Hello my little veggie cocktail sausages! I thought I’d share with you a BBC radio show of one of my favourite parody satirical poets (is that even a thing?) Tim Key looking into one of the most fascinatingly odd Russian absurdist writers, Daniil Kharms.
The BBC info reads:
“Daniil Kharms (1905-1942) is one of Russia’s great lost absurdists – a writer whose world still alarms, shocks and bewitches more than half a century after he died in prison during the siege of Leningrad.
In his short, almost vignette-like writings, nothing is sacred or as it seems. His narrators dip in and out of moments, describing curious, often disturbing events before getting bored and leaving his characters to their fates. Old ladies plummet from windows, townsfolk are bludgeoned to death with cucumbers, others wander around in search of glue, sausages or nothing. By turns pointless and harrowing, they are funny. Very funny. And they are funny now.
Comedian, Russophile and crumpled polymath Tim Key has been entranced by Kharms’ beautiful, horrible, hilarious world for years. But is there more to Kharms than a series of curious happenings cooked up by an eccentric mind in a troublesome world? Key suspects there is. And he’s prepared to delve.
As he delves, he encounters Noel Fielding, Alice Nakhimovsky, Matvei Yankelevich, Peter Scotto, Tony Anemone and Daniil Kharms.”
So, without further fannying about, here it is. Enjoy!
Hello my little sugar cubes dangled over a glass of absinthe. My friend Steve and I have once again created our own writer and artist’s retreat as we have strict deadlines to get things finished, but I have still managed to read some peculiar books.
This is a bizarre and beautifully poetic book about some dark things. Leza takes inspiration from same sex Russian marriage, Jean Cocteau’s beauty and the beast, Mexican folklore and underground sex slave cults among other things and gives them an erotically feminine fairy tale twist. I enjoyed the ‘real world’ stories as much as the surreal, a good example being a relationship failing amidst heroine dependence. Pretty!
This fun book is a kind of YA twist on the bizarro genre. When youngsters reach a certain age they are forcibly turned into marionette puppets with strings that reach far into the sky. No one knows what’s up there, or why they have to do it, but one young girl decides to rebel just as something strange starts happening to the puppets .
I liked the way the teens actually do things teens do like smoke and skip school. In fact this could be an allegory for ‘responsible’ rebellion and why it’s necessary to look beyond your situation and not always do as you’re told.
The story starts with immediate tension and continues throughout. A girl is walking home from a night out followed by boys when, just in time, she’s picked up by her grandfather – who’s been dead for several years. When she arrives back at his place joy turns to fear as she realises something isn’t right.
As the character lurches from room to room the story becomes progressively darker and the effect is disorientating, but it deals with shame and guilt and love and is more than mere gross out stuff.
The head of a large corporation in a futuristic world is in hospital and his son is missing, along with millions of dollars. Add to that an estranged son with questionable motives and a daughter who has to go on the run and you’ve got an enjoyable read that reminded me of classic action science fiction films. The gadgets aren’t always immediately described which can seem confusing at first, but I’d much rather that than reams of explanation.
K. Ceres Wright reading a section (NSFW)
Good day, hope you enjoy these if you decide to purchase, toodle pip!
Hello my little dustpan brushes sprinkled with attractive gems. Recently I read Surrealist Women: An International Anthology. The kindle version is slightly cheaper than the hard copies but still costs a whopping thirty pounds. I do think it’s worth saving up for, however, as it is an almost exhaustive encyclopedia of all females involved in the art movement from the twenties to sixties counter-culture to now, including examples of their work.
The essays at the beginning of each new era, separated into chapters, refutes the idea that women were not as involved as men. While they were not seen as full members during the twenties they were just as passionate, and only a decade later their participation exploded. It only seems to be outside critics and scholars who have omitted them since.
This passage offers an explanation for the reticence at the start (Andre Breton’s wife, Simone Kahn, wrote several letters to her cousin Denise Levy in the early years): “Although masculine egotism surely existed in the Surrealist Group, what is known of Kahn’s correspondence refutes the temptingly simple but shallow argument that the relatively small production of the first womensurrealists can be blamed on male chauvinism alone. What held these women back, more than likely, was a complex of inhibitions and fears inherited from centuries of French and European patriarchal, capitalist, Christian culture; notions of “feminine reserve,” “woman’s place,” and “biological destiny” that they had internalized more or less unconsciously as children and which continued to wreak havoc in their psyches in later years, despite themselves.”
