Friday, 29 March 2013

Getting Lost With Clive Scully: Part II

CLIVE SCULLY is a journalist with lady fingers, but he's a good guy.  He has sat down with me over the last few weekends to poke holes in my inferiority/delusional narcissism complex and get to grips with writing, fears and why all I want to do it get lost.

CS: How’s your week been?  You get much done with Lost Angeles?
[Dave pours the drinks]
DL: Nothing man, less than nothing.
CS: That’s poor form Dave.
DL: I hear you, we ran out of oil and I had to take my pug to the vet.
CS: And that stopped you from doing anything with the book?
DL: No mum.
CS: So, the last time we were talking you got into some stuff about artistic guilt and it got me thinking.  Why didn’t you write under a pseudonym?
DL: Because I’m a stone cold narcissist.
[Clive laughs]
CS: I don’t see that.
DL: Shit, I didn’t see it either but here I am wanting to see my name on a god-damn Amazon page.
CS: So you’re a narcissist who’s ashamed of his craft?
DL: Complicated ain’t I?
CS: That’s one word.  I read your book.
DL: Oh yeah?  Do me a favour, don’t give me your opinion on it.
CS: Why’s that?
DL: Good or bad it doesn’t matter.  Good and I’m not going to believe it, bad and I’m going to want to beat you over the head with this bottle.
[Clive laughs]
CS: There’s no need for the bottle.  One of the things that struck me about the book was layers.  There are moments throughout in the present that echo the past, moments in the present that will be replicated at some point in the future.  In large sections it felt like a dream, like maybe the narrator is less than objective…less than reliable.
DL: Right.
CS: Was that intentional?  Where’d that come from?
DL: It wasn’t the first time it happened, then it was.
CS: Fascinating answer.
[Dave laughs]
DL: Yeah, wise ass.  Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey did it better than anything I’ve seen in years.  I wanted the narrative to fold over itself the longer it unravelled so you got to the point where you didn’t know up from a hole in the ground.  I wanted you to feel the uncertainty Doug felt, I’m glad you got that.
CS: It’s kind of picaresque.
DL: Yeah, kind of.  I mean it has an overarching narrative but the confessional feel I was telling you about is what’s given it that.
CS: A lot of the male characters are unlikeable.
DL: A lot of males are like that.
CS: So that is intentional.
DL: Men are assholes and women are crazy.  When you’re speaking in generalities these statements can be true but it’s when you boil it down to the individual and motives that you really start getting to grips with the narrative.
CS: Yeah, because for the most part Doug Morgan isn’t a “good” guy.
DL: Who is?  He’s a lot of faults, we all do.  He’s really fucked up and it’s not entirely his fault and it’s not entirely new damage.  There are things that come through childhood and genetics that we can’t factor for.  He’s an alcoholic…
CS: Speaking of which would you like another drink?
[Clive pours the drinks]
DL: Thank you.  So what was I saying?
CS: He’s an alcoholic.
DL: Yes.  He’s an alcoholic, he’s most certainly mentally unstable and he dangerous, not just to himself but to those surrounding him but what makes him likeable is that he’s blind.  He doesn’t mean to be dangerous or cause damage, he’s hurting and he doesn’t see how bad it’s got.  He’s a guy struggling to hold himself together so he can fall apart on his own terms.  We’ve all done it, and I think that’s what makes him relatable above all the other shit.
CS: Now you see when you put it like that you make me want to read it again. 
DL: Any chance of you buying a copy this time?
[Clive laughs]
CS: Tell you what, you get that book into the store you were talking about and I’ll buy one.
DL: You’re a stand-up guy Clive.
CS: You’re influenced by guys like Bukowski, and Fante…
DL: And Thompson too…recently.
CS: Hunter?
DL: Well yeah sure, but I was meaning Jim.  Have you read Bad Boy?
CS: No.
DL: Do it.
CS: Ok.
DL: I can lend it to you.
CS: No I think I’ll buy this one.
DL: Fucker.
CS: So you’re influenced by guys like Bukowski and those lot, but where’s it come from?
DL: My old man was a musician, he played banjo.  He was a deadbeat but he could play.  I think my mum was artistic too but she had kids and worked her ass off bringing us up so it kinda got drained out of her but she always encouraged us kids to write, and draw.
CS: What does she make of Lost Angeles?
DL: She hasn’t read it.
CS: No?  Why, are you making her buy it too?
[Dave laughs]
[Clive pours the drinks]
DL: No.  She doesn’t know about it.  It’s not a artistic guilt thing, it’s a “there’s too much fingering and drugs in it” thing.  I don’t think we’re ready for that conversation.
CS: What age are you?
DL: Thirty-one and a half, but it’s the half that makes all the difference.

