Thursday, 16 February 2017

BOOK REVIEW: WAVES BY JARED A. CARNIE



Waves is the debut novel from writer and poet, Jared A. Carnie, and was published last September by Urbane Publications. It follows the story of a young man by the name of Alex. After his long-term girlfriend breaks up with him, his life and its planned trajectory, take a nosedive. With the future he thought he knew, and thought he wanted, taken away from him he is understandably heart broken. In steps his childhood friend, James, who invites him to tag along on his annual visit to his parents' home on the Isle of Lewis. Alex is reluctant at first but James does not take no for an answer, and Alex soon finds himself on a journey of self-discovery in the Outer Hebrides.

Let's forget for a second that when reading this book I learned that Donald J. Trump's mother was from the Isle of Lewis, and not let that taint the beauty of the far flung Scottish island, because Lewis is as much a character as any human in this story. Carnie really makes it sing with rich, candid descriptions of the rugged, historical landscape. Other than being the origin of Trump's mother, I know precisely fuck all about the Outer Hebrides, nor seen photographs of it, but I almost feel as if I have spent time there myself thanks entirely to Waves.

The character of Alex is at times somewhat of a damp squib, and I often found myself wanting to reach into the page, give him a slap and yell at him to grow a pair. Then I'd remember what a pathetic mess I have been after break-ups and cut him some slack. However it seems that Alex was always kind of a damp squib, even when in a relationship. Living at home with his mother and working a job he hates, saving up every penny he can for his "future" with a girlfriend that is away at university. By his own admission he had over-committed to the relationship in an attempt to convince himself it was what he wanted, rather than attempt to find out what it really is that he wants from life.

Finding out what you really want from life is no easy thing, and if you're thinking that knocking about on a freezing cold Scottish island for a week is going to solve all of your problems, you're dead wrong. By the end of the story Alex still doesn't know what he really wants from life, but he is one step closer to knowing what he doesn't want, and that is half the battle. 

My only criticism would be that I found it a teeny tiny bit dull in places. I would have enjoyed a touch more conflict, even if it was just of the superficial, Tom Foolery kind. Aside from that Waves is a fulfilling, introspective read, and I found that it had an unexpected a calming effect as I read it. Almost as if I could hear the waves crashing against the shore in the background.

Grab a copy of Waves from Urbane Publications.

Check out my interview with author Jared A. Carnie.

And check out these sweet "inspirational memes" that I made from quotes from the book.            

WORDS TO LIVE BY [#76]



Jared A. Carnie's novel, Waves, is available from Urbane Publications

Photographs from Pexels

Thursday, 2 February 2017

LIT FIEND INTERVIEW [#15]


The first LIT FIEND INTERVIEW of 2017 is with a writer that I have been wanting to interview for a while now. He has appeared in countless issues of PAPER AND INK, as well as many other publications that I admire, and he has also interviewed me on his own website, so it was about time I returned the favour...

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

My name is Jared. I was born in Essex and now live in Sheffield. I write poems and novels. I also spend too much time doing things that aren’t writing.

Congratulations on the publication of your debut novel, Waves, last September. That must have been a proud moment for you?

I still don’t think it’s really settled in. My girlfriend always tells me off because when people ask what I do I never say ‘I’m a writer’. I don’t know if I ever will. There’s something about it. I’ve probably met too many unpleasant, unaccomplished people who declare ‘I’m a writer’ to anyone and everyone they meet, so the idea of introducing yourself in that way is kind of tainted for me.

As for getting published, it’s a really surreal experience. I’d been working on Waves a long time, a lot of editing went into that thing - probably a deceptively large amount given how simple it seems to read. So overall, getting published becomes this weird, stretched-out feeling of nearly-celebration. After all that writing, there’s the first moment where the novel is provisionally accepted. I remember reading that email in my office at work. It was great. I think I managed even less work that day than I normally do. Then there was the process of doing more edits, going through the proofs etc and getting that sent off. That was pretty cool - knowing I had to accept I was finally done with it. Then there’s the moment where you first see a printed copy. That’s really nuts. Then I finally got to see it in shops. Real, actual shops. Mad. Seeing it on a shelf alongside Camus and Capote (just by alphabetical chance) was hilarious to me. In Cold Blood and The Outsider are two of the greatest books of all time - as a teenager I used to go around telling everyone I knew that they had to read them (I was a lot of fun to be around). So to imagine someone walking into a bookshop, seeing Waves, In Cold Blood and The Outsider, and even for a second considering Waves as an alternative to those is downright absurd to me. If that sounds like I don’t believe in my writing, that’s not true at all, I put a lot of effort into my writing and I believe in what I’m doing, there’s just a whole established world of things out there that I know nothing about, and to think of my book sneaking in through the cracks is a very strange (and satisfying) idea.

