Wednesday, May 04, 2005


(Finally): in response to John's book-list throwdown:

1) The Fahrenheit 451 Scenario.

'Course, I'm totally against any sort of book-burning, censorship, etc...but I'll make a hearty exception for anything written by Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Kim fucking Newman. They can go straight on the bonfire along with anything with a Josh Kirby cover, and virtually all of the film/TV-franchised crap that fills up the so-called 'Science Fiction' & 'Fantasy' sections of book stores these days. And their 'authors' should be made to go and live in the secret underground dorms of Taunton where they hide the malnourished and disease-ridden Portugese migrant workers who are forced to toil in the Yoplait factory in Yeovil. Let's make these middle-class hacks go and work for a living, I say! (Yes, I know Adams is dead, but that's no excuse: dig the bastard up, feed him zombie-dust and make him work in the fields...)

What do you mean, I can only pick one book? (Sound of a shotgun shell being pumped) Let me be the judge of that, sonny...

But what books would I save from the fires of fascist repression?

None. I'd save me...

2) Have I ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Well, Jean Grey, obviously...though in my personal mythic-continuality 'tinuum she died in X-Men #137 and never, ever came back . That large-breasted woman currently inhabiting the pages of various X-Titles is an imposter, I tell you! (I can still remember reading "The Fate of the Phoenix!" when it came out in a cafe in Bristol with Dom Zero and his brother; we were completely devastated (S-she died wearing her Marvel Girl costume (sob!))We'd all had a massive crush on Jean (and Batgirl!) since we were kids ("Get a fuckin' life, dork!" - Ed.)...but then Viv Albertine of The Slits came into my life and all was well...)

Oh, what: no comics, just books? Well, okay, then: Pat Savage (Doc's smart, sassy, sexy cousin...)

3) The last book I bought?

This'll sound like total arse-kissing, but Simon Reynolds' "Rip it up and Start Again". Since a biggish portion of my record-collection originates from that era, yeah, well, 'course I'm gonna buy it, whether it was written by Simon or not. In my defense, though, it'll probably sit on the bookcase for 6-12 months like everything else before I get round to reading it. Ah, c'mon, admit it: most of you people have bought it too...

Strangely, I dreamt I started reading RIU&SA last night, and found my copy had a loose, centre-section printed on purple, hand-made paper where Simon had meticulously recorded the weights, heights and diets of everyone he'd interviewed. The punch-line was that he was developing some sort of far-out theory that diet, food-allergies, health concerns, etc (rather than drug consumption) had a major impact on the way that Late Seventies/Early Eighties Post-Pnk/Industrial Music had evolved. Danged if I can remember his theory, but there was a part that claimed the nervy skeletal sound of 80's White Funkateers like A Certain Ratio was a result of a macrobiotic diet (This Dream-Theory also proposed that a progressive increase in the calorific intake of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz caused a proportionate slowing-down and 'fattening-up' of Talking Heads sound around/prior to "Remain in Light"). Don Armando's Second Avenue Rhumba Band lived on pinto beans, apparently.

4) Last book I read?

"Pale Rider Coming" by Stephen Hunter. Starts off as a Hard-Boiled(-verging-on-sadistic) Deep South Prison Movie and suddenly mutates into a Sam Peckinpah Western co-starring real-life cowboy Audie Murphy. Set in the Fifties in a Racist Hellhole Prison deep in the swamps of Mississippi, this book oozes more Anti-PC Alpha Male attitude than a dozen "Dirty Harry"s. This is what happens when an Existential Loner who's good with guns decides to get revenge on a couple hundred sadistic prison-guards who wrongfully imprisoned and tortured him (a white guy) in a blacks-only prison in The Deep South. Naturally, he breaks out and gathers the ten or so other Hardest Men on Planet Earth to help him blow the fuck out of the prison. Phew, I love the smell of testosterone early in the morning!

This is basically Garth Ennis' "Preacher", but with better jokes and more violence.

