April 29, 2006
In his finest lyrical moments (‘The Mercy Seat’, ‘Tupelo’, ‘There She Goes My Beautiful World’) Nick Cave distils the extremes of life: transcendent beauty and unremitting horror. And The Ass Saw The Angel takes a small glimmer of the former combined with a cornucopia of the latter. A profoundly twisted vision, it’s the Southern Gothic of Flannery O’Connor distorted to the extremes of Octave Mirbeau‘s The Torture Garden. Fixated by murder, incest, plagues and pestilence, antichrists and prostitutes, there’s something admirably punk about its brash lack of concern for the reader, for any sense of comfort or for that most unholy of artistic concepts: entertainment. Darran Anderson reviews Nick Cave's And The Ass Saw The Angel.
April 28, 2006
I was in love with all these writers, especially Jack Kerouac, who had a powerful emotional impact on me when I first read him in about 1971. And because they all received such scant coverage in the media. They were forgotten, out of print, obscure — maybe hard to imagine now, in an age of so much coverage, biographies, films. It seemed a good idea to do what little was possible to promote them, spread the word about what they did, who they were. There’s an expression the West Coast Beat artist Wallace Berman used ‘Swinging in the shadows,’ meaning a lot of the writers and artists worked for themselves, their friends, not for commercial aims. It seemed like a good idea to bring them out of the shadows a little. Susan Tomaselli interviews Beat Scene editor Kevin Ring.
April 5, 2006
Minor Characters proves that far from there being one truth or one history there are in fact many. The Beats may have mapped out their experiences in enchanting forms but they are by no means the only characters in this tale. In its true form, through the eyes of all its participants, history is a bewildering cubist painting, all contradictory angles and perspectives. This is its salvation. This book may not be the most extensive, multi-layered history (Ted Morgan’s monumental Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs can claim that) but it’s undoubtedly the most moving account. Johnson’s greatest achievement is managing to resurrect real human beings from ghosts. Darran Anderson reviews Joyce Johnson's Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir.
April 1, 2006
Michael Smith borrows from Jerome K. Jerome, steals from the Beats, employs the dead-pan narrative voice of Alan Bennett and swallows the ethos of The Idler magazine whole, giving birth to a new anti-hero, a modern-day Bartleby who refuses to work for the man, relying instead on the dole to fuel his drink and drug-addled lifestyle. Susan Tomaselli reviews The Giro Playboy.