So, to really mark the book coming out, we had an actual launch night for it. That was really cool. My girlfriend and I have this policy where we try to mark anything we achieve by doing something to remember it. Otherwise your life can just sort of become this one big blur with no obvious full-stops outside of tragedies. I’d had to try and raise money for my friend Sophia - and that went even better than I’d hoped. We had Dean Lilleyman and James Giddings read. They’re both brilliant. Laura Hegarty played some magical songs. There was a bar and music. It was a really fun evening. I felt proud to know the sorts of people who turned up for it.

It was published by the terrific Urbane Publications, who are continually putting out great stuff. How did the link up with them come about?

I’m pretty sure it came about when they first published Billy and the Devil - Dean Lilleyman’s fantastic debut. I imagine most of your readers will be aware of it, but if not, then I definitely recommend it.

I just thought the book was fantastic. I was curious about who had put it out. I read about Urbane online a little, saw some of the things Matthew (Urbane’s chief) had to say, saw a couple of other cool things I saw they were putting out, and decided to get in touch. When I see people asking for advice on how to get published, on reddit or wherever, I do always think the only worthwhile advice is look where things you love are coming from, and try there. And if you’re only reading Hunter Thompson books from forty years ago and think you deserve to be the new Hunter Thompson except that nobody is ‘brave’ enough to publish stuff like you’re doing, you’re wrong. Get better. Look wider.

Take Paper and Ink as an example. You’ll quite often see kids who have just discovered Bukowski moaning that nobody is publishing anything like that anymore. As if Paper and Ink wouldn’t be all over someone like Bukowski. What some writers want right away is a name and a legacy and they’re not content to just be the weird outsider that most of the brilliant writers really were.

Waves is set in the Outer Hebrides, on the Isle of Lewis, where I believe you lived your self at some stage. How autobiographical is the story?

I lived on the Isle of Lewis for a couple of years. I loved it. I’ve been back since to visit some friends there, but that was just before the book came out so I’ve no sense of what most people there thought of it. Or if they’re even aware of it.

As for the plot of Waves, it’s not really autobiographical at all. I didn’t go through that situation and that’s now how I ended up on Lewis. I moved up there already in a great relationship. But it was something I felt like I’d seen a lot of people go through - in one way or another.

Having said that, everywhere in the novel is a real place I spent a lot of time. Most of the things that happen in the novel are things that happened to me, most of the things that Alex does are things that I have done, they’re just framed through a different lens in the novel. It was a fun experience because I had this character and this context I wanted to write from, and then I had this series of events and places I knew really well that I wanted to explore within that. It was just like shining my own truth through a prism or something to see how it came out.

Before reading your novel I had only previously read your poetry, which I always enjoy, do you prefer one form to the other?

I think the most fun I’ve had writing has probably been with novels. As in, the rare two or three times I remember actually feeling satisfied while writing. Occasionally, if you’ve been going long enough, you hit your stride and you know that, without even stopping to think, you’re mining something decent.

I feel like I need to stick up for poetry more often though. If I hear someone say they don’t like poetry it’s like hearing them say they don’t like music. It’s just odd to me. I always try to assure them they just haven’t found the right poetry for them yet. Although obviously, people have a lot going on in their lives and getting into poetry is never going to be the priority. And I also totally get that the way poetry is first presented to you, both as a reader and writer (through school or wherever) is generally devastatingly lifeless, so it’s not a mystery to me how people end up feeling turned off poetry. When PUSH was selling poetry to the stands at Upton Park, I felt that was a really special flag in the ground for both poetry and literature. Poetry can go anywhere and poetry should go anywhere.

Personally, I just love being able to write poems (by ‘being able’ I mean, nobody can stop me, not that I necessarily think I’m good yet) and frankly as an outlet I can’t even measure how good it’s been for me. The great thing about poetry is that one tiny spark of an idea can be enough for something brilliant to burst out.


Which authors/poets have been the biggest influence/inspiration on your own writing?

John Fante is the high watermark for me in terms of what I’d like to achieve with a novel. That’s what I’m shooting for and that’s probably what I’ll always be shooting for.

