musical career. Sadly, however, it was his escalating personal problems that ironically became his groups' 'selling point'.
Before the suicide that boosted record sales and confirmed Curtis' status among legends, the music press were already drawing attention to his burgeoning problem with epilepsy. Spurred on by his frantic, spasmodic dancing, live audiences must have seemed like eager spectators in a freak-show, baying for the crescendo of an on-stage fit. While this focal point may have generated the hype the band needed in a highly competitive industry, to Ian - whose depression was compounding his illness - the press reviews struck some disturbing paralells close to the bone ("In his opinion they were like psychiatric reports, even using the appropriate terminology and references"). Deborah reveals a man deeply embarrassed of his illness, yet obviously aware of its play in his desperate bid for success. She portrays a man of contradictions, a Jekyll-and-Hyde figure: one-of-the-lads to his bandmates and friends, while concealing a darker personality that sought refuge in thoughful literature (Hesse, Dostoyevsky, Conrad, Ballard), held an interest in Nazism, and was fascinated by "extreme concepts and philosophies". Not to mention a death wish.
The book briefly dips into Ian's trouble-free childhood and drug-experimenting adolescence, but concentrates mainly on the period of their relationship/marraige that coincided with the origins and eventual rise of Joy Division - and hit the rocks when Ian began his affair with the Belgian woman Annik Honore. Deborah interestingly sheds light on Ian's strongly held (and very serious) romantic notions of rock'n'roll death and suicide, and expresses her shocking opinion that "he engineered his own hell and planned his own downfall". He is described as an habitual depressive whose problem took a marked dive for the worse as his epileptic condition became debilitating, exacerbated by the barbiturates he was issued. Little was known about effective ways to treat epilepsy. Doctors showed Ian little sympathy or care. Remember, this was back in the 'pull-yourself-together' age of 1970s Britain which, particularly in this book, seems like the Dark Ages. Mental illness and 'mysterious' conditions such as eplepsy were airbrushed from public consciousness, and dubiously treated.
Nowadays, in hindsight, Curtis' lyrics may read as obvious cries-for-help or predictions of tragedy - even suicide notes. But at the time, nobody close to Ian was paying enough attention to acknowledge the danger in their increasingly extreme content. Deborah was shocked upon hearing the darkly-confessional lyrics of the 'Closer' LP (released just after his death). She says that had she heard it beforehand she "could have gained an insight into what was happening in his mind". And got some help. Couple this with the fact they had a one-year-old daughter, and it simply adds to the tragedy. However, she does suggest the tragedy as something probably inevitable.
Deborah's discovery of Ian's body in the kitchen of their terraced Macclesfield house - he'd polished off a bottle of whisky and hung himself, Iggy Pop's 'The Idiot' still spinning on the turntable - is sequenced in chilling dreamlike flashback. And, an example of the shameful heartlessness of the music industry is conveyed as bassist Peter Hook (generally good guy throughout) is shown as offering Deborah "one of the few expressions of sympathy shown to me by Ian's music business friends". Curtis died at just 23 years old.
The book is an emotional trawl through a dark, difficult past that raises many unanswered questions and much speculation. Being the only biography of Ian's life by somebody close to him, it cannot help but present a one-sided view that - for Ian's sake - could do with some counterbalance from elsewhere. While Deborah DOES glance over the kinder aspects of Ian's nature (he loved animals / took an "extremely personal interest in his job helping the disabled" etc.) she seems a little over-eager to emphasise his negative traits, frequently listing his selfish, cruel and sometimes bizzarre behaviour towards her. In places, her writing makes you wonder what she actually saw in him in the first place. There are also some petty moments, such as when she complains about Ian's "racism" while forgetting that she earlier mentioned his love for reggae and going to clubs "where white people didn't normally go".
Ultimately, the book is a riveting - if one-sided - read. However, with Deborah's recent solo-insistence upon pushing ahead for 'the movie'(always a bad idea) it quite naturally throws suspicion upon what the project was actually accomplished for. Nevertheless, to any Joy Division fan, or indeed anybody interested in Ian Curtis' writing, the inclusion of the full lyrics alone makes this book not only well worth the cover price but an essential possession.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 8, 2017 11:53 AM BST


