The Scribbler

the new writing blog for exciting contemporary writers

Archive for the ‘Poetry / News’ Category

William S. Burroughs and the Torso Murderer – Talk

leave a comment »

Naked Lunch author William S. Burroughs

Naked Lunch author William S. Burroughs

William S. Burroughs is one of The Scribbler’s staple authors. To read his work is to understand our mission. Which is why we were so excited to hear about a discussion forum taking place this weekend on the famed beat author.

The Last Tuesday Society, of 11 Mare Street London, hosts Oliver Harris, Professor of American Literature at Keele University for a night entitled: William S. Burroughs and the Torso Murderer.

Burroughs once wrote: “…in this life we have to take things as we find them as the torso murderer said when he discovered his victim was a quadruple amputee.”

To coincide with the publication of a new, 25th-anniversary edition of Burroughs’ second novel Queer, Harris has finished reediting the early trilogy of novels preceding the notorious Naked Lunch.

The story behind Queer starts in the early 50s in Mexico City when the fledgling author and heroin addict, accidentally shot and killed his wife, Joan, in a drunken re-enactment of William Tell.  The experience served as a catalyst awakening a creativity which produced the masterpieces The Naked Lunch and The Soft Machine.

This week’s talk follows a trail of evidence from letters, manuscripts, photographs, Shakespearean references, Plato, pulp publishers, vaudeville acts, and a torso murderer (a reference to the infamous Cleveland Torso Murders of the 30s which were investigated by the same police officer who successfully convicted Al Capone).

Burroughs was hailed by Norman Mailer, novelist, journalist and innovator of the non-fiction narrative, as  “The only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius.”

Over the years Burroughs’ work has been a major influence by musicians and artists like Lou Reed, Joy Division, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Kurt Cobain. Oliver Harris is the author of seven books and several articles on the Beatnik writer. He has also edited Burroughs’ early trilogy of novels for Penguin Books including Junkie and Queer.

Buy tickets for the William S. Burroughs and the Torso Murderer talk on November 19 at The Last Tuesday Society here >>

Watch a trailer for the new film William S. Burroughs: A Man Within below:

Discussion:
Will you be attending the Torso Murderer talk? Do you feel Burroughs is rightly labelled as one of the most influential writers of the 20th Century? Favourite book? Go on…tell us.

Words: Dean Samways

Advertisements

Guardian First Book Award shortlist announced

leave a comment »

The Guardian First Book Award

The Guardian First Book Award

The shortlist for the Guardian’s First Book Award has been published with an extremely varied bunch of first time authors making the short list.

The award which has a £10 000 cash prize is seen in many literary circles as being unique, not only because it recognises first time writers but also the lengths it goes to to involve reading groups all over the country.

Taking in fiction, non-fiction and poetryu the books range from a 20th century history of music, a memoir of a soviet era romance and a dark story of obsession and violence based in Yorkshire. Others making up the shortlist include a political novel set in Pakistan and a carnivalesque Australian saga.

The shortlist was determined by Waterstones reading groups up-and-down the country who helped narrow down the selection from ten books to just five.

Chairwoman of the award and Guardian Literary Editor Claire Armitstead commended the shortlist saying “these are sophisticated books that require a big investment from the reader – an investment for which they are richly rewarded,” she also commended the books for there “generic inventiveness” and “defiance of easy marketing packagability.”

Previous winners of the award have included Zadie Smith for her novel White Teeth (2003) and Dinaw Mengestu for the Children of The Revolution (2007).

Here’s the five books in contention for this year’s prize:

  • The Rest Is Noise – Alex Ross
  • Stalin’s Children – Owen Matthews
  • God’s Own Country – Ross Raisin
  • A Fraction Of The Whole – Steve Toltz
  • A Case Of Exploding Mangoes – Mohammed Hanif

The Scribbler will announce the winner of The Guardian Book Award before anyone else right here…although probably not before The Guardian.

Have a look at Ross Raisin’s interview with Olive TV below where he talks about his book Out Backward and answers questions from fans:

If you have the patience to watch Alex Ross talks about his shortlisted book The Rest Is Noise the amazing Google video feature is below:

Doubleday presents a reading of Steve Toltz’s A Fraction Of The Whole set to moving pictures:

Discussion:
Has anyone read any of the shortlisted books? If so, what’s your opinion of them? Does it deserve this accolade?

Words: Seamus Swords

Poet’s childhood reopens for the public

leave a comment »

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas, one of the 20th century’s most influential poet’s is being commemorated today as childhood home opens to the public for the first time.

On what would have been the celebrated Welsh writer’s 94th birthday, the semi-detached house at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea where he was born is opening its doors following restoration.

Geoff and Anne Haden are the couple responsible for returning the home to its former glory, reflected what it would have looked like in 1924. It was no mean feat for the pair who have spent three years on the project.

Guests visiting the house will see period furniture, household items (including an antique cast-iron toilet) and be given a newspaper of the times. Mod cons like telephones, television and a fridge-freezer have been purposefully excluded.

According to Mrs Haden the house is not just a museum but it also has a another function; as an ‘experiential self-catering holiday home’.

She continued: “The property was lost to the local area for a few years. It had been leased to students and was in a very sad state.

“We felt Dylan hadn’t been fully acknowledged by Swansea, so took the house on as soon as the lease came up.”

It’s a lovely house. We’ve matched the colour of the original plaster, to keep it as original as we can.”

I think it’s stunning. Every morning when I come in, it hits me with something else.”

On 8 November, Dylan Thomas’s daughter Aeronwy will become the first person to stay at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive since the refurbishment.

Upon the opening to the general public young poetry fans will be able to discussion Dylan Thomas’ work in his father’s study, a room in which he spent much of his time with his own friends as a teenager.

There are also plans for Dylan Thomas themed events for the house.

Jo Furber, a previous tenant and representative of the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, which houses a permanent exhibition on the poet’s life and achievements, said: “I think the restoration is great. It adds to the Dylan Thomas experience.

“People can visit the centre, but this now gives them another way of understanding his work.

“So much of his early work was written there and inspired by the local area – part of A Child’s Christmas in Wales is set in the living room.

“It was certainly one of his favourite places.”

To hear Thomas recite his own ‘In My Craft or Sullen Art’, an impeccable example of his work, click below:

Words: Dean Samways

Written by Dean Samways

October 27, 2008 at 5:18 pm