Wednesday, 7 December 2016

10 AWESOME ALBUMS OF 2016


The Lippies - Self-titled

I adore this album, and absolutely smashed it on repeat solidly for several weeks after it came out. Brilliant, catchy, edgy pop punk. Even though it came out in March I knew immediately that there could not possibly be ten other albums that would come out in 2016 that would be so good that they could knock this one out of my Top Ten of the Year, and I was motherfucking right! This was the band's debut album, after only forming two years earlier. Unfortunately a few months after this album came out, and everybody universally loved it, the band broke up. What the fuck, guys? What. The. Fuck.

Outer Spaces - A Shedding Snake

Outer Spaces is an evolution of singer-songwriter Cara Beth Satalino's solo material. I have been a fan of hers for a long time and she continues to get better and better. Her voice just absolutely kills me, I could literally listen to her sing constantly, for the rest of ever. A Shedding Snake is Outer Spaces' first full length album and as the title suggests, is about change, moving on, moving forwards, growing. In my opinion this is perfect rainy Sunday afternoon music.



Maid of Ace - Maid in England

Okay, so I have a slight bias towards this band because they are from my home town, but whatever. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a soft spot for female fronted punk bands and Maid of Ace are not only ALL female, they are all sisters. I don't know any of them personally, but most of my friends do and whenever I see them around I act like a total fanboy, which would be hilarious if it wasn't so fucking lame. Regardless of whether they are female, or from my town, this is an album of really good fucking punk music and I love it. 


PUP - The Dream Is Over

PUP's self-titled debut album two years ago was fucking rad, and I honestly don't know why it did not make my 10 AWESOME ALBUMS OF 2014 list. What a damn fool I was. Album #2 almost did not happen at all; after relentlessly touring the first album the singer was diagnosed with a serious vocal cord injury and was advised to give up touring all together. This album is a middle finger to that advice, an act of rebellion in itself, and therefore probably the most punk album on this list. I fell in love with it immediately upon first play, and even more so on second, third, fourteenth and thirty fifth play. If PUP do not tour the UK in 2017 I am going to be seriously pissed!

Muncie Girls - From Caplan to Belsize

I was in two minds about including this album on the list because unlike the previous entry I did not fall in love with it instantly. I had eagerly anticipated its release, but upon first play through for some reason it just did not sink in. Of course it has since grown on me (in the best possible way) and I am incredibly fond of it. It is a very understated album of indie/punk/pop tunes, and most certainly deserves the respect of your full attention span. Don't make the same mistake that I did.



Petrol Girls - Talk Of Violence

I fucking love Petrol Girls! Since their first EP came out in 2014 I have been waiting for this album with bated breath, and it did not disappoint. Shouty, angry, feminist hardcore fucking album of joy! They get my blood pumping like few other bands around at the moment, and I am bitterly disappointed that I am yet to see them live. Mark my words that will be happening in 2017, but in the meantime at least I have this rad album to tide me over.




Wonk Unit - Mr Splashy

Wonk Unit are rapidly becoming one of my favourite bands. They are one of the best punk bands in the UK at the moment, and certainly the most popular. You know exactly what you're going to get from a Wonk album, they don't stray too much from their usual formula, and that is a good thing! They are a really FUN band, they're not preachy or self righteous like a lot of punk bands. They just want to have fun and ENTERTAIN. I think a lot of bands forget, or choose to ignore, that one of their key functions is to entertain, but the best bands actively embrace it. HONK IF YOU WONK!!!


Descendents - Hypercaffium Spazzinate

It has been twelve long years since Cool to be You, but Descendents are finally back! I like that they do not release a below par album every other year like some bands. A lot of people got their knickers in a twist about the title of this album being offensive, but I don't for a second believe that there was any ill will intended by it, and from what I could tell, most of the people that were offended by it were offended out of obligation. Anyway, title aside, like Wonk Unit, you know what you are getting from Descendents; they do what they do and they do it bloody well!  Worth the wait.