A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun: The Autobiography of a Career Criminal
A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun: The Autobiography of a Career Criminal
by Razor Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rock'n'Roll Hellrazor, 13 Oct. 2005
South Londoner Noel "Razor" Smith's long history of crime culminated as a member of "The Laughing Bank Robbers", an armed firm known for their "gallows humour" who cracked jokes while collecting their loot - even, on one job, dressing in festive Santa hats and wishing terrified customers and staff a "Merry Christmas". Smith was also part of the Rockabilly scene who with his gang the Balham Wildkatz battled it out with punks, skinheads and other rivals at a time when the various London subcultures were tearing into each other with boots, fists and whatever else was handy.
"A Few Kind Words..." stands head and shoulders above most crime memoirs. Firstly, it is not ghostwritten - Smith discovered a talent for writing whilst behind bars that eventually got him published in national newspapers. Secondly, prison is where he is right now, serving a life sentence (or technically speaking, eight of them). So let's just say that, on top of being well-written, this book has an edge over much of its Real Crime contemporaries in what can often be quite a tacky and superficial genre.
Smith loads his memior with enough raucous mayhem to more-than-satisfy on the entertainment front, but also often pauses for intelligent, analytical reflection on the workings of his criminal mind, and the life he has spent "fashioning the chains that now bind him". Through writing, he says, he has "found a more acceptable way of expressing himself" than via the violence and crime that has taken away his most basic human right: freedom.
Born in 1960 into an average Irish working-class family, Smith has none of the usual excuses of a broken home or violent parental abuse to account for his slip down the wrong tracks, and to his credit, insists it was entirely his own choice, something he walked into with eyes wide open to the consequences. Yet, in his exploration of the past, he interestingly cites an adolescent experience of unprovoked "torture" and forced false-confession at the hands of drunken police as a turning point in his attitude towards "the system", sparking a rebellious spirit that - who knows - may not have otherwise been there, or atleast come so prominently to the fore. He also explains what it was like during the seventies when, with the IRA's bombing campaign at its height and anti-Irishnes rife, London-Irish kids were often compelled to either feign Englishness or assert their own identity, sometimes physically.
Though such factors can hardly take the blame for the self destructive one-man crimewave that Smith became, it does suggest how he would have felt the kind of outsider status that can often lead in a lawless direction. However, with Smith's addiction to the power and adrenaline of armed robbery (It was a rush that no amount of cocaine or Ecstasy could imitate"), it is hard to imagine anything other than participation in an actual war (Smith's own suggestion, by the way) satiating such an overwhelming urge.
Smith gets great pleasure in considering himself one of the last London "Chaps", criminals who followed codes of conduct and honour taken from noir gangster films and westerns. Here he paints all the usual mythical pictures of villains who were honest, moral and fair (as opposed to the modern sterotypical urban criminal, cracked up to the eyeballs and would kill his own granny for a tenner). But in wild contradiction, he also describes himself as "a thug from a council estate" who admits to acts of violence that were "vicious and heinous" - such as his penchant for slashing faces, presumably - hence the nickname. (The book actually ends in a show-off no-brainer statement that defies the writing's overall intelligence.)
Nevertheless, Smith generally paints himself as human rather than hero (he doesn't always win - he often quite brutally loses), and he writes with an awareness that, due to his endles tempers, tantrums and slashings, he is not exactly endearing himself to the reader. But that is a winning ingredient, because in a crime memior the down-to-earth honesty and lack of excuses makes a real change.
Mirroring Smith's life, much of the book is set in prison - in fact, Smith takes us on a tour of practically every prison in southern England. In these chapters he rails against what he sees as "holiday-camp" depictions in the British tabloid press where prisoners are treated with kid gloves and a revolving-door policy operates. Conversely, Smith runs through the many bad conditions, brutalities, injustices and corruption he has witnessed - which is enlightening but, of course, depressing.
Smith's endless revisits, after umpteen chances of freedom, may leave you exasperated and out of patience - Razor's life reads like one long prison sheet punctuated only by occasional bouts of freedom. But crime was evidently what he thrived on, his reason for living, and no amount of jail - despite its harshness - could quash his desire to keep going back to "the business" for more. Ultimately, in the book (until a massive life sentence in '99), he's springing back and forth like a yo-yo.
Of course, towards the end there are a few moments of regret (how could there not be?), but there's also a strong lingering sense of defiance (check out the last few paragraphs) that are quite startling. You're left remembering the zeal - an almost heady nostalgia - in which Razor Smith recounts his robberies, gangfights and prison escapes that leaves you wondering if given the chance he's do it all again.