To read Part I click [here]

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Perceiving Is Believing

The Criminal is a simple story, one of murder and guilt (or lack there of). It uses the Thompson signature of the unreliable narrator better than anyone else, and undermines/underpins a narrative by changing character at least half a dozen times throughout the course of the tale. What sets The Criminal apart from the majority of Thompson's work is how current it still is. The case is tried in the papers, guilt is attributed and reinforced by the moulding of public opinion. It's incredibly thought provoking, relevant, intelligent and most of all frightening. Frightening to think that the difference between guilt and innocence, freedom and incarceration is perception.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Getting Lost With Clive Scully: Part I

CLIVE SCULLY is a journalist with lady fingers, but he's a good guy.  He has sat down with me over the last few weekends to poke holes in my inferiority/delusional narcissism complex and get to grips with writing, fears and why all I want to do it get lost.

CS: You’ve written a very unpopular book…
DL: Thanks Clive, you’re a lovely man…
CS: Ok, so unpopular isn’t the right word.  How about unmainstream?
DL: Is unmainstream a word?
CS: Would you prefer if we stuck with unpopular?
DL: Unmainstream it is.
CS: You’ve written a very unmainstream book.  Why don’t you tell us what Lost Angeles is about?
[Clive pours a drink]
DL: It’s about a drunk.  He’s beaten down by life, been dealt a few shitty hands and he’s gone off to Los Angeles to…well to kill himself.
CS: Sounds fun.
DL: It’s cheerier than it sounds.  When you’re at the bottom of a bottle you find humour in places, and a freedom that comes with a conscious decision that you’re no longer going to live by social conventions.  That you’re going to suck every moment of life out of it and enjoy it till it kills you.
CS: You’re clearly a big fan of the beat writers, did you channel any of them in writing Lost Angeles?
DL: I channelled the style.  I like the roman á clef style of writing and when you’re writing from experience it’s not entirely possible to channel another writer but when I was finished I started reading some Bukowski again and I could see a similarity with Women.  I was aiming for a confessional style of narration, one that would perhaps have the reader wonder “what’s he done to get him to this point” and with each confession think “was that it”?  I wanted each chapter to feel like a mile marker on Doug’s journey off the edge.
CS: You spoke of experience, is this all?
DL: No, not all.  Some, but not all.  There’s a lot that's real.  I spent a lot of time living in hostels and it’s interesting to see how people forget the rules of the real world.  After a while they stop applying to anyone with a backpack.  It gets a little wild if you’re in the kind of company that are willing to take the hands off the wheel just to see what happens.  And a lot of the stuff tied into the Belfast and Los Angeles relationships are real but it’s about finding that thread to sew through the narrative to make it one story, and that thread is fiction.
CS: Why this book?
DL: Honestly, I don’t know.  I never intended to write it, it just happened.  Suddenly forty thousand words were eyeing me from the typer and I wondered how much work it would take to finish it.  So I did.
CS: How’s it doing?
DL: Well it’s unmainstream as you said.
CS: I did.
DL: …and I’m a little too lazy to be ambitious so it’s not doing great.  I mean it was never going to be a book that would sit at the top of best seller lists, it’s doing ok in recent months.  I’ve been a little gun shy of late and haven’t been pushing it in ways that I probably should but that’s on me.
CS: Why haven’t you been pushing it?
DL: I don’t know.  I’m hyper critical and I’ve got this guilt…
CS: What guilt’s that?
[Clive pours a drink]
CS: Do you want one?
DL: Three fingers, let’s make it deep enough to paddle in.
CS: So what guilt’s that then?
DL: The part of Belfast I come from is very working class, very old fashioned.  You leave school, you get a “real” job that’s about punching a clock twenty times a week and don’t give a second thought to all that “artsy-fartsy” shite.  It was something that was drilled into me, and it’s caused a lot of guilt in me, a lot of guilt I can’t really quantify.  There’s a shame to wanting to do something artistic, and I find myself hiding away.
CS: Why do you think that is?
DL: Bad heritage Clive.  A lot of people in that area are forced to push the real self down and it shows by the amount of suicides that take place in those streets.  I know it’s bullshit but it keeps coming back.
CS: So why bother writing if it’s doing that kind of stuff to you?
DL: Because if I don’t, if I don’t I get a little crazy, and depressed, and on edge.  It’s something that I love but can’t love in public.  A sordid little dream.
CS: That’s a lot of conflict.
DL: You’re not wrong.
CS: So what’s this all about then?
DL: What?
CS: Me and you, and this.
DL: I’m trying, I’m pushing myself to be a little more confident in what I can do.  I’m growing as a person Clive.
CS: So do you think you’ll pull the finger out and start pushing Lost Angeles?
DL: I will, I will.  I’m writing at the moment, but I will.  There are a few people currently reading it on GoodReads and the reviews coming back have all been positive so I think I’m going to need to.
CS: Looking forward to seeing it.
DL: Me too.  When I was being proactive a bookstore had agreed to pick it up.  I liked the idea of seeing it on shelves, representing the Ls of literature.
CS: And then you bottled it.
DL: Epic amounts of bottling.
CS: You’re a little fragile aren’t you?!
DL: I’m a god-damn child Clive.
CS: So what’s the new thing you’re writing?
DL: It ties in perfectly to the bullshit we’ve been talking about.  Working class guilt, writing aspirations and bad heritage.  I’m naming a character in it after you.
CS: So another unmainstream offering then.
DL: I prefer to think of it as unpopular.
CS: I’ll drink to that.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Paint It Noir

It's a city showcase of many different types of noir fiction. Some great, some...not so much. There are three stories I need to read more of and they were frustrating to see end.  Maybe in reading the other "Noir" cities you'll get a sense of the grand scale of noir in American culture and how it changes geographically.  Afterall, cinematically noir in New York differs greatly from noir in Los Angeles.  That's the theory but who knows for sure until they've all been read?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Long Looks at Women

I LOVE Bukowski and I love his prose but Women is a tough book to love, not because of his treatment of the fairer sex I've read worse but because of the repetition. Unlike Factotum or Ham on Rye for example there wasn't anything that will drag you back to this 304 pager other than your love of him. He's a fantastic writer, a real one of a kind but Women isn't the finest example of his greatness.  I should point out that the three star is based on the Henry Chinaski standard as any Bukowski book is better than any other book that isn't.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Muthafuckas Day!

It's Mother's Day (in the UK) and what better way to thank your mum for the life she's given you than to give her a free book.  Grab a free copy of Lost Angeles from Amazon all through Sunday March 10th and tell them that you love them.

Wendy Powers - The Testament of Judith Barton

Inanity & The




Full time whiskey enthusiast Doug Morgan is on a downward spiral. Over the past two years the Irish man has played witness to the slow and steady decay of his life and he’s finally called time. Haunted by an unacknowledged pain Doug swaps the white collar nine to five of Belfast for one last charge into oblivion in the City of Angels. A scotch-soaked stranger in a strange land Doug befriends a series of like minded and self destructive vagabonds who, like him, are aiming for chaos. In a city that sees thousands of people per year come to be discovered why has one man come to get lost? [here] [here] [hier] [ici] [aquí] [qui] [ここで] [here]

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Hanks For The Memories

NINETEEN years ago today the world of literature got a little more safe (and bland).  The man, the legend that was Charles Bukowski passed away on March 9th 1994 a few months shy of his seventy-fourth birthday.  Six years off the target Hank but you fucked enough for a man of two hundred.  Tonight I drink to you.

Lots of love and a vodka-7.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Griftin' The Night Away

The Grifters is a problematic read. For the most part it's a fantastic tale of dishonesty and genetics but there are several moments in the final third that don't seem to ring true. Thompson has a way of writing that's incredibly natural and effortless but somehow the narrative feels a little forced post San Diego. Still as beautifully bitter as you'd expect from JT.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

I Hate You Words

I'M HAVING something of a crisis at the moment.  I mistakenly went back to read over a few things I've been working on, a few things I haven't read since it was copied and proofed and sent out into the world.  I think on some level I knew I'd hate it and I'd been mentally protecting myself from this realisation for the sake of my ego but I caught sight of the words on the page and it all seemed so contrived.  I don't know whether it's just the way it is but I can see every forced effort, every smarty pants strain, every shortcoming which strived for something unobtainable and fell flat on it's face setting it's front teeth free.  I see people with limitless, unshakeable confidence in themselves and (warranted or not) I envy them.  I know that I've changed, I've changed in the short amount of time that's occurred since then and that the black against the dove white is fixed and what I'm experiencing is the differences I'm trying to reconcile between myself now and myself then but I can't help it.  I hate it all.

I'm going to stop writing now because I'm starting to hate this too lol but I just needed to get this out so that maybe when I'm fine with everything again and then stupidly do the same god-damn thing and end up loathing words I'll be able to look back as see how I'm stuck in some sort of shame based pseudo-working class cycle and that I'm an idiot for not learning from the last time.