Sunday 6 November 2022

Newsletter 57

Hello again.

A note to start to let you know that in common with many I'm moving away from Twitter.

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

I'll continue to use Twitter for the time being, to share newsletter links and to promote 

The Glue Factory until the gatherings end in December. But I may shut down 

my account before then if the site becomes unendurable.

Mastodon is not 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, by way of a change to the usual header here's the Brazilian flag.


It's always been a favourite flag, and only partly because it resembles the lovely Universal Studios logo from the 1930s...


More on this in the postscript at the end of this week's newsletter.

 Newsletter contents

1.   Aid for Ukraine

2.   This week’s online gathering 

3.   Indie press news

        Curlew Editions

        Handheld Press

        Influx Press

        Penhaligon Press

4.   This week's Wendy Erskine news

5.   This week's other Wendy Erskine news: Dance Move on the BBC

6.   Dracula: the Untold Story

7.   Theatre for a quid!

8.   The Observer / Anthony Burgess prize for arts journalism 

9.   Punks Listen - a new anthology

10.  Shocking filler 🧦🧦🧦     

11.  Next week's online gathering

12.  Nudge

13.  PS



1. Aid for Ukraine

Take a look at item 9 below - some good work going on there.

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.

Thank you.


2. This week’s online gathering 

AS second Sidekick Books showcase with publisher Jon Stone and guests

Lotte Mitchell Reford, Julia Rose Lewis, Lara Frankena, Adam Crothers, 

Belle Roach and Vika Gusak 

Plus two remarkable artists - Ximena Perez Grobet from Mexico on her nine-year project Reading Finnegans Wake, and two short lyrical films by Rose Ruane in Glasgow.


3. Indie press news

Curlew Editions

Every year since 2015 my son has given me the latest volume of The Winter Papers, Ireland’s annual anthology for the arts, published by Curlew Editions. It offers fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photography, visual arts, along with craft interviews and in-conversation pieces on writing, film, theatre, photography and music. 

Edited by Kevin Barry and Olivia Smith, this year's edition features (big breath)

Kevin Barry Bog Cottage Jonathan Brennan Liam Cagney Cathal Coughlan 
Jane Deasy Adrian Duncan Christine Dwyer Hickey Gareth Evans 
Elaine Garvey David Hayden Caoilinn Hughes Dragana Jurišić
Siobhán Kane Ronan Kelly Joe Lawlor Joanne Laws Brian Leyden
Ian Maleney Louise Manifold Rosaleen McDonagh Tara McEvoy 
Belinda McKeon Jess Mc Kinney Christine Molloy Peter Murphy
Philip Ó Ceallaigh and Jessica Traynor

Each year the latest edition offers weeks of 

Order a copy (and back issues) here.

Handheld Press

Handheld Press invites you to the book launch of the works of forgotten Welsh author and RAF pilot John Llewelyn Rhys (1906-1940). His two novels and posthumous collection of short stories will be republished in two volumes on 15th November. The Flying Shadow (1936), his taut first novel about a flying instructor trying to stop his pupils killing themselves in the air, has an introduction by UCL lecturers Luke Seaber and Dan Kilburn. England Is My Village, and The World Owes Me a Living (1939, 1941) republishes Rhys's last novel and the collection of his short stories assembled by his widow, the novelist Jane Oliver (Helen Rees), which won the Hawthornden Prize in 1942. The introduction for this volume is by Luke and Handheld's Kate Macdonald.

Join Handheld Press for drinks, snacks, short talks and an opportunity to buy the books and chat to Luke and Dan.

Influx Press

Influx Press has scooped Dr No, a new novel by Booker-shortlisted author Percival Everett and announced an indefinite hiatus on acquisitions after 2023.

Publisher Kit Caless acquired UK rights for Dr No from Graywolf Press, for release in March 2023. 

"Dr No is another masterwork from Everett, whose literary purple patch sees no sign of stopping," the publisher has said. "A satirical caper of supervillains, farce and pastiche, with a philosophical enquiry into the meaning of nothing, Dr No is also a commentary on race and power in the US." 

In 2023 Influx will also be publishing more of Everett’s backlist including Assumption, the Pulitzer-nominated Telephone, and So Much Blue. Everett was shortlisted for the Booker Prize this year with The Trees (Influx Press).

The Everett titles are part of a scaled back publishing programme for Influx as a planned acquisitions hiatus comes into effect from November 2022. Founder Gary Budden and Caless have decided, after 10 years, to take a step back from publishing to pursue other life and professional goals, and will not be acquiring new titles for the foreseeable future. The press will remain a publishing house with current and backlist titles kept in print.

