Sunday, 13 November 2022

Newsletter 58

The Glue Factory online gatherings will come to an end in a month's time, on Sunday December 11th. This, the third iteration of a series that began with A Leap in the Dark during the pandemic lockdown in March 2020, will be the last, and it really is the end. No more after this.

The newsletter will continue until the following Sunday (18th), and there will be a performance by the Carthorse Orchestra Players after Christmas, details of which will follow.

For reasons that won't surprise you I'm moving away from Twitter and, since I have only ever promoted The Glue Factory through that particular platform, this seems to me to be excellent timing. With a book to edit, another to complete and submit and many other commitments, I'll need all the time I can get in 2023 and beyond.

I've set up a Mastodon account and, at the time of writing, have around 30 followers  More would be very welcome, and if you're on the mailing list for this newsletter I hope you'll be among them.

You can follow me here:

I'll continue to use Twitter for the time being, to share newsletter links and to promote The Glue Factory until the gatherings end, but I may shut down my account before then if the site becomes unendurable.

Mastodon is not quite as user-friendly as Twitter, at least not for this newcomer, but - how best to put this? - there's a room in the elephant. 

Now, to business, and this week's newsletter...

 Newsletter contents

1.   Aid for Ukraine

2.   This week’s online gathering 

3.   Indie press news


        Fitzcarraldo and the 2022 Goldsmiths Prize

4.   Street Writing Woman: A Tribute to Laura Del-Rivo 

5.   Lost in the Willows - tonight!

6.   Ghost Stories for Christmas

7.   QUEER anthology (2nd edition)

8.   MA/MFA in Creative Writing at City University

9.   This week's Wendy Erskine news 

10.  Close readings of The Waste Land

11.  Shocking filler 🧦🧦🧦   

12.  Next week's online gathering

13.  Nudge



1. Aid for Ukraine

It's not over yet. The most far-reaching aid programme has been, and remains, the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. You can donate quickly and easily here.

Please donate whatever you can, whenever you can.

And you might like to buy a copy of a new anthology compiled by Neill McGuirk and Michael Murphy in which nearly 300 artists, writers and musicians discuss the records that influenced them, including our very own Rónán Hession on Billy Bragg. All proceeds go to Red Cross Ukraine. Good work!

There's a full list of contributors (very impressive!), and you can pre-order 

Thank you.


2. This week’s online gathering

We welcome back Vik Shirley and her guests for an evening dedicated to horror and the grotesque. Vik will be reading from her new collection Corpses and from Grotesquerie for the Apocalypse.

Nicky Melville will perform poems responding to films such as Salem’s Lot and Scanners and The Dead Don’t Die.

Steven Fowler offers responses to horror films including The Silence of the Lambs and An American Werewolf in London 

Madelaine Culver will read ‘found’ poems using text from reviews of Under the Skin and share some thoughts on women in horror

David Spittle will discuss Italian horror and the genre knonw as ‘Giallo’

And I'll talk about Alfred Hitchcock's bizarre and undervalued masterpiece The Trouble with Harry: a light romantic comedy ... about a corpse.



3. Indie Press news


You still have time to pre-order Manchester Uncanny, a collection of short stories by Nicholas Royle at the special offer price of £12.99 with free p&p. Manchester Review of Books says: ‘Royle is a master of the uncanny. This new collection proves it.'

I've read this collection with tremendous interest and admiration - it's warmly recommended! 

A mention in Manchester Uncanny of the Aaben cinema in Hulme prompts me to share this blog from 2013 - my memories of the Hulme Estate in Manchester in the late 1970s: 


Congratulations to this magnificent indie on the publication of their 100th title: Aliss at the Fire by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls(As it happens I reviewed the very first Fitzcarraldo title - Zone, by Mathias Enard - for the Times Lit Supp back in 2016. And many subsequent Fitzcarraldo publications carried a pull-quote from that review at the back, which caused me no end of satisfaction.) 

And another cause for celebration at Fitzcarraldo: Natasha Soobramanien and Luke Williams’s collaborative novel Diego Garcia was earlier this week awarded the 2022 Goldsmiths Prize. Here's a lightly-edited version of the publisher's press release, with acknowedgements:

Chair of judges, Tim Parnell, said: ‘By turns, funny, moving, and angry, Diego Garcia is as compelling to read as it is intricately wrought. For Natasha Soobramanien and Luke Williams collaboration is both method and politics. Against the dogmatism of the single-voiced fiction that informed the British government’s expulsion of the Chagossian people from their homeland, they respond not only with rigorous critique, but also with an understanding of the relationship between voice and power which shapes the very form of Diego Garcia. A marvellous book which extends the scope of the novel form.’