Having said that, a couple of years ago I fell totally head over heels in love with Richard Brautigan. There was something in the way he uses language that helped open up an idea for my next novel - so I have to say at the moment that he’s definitely a huge inspiration. The next book will be very different to Waves and to be honest very different to anything I thought I’d be writing at this point.

Charles Bukowski takes over basically an entire bookshelf in my house so it’d be pretty dishonest of me to not list him as a big one too. Reading him early on, aside from everything else I got from it, probably also helped me feel like I didn’t have to choose between poetry and novels. People love him for both. As an aside, while we’re on the subject, I feel it’s always good to get the word out there on this: Bukowski never wrote ‘Find what you love and let it kill you’. Stop putting that on your Instagram. Go buy his books and quote something he did write.

Desert Island Books: If you were stranded on a desert island which three books would want with you?

The books that mean the most to me are the books that make me get up out of bed and actually do something. I don’t know if on a desert island that would be a bit frustrating. There’s not all that much to do I imagine. Maybe I’d find something though. Maybe they’d spark some kind of creativity and I’d end up turning the island into a paradise through sheer inspiration and ingenuity.

Rimbaud is something I go back to over and over. And Graham Robb’s biography of Rimbaud is a book I’ve read multiple times. I don’t know if they’d do me right on an island though. Likewise, there’s a book of Tom Waits interviews I take around with me quite a lot when I’m travelling. They’re hilarious and full of great music/book recommendations. The problem is, on a desert island, I wouldn’t be able to access those recommendations, so it’d just be a bit frustrating I reckon. I’ll try to think smart here. Right, to start with, John Fante - Bandini Quartet. I’m cheating I know, but it was published as one book so cut me some slack, I’m stranded on a desert island for christ’s sake.

What next? Maybe something by Kapuscinski would make me feel like I was connected with the rest of the world. Or drive me mad because I’d never get to see it. Leaves of Grass maybe? That seems broad and engaging and full of life - an evergreen thing to read. Then maybe something like Infinite Jest? I’ve never gotten around to reading that and probably never will unless I’m stranded somewhere with it for a real long time.

That’s what I’ll go for: Bandini Quartet. Leaves of Grass. Infinite Jest.

Well. That’s not what I expected my answer to be at all.


Same question but music. Three albums. Go…

You know, I thought I’d always look forward to someone asking me this. Making music lists is my favourite thing in the world. I’ve no idea why. I don’t even show them to anyone. I just do it to pass time at work. Anyway, turns out this question is a total nightmare. Jeez.

Guns N Roses - Appetite For Destruction. Tom Waits - Rain Dogs. Manic Street Preachers - The Holy Bible.

There. I won’t think about it too much or I’ll hate myself for missing so many other things out.

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

Can I do this twice? Is that cheating? Assuming it’s me as I am, today, sitting down for a chat, I’ll go with Tom Waits, Kathleen Hanna and Akala. Although I’m pretty sure they’d get sick of me pretty quickly as I’d keep asking them question after question.

Right. Now, if I get to summon the dead I’d say Peter Cook and Arthur Rimbaud for sure...and maybe Bill Hicks? Get some quotes from him on the political landscape. Start tweeting them. That’d get me some followers.

Yep. I’ll go with that. Sober and living: Tom Waits, Kathleen Hanna, Akala.

Drunk and dead: Peter Cook, Arthur Rimbaud, Bill Hicks.

What does the future hold of Jared A. Carnie? Any more novels in the pipeline?

I’m working on this novel called Oranges. Well, I say I’m working on it. I’ve hit a brick wall the last few weeks. I can’t work out if it’s a creativity wall or a confidence wall. I’ve reached the end of the first draft of it and I keep thinking ‘is this a book?’. I need to stop worrying about what I think a book should be and start worrying about what I think Oranges should be.

I’ve got a rough idea for a themed poetry collection too, based on when my girlfriend was very sick, but I’m unsure whether I’ll consciously see that through. I get a bit turned off by ‘concept’ poetry books. ‘This is a book about my relationship with my uncle’ - I don’t care. It always makes me assume that the book was forced, so I’m trying to avoid that. I’m also working on putting together some of my other poems for a pamphlet.
I am writing every single day at the moment. For the first time in my life I’m making myself do it, just to keep working at the craft, even if there’s not a project it’s specifically going towards. I’m hoping that somehow it’ll mean by the end of 2017 I might’ve accidentally written my way into some interesting situations.

Keep up to date with the interesting situations Jared writes himself into by following him on Twitter and checking out his website jaredacarnie.com

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.