Everett said: “It has been and remains a great pleasure to be published by Influx. The folks at Influx are interested in art and politics in equal measures and as necessarily and inextricably bound together. Their aesthetic pleases and I feel I am in good company.”

Caless added: “I’d be insane not to continue publishing Percival’s work.”

Penhaligon Press

Penhaligon Press is about to republish the third in its series of reissues of Nigel Balchin’s novels. This outstanding but sadly under-rated author featured on the Glue Factory earlier this year curated by Balchin expert and series editor Derek Collett, in conversation with Luke Seaber (an academic with a particular interest in the period when Balchin was a critically acclaimed best-seller. Derek has single-handedly manged a revival of this once hugely polular athor who deserves and repays discovery.

The latest release, officially launched on Monday 7th November, is In the Absence of Mrs Petersen, an exciting 1960s thriller set in Hollywood, Paris, Venice and Belgrade. Priced at £9.99, the book can be purchased online or ordered from UK bookshops. Details on Derek's website:


4. This week's Wendy Erskine news


As part of their New Story autumn programming celebrating radical writing and new voices, an evening of brilliant Word Factory conversation and reading with three of the UK's most innovative short story writers and novelists: Jessie Greengrass, Courtia Newland and Wendy Erskine, hosted by Cathy Galvin, who will also announce details of our renowned mentoring award, the Word Factory Apprentice Award (2023).

THE NEW STORY: an evening with Jessie Greengrass & Courttia Newland

The Swedenborg Society 20-21 Bloomsbury Way London WC1A 2TH


5. This week's other Wendy Erskine news: Dance Move on the BBC

All five of Wendy Erskine's short stories as featured on Radio 4's 'Book at Bedtime' in October are now available here on BBC iPlayer, all read 
- quite brilliantly - by Roisin Gallagher:

Mrs Dallesandro
Dance Move
Secrets Bonita Beach Krystal Cancun

More Wendy Erskine news next week, probably...


6. Dracula: the Untold Story

Thanks to all those who joined the audience last Monday for a shared Hallowe'en screening of this award-winning stage production, designed by Laura Hopkins (who introduced the evening). 

If you missed it, you can now enjoy the amazing spectacle on YouTube hereAnd read the Guardian review here.

Laura won the 2022 award for Best Design for her work on this production. She has a website full of wonderful images of her work in theatre and ceramics:

And - a glimmer of hope - the production company behind Dracula: the Untold Story, Imitating the Dog, this week secured ACE funding for the next three years. 


7. Theatre for a quid!

Glue Factory stalwart Samuel Skooog announces 'small scratch performance and QA of his Work in Progress Nige (alongside four other amazing artists), happening at The Cockpit Theatre 7pm this Monday, November 7th. That's tomorrow. Be the first to see these brand new performances, new translations, new ideas - and give your feedback in an informal Q&A with the artists.
Tickets are only £1!

A man washes ashore on a desolate island inhabited by mannequins, and begins building a love story for himself… Inspired by the myth of Pygmalion and the true story of Nigel No-Mates: “the world’s loneliest seabird”, Nige is a meditation on the things we do to find companionship in the face of isolation.

THE COCKPIT Gateforth street, London NW8 8EH

Box Office: 020 7258 2925

(10.30am - 6pm, Monday - Friday; 12 noon - 6pm, Saturday)


The nearest stations are Edgware Road (Hammersmith & City, District, Circle, Bakerloo) and Marylebone (Bakerloo and main line).  Both are about a 7 minute walk away.  


8. The Observer / Anthony Burgess prize for arts journalism

This annual prize is open for entries until the end of this month. Pick a new show or book or whatever you want. Then rant about it.


9. Punks Listen

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.
It's launched in Dublin this week, and all proceeds go to Red Cross Ukraine. Good work!

Full list of contributors and pre-order 


10. 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 ever likely to need. Perfect for all Joyceans or anyone with a taste for reading in a dilapidated jakes surrounded by spiders and decaying plaster.

Here are some notices:

“A rare, delicious treat for readers, and a book that would have tickled Joyce, with its vibrant potpourri of playfulness, punning, and pathos…. I defy Joycean purists not to be totally beguiled by this absorbing, upfront, funny, erudite, and charming book.”

    — Nuala O’Connor, in Books Ireland Magazine

“Simply charming…. His voice and his style are infectious…. Anybody who’s even remotely interested in Joyce should own this book.”