Ali Smith, one of this year’s judges and the winner of the prize in 2014, said that at the novel’s heart ‘is an experiment with form that asks what fiction is, what art is for, and how, against the odds, to make visible, questionable and communal the structures, personal and political, of contemporary society, philosophy, lived history’.

Writing in the New Statesman, fellow judge Tom Gatti added: ‘Despite its singular and unrepeatable form, Diego Garcia is not a closed book. At every juncture connections are drawn and doors flung open. Political narratives are questioned, social structures reimagined and, in this exhilarating, generous novel, the act of storytelling is made new.’

The 2022 Goldsmiths Prize judging panel consisted of Ali Smith, Natasha Brown (author of Assembly, shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2021), Tom Gatti (executive editor, culture, at the New Statesman) and chair of judges Tim Parnell (director of the Goldsmiths Prize and senior lecturer in English at Goldsmiths). 

The Goldsmiths Prize was launched in association with the New Statesman in 2013 with the goal of celebrating the spirit of creative daring associated with Goldsmiths as a university, and to reward fiction that breaks the mould and extends the possibilities of the novel form. 
Previous winners include Eimear McBride, Mike McCormack, Nicola Barker, Lucy Ellmann and M. John Harrison. 


4. Street Writing Woman: A Tribute to Laura Del-Rivo 

My friend the novelist Cathi Unsworth sends details of an event she's taking part in at the end of this month.

The Electric Cinema, 191 Portobello Road W11 2ED 

Featuring a rare screening of Michael Winner’s West 11 (1963) adapted from Laura’s first novel The Furnished Room (1961)


introductory talk and Q&A with special guests, and the chance to buy Laura’s novels from Holland Park Press and Five Leaves Press 

Sunday 27 November 2pm-4.30pm

A true writer of the streets, Laura Del-Rivo (1934-2022) was known to most of her friends around Portobello Road as ‘the tights lady’ – a market stall purveyor of the finest, most eye-catching hosiery in West London. Though her ever-stylish appearance held clues, few people realised she had led a literary double life.  


That, back in 1961, the publication of her debut novel The Furnished Room marked the debut of Britain’s first female beatnik author – a young, convent-educated woman who had escaped from the stockbroker belt in Surrey to pitch up at 24 Chepstow Villas W11 – where she lived alongside budding actors, fighting artists and original Angry Young Man, Colin Wilson.  


The book – an epochal evocation of existentialist rebels, art students, conmen and petty crooks mixing it up at bottle parties in a Rachmanesque Ladbroke Grove – had scarcely hit the shelves before it was optioned by ambitious local film director Michael Winner, who turned it into his first major feature in 1963. 


As a tribute to Laura, who sadly packed up her barrow and left her furnished room for the last time on 30 March 2022, her family and friends invite you to join us for a screening of West 11 and a celebration of her life at the epicentre of Portobello Road, the Electric Cinema, on 27 November 2022 at 2pm.  


As well as the chance to see Winner’s film on the big screen, there will be talks and a Q&A featuring special guests, author and Colin Wilson archivist Colin Stanley and local writer Cathi Unsworth. There will also be the chance to furnish your own room with Laura’s books from Holland Park Press and Five Leaves Press, including rare editions of her ’80s Grove classic Speedy and Queen Kong. 



5. Lost in the Willows

I was pleased to hear this week from the actor Robert Cohen, who played Captain Ahab (and quite brilliantly) in a one-off performance of Orson Welles's drama Moby Dick Rehearsed which I organised to mark the bicentenary of Melville's birth. There's more about that on my website:

Robert is appearing in Lost in the Willows at the Drayton Arms Theatre, London, SW5 0LJ on Sunday 13th November 2022 and that (checks notes) is tonight. Apologies for very short notice! 

        Doors open at 7:20pm. Play starts 7:30

Loss and loneliness stalked Kenneth Grahame, the author of The Wind in the Willows. This play is a poignant, moving and often funny examination of the life and relationships of this beloved children's author.

Lost in the Willows is the second collaboration between the director Margot Jobbins and playwright Christine Foster. Starring with Robert are Neil James (God of Carnage), Abi McLoughlin (Confessional) and Laura Fausner (The Railway Children)


6. Ghosts at the Old Library

an event I'm involved with here in Manchester.

Ghosts at the Old Library is a Christmas ghost story project involving Glue Factory stalwart Richard V. Skinner and three other authors, who have been commissioned to write brand new festive ghost stories which they will be reading at an atmospheric performance at Levenshulme Old Library, a former Carnegie library building in South Manchester. 

The building will be lit by lanterns and a separate space in the building will each be allocated to each author. The audience will then be split into small groups and led from one room to the next, hearing each story in full. 

