On ‘Vanitas’

Vanitas - Birds Piled LooselyMy short story Vanitas is in issue ten of Birds Piled Loosely.

Hope you like. Thx to BPL.


On ‘Good Luck with the Arseholes’

Good LuckVisual Verse does this thing where on the first day of every month they post an image. They then ask for responses to the image – either poetry or prose, up to 500 words, written in an hour.

Way back in March of 2014 I wrote What the Sheep Thinks of the Sky in response to that month’s image – a drawing of a pile of dead birds. Wrote it while on a trip to Melbourne, in the reading room of the State Library of Victoria. It was a memorable writing experience (not sure I can say that about many writing experiences…); there’s something cleansing and invigorating about the process – of working with a time limit, and a word limit, and walking away from it once you’ve hit “Submit”.

Anyway, on a warm night at the start of this month, I wrote Good Luck with the Arseholes while sitting by the balcony, door pulled right open.

On ‘Two Memories’

Two MemoriesMy short piece Two Memories has been published in issue two of RIC Journal.

Two memories which I hope it makes sense to pull together. Took some time to get the tenses right – or if not right then at least more correct. Memory, it seems to me, is experienced in the present, even when the lived experience was long ago, and even though there is another present, the now, in the memory’s future, that also needs to be accounted for.

With thanks to Saudamini.

On my review of Night in the Sun

Night in the Sun by Kyle Coma-Thompson - reviewMy review of Night in the Sun, the second short story collection by US writer Kyle Coma-Thompson, has been published at Full Stop.

I first read Coma-Thompson in The White Review. His story ‘Spite & Malice’ was the last or second to last piece in the issue and I almost skipped it because I subscribe to Borges’s belief that you don’t need to have a read all of a thing to have read a thing (I’m misinterpreting him as an excuse for my laziness). The story blew me away and I made a mental note to read more by this writer. In a curious twist of fate (as far as curious twists of fate go in an age when impressions of surprise and delight at short stories are expressed on social media), Coma-Thompson emailed me a few days later asking if I wanted to read the collection that ‘Spite & Malice’ was from. See the review for my thoughts.

Big thanks to Jesse for editorial guidance and giving it a home.

Verner Herzog

The universe is recorded on a VHS tape playing in the basement of a pristine yet empty apartment block in a Chinese ghost town the size of Birmingham. The town is serviced by one man. Instead of smoking all day under a tree in the middle of the widest boulevard, he is crippled by the size of his task. When he moved to the town, the serviceman brought a rainbow finch with him. One morning, the cage was empty. Sometimes he can hear the echo of the finch’s whistling in the narrow alleyways between apartment blocks. The only shop in operation in the town is a liquor store run by a Russian woman in a leather jacket and with hair the colour of polar ice. The door chimes with an electronic cymbal clash when the serviceman enters and exits or when the woman steps out to get some fresh air. She thinks the easiest thing to do would be to burn the whole thing down but who could she tell? Who would listen? Also in the basement is a fragment of a meteorite and a Citroën 2CV that nobody has the key for. In one of the bedrooms in one of the apartments is a commission by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Packs of stray dogs enter the town at dusk and speakers in all the public squares play The Rite of Spring on repeat. Werner Herzog is visiting soon but nobody knows when and the billboard advertising his visit spells his name “Verner”.