Back scratching without nails

Posted on September 29, 2007


By Paul Kavanagh

H.P. Tinker is not unhappy, I think. He should be unhappy living in Manchester, but he’s not, I think. I’m unhappy though and I don’t live in Manchester. I used to live in Manchester and funny enough I was happy. This review is going to be incoherent and all over the place. There, I warned you. Why? Because I’m tired of well polished reviews. I bet you’re also sick and tired of the same formulaic reviews. Here’s a new one. I enjoyed reading H.P. Tinker’s book of short stories. I know no history, I have done no research, I have not been in touch with H.P. Tinker, all I’ve done is read the book. When I finished reading the book I was unhappy. But I found that I could reread the book and this made me happy, and like reading Kafka I found new things that popped out like when the last time I reread The Castle it was paper, yes paper, The Castle is all about paper. Tinker’s book, the best title of a book to come out in a long time, The Swank Bisexual Wine Bar of Modernity, it gets me every time, is all about…

Reading Tinker’s book is analogous to watching Coronation Street on acid. Trust me. Yes and the cast must be: Nick Nolte will play Jim McDonald, Vera Duckworth I think Sharon Stone, Warren Betty has to be Ken Barlow and Bob Hoskins must play Mike Baldwin, I leave Jack Duckworth to play Jack Duckworth. The Rovers Return will be in a desert, maybe Kandahar, why not? Is Kandahar a desert? Anyroad, Kandahar is the place to be:

Happily, on March 26, Kandahar celebrates its birthday at London’s South Bank with Roger Wright, controller of BBC Radio 3. John Travolta has sent his congratulations. Bob Dylan will sing ‘Mozambique’. Charlton Heston has made risotto. Giorgio Moroder has broken off from his record-breaking tour of Hungary to perform Wagner’s Parsifal, Bartok’s ballet scores, and extracts from The Dandy Warhols’ second album. On a lighter note, there will also be a performance of The Death of Klinghoffer, the comedy-opera based on the Palestian hijack of the Achille Lauro cruise liner in 1985, starring Robson and Jerome. The new Mayor of Kandahar, Pierre Boulez, calls me into his office, a great honour.

Pynchon? Barthelme? Beckett? Joe Orton? Woody Allen? Nathanael West? Mancunian humor? Will Manchester miss Bernard John Manning? Will the Blues top those Red **@#@**@#@#@**&? A friend caught Morrissey coming out of Marks & Spencer’s in Manchester. He was carrying two shopping bags. My friend followed Morrissey to a parked convertible BMW. My friend was very unhappy. My friend lives in Manchester. Morrissey lives in L.A.

Somebody came up with the wise adage never judge a book by its cover. But that’s where I’m going to start. I must go back to my university days, reviewing this book I feel as though it is not malapropos to state that I did three years somewhere studying something gleaning somewhat. I once studied the History of Photography in a very dark room. There was this girl that would sit at the front of the class and whenever the man with the button showed a dirty black and white picture the girl at the front of the class would moan with pleasure as though her clitoris was being rubbed. It was both very funny and perturbing. At home looking over my notes I’d find Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh OOOOOOOOOOOOO Ahhhhh OOOO. I think she must have orgasmed a lot. The biggest moan came when [‘Man in Polyester Suit, 1980’] appeared.

The Advertisement: It’s a great book to read while having a shit. It’s small and the pages bend. There’s 145 pgs and the lettering is big. Perfect! BUY THE BOOK YOU BASTARDS!!!!! Just under seven quid, it’s a steal. Pynchon’s V in hardcover is now selling for two hundred pounds. The Swank Bisexual Wine Bar of Modernity, it gets me every time. I’ll say it again: The Swank Bisexual Wine Bar of Modernity, it gets me every time. There’s a joke on every page, there really is. Trust me, I’m the reviewer.