And the Judges Said...
And the Judges Said...
by James Kelman
Edition: Paperback

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shots From the Hard Shoulder, 4 Oct. 2005
This review is from: And the Judges Said... (Paperback)
After 'Some Recent Attacks'(1992), this is another collection of Kelman's non-fiction work featuring political/literary essays, newspaper articles, speeches and other bits and bobs including a section on Noam Chomsky, and 'A Look at Franz Kafka's Three Novels' which, in dissertation-style, dissects the eccentric's masterworks with a fine toothpick.
Kelman, an old-school hard-left activist and fierce anti-authoritarian, is a man who knows his stuff and is not frightened to tell it like it is. Here is somebody equipped with that most feared of weapons - the pen. And boy, does he use it. At times you feel you're receiving a sermon from a particularly indignant preacher; at other times maybe you're in a low-lit pub with a well-read (but whisky-fuelled) bar-room philosopher as he humourousy recounts the trials and tribulations of his life and the world around him. But that's Kelman for you - hard-hitting AND intimate, sometimes both at once. And whether you like it or not, you're gonna LISTEN.
Unearthing the lid on many a hidden truth and injustice, Kelman covers subjects that range from elitism in Literature (it should be FOR and BY everybody), to the UK government's reluctance to properly address the issue of asbestos-related death, through to the Kurdish war in Turkey (something you won't read about in the holiday brochures - or ANYWHERE according to Kelman). However, it's not all doom and gloom. Some of the esays give insights into Kelman's origins as a writer - grafting hard or on the dole reading his way through Zola and Dostoyevsky - and his choice to use "the language of the gutter". And a fine choice it was.


Ecstasy And Wine
Ecstasy And Wine

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sunny Chainsaw Smile, 3 Oct. 2005
This review is from: Ecstasy And Wine (Audio CD)
I recently came across 'Ecstasy and Wine' in a Soho record shop and went for the plunge. It had been one of those 'must buy' items at the back of my mind for years. At the time of this early compilation's release in February '89 MBV were none too pleased, branding it a cash-in by their former label Lazy Records as they enjoyed their new-found high profile with Creation.
1988's 'You Made Me Realise' EP is generally written as the explosive tour-de-force that transformed the group from candypop lightweight janglers to sonic distortionists riding a wave of alt-American inspired decibel-driven intensity. But listening to these ealy recordings, just before 'the breakthrough', the question is , when exactly WERE My Bloody Valentine lightweight? Certainly not here.
The Lazy single 'Strawberry Wine' and mini-album 'Ecstasy' (both '87) that form this compilation contain all the sweetheart melodies of the later stuff - Bilinda's ghostly vocals whispering from some blissed-out dimension over an attacking dirge of sound - except here the overall sonic influence is more Mary Chain than Sonic Youth; massed effects and droning open tunings still waiting at the wings.
Admittedly, some of the songs may chime along in an early Love/Byrdsian jangle - not leaping out and grabbing you in a distorted throttle - yet isn't that rough/smooth changeability the case with all MBV records? There's a particular distinction in the rhythm section, an undeniable power, that separates MBV from the whole disposable-jangle/second-rate Primitives thing of that particular era. Even in their softer moments it was discernible they were made of meatier stuff. Like the Velvet Underground, there's an awareness of darkness, menace, a messed-up sensibility beneath the mock softness.
At least four songs here wouldn't go amiss on 'Isn't Anything'. First track 'Strawberry Wine' kicks off with all the hallmarks of classic MBV minus the background layer of fuzz that familiarized the later sound. But on the second song 'Never Say Goodbye', there it is, a furious wash of killer distortion that dresses the boy/girl vocals in gleaming black pearls, Bilinda ghosting in with loved-out promises to Kevin's moody, stoned propositioning ("Take me by the hand/Let me show you games we can play").
'Can I Touch You' rings like a homage to The Beatles' 'Rain', shimmering in a hazy-eyed, mid-sixties sensibility. 'The Things I Miss' is a bass stomp that thuds along with menace and swagger, and Pyschocandy vocals ("The touch of your kiss/Leaves me in a mess"), pure nihilism meets lust. 'Clair' swirls in a familiar catatonic rage, juxtaposing what MBV are best at: sweetheart girl vocals in the shadow of lurking paranioia and danger, at times kicking in for the kill, or crashing like a train wreck. And final track '(Please) Lose Yourself in Me' merges nervous energy with tranquillized melancholy in the kind of treble fizz and choir vocals emulated by shoegazers such as Lush and Slowdive.
This record may not cascade in the strange open tunings and varied sonic dissonance of 'Isn't Anything' and beyond, yet it sounds like a natural precursor rather that an early embarrassment, highlighting a band before they hit (too) dizzy heights.
I recently saw Kevin Shields backing a Patti Smith poetry reading at the South Bank, watching for two hours as he endlessly riffed his trademark 'Loveless' glide sound (the man next to me slept throughout). It seems sad that 'Loveless' was the zenith but also the fall - the mark on the map where it all ended. The 'Xtrmntr' and 'Lost in Translation' tracks were fair enough but NOT enough. Shields was at his best with the chemistry of his four-piece set-up (although I'm willing to be proved wrong - apparently he has "delivered hundreds of hours of guitar based material to Island". But that was in '99). Any chance of a reunion perhaps?
'Ecstasy and Wine' shows a band before the complications of high expectation and over-exposure set in to work their damage. There's a purity to the music - not apparent in the perhaps over-worked 'Loveless' - that rides high above so much of the British indie of its day. In a way, the record sounds like a companion piece to 'Isn't Anything', like its less demon-ridden sister, before the sonic trip to outer space and the resultant crash and burn.