The author mentions other biographies of individuals but Surrealist Women is packed with primary research and any omissions of a particular writer/artist’s contribution to surrealism is addressed. She also looks at surprising aspects of surrealism, such as it’s affinities with Trotsky and other leftist leaders as well as feminism. In the early thirties the wall street crash brought a tide of woman-hating against those who ‘stole the jobs of men.’ Two high profile murder cases took place in France during that time, the Papin sisters – maids who killed their bosses – and Violette Noizierre. Both were reported vitriolically by the press as examples of women running amok, but apparently the Surrealists were one of only a few groups to point out that all women involved were being abused and possibly acted in self-defense.
I discovered several writers and artists I had never heard of as well as learning more about others. As a huge fan of Anais Nin I was excited to discover Nelly Kaplan who, under the name Belen, wrote “erotic tales of black humor.” She is also a filmmaker, one of her best known being A Very Curious Girl (1967).
There was also Suzanne Cesaire, born in Martinique. Though her husband, Aime, often overshadowed her, she was very active and started the magazine ‘Tropiques’ with him. There’s Joyce Mansour, the best known Surrealist female poet once told by Breton himself “Your gift is that of a genius,” and Rikki Ducornet, artist as well as author, who has illustrated books by Jorge Luis Borges among others.
I enjoyed it and learned a lot, and now have plenty of further reading and art to explore, as will you.
I don’t know what I’m doing! Sometimes I think I do but, more often than not, the further into this writing game I get the more I realise I know far less than I thought. However help is at hand in the form of people who know a bit more than I do making words into microphones. Take their hand (don’t kiss it, it’s probably sticky) and follow them down a dark corridor. Or a well-lit one, whichever seems nicer.
Billing itself as the podcast for writers, readers and fans, Gregory A. Wilson and Bradley P. Beaulieu have been referred to as ‘the best interviewers currently podcasting about genre fiction.’ They’re also joined by Michael R. Underwood and all have a good background in writing weird. As well as in depth interviews they review books and discuss writing techniques and publishing.
Brian Keene seems like a nice man. He and his friends discuss horror fiction as a genre, the various news and points of interest facing horror authors and, well, pretty much anything else. It’s like having a nice cup of tea – except when they talk about something unpleasant, then it’s like having an unpleasant but interesting cup of tea.
This is also an informative podcast! Authors discuss their personal work, outlining stories, getting published, getting self-published and everything it entails – pretty much anything a horror writer needs to know.
Winner of the ‘This Is Horror’ award 2015, guests are interviewed about their books and writing techniques followed by ‘news from the weird.’ This is any information weird writers may find interesting such as anthologies looking for submissions.
At the moment I and everyone else is surrounded by heart stopping stories of bizarrely ranting authors, such as the cases of ‘The Author Who Trolled Himself For Four Goddamn Months‘ Stephen J Harper and ‘I Am Not Your Bitch You Are Mine‘ Chelsea Cain. I say heart stopping rather than funny (although in Stephen J Harper’s case I guess you kind of have to see the funny side) because one of the things that literally terrifies me is making people angry, online or in real life. And it’s happened too! Just an ill-timed joke or comment somewhere and…
Well, OK, maybe not all of us would be so relentless or unpleasant as those writers online recently, but everyone has a bad day and loses focus at some point. I suppose the thing to ‘bear’ (oh dear) in mind is: if in doubt, apologise and move on without going into massive explanations or excuses. Oh, and IGNORE BAD REVIEWS.
I’m always sticking my foot in it but I think it pays just to try to be as polite as possible ALL the time, which incidentally makes you feel quite pleasant and squishy too. If you’re experiencing a day when that’s impossible, STOP! Step back from the keyboard/touchpad/quill made from virgin’s hair. If someone says something mean, write it in your personal diary. Your paper personal diary.
Anyway, here are one or two links on the subject that may be helpful: