REVIEW – EMILY HARRISON’S ‘I CAN’T SLEEP ‘CAUSE MY BED’S ON FIRE’

by Carmina Masoliver

I have seen Emily Harrison share her work countless times at Burn After Reading events, and at my own night, She Grrrowls. She never fails to amaze me in the way she is able to articulate herself, speaking out about mental health issues – amongst other subjects – interwoven with links to gender and class. When I read lines about imaging someone loves you ‘when you simply asked/during a routine blood test, ‘Emily, how are you doing today?’ I sort of imagine she’s what I would be like if I were an extrovert.

The first couple of poems are familiar to me, and it’s hard not to picture Harrison on stage delivering these words, because as much as it’s incredible to be able to read the pieces, seeing them live is an important part of the way the text works, as it tends to be with Burning Eye Books – the go-to publisher for writers who refuse to remain on one side of the page/stage divide.Continue Reading

LITERATURE VS GENRE – SECONDS OUT (PART 2)

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by Mike Carey

Continued from part one, published on The Norwich Radical two weeks ago.

I hate to rake up ancient history, but here’s another example from a little further back – dredged up because in this case it is a writer of literary novels (Edward Docx, in the Observer in 2010) who’s saying this, so the agenda is maybe a little more naked.

Even good genre… is by definition a constrained form of writing. There are conventions and these limit the material. That’s the way writing works and lots of people who don’t write novels don’t seem to get this: if you need a detective, if you need your hero to shoot the badass CIA chief, if you need faux-feminist shopping jokes, then great; but the correlative of these decisions is a curtailment in other areas. If you are following conventions, then a significant percentage of the thinking and imagining has been taken out of the exercise. Lots of decisions are already made.

Considering that Docx rails against “a fundamental dishonesty” in the way this subject is usually discussed, I’m going to pick my words with care.

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LITERATURE VS GENRE – SECONDS OUT (PART 1)

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by Mike Carey

The argument about the relative merits of literary and genre fictions just keeps running and running. There’ll be periods of decorous silence, and then it will break out again, usually in the form of some egregious statement in a broadsheet or magazine, and it will be like it never left.

One thing you tend to notice after a while, though: it’s almost never writers of genre fiction who are picking the fight. To be fair, it’s often not “literary” writers either – it’s academics taking up the cudgels on their behalf; considerately telling us which stories are worth serious consideration and which aren’t. And I guess we appreciate the help, right? Because it’s a bewildering fictional landscape out there and an innocent young seeker after truth could easily go astray.Continue Reading

COMMON PEOPLE

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by Jack Brindelli

May 2015 is a landmark in modern British culture, and it just so happens to coincide with a general election where, more and more, being seen as ‘one of us’ is adjudged more important than actually helping us. Next month, it will have two whole decades since the original release of Pulp’s tragically timeless ‘Common People’. The song — which is broadly recognised as one of the defining anthems of Britpop, reached number 2 in the charts 20 years ago — was kept from the supposedly prestigious top spot by the caterwauling Robson-and-bloody-Jerome.

But while Unchained Melody limped on for another 5 years thanks to a cringing Gareth Gates cover, only Pulp’s music can truly be said to have stood the test of time; misinterpreted as it is to this very day by the crowd of preening, self-obsessed hipsters who regularly grace St Benedict’s Street on a Saturday night. And I have to ask before I get bogged down in polemic, if any of our readers might happen to be amongst the number whooping and prancing about in the Birdcage to this, how can you not see that this song is a howling stab of rage directed at poverty tourists like you?

Have you quaffed so much craft ale that the world is just a tweed-patterned blur at this stage, or is your fashionably unkempt lumberjack beard just growing upwards into your brain?Continue Reading