Off With Their Heads - Won't Be Missed

This is an album of a acoustic versions of songs from OWTH's first three albums (From the Bottom, In Desolation and Home) by singer Ryan Young. I must admit, as much as I fucking love OWTH, I wasn't super excited about an acoustic album of songs I already knew, but I was a fucking fool. OWTH deal with some tough subject matters in their songs from tragedy and loss to mental health and depression and hearing these songs stripped back makes them even more powerful. Don't get me wrong though, I am super looking forward to a new full band album (and UK tour that doesn't get cancelled).


Against Me! - Shape Shift With Me

Since sitting down to write this entry, and re-listening to the album, on the day before I am due to see the band live, I am really struggling to write about how I feel about it succinctly. Which I wasn't expecting. For me this is probably the least Against Me! album that Against Me! have made thus far. There are songs on it that really do nothing for me at all, and songs that I absolutely love. It is an album about relationships, break ups and starting anew but after writing that last entry about OWTH I would love nothing more than to hear Laura Jane Grace do an acoustic album of songs from the AM! back catalogue.     


SPECIAL MENTION: 
Ducking Punches - Fizzy Brain I included this album on my 2015 list, even though officially it did not come out until this year.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: 
Cappo - Dramatic Change of Fortune
Jeff Rosenstock - WORRY.
Modern Baseball - Holy Ghost
Faintest Idea - Increasing the Minimum Rage
Direct Hit!  - Wasted Mind
Luca Brasi - If This Is All We're Going to Be
The Bennies - Wisdom Machine

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

LIT FIEND INTERVIEW [#14]


This month's interview is with a self proclaimed "punk poet/beat zinester" whom has now appeared in two issues of PAPER AND INK LITERARY ZINE, including the latest ninth issue, 'Bury Me in Analog'. She has been making zines since long before I even knew what they were and she just so happens to be one of my all time favourite writers...

First things first, what's your name, where do you come from, and what do you do?

Before I answer your questions, I would like to note that I am answering them from The Road. In the past six days, I have been in eight states. I've hiked in both the Rocky Mountains and the Mojave Desert, wandered around Denver at night, touched the Pacific Ocean, and had a surreal Hunter S. Thompson-esque experience in Las Vegas--and I wasn't even on drugs! In two days, I start back home, and I'll be passing through many more places and having many more adventures, including a stop at the Woody Guthrie Center in Oklahoma. I'm exhausted, and I'm going to be very broke when I get home, but it's worth it. I have had a hard time writing since the presidential election, but this trip has inspired me again.

My name is Jessie Lynn McMains, aka Rust Belt Jessie. I currently live in Racine, Wisconsin. I'm originally from Michigan, and I've also lived in Milwaukee, Chicago, the Philadelphia area, and Oakland, California. What do I do? Lots of stuff. I'm mainly a writer and zine-maker, but I also play music and make visual art and teach workshops about zine-making, poetry, and memoir. And I'm mama to a five-year-old, which takes up most of my time.


Tell me about your zine, Reckless Chants: What is it about, and how long have you been putting it out?


It's hard for me to say what my zine is about. I guess, at its core, it's a perzine, as most of the stories I print in it are from my own life. However, I also write about movies, politics, and many other things, and I have been known to include fiction and poetry along with non-fiction. I've been putting it out for either 4 1/2 or 12 1/2 years, depending on how you're counting. I changed the title to Reckless Chants in 2012, but I kept the issue numbers consecutive from its old name, Sad and Beautiful World. I put out the first issue of SABW in May 2004.

You recently put out a zine/chapbook called Dimestore Ghosts, which is an awesome title by the way, tell me a little about that one.

Dimestore Ghosts is a collection of poetry (and a couple poetic prose pieces) that I've written over the past two years. I've been focusing more on poetry than prose, career-wise, in the past year, and I realized that all the other zines I had in print were prose-only. So I chose a number of pieces that I thought flowed well together. They are about the same themes I often write about: ghosts, lovers, relationships, sadness, crushes, drinking, and America.

How long have you been writing poetry?

I fell in love with poetry at age 10, when I wrote my first-ever non-rhyming poem. I also used the word "fuck" in it and thought I was such a rebel. That sounds silly, but writing that poem showed me that poetry was so much more than what I'd been taught in school. After that, I was really into poetry for about a decade--in fact, I thought I'd probably study poetry in college--but I ended up sort of buying into the idea that prose was more practical, so I focused on that instead. And then I spent many years telling people I wasn't a poet. I'd say: "Well, I write poetry sometimes, but I'm not a Poet or anything."

