The Late Season by Stephen Hines

The Late Season

There is a magical process when a writer connects with you. The typeface fades into a picture and their words transport you quickly through their wormhole. Stephen Hines does this with incredible clarity. Each line attunes into itself. Those minute details fill one’s imagination, connecting all the senses, from the gas smell on hands, to the crunch and movement of snow.

This short story collection released from London publisher, Tangerine Press, has the cadence of a Badalamenti composition, meditative in its voyeurism, filled with many secrets. Eyeing the lines from the title story The Late Season, I was in danger of hyperventilating. It is mesmeric and you almost forget to breathe. Words are a sensation in this story, revealing another sense. Occasionally, hints of the dramas underbelly pops up. Why was Lily being so strange? Well there is a disturbance in these bricks and mortar. Carpet salesman Mr Halliday has overstayed his welcome. Lost and looking for answers, his presence shifts the fabric of family, his own sadness a slow drowning.

A 1946 DeSoto S11 Custom Convertible on the first day of spring has depth in its prose that is rich and sensitive. It is an ordinary working day for Jerry. Winter is melting and there is gas to pump. There is lots of painful thinking going on when you have a ‘kicked by a moose‘ hangover. With time on his hands, Jerry’s day is interrupted by truancy specialist Brian. A kid who asks too many questions, unknowingly connected to a past which sends us into a montage of scenes, past and present. Their connection realised, both one and the same, lost hearts in need of closure.

Onto The Roads This Time Of Year. Experience prepares the mind with almost psychic abilities, wisdom can be overwrought with mollycoddle. A stream of warnings can’t stop fate and the love for the child, adds another passing over the next worry bead. A similar mood in Honeymoon when mother and child don’t return from a boat outing, the terror of a grief striken imagination takes over. A hundred questions are asked, we go through the motions, we grieve and plan futures without knowing if one needs to. Defense mechanisms get into gear and whether it is tears or laughter, it is not until routine returns, will true feelings be revealed.

Every one of the stories ahead and the lives these short stories reveal are an easy dimension to switch into. Stephen Hines words are smooth on the eyes, generous with internal thoughts, captivating visuals, and perfectly natural banter. The way the voices echo, scenarios not very far removed from all of us. Overactive minds, the guilt felt by a discarded apple. These touches of asides stand out in the prose. Gentle life plays. It’s when he hits the centre, the fable, its truth, this is what really rumbles one’s emotions.

His characters minds become rooms, mysterious and intimate. You think you know outcomes early, but this is merely a false sense of predictability he so cleverly uses. Stephen will help you twist into a backflip. You question your ability to judge. He fits into all the personas he writes about with convincing characters, descriptions and motives that are tantalising and tactile. Voices choke with grief and reading through again never gets easier. His nihilism enters the room with you, putting the reader into the difficult position of uncomfortable observer, a beautiful masochistic realism.

The stories in the collection have a unique ambience, an exotic sparse ordinariness. The mood is a steady heartbeat even when the characters are anguished. One note plays like a backbone, linking all these stories together – they are all so exquisitely lonely. When you feel that, you will not be able to let go. Long after reading, the lives inside these stories will often resurface and you’ll think to yourself, what a freakingreat writer Stephen Hines is.

You can connect with Stephen via Twitter and see some more links to work via his blog. You can purchase The Late Season through Tangerine Press in varying levels of beauty.

Book Review Stephen Hines Tangerine Press

GLOVE 2

DKfTiilV4AEcPF6Ian Cusack’s Glove smacked onto the zine scene harder than a Gilly’s ton.  This second slap of fightin’ words has initiated another pen duel. To tackle the work presented here and inform the word insatiable’s why Glove is the kind of publication you should support.

Firstly, my favourite conch Holly Watson takes out the honour of setting the story bar high. I have been frothing at the mouth over Holly’s work in other zines and whenever I get an opportunity to share a new blog post or story of hers, there is never, ever any trepidation re the quality and humour that will appear. I seriously want a rainy weekend, a packet of penguins and her back catalogue of adventures all in one place. Someone please tell me that is happening soon. I cannot fathom why this writer is not being snapped up and shared. Her stories are straight out script like, I see the movie, I see the franchise, call Mike Leigh! In this story, Holly needs the help of Nanny Pam’s keen eye and style to procuring a fancy dress outfit to knock all the other Spice Girl wannabes for six. This diarised table of events is a funny, tender and tragic tale of growing up in Holly’s world. Superb as always.

There is no real order of placement in Glove. It’s the kind of zine thats style comes from  random fits and this works well. Dani Devotchik’s Alcohol found its place, tucked in the bottom of the page, though stands out strong with its message. Wes Cooke teases his way through Art Brute, Roy MacBeth’s aka ‘The Finsbury Park Fauve’s’ latest exhibition. Major crack ups to be had here as Wes sets the scene with its tantalising mockumentary approach. Bloody brilliant.