Now the academic stuff. I wonder what Lucian would have made of Derrida et al? Lucian the father of science fiction? Tinker, I believe, likes to read science fiction. Lucian the friend to Plato and Socrates. He abhorred windbags and rightly so. It’s all semantics, trust me. Wittgenstein said, “word games.” The Swank Bisexual Wine Bar of Modernity, it gets me every time, is a damn good book. I’m repeating myself.

Tom Paulin once said on late night television, “Electric knitting.” O what an acerbic judgement!

A good book has a heart, lungs, kidneys, arteries, veins and more importantly a soul. Yes, a good book has a soul. The reviewer must be the anatomist. So the reviewer must inexorably dissect the front cover of the book for it is obviously the first anatomical landmark. Sterne dead a cadaver was stolen shortly after he was buried beneath the terra firma and sold to the anatomist for dessection. It was recognised by somebody who knew him and discreetly reinterred. Crazy stuff. I got the book from Amazon and you also can. Now back to the book in question. The front cover. August Sander took some of the most amazing protraits of men between the wars. They are truly amazing. Each one is a statement, they illustrate the antithetical, the unreal, and paradoxically the truth, they stand up to Nazism, the ethos of the Aryan with veracity and bravery. Sander is Arbus and Arbus is Sander and H.P. Tinker is the man behind the chair and the chair is a little man that once worked in the Swank Bisexual Wine Bar (it gets me every time). Where did Arbus come from? Manchester is full of wine bars. You might even seen the chair serving cocktails with names like

The General
The General deplores bad language of any kind.

(Just Like) Tom Paulin’s Blues.
On hearing these words, I felt something eerie chilling me to the very core…

My Hitler Youth
I was masturbating alone in Greenwich Village.

Me: Why did you pick the photograph?
H.P. Tinker: (Indirectly, I have never talked to H.P. Tinker.) to me, the man in the picture is the type of gauche person who might think they want to visit such a wine bar… only to be bitterly disappointed when they get actually there.

Now the guts, the blood, the feces. The stories are built up of facts, there are sentences upon sentences, a myriad of them, facts, facts, facts, but the stories are filled with lies, fabrications, mendacities, word games, Paulin’s never had the Blues, but still there are facts, here we hit the wall of paradox. Can a fact be a lie is a lie a fact I know a fact about a lie it goes like this there was once a lie but it became a fact it had something to do with this war that went on for ten years in some remote place it is a fact although some believe it to be a lie. There’s a place called Rover’s Return and that’s a fact, but it doesn’t serve real beer it’s a place of duplicity, the fighting is staged, the cussing is bleeped out and there’s no condoms in the men’s toilet. Tinker is Sander, a fact. That is real another fact. I like the book, a fact. I’m real, a fact. His portraits are filled with lies facts but they hold up the mirror to our society. He pokes a finger at those stars we hold dear, a fact. He mocks them, a fact. There’s all kinds of facts, mocking facts, facetious facts, commonplace facts, dirty facts, fucking facts, copulating facts, bisexual facts, a litany of facts, reeking facts, mirth facts, Rabelaisian facts, Sterne facts, English tea time facts, hard inventories of facts, satirical facts, penis facts, Hitler youth facts, Gauguin facts, the best facts, but never superfluous facts, here’s a fact: “Pornography was first widely popularized by Al Johnson.”

And so there it is The Swank Bisexual Wine Bar of Modernity, it gets me every time, my ribs are killing me, I’ve got to stop. Fuck it, from this day onwards I’m only going to write happy stories, a fact!

[1. Bugger, words I had intended to use: existentialism, surrealism, deconstructivism, Aristotelianism, nationalism, fascism, communism and Tinkerism.
2. One pun I forgot: He’s pulling my tinker and your tinker.]

The Swank Bisexual Winebar of Modernity by H.P. Tinker
Social Disease
145 Pages


Paul Kavanagh was born in England in 1971 and lives in Charlotte, N.C., USA. His writing credits include poetry and short stories in Sleeping Fish, Burnside Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Pen Pusher, Better Non Sequitur, Evergreen Review, Monkeybicycle, and others, and he is author of the novel, The Killing of a Bank Manager.

Posted in: Reading