    — Chris Via, in Leaf by Leaf (video)

“Some of the 100 essays in this rowdy exhibit hall offer intriguing trivia; others provide literary insights, and readers of all interest levels will find something unexpected to contemplate. We may already know that Joyce wrote stories, plays and novels, one of which, Ulysses, is considered by many to be ‘the greatest novel of all full stop.’ But were we aware that the Italian perfumer Mirko Buffini created a fragrance collection based on Finnegans Wake? Or that Joyce favored Borsalino hats, worn today by the likes of John Malkovich and Nicole Kidman? What has Moby-Dick got to do with Joyce, and why is that hyphen in the title? Collard will fill you in. These short essays exude infectious delight for a universe of such arcana.”

    — Lori Soderlind, in The New York Times Book Review

“This year being the centenary of the publication of Ulysses, there has been a flurry of new books and republications…. But to my mind David Collard’s Multiple Joyce is the most joyful and the most Joycean…. The strategy of the book … is to take bemusement seriously…. There is a real pleasure in reading a book about Joyce that actually makes you laugh.”

    — Stuart Kelly, in The Spectator        

Get one, or get several, here: 


11. Next week's online gathering

On Sunday 13th November we'll have an evening devoted to horror, Guignol and the grotesque. Vik Shirley returns to curate and will be reading from her new collection CorpsesMadelaine Culver will perform poems written in response to the sci-fi horror film Under the Skin; Nicky Melville will share poems responding to films such as Salem’s Lot and Scanners and The Dead Don’t Die; 

Stephen Fowler will perform some Day of the Dead poems and David Spittle (TBC) on Italian Horror/Giallo.

And continuing the macabre theme I'll be sharing my thoughts on Hitchcock's under-valued masterpiece The Trouble with Harry, a light romantic comedy... about necrophilia.. .



12. Nudge

Or rather three nudges. Please please please donate to The Trussell trust

Thank you.


13. PS A note from George Monbiot prompted by revelations of the disgraceful conditions in what amounts to a concentration camp at Manston housing refugees:

    How do you make voters feel better about their circumstances, without        actually improving their lives? You performatively mistreat other people,     who have no vote, to show your voters that someone sits below them in the     pecking order. That's what Manston, and Braverman, are about.

And, in the words of Tony Benn: 'The way a government treats its refugees is very instructive because it shows you how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it.'

The new President of Brazil's slogan is 'sem medo de ser feliz' (literally: 'without fear of being happy').

I look at the mediocrities currently in control of my country and it strikes me that one of the many things they fear is happiness. This seems to be a condition of many of those on the Right. 

They have failed in their life at happiness; being happy themselves and being the cause of happiness in others. What brought them to such a condition may have been something in childhood or adolescence; unskilled parenting; a reaction to education, and to others; a lack of formative cultural and social and emotional experiences. Or perhaps that's just the way some people choose to become: callous, dull, conservative.

I look at some of these elderly dead-eyed men and women (most of them born after 1980 and therefore, if improbably, still in their early 40s) and wonder what went wrong in this country and in their lives. 

Can you imagine having to endure lunch with any of them? Braverman? Sunak? Patel? Rees-Mogg? Fabricant? Dorries? Raab? Gove? Hancock? Can you picture your intense boredom and loathing and loss of appetite as they belch and dribble their way through a meal, honking their sullen commonplaces, their dull bigotry and glib simplistic takes on complex matters? Can you imagine feeling happy in their company?

They all of them share a hatred of expertise and excellence. Having wrecked the civil service, the law, the BBC, the NHS, the economy and the sea that surrounds us, they have now turned their attention to the arts.

This week Arts Council England (ACE), the government organisation responsible for funding theatres and museums and galleries and other cultural institutions, announced on Friday the cutting or axing of support for leading London arts companies, including the English National Opera and the Donmar Warehouse Theatre, both of which lost all their funding. And the Glyndebourne opera lost all funding for education and outreach, so only the well-heeled toffs will get to see and hear music performed there. (I'd never go to Glyndebourne in any case because there's a serious risk of bumping into the likes of Liz Truss). 

This is all entirely political. It was the farcically shallow and inadequate former Cultural Secretary Nadine Dorries who demanded a £70m cut from London from ACE. This is her only legacy.

The total annual budget ACE budget is, or was, £381m for 1 year.

That might seem a lot, but Rishi Sunak's ill-fated 'Eat out to help out' initiative to encourage people to have a subsidised nosh-up in restaurants during the pandemic cost £849m. For 1 month. 

And it led to a spike in covid cases, and many more deaths.

So the government cuts the money supply to organisations dedicated to the spread of human happiness. Why? For the same reason that dogs lick their willies. Because they can.

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