Last year you were officially anointed the Poet Laureate of Racine, Wisconsin, that must have been a proud moment for you?

It was! Something of a surprise, too. I almost talked myself out of applying for the position, because I was doing the whole "I'm not really a Poet" thing again. But I went for it, not really thinking they'd choose me, and then they did. It has been an amazing experience so far, and I have lots more plans for the next year of my laureateship.

You have a book out soon from Pioneers Press' Punch Drunk Press imprint, What We Talk About When We Talk About Punk. I am so excited to read this one! Tell me about a little about it, and when exactly is it coming out?

I don't know exactly when it's coming out. I'm next in line for publication at Pioneers Press; right now they're just waiting to have enough money to print it. As for what it's about, well, it's a collection of pieces about punk. But it's not only about punk rock music. It's about living life as a punk, about punk as identity and culture. The music is there, but it's used as a lens through which to look at my own experiences. I think of it as a memoir told in brief snapshots as opposed to one long story.


Punk is obviously something that is incredibly important to you, how did you first get into punk?

I never know how to answer this question, because it was really more of a convergence of several factors that turned me onto punk, rather than just one thing. Between the ages of 12 and 15, I discovered punk in many different ways that all influenced me equally: I got into zines, I started going to local shows, I got into riot grrrl, through Green Day I discovered the rest of the late '80s/early '90s East Bay thing. And then I started listening to classic punk bands such as The Clash, and that clinched it.

What punk bands are you digging at the moment? Do you listen to much new stuff or do you prefer sticking to the classics?

I love listening to new music--punk or otherwise--but I have to say I've been somewhat out of the loop with new stuff this year. My favorite punk releases from 2016 are Against Me!'s Shape Shift With Me and G.L.O.S.S.' Trans Day of Revenge. Just today, I discovered Out of System Transfer and their new album Junkyard Golem. It's kinda folk punk/riot folk, and it's really good.


If you could only listen to three albums for the rest of your life, what would they be?

This is an impossible question, as the answer would change every day. But, if I had to choose right now, I'd say: X - Los Angeles, John Coltrane - Blue Train, and Tom Waits - Mule Variations.

Same question, but books...

Also impossible. Today's choices: Visions of Cody, by Jack Kerouac, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca Solnit, and The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry.

If you could get drunk with any three people, dead or alive, who would they be?


Tom Waits, Jack Kerouac, Frida Kahlo.


Aside from the release of WWTAWWTAP, what does the future hold for Jessie Lynn McMains?

Well, I'm currently working on two zines--one about the road trip I'm on right now and also about what it means to make art in the current American landscape, the other a collection of memories that I just felt the need to write about. I'm looking for places to submit a full-length poetry manuscript to. And there are several events I'm planning, including an LGBTQ+ poetry reading to raise money for the local LGBT center, a poetry walk in downtown Racine, and a poetry cabaret. All I know how to do in the face of everything terrible in the world is to keep writing, making art, telling stories. And that's maybe more important right now than it has ever been before.

I'll drink to that! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your trip to answer these questions.

KEEP UP TO DATE WITH JESSIE'S FUTURE RELEASES AND NEWS ON HER WEBSITE RECKLESSCHANTS.NET AND ORDER HER ZINES FROM ETSY

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

BOOK REVIEW: NOTES FROM AN OVERWEIGHT STARVING ARTIST BY JACOB LOUIS BEANEY



NOTES FROM AN OVERWEIGHT STARVING ARTIST is an illustrated novella by Jacob Louis Beaney, self-published earlier this year by his Hickathrift Press. This darkly humorous confessional tale recounts the misadventures of an art school graduate as he attempts (and fails miserably) to make his way in the world without succumbing to a soul sapping 9 to 5. As in the protagonist's own words "I was just too old and filled with contempt for the general public to serve pannini's".

The hapless protagonist lives hand to mouth in a scummy flatshare in Nottingham, scraping by on his meagre Job Seekers Allowance. He becomes trapped in a cycle of depression and anxiety, compounded by his non-existent love life and the fact that somehow, despite an irregular and barely nutritious diet, he is not only unable to lose weight but actually puts it on. It is not all doom and gloom however, this is actually a very funny read and the plot moves along at a zippy pace. The protagonist never wallows in his own self pity for too long before he finds himself in another comical quagmire. 