Days Run Away
Days Run Away
Price: £12.12

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars House of Correction, 3 Oct. 2005
This review is from: Days Run Away (Audio CD)
Everyone would agree that the House of Love's Creation album was probably their highest and most defining moment, one of those records that happens only once in a band's lifetime, embodying that 'special something', a certain magic exclusive to itself that cannot be recaptured.
But with this surprise-comeback record, I have to give full marks to the HOL fer certainly TRYING. It's as though the band actually got together and said - We all know what our best stuff sounds like, let's do it!
Terry Bickers is back with the shimmering heart and soul he employed on 'Christine' and 'Destroy the Heart', bringing some feel and sparkle to Guy Chadwick's introspective, enigmatic musings. And good, because although the later albums were brave attempts to push ahead, let's face it, it never really worked as well without him.
Kicking off is 'Love You Too Much', a Lou Reed-ish stomper reminiscent of 'Never' but without the heavy production. In fact, all throughout the album the band have opted for a simplistic approach - even reuniting with their Creation-era producer Pat Collier - making for a crisp, fresh-sounding result far from the sometimes-bloated production of the early-nineties material. 'Gotta Be That Way' is up there with their finest, spaghetti-western fretwork over a lilting acoustic turnaround laced in Bickers' speciality atmospherics.
'Maybe You Know' is a meditation on the now-legendary Chadwick/Bickers fallout, underpinning a signature HOL chord progression with twin vocals that poignantly ring with an acceptance of past ills, illustrating how the demons of those contentious times have been well and truly exorcised. This song is a blatant apology from Guy to Terry. And songs like this are rare. Chadwick's honesty in the ego-bloated world of music has to be commended (just look at Morrissey's petty attitude towards his past-Smiths as he stubbornly plods along sporting a gap in the musical department).
On 'Already Gone' there's the country-folk shades of Dylan's 'Nashville Skyline', and 'Kinda Gone' drives us back through 'Love In a Car' territory with heartfelt lyrics ("Sometimes I just cry myself dry/The way that I'm feeling inside") and movement through light and dark towards a pounding crescendo.
All in all, this is a promising return from one of the best alternative bands of the late 80's British indie era. And judging from the two recent London shows I witnessed, here is a band still shining bright and capable of greatness.


Long Time Gone: A Novel
Long Time Gone: A Novel
by Denis Hamill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Journey Through the Past, 26 Sept. 2005
Danny Cassidy's life is in a mess. He walked out on his wife for no good reason, his only daughter doesn't want to know him, and his job is on the line due to the fact he's not getting any younger. On top of that, there's the crime he's been running from for thirty odd years, a burden grating at his skull, the root of ALL his problems.
Back in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of his youth, a corrupt cop was murdered, shot repeatedly in a local park. Evidence was lacking but clues pointed strongly to Danny - out of his head on LSD at the time, and suffering from a blackout of the night ever since. As the main suspect, he took off, hit the west coast, never came back. But the mystery of that night back in the drug-drenched dead end of the 60's has has preyed on him ever since, not least by the sporadic phonecalls from 'Ankles' the old Brooklyn cop who refuse to 'let this one go', promising that one day he will be hauled back and forced to face his conscience and the truth of that deadly night.
The book opens with Danny receiving a random message from the unrelenting old cop, this time informing him of his estranged father's death. Danny knows his three-decade 'hideout' ends here: he has to return to the neighbourhood and bury him. And by doing so, square up to the demons of his past. It's here that Denis Hamill excells in describing a present-day Brooklyn
still physically intact, yet changed beyond recognition. The dirty boulevards of Danny's youth cleaned up, gentrified, inhabited by a different class. The neighbourhood resembles Manhattan and has lost its "film noir beauty to the bright high-gloss slickness of a Mercedes commercial". Hamill describes his part of the city with honesty and feeling.
The story develops into an explorative account of the past as Danny turns Private Eye to discover the truth of his supposed guilt. He revisits the old haunts, meets an array of old faces who turn up for his father's wake and funeral, and dicovers a conspiratorial web of intrigue that unfurls a world of festering corruption, greed and evil. With Danny now rocking the boat, just staying alive becomes tricky business.
Hamill ensures his tale reads like an historical account of the Prospect Park area of Brooklyn - and the late 60's era in general - flashing from the past to the present, namechecking and fact-revealing along the way. The plot twists and turns - the less revealed the better, but DO expect surprises. The writing resonates with a Doors/Dylan soundtrack (never has Mr Tabourine Man sounded so haunting!). And the issue of 'Vietnam' is covered brilliantly: fathers and sons torn apart by the warring sides of patriotism and peace sloganeering, highlighting the boiling anger and violence of that contentious time.
Close renderings of family relationships, first love, nostalgia and failure - along with an expansive plot - make this book so much more than a simple story that you read and forget. Like a well-written piece of investigative journalism, this book is not only highly engaging but will also make you THINK. Hamill at his best.