As well as Richard you can hear stories from Adam Farrer, Melissa Wan, and the emerging writer Marie Crook.


7. Queer: LGBTQ writing from ancient times to yesterday

There's a new edition of this superb anthology, edited by Frank Wynne. It hasm, he says, 'a new cover, (fewer typos)' and is, he adds, 'the ideal Christmas gift for queer friends, partners and allies, or for that “ I’m not homophobic, but…” uncle/aunt/neighbour/colleague.

Order from House of Zeus here: @HoZ_Books

Fun facts: not only was this anthology launched at our online gathering Carthorse Orchestra last year, but its editor Frank Wynne was the very first guest on the very first online event, A Leap in the Dark, back in March 2020, when he talked about his translation of Animalia, the French novel by Jean-Baptiste Del Amo which won the Republic of Consciousness prize that year.


8. MA/MFA in Creative Writing at City University

Two upcoming events for anyone interested in studying on the MA or MFA Creative Writing at @CityUniLondon
Wednesday 16th Nov at the Clerkenwell campus: Wednesday 23rd Nov online: Jonathan Gibbs (who teaches these courses) will be taking part in both!


9. This week's Wendy Erskine news

No newsletter is complete without news of Wendy Erskine, and this week's edition is no exception.

So. We are delighted and honoured to announce that Wendy will be taking part in our annual live online pantomime on Tuesday 27th December, along with an all-star cast. This year's production (a fund-raiser for The Trussell Trust as usual) will be PETER PAN, adapetd from the original play by J. M. Barrie.

You'll never guess who Wendy plays. Further details and a complete cast in next Sunday's newsletter...


The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
Mark Ford and Seamus Perry
Thursday 15 December at 7 p.m.
In-person and online

Close Readings, Mark Ford and Seamus Perry’s series of LRB podcasts about 20th century poets, has become a slow-burning cult hit of which the Times wrote, in a five-star review: ‘Two intelligent people are left alone to talk about the subject they love … revolutionary.’

For the final episode of their second season, they’ll discuss Eliot, Pound and The Waste Land live on the centenary of the poem’s publication in book form. Join them in person or online for the last bookshop event of the year, the closing conversation in our 1922 series, and a live podcasting occasion that is unlikely to be repeated.

Close Readings, Mark Ford and Seamus Perry’s series of LRB podcasts about 20th century poets, has become a slow-burning cult hit of which the Times wrote, in a five-star review: ‘Two intelligent people are left alone to talk about the subject they love … revolutionary.’

For the final episode of their second season, they’ll discuss Eliot, Pound and The Waste Land, live, on the centenary of the poem’s publication in book form. Join them in person or online for the last bookshop event of the year, the closing conversation in our 1922 series, and a live podcasting occasion that is unlikely to be repeated. They may also mention what they’ve got planned for season three.



11. Shocking filler

Stumped for gift ideas? 

Multiple Joyce: 100 short essays about James Joyce's cultural legacy

Published in Dublin on 16th June (Bloomsday) this year, this is the only book about the author's cultural legacy you're likely to need.

The first review to appear was by Nuala O'Connor, and it's the one I find I've committed to memory. You can read it here, and I hope you do: 

And something else to enjoy over breakfast (if you're in Britain): Lori Soderlind's review in The New York Times.
Get one here: 


12. Next week's online gathering

On Sunday 20th November our special guest is the poet, broadcaster, academic and national treasure Michael Rosen, who will be talking about his role as editor of the recently-published Johnson/Rees-Mogg correspondence.

And we'll be marking the centenary of the publication in English of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-philosophicus in the company of the philosopher Jim Hopkins and the poet and historian Richard Barnett. I'll share some thoughts on the life, work and legacy of the remarkable Frank Ramsey, translator of the original, and we'll have film and music with a Wittgensteinian theme.


13. Nudge

Here's a particular message from the Trussell Trust foodbank in my home town serving the City of Southend-on-Sea: Southchurch, Westcliff-on-Sea, Leigh-on-Sea, Rochford, Hockley, Thorpe Bay & Shoeburyness.

I was born in Rochford and grew up in Prittlewell (Southend became a City following the murder of the local MP Sir David Amess, and a less likely place for such status I can't imagine.)
The top 5 most items the Southend food bank needs this week are:
    UHT milk     Tinned Fruit     Tinned Meatballs     Tinned Tomatoes     Jam
They add: "90% of all the food we give out is donated by the community, but increasingly we are needing to buy essentials, so every item donated makes a difference."

I expect every food bank has other weekly lists - check your local branch and you may wish to donate in kind, rather than in cash.

Thank you!

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