My personal favourite portion of the story is when the protagonist returns to his home town to visit his family. The fictional Norfolk seaside town of Yarpool (nb: I don't know why Beaney chose to fictionalise the name of his home town having already used the actual city of Nottingham in the story. Maybe it was a little too close to the bone?). Being from a dilapidated seaside town myself I related to this section with a wry smile. Especially when he described the cultural mishmash of social classes gathered together at the opening of a new art gallery: "I remember amidst the drinking of cheap cider and boozy singalongs to The Clash songs, a middle class, middle aged woman politely trying to talk to my dad about publishing a children's book as he lay on the floor dribbling, smashed off his tits on ecstasy. It was a snapshot of what I think is great about the arts." 

This was a brief, but enjoyable read and many a millennial uni graduate with a "creative" degree will relate to the struggles of the protagonist. Of course very few will have had the wherewithal (or bloody mindedness) to pursue the bohemian lifestyle to quite the same lengths. 

Grab a copy of NOTES FROM AN OVERWEIGHT STARVING ARTIST from the Hickathrift Press Etsy shop right here.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

BOOK REVIEW: THE LIBRARIAN BY JOHN GROCHALSKI



The Librarian is the debut novel of Brooklyn based poet/writer John Grochalski, published by Six Gallery Press back in December 2013. As usual, I am late to the party. Not late to the party in a fashionable kind of way, more like in a kicking yourself because it was a fucking great party and you wished you'd been there from the start kind of way. The story follows several months in the life of Randall 'Rand' Wyndham, the titular (former) librarian. Rand is a drunken misanthrope who wastes his days in a variety of meaningless, dead end jobs and his evenings drowning his sorrows with the other barflies in his local boozer. I believe this is that 'American Dream' that I have heard so much about!?

We first meet Rand in the banal offices of a temp agency, about to be interviewed for jobs that he neither wants nor cares about, and is also very much over qualified for. His opening exchanges with the sour faced interviewee, explaining why he is no longer a librarian, had me genuinely laughing out loud:
"If there's something you're not telling me, Mr. Wyndham... I need to know."
"I headbutted a fellow librarian." I said.
"Headbutted? Could you be more specific?" 
"Yeah. I took my head and slammed it into his head."
There are not many novels that have made me laugh out loud within the first few pages, so I knew instantly that I was on to a winner here. Comedy is a highly underrated commodity in a novel like this. Without it, it could easily become a depressing, melodramatic slog to get through; reading about a cynical drunk as he wades through the day to day shit that you're currently knee deep in yourself. The comedy, the laughs, the wry smiles, the winks and the nods, they turn a good novel into a great novel. They make you connect to the characters and make you want to continue wading through the mire with them. Pulling for them to come through the other side. Too many writers take themselves far too seriously, but John Grochalski just tells it like it is, warts and all, cards on the table. The irony being that if Rand Wyndham took himself a little more seriously he might not find himself in the hole that he's in, but life's a bitch like that ain't it?

Grochalski's prose is crisp and concise, just the way I like it. A fine example of that old phrase "less is more". It would be all too easy to make comparisons to the likes of Charles Bukowski and Dan Fante, because they perfected this form of comical, confessional, painful existence burned onto the page. I don't know how much of this story is "confessional", or how much of Rand Wyndham can be found in John Grochalski, but I do know one thing, the man's name is definitely not out of place next to the likes of Bukowski, Fante and those of their ilk.

Do yourself a favour and grab a copy right now, right here

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

LIT FIEND INTERVIEW [#13]


YES! It's that time again! Another LIT FIEND INTERVIEW with a writer that has appeared in PAPER AND INK so many times that he is basically part of the furniture. A writer, poet and all round nice dude that I am a huge fan of, and once you read this interview you will be too...

What's your name, where do you come from, and what do you do?


My name's Gwil James Thomas, I'm from Bristol, England. I generally spend my days trying to make sense of life through writing. I'm a collector of shitty punk records, seashells, knives and parking tickets.