The Demon
The Demon
by Hubert Selby Jr.
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars all aboard... hell time, 14 Sept. 2005
This review is from: The Demon (Paperback)
Harry has everything a man could wish for. Good looks, nice house, loving wife, well-paid job. But for Harry... it's not enough. He wants more. Much more. And his 'hobbies' are accelerating fast. Lunchtime affairs, robbery, fraud. Now murder...
Selby Jnr's third book plumbs the underbelly of human discontent, and explores a scenario where the side effects of material wealth are beyond abhorrent. Prepare to be lead to a dark hole where values have shifted, and man has become a bored and dangerous animal on the prowl through the city for ever more murderous thrills.
This is a disturbing study into the human condition, a modern-day parable of one man's descent into the madness of his own private hell. The prose is breathtaking. Fast to the point of panic-stricken. Selby pulls you by the scruff of the neck into this nightmare ride, as menacingly as a pack of deranged street-robbers working through a pre-Giuliani subway train, frisking your senses with a sharp switchblade. Enjoy the journey.


Nothing
Nothing
by Paul Morley
Edition: Paperback

12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF ART..., 23 Aug. 2005
This review is from: Nothing (Paperback)
The review which you are about to read may or may not be true. In fact the book in question may not even really exist. I could have sworn that I read it earlier this year, because it has been haunting me ever since, but you never know, it could be my mind playing tricks, dreams infiltrating hard fact, a kind of day to day trickery, a hallucinatory thread driven by memories of myself on an armchair, solitary, cars outside, or on the tube, loud aural silence, a book lodged in my hands, mind captivated, tripping a tortuous dark night of the soul, an odyssey through the backstreets of the heart, to see where they lead, delving a universe of memory, guilt, self-examination, endless questions, out-takes, repetitions of instances, true, fictional, makebelieve, the ominous half-light of uncertainty, standing at a crossroads of life and staring at every moral, philosophical and personal question in the world only to pathetically realise you have but one answer: I don't know.
Sorry if I am rambling, but this is the kind of infectious state of mind Morley's book can leave one stranded in. A hinterland of the soul. The barren wastes. The dead industria. We're talking analysis and introversion so deep it is actually... not there. Buried. And in its place, just a mass of dust. And your only tool, your only weapon is words, sentences, endless plays of improvisation, endless variations on themes, endless fantasy, shifts in the truth, messy recollection, retakes, recasting, new budget, no show, flop, try again. To get some goddamned answers.
'Nothing' is a distortion of sound, blurred vision, half-paralysis of the mind, a hallucinogenic dream. A ride to where private death takes place, the lonely streets, cars, railway lines, the terraced houses of work-sleep-work-sleep. The 70's presents itself in floating faded colours, bad shirts, bad hair, epilepsy, anxiety cured by denial. And the suburbs just sprawl and sprawl, whilst concurrently threatening to close in on you, trap you like a dog, perhaps kick your head in. Joy Division, nothing else, echoes out of the silence like the stubborn last stirrings of a dead industrial machine.
'Nothing' laughs like a man ready to die laughing but can't quite even smile. It confronts the absurdity of a world that, by rights, should be ready to combust in its own depressions, but doesn't, simply fades away, metamorphoses into something else, somewhere else, leaving only unclear memory, unsolved suicide.
Travel down this dark lane with Morley, but don't say I haven't warned you - it will take a hell of a long time to come back. Maybe you will never come back.


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