Sunday, 9 August 2015

DROP YOUR DRAWERS AND BEND OVER

As some of you may know I am currently running a crowd funding campaign on IndieGoGo in order to raise the necessary funds to print the sixth issue of my zine. I started the campaign seven days ago and so far it is going really well, I have raised almost half of the overall target (£500) and have been overwhelmed by the love and support it has been receiving. Unfortunately I have also been overwhelmed by vultures. Crowd Funding Vultures attempting to pick the flesh from my bones and bleed me dry...

Every day since the campaign started I have been inundated with messages from companies offering to 'boost' my campaign, to share it with their millions of followers and their networks of patrons and benefactors... all I have to do is pay them. When the first one came through I didn't think much of it, I assumed it was just some chancer trying his luck, but no, there are hundreds of these fuckers out there and they are relentless. They have contacted me via the campaign page, via the contact form on the zine's website, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and my private email and still the messages keep coming.

Even if these companies do have exclusive access to a network of rich investors and donors, why the fuck would any of them be interested in some non-profit lit zine?!? I seriously don't think these people even look at what the campaign is before sending these messages, if they did they surely would not bother. More so than that, why the fuck would somebody who is trying to raise five hundred quid to print a fucking magazine have enough spare cash to pay for these services (which, by the way, are not cheap)?!? It's such a fucking scam. Praying on desperate people with false promises and bullshit claims. 

I have now taken to replying to these messages and telling them what they can do with their 'offers'. It makes me so angry because I know there are probably a lot of people out there who get taken in by this crap and probably lose a lot of money because of it. If there wasn't, there wouldn't be so many of these creeps out there. Maybe I am wrong and maybe I am losing out on a wad of cash by not singing up with them but I highly doubt it. I'll hedge my bets, thanks...



EDIT: Best one yet...

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

BOOK REVIEW: 'BAR NIGHTS (THE MIRE MAN TRILOGY BOOK I)' BY DAVE MATTHES



Bar Nights follows the story of Arlo, a man in his late thirties with a wife and kid who one day decides that enough is enough. Sick of his mundane bullshit existence and sick of his cheating wife and slutty daughter, he throws his stuff into his beaten up car and drives away. He keeps on driving until the car gives out on him. Far from home and stuck in the middle of nowhere he convinces the owner of a roadside dive bar to give him a place to stay in exchange for working off his rent doing menial chores around the place. What follows are vignettes of days and nights in Purgatory (the apt name of the bar). Arlo attempts to drink himself numb as he begrudgingly interacts with customers and continually tests the patience of Vance, the bar's owner. 

When I first discovered this book and its author, Dave Matthes, I was a little cautious about what I would find. I was concerned that this would turn out to be some weak faux-Bukowski Californication fan fiction type shit. Thankfully that was not the case at all. Matthes can write worth a damn. The prose is a little heavy in places, and a touch convoluted in others, but on the whole it is as smooth as a fine whiskey. Matthes is funny too, and you can have the finest prose in the world, but you can't teach somebody to be funny. Also, FUN FACT: Matthes is just a year older than me and this is his seventh novel. Savage work ethic but the dude makes me feel lazy as fuck.

Fans of Hanks Chinaski and Moody will certainly appreciate the character of Arlo Smith - He is a downbeat, washed out motherfucker who drinks too much and doesn't give a shit what anybody thinks of him. He is not a good guy and definitely isn't 'likeable' but he speaks his mind and you have to respect that. All he really wants is an easy life that consists of good booze and good music and being left alone. Of course, things don't run along too smoothly for poor Arlo as he is dragged through the mire on more than one occasion. He always manages to pull himself out the other side though (I mean, this is a trilogy after all). I am looking forward to Book II, titled Paradise City, and finding out what ridiculous situations Arlo gets himself in to next time.

Grab a copy of Bar Nights from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (US).    

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

I READ ZINES [#9]




A new lit zine hot off the press from editor/writer/teacher Kate Tattersfield whom I had the pleasure of meeting Kate at a recent zine. It always warms my heart to see new lit zines come to life. This inaugural issue, whilst short and sweet, is a pleasure to read. There is no overall theme in place however I noticed that many of the pieces seem to linger on themes of death and loss. A particular highlight for me was a short story by Canadian writer Matthew Walsh. I am very looking forward to the next edition. 