Hunter's books are great fun: he's taken the glorious traditions of Pulp and Exploitation writing and respun them as Widescreen Blockbusters, though no major studio would dare film "Pale Rider Coming" without castrating it, and there's already enough castration in the book. Hunter specialises in Macho Loners, Peckerwoods, Crackerjacks and Rednecks and, like Joe Lansdale, he writes with great heart; but, unlike other heirs to the Pulp Legacy like, say, James Crumley, his books are massively successful and readily available at airports, train stations, Ottakars, etc. If I was pitching this as a film, I would describe it "a cross between "The Wild Bunch" and, er, "Black Mama, White Mama" with a male cast, but with Walter Hill or Peckinpah directing, and maybe Willis in a final, but fantastic, career-destroying lead-role..."

(I'll leave it up to Dom to gleefully describe the genius of Hunter's books about the Swaggart family, snipers and Vietnam...)

5) Currently Reading:

"Necronomicon Vol. 4 - The Journal of Horror and Erotic Cinema" Edited by Andy Black, and "Neuro-Linguistic programming: The Technology of Achievement" by, er, Someone or Other....

6) Five desert Island Books.
Like most people reading this blog, I'd struggle to narrow my favourites down to even five hundred. Every book tells a story, they say, but some, like a favourite LP, are forever inextricably linked with the time and place that you first encountered them...

(i) If I couldn't take my wife with me, then I'd take this (Chris found this in a junk shop and bought it for me for our first Xmas together):

In a nutshell: everything you ever need to know about Springheeled Jack, Haunted Submarines, Crystal Skulls, The Bottomless Money Pit, The Hollow Earth, etc.

(She also got me a 2nd hand VHS copy of "Cleopatra Jones and The Casino of Gold" starring Blaxsploitation supastar Tamara Dobson - together, those two presents pretty much sum up the tone of our relationship over the last few years!)

(ii) Obviously, something by Bill Burroughs. Almost chose "Cities of The Red Night", but this just pipped it to the post:

"Exterminator" wins because I first read a sizable chunk of this book on a surreal, half-asleep 3am Milk Train trip back to Yeovil from London in the Mid-Seventies where my friend Ken Shabby and myself had just had our minds blown by Ashra Tempel. Nuff Respect...

(iii) Philip K. Dick: another obvious choice, I know, but which novel to pick? So many great books to chose from. This wins by a narrow whisker because of its marvellously inappropriate cover:

Circle Brophy gave this to me many (Alphane) moons ago. He's probably forgotten, but I haven't.

(iv) I read a massive chunk of this next book in a beach-bar in Corfu in the very early eighties, long before the island imploded into a Club Med urinal. After an ouzo-fuelled lunch, my girlfriend passed out and slept all afternoon, leaving me to work my way through the remainder of the I drunkenly trawled through this book, the sun seemed to brand its tragic tale into the creases of my mind.

The sea and sky were a perfect blue; we were young and stupid and the world was our seemed full of endless possibilities. Meanwhile, down on the beach, holidaying members of a well-known UK Metal band were being harrassed by their manager who was taunting them with pirate tapes of an NY Rap-station on a very loud boombox...and I heard "Genius of Love" by The Tom-Tom Club for the very first time. Life really doesn't get much better than this.

(v) Autumn, 1977: I move to Bristol. Fuck Julie Burchill; I bloody adore Bristol and spend every waking moment going to Punk Rock gigs, getting drunk and reading Micky Spillaine and Sax Rohmer novels. I see Henry Cow play live, and every film ever made by Jean Vigo. My world explodes outwards like an accelerating galactic supercluster, and life will never be the same again.

(No Moorcock, or R. A Lovecraft or Clark Ashton Smith, or Spillaine or Hammett, or...(sigh)...maybe another day....)

7) Three people to pass this quiz onto: Dom, Circle Brophy and Loki (if any of them have actually got the time...)