In your poem, The Mule's Early Retirement, you document a vast array of jobs you have undertaken over the years, what do you find yourself doing for work at the moment?

I currently work for a news agency - when the stories and pictures get sent in from the journalists and photographers, several people including myself, effectively archive them. There's a lot of content to go through from the newspapers to news sites online, internationally. The pay's okay and I spend most of the day listening to music, or Joey Diaz podcasts (after I recently discovered him). I'm constantly reading the news too, which although is largely depressing, is interesting and changes enough to keep my mind occupied. You get to see a bigger picture and how different papers chose what to report on and what they chose to ignore. A lot of them simply twist words and create fear to help justify people's beliefs. This is nothing new, but it's strange seeing it a little closer, once you know the actual facts behind the story.

I was at war with most of my old jobs and bosses, so it seems strange to say it - but my job at the moment isn't too bad. I can hear a younger version of myself calling me a sellout for taking a day job seriously, but I've had so many shitty jobs before this, that I know it could be a lot worse. I list a lot of the jobs I've worked in the poem, but the most frequent job that I undertook was dishwashing. I dished in many places across the UK and as far away as Austria, where I got stuck once.

The aforementioned poem is one of nineteen that feature in your debut collection GWIL VS MACHINE, tell us a little about the collection...


I don't really feel that there's one particular theme that runs throughout the collection - but there was a lot that was going on between the period of time of writing them, that ties them together. They were written in various places and various states of mind. I've seen a lot of change in the last few years, but I've changed too and mostly for the better. I think there's been growth for me as a human being and as a writer. I'm proud of the collection and I think the poems work together well, does that sound arrogant? I dunno. I certainly don't always feel that way about my work. Not only that, but it's been packaged together beautifully, with each poem typed up on an old Olympia. None of which was of my doing. What makes it even more fucking special is that there's only a very limited amount - so get one while you can or spend the rest of your life in regret!




The final poem in the collection is an affectionate farewell to the late great Dan Fante, was he a big influence on your writing? What other writers have you found to be influential on your work?

His father, John Fante was the first writer to really inspire me, he changed the way I looked at literature, plus you never forget your firsts. Dan definitely had an influence on me though - his life story was one of survival and more than enough to inspire. If I mention a Fante, I can't say that Bukowski didn't have an influence on me either. I like Raymond Carver too and how his stories seem to give you more of a glimpse into a life, or scene and often it's up to you to work out what happened after it ends. I discovered Billy Childish in my late teens and loved his music, then discovered his poetry and prose. His influences are clear, but at the same time there's something very original and authentic about his writing, enough for it to be very unique. There's some writers whose work's influenced me, but I've only read one book of theirs - like Virginia Woolf, Charles. R Jackson, or Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy's Blood Meridian, was a great book, amazing imagery. Italo Calvino's book If on a Winter's Night a Traveller was an interesting read and he had an interesting voice - confusing and intriguing.


I have been a fan of both your poetry and prose for a long time now, having first read your stuff in Hand Job zine a few years back. Do you prefer writing one or the other? Is there one form you feel more comfortable or natural with, or does it just depend on what you are writing about?

It took me a while to warm to idea of writing poetry, I was a closet poet. Both formats have their pros and cons. Given the nature of it, poetry can be a lot more experimental and there's a certain freedom with that, that's difficult to replicate. I rarely write poetry and prose simultaneously. I like to rotate between them. If I'm honest the whole process of writing can be love/hate for me at times. A good evening's writings can can be more satisfying than anything, but sometimes the process can be maddening. Each time you write something new it's an individual experience, I'm not sure if poetry feels more natural, as I've always been a bit of a story teller - but on the whole I'm more comfortable with poetry.

You published a novel several years ago, Captains of Sinking Ships, tell us a little about that and how people can get their hands on a copy?

It was based around a character called The Youngblood. He constantly carried an ideas book and a knife with him and wandered about, searching for more out of life. It was a coming of age type book really. I wrote it when I was pretty young and think there's a couple of things I'd do differently and a few things I also had to learn writing wise. Unfortunately copies are very difficult to find these days. There were a few on eBay and Amazon a while back.