Another new lit zine on the block straight out of Derry, Northern Ireland. It was created by a team of editors (interestingly and refreshingly all of whom are female) and this first issue packs quite a punch. There are too many great pieces of writing to pick out a favourite but I especially enjoyed the unique introduction to the issue; a dialogue between two voices ruminating on their rebellious enthusiasm for life in their younger days and how that spark of rebellion is reignited in the form of SHIFT. I am looking forward to seeing how this one evolves because I have an inkling that the sky is the limit for these ladies.


Friday, 3 July 2015

BOOK REVIEW: 'NOTHING IS HEAVY' BY VICKI JARRETT



A seemingly run of the mill Saturday night in Auld Reekie turns into a mind melting twelve hour roller coaster ride for three strangers. Beth, Amber and George are brought together by a string of coincidences that will change the course of their lives forever in this debut novel from esteemed short story writer Vicki Jarrett.

Beth is a shy chip shop worker with little to no ambition for her life, but when Amber, an outgoing stripper from the club across the road walks into her shop, it sets off a chain of events that force Beth to re-evaluate her life choices. A whirlwind adventure involving gangsters, guns, a briefcase full of money, a creaky old chip van and a man in a monkey suit ensues.     

I have had a penchant for stories that take place in the space twenty four hours or less ever since I first saw Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise when I was seventeen. Constructing well rounded characters and a story arc that doesn't feel forced or farcical within such a limited time frame takes a great deal of skill to pull off. Having devoured all the films I could find that fit the bill I swiftly moved on to novels and it was this search that led me to Nothing is Heavy. Reading the synopsis alone I knew it was just my cup of tea but it sat on my Amazon wish list for over a year before I finally bought a copy. Having now read it, I implore you to learn from the error of my ways and waste not one more second before purchasing a copy for yourself. 

It manages to find the perfect balance between comedy and drama. It would have been easy for it to tip too far either side of the scale and a lesser writer could have made a real hash of it, but it is spot on. When a novel can make you laugh on one page and want to cry on the next, you know you've found a winner. The characters are dynamic and interesting and although the collection of coincidences that tie them together are the kind that only occur in films and novels, you still buy into them. A lot of novels are dubbed 'page turners' but that phrase couldn't be more accurate for this one. I am generally a short burst reader, usually two chapters at a time, but I ploughed through this one in record time. 

A good novel will lift you out of your day to day life and offer a brief respite from the monotony. A great novel will make you appreciate that monotony and show you the beauty of it. It may even make you feel like you have wings.

Grab a copy from Amazon (UK), Amazon (US) or direct from the publisher Linen Press. Seriously. Do it.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

I READ ZINES [#8]



Concrete and Deadbeats #3 - Decameron Part I

This is a zine of street photography, essays and quotes all about the City of London and the daunting prospect of another four years under David Cameron. The first thing you notice about this zine is the exceptional print quality, it looks and feels absolutely beautiful. Both the writing and the photographs are hard hitting and show a side of London you won't see in any glossy tourist brochures. A must read for anyone with an interest in the Big Smoke.




Forza #1

Oh, I do love a lit zine! This one comes by way of Glasgow, Scotland and much like the second issue of my very own lit zine, PAPER AND INK, focuses on the theme of home. This is quite a remarkable debut effort and features some fantastic poetry and short stories, as well as a variety of illustrations. My personal favourite pieces were a majestic poem by Jane Potthast and an enchanting short story by Brighton-based writer Matthew Hamblion. They are currently accepting subs for their second issue on the theme of absent friends, find the details on their Facebook page.

Don't Panic We Are From Poland

This beautifully risograph printed zine is a comprehensive documentation of the history Polish punk and Polish punk zines. Written by Pawel (of Black Eye Press) for his university dissertation, it is an extensive guide to the scene and a really interesting read. I had little knowledge of Polish punk before reading it and certainly learnt a thing or two. Black Eye Press have a whole selection of interesting zines that are all worth checking out.





Super Hero Kim #1

This is the inaugral issue of a feminist comic zine from LA. The titular hero Kim is hell bent on gaining brutal and bloody revenge on any male rapists/sexual predators/pimps that she crosses paths with. Unfortunately I like the idea and message behind this zine much more than the execution. It all feels very rushed, the artwork is rudimentary, the design is slapdash and the print quality is very poor. My copy was not even bound together and if not for my nimble fingers would surely have fallen apart in my hands. A good idea poorly realised.