Other than that, I'm writing another novel at the moment, it's currently titled The Gospel Truths of a Compulsive Liar. It's a prequel of sorts to Captains of Sinking Ships, or at least hints at where Captains came from. It wouldn't make much difference if you approached them separately, but by reading, you may see where they could cross over.

In content though they're really different. The biggest contrast though is in the person writing them. I've seen and written a lot since writing Captains. Even if I have to publish the The Gospel Truths of a Compulsive Liar myself - I want to get it out there.

You do not currently have any social media presence, or a blog, or website. In 2016 this is quite unique for a writer, especially one under the age of 30, what is the reason behind this? (if there is one)

Maybe it's not always in relation to writing, but people ask me this a bit. I have nothing against making a personal website. But I've never have a Facebook, or anything like that really. It's not that I hate social media, I've just gone this far without a Facebook account. However, I'm sure that one way or another I'll inevitably be forced into getting one. I'm also aware that a hell of a lot of people use it and that's not going to change until Facebook possibly becomes obsolete. For now I can still get by with emails, occasional letters and my phone. I'm paranoid and find social media pretty invasive. At the same time I realise that there's other sides to it, I seem to miss quite a lot of submission calls because of it and I can see that it's handy if you lose your phone.

You've been published in numerous zines and lit mags over the last few years but your 'author bio' always makes particular reference to your work being available in Greek bookshops, what's that about?

Years ago, I put together a short story collection and it was taken up by a Greek publisher. It's currently only available in Greek. The collection was called Halfway to Nowhere - which was intended to sound more lost at sea, or drifting through space, than anything depressive. I think the publishers ran a bookshop and dropped a few off in some bookshops in Athens. I haven't spoken to them in a long time, but they were nice people. The Greeks though have generally been good to me in my life. As a child, I had my life saved by Greek people. I was a pretty hyperactive boy and I'd gone on holiday to Cyprus (the Greek side) and me and my brother were mucking about outside and cutting a long story short, I ended up running through a glass door. I received some nasty cuts and lost a lot of blood. This barman heard the smash from across the street. So the barman, leaves his bar, runs over, sticks me in the back of his Merc and starts bombing it through all these red lights - while I was getting blood all over the white leather interior. Passing in and out of consciousness, he drove me to a hospital over there and I was swiftly doped up on morphine. I thought I died several times, hallucinated and tried to escape, before they sewed me back up. I ended up being stuck in that hospital there for about a month in the end. I remember one of the nurses bringing me something called a Gyro - it was good shit. It was sort of like a wrap/kebab hybrid from what I remember, it wasn't the healthiest thing, but I liked it at the time. I think that answers your question.

You currently reside in your home town of Bristol, are you very involved in the lit scene there? Do you get out to many readings or poetry nights at all?

Not really. The last reading I did was one Joe Ridgwell had organised. It was in The East End of London and it was just before I left London, or was chased out. The reading was in a basement of an old pub, there was darts, good poetry, fiction and an 'adult cabaret' and of course lots of booze. But that was over a year ago. If I'm honest, there's been a lot of change in my life between, which has impacted on parts of the writing process. Admittedly I haven't been as involved as I could. There are a few reasons for this, other than readjusting to different places and Googling poetry groups, I've wasted a lot of time getting suckered out and ended up in watering holes, when I could have been writing. There was one bar I went to where apparently they've had readings, but after a minor disagreement, someone ended up bottling me and me and my friend ended up getting banned, after my friend swiftly stepped in and threw the prick that bottled me into the road. So that one's off then list. I'm lazy and easily distracted, but over the last six months at least I've been keeping myself inside, bolting the door, switching my phone off and working on a variety of written work. One of those writing endeavours was Gwil Vs Machine.

Do you read much in your spare time and if so is there anything in particular that you are you enjoying at the moment?

Yeah, I read when I can and as much as I can. I was given a copy of Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, which is a mammoth read, but an interesting one. Besides that I ordered a copy of Jared A Carnie's Waves, I've only read a couple of pages, but I'm enjoying it. A friend of mine, also introduced me to his uncle Raficq Abdulla and I'm going through a copy of his poetry collection Reflecting Mercury, which is as complex as it is beautiful.




Finally, what does the future hold for Mr Gwil James Thomas?

First and foremost, hopefully old age. In terms of writing, once I've finished the novel I've been working on I want to put together another short story collection and poetry collection too. I also have two short stories in an anthology coming out at some point (I would mention who its for, but I think they're still keeping a low profile with it - you'll see soon enough). Other than that, I wouldn't mind having a go at writing a script for a short film. It's only an idea, but that's how everything else started too.

Gwil, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

FIND GWIL'S WORK IN ISSUES #6 AND #8 OF PAPER AND INK LITERARY ZINE AND BUY HIS DEBUT POETRY COLLECTION, GWIL VS MACHINE, RIGHT HERE

Thursday, 15 September 2016

I READ ZINES [#13]




This is a poetry/photography collaboration zine by Jim Gibson and Sophie Pitchford who are the dynamic duo responsible for the underground literary sensation that is Hand Job Zine. Children of Snakehill is an aesthetical side step from the riso printed, rough 'n' ready feel of Hand Job, it is printed on high quality silk paper and looks stunning. Pitchford's photography and Gibson's poems compliment each other perfectly, as the pair revisit the titular Snakehill, a local spot they frequented as youngsters. This is pure nostalgia and contemplation, and evokes memories of the Snakehill of one's one youth. Everyone will have their own Snakehill, that place you escaped to as a kid and remember fondly as an adult, and this zine will take you right back to it. Apparently this is the first in a series and I am definitely looking forward to the next one!  Grab one right here.


THINKING OF YOU: SURVIVAL STRATEGIES FOR THE BROKEN-HEARTED


This art zine by illustrator Arielle Gamble was sent to me by insatiable zine fiend Abbie Foxton, all the way from MCA Zine Fair in Sydney, Australia. Maybe she remembered that I had been through a break up at the end of last year, maybe she just knows that I like dark humour. Either way, this zine had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. It is filled with beautiful illustrations which are accompanied by humorous but morally/legally questionable suggestions for getting over your ex. It is a quick read but a most satisfying one. Check out more of Arielle's work right here.


EGGY'S DEAD


Eggy's Dead is a submission based literary zine created by the team behind Riot Radio Podcast out of Philadelphia, USA. This is the inaugural issue and features a variety of short stories, flash fiction and a few poems thrown in for good measure. The words are accompanied by some freaky illustrations, all by the same illustrator throughout, which ties the whole thing together nicely. The writing itself is a bit of a mixed bag, the opening story by Kevin Esposito, 'A Swift Kick to Someone Else's Nuts', was a particular highlight, a sci-fi dystopian story that definitely lives up to its title. Check it out right here.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

BOOK REVIEW: SOMETIMES YOU JUST DON'T WANT TO KNOW BY MARK SAFRANKO



Sometimes You Just Don't Want to Know is one of two new Mark SaFranko short story collections from Murder Slim Press (the other being The Artistic Life), both featuring the further misadventures of SaFranko's literary alter-ego Max Zajack. 

The last time we saw Zajack, chronologically, he was howling at the moon like a madman at the end of 2007 novel Lounge Lizard. Sometimes... picks up with Max some years later and we are introduced to a more reflective, ponderous character. No longer the hard drinking, womaniser that we came to know in previous publications, Max appears to in equal parts regret the poor life choices that have to led him to his current station, but also wish that he had gone more balls to the wall when he had the chance. Torn between what ifs and what could have beens, and learning to accept the way things are, and the way things have to be. You can't sprint forever, and Max knows this. Sometimes you have to just sit back and appreciate the smaller things in life, whether that be coconut gelato or a beautiful rainbow. Sometimes... isn't all regret and nostalgia, however, and Max still finds himself in some extremely awkward and highly amusing situations, the old Zajack shining through in defiance of himself.

SaFranko's prose is as crisp and succinct as ever, perhaps even more so. His ability to harness the human condition and get it down onto the page in such a manner is nothing short of remarkable. This type of confessional writing is not to everyone's taste, but in my opinion, there are few greater skills than to bare one's soul with such brutal and unabashed honesty whilst making it sound damned good in the process. 

Grab a copy of the book directly from publisher Murder Slim Press or from Amazon (UK).

Oh look, a Mark SaFranko Zajack review that didn't once mention Bukowski. Get the fuck outta here!