Little poetic breaks are our light refreshment but Between Wear and Tyne by Jason Jackson is by no means lightweight. This is a wonderful reminisce of life before being born, womb memoirs and catching ‘more distant, future notes‘, its message lingering and magically pondered.

Hands Thegither is written in Scots and lilts with a brilliant pace. The story builds from an encounter at a play, when a non applauding punter riles him up triggering a wave of words and emotion. “See, the world’s been pissin me oaff for a while noo an Ah dinnae really ken whit tae dae aboot it” The applause is loud from me, adored this story from A.G.Kayman.

There is a perfect calming inside To spend an evening easy by DS Maolalai every stanza filled with the ordinary, imagery of a simple evening, drinking beer with an old friend. Spine tingles a plenty when I read Mary by Carl Taylor, with his flash of great style and suspense, taking me to my own dark and warp to fill in the gaps and ending.

When I was last in the UK, I was held like gunpoint to watch my uncles favourite show Pointless. With open mouth I tried my best to fathom the concept. To win, one must choose the least correct answer that a group of people would choose on a given subject, like lets say Medieval Popes. Firstly, you gotta be up on your popes. Secondly it is seemingly unavailing, surreal even, hopeless, but my rellos love it, laughing between brews, crumbs spat everywhere. PJ Smith uses this televisual phenomenom as the backdrop for his captivating story on family, drugs, the need for connection and the cult of personality. Bonza stuff.

Half way in now, and surely you can see the value. Time to get word winded by the brilliant and prolific Ford Dagenham. I threw out my jogging shoes today does the collapse under the weight of his strange everyday. Gwil James Thomas is back inside my eyes with Solitude. The life of a writer, torn up with the need, but craving the other. Lucky punters get a good taste of a favourite. Here is a choice cut from Billy And The DevilBy The Time I Get Through The Shop Door by Dean Lilleyman. This barney between Billy and his boss Norris whose head is “jut-jutting like a fuckarsed chicken” has his sights set on stuffing up his day. This story kicks bottom. If all these literary licks have finally tantalised, look out for the exorcised release via Hi Vis next year.

If Terence Corless is testing the waters for content for his novel, the 17th Weekend better be part of it. In just five paragraphs he took me just to the moment of boredom and as I thought ‘what’s he up to here then?’ THWACK! Take romance, tragedy and a cliffhanger in a shot glass and light it! The chills down my shoulders still reverberating. As does Deborah Baird’s Victim and the nasties endured during break ups.

Onto some bloke called Cusack who goes full on nutjob at the barbers. His inner rant cathartic, funny and borderline real. Adam Steiners Jellyfish surfaces with beauty to then plunge into silent bubbles of truth. Walter Otton is a clever manipulator. His story Supermarket Samaritan has you questioning heroes in an instant, its plot lingers. Tim Baldwin’s Letter De Cachet is rich and evoking. Myself imprisoned by its imagery, read over and over, an architectural possession of thought.

Joseph Ridgwell’s silver tongue can’t help flickering. Too Old To Pull It Off is the stark truth re an old flame and bonus piece The Female has him climbing family trees uncovering ironic tragedies. Ridgwell’s style is blushingly honest, no skeletons in his back catalogue, though he will add extra meat to all his bleached bones, Ridgwell is what he is, upfront and delightful. All the rewards of his closed doors will hopefully be revealed in the new year.

You Should Be by Steve Campbell is chilling. When Hypnopompic meets Hypnagogic the terror is tantamount to post traumatic stress disorder, so real and excruciating, as it takes turns entering in and out of husband & wife. Really chilling, emphatic to its horror. Jamie Thrasivoulou’s The Best of A Bad Situation is still sitting on my desk, and re read. So it is a delight to bump into him here. Bin Day/Autumn/Terraced Streets is a fitting contribution for now and anytime really. His eyes and ears attuned to what’s going on around him, in the moment, a polaroid of his suburbia.

The pages have thinned now, but I know Michael Keenaghan will be fat with menace and reality. But instead I see a welcomed vulnerability but still very real. When your guard is down it can invite good and bad. Our futures prepared, Michael flashes black and white from “a hell of mistakes, regrets, disease” to “the funfair sounding across the green“. The secrets we keep exorcised for all “the dirty dark secrets of mankind”. The same reactions, same scenarios, the healing begins.

Little word stompers are all through this issue. Joseph Albenese’s What We Offer, the defiant fearless ecstasy of Scott Wozniak A Final Bit Of Romance, the evocative unease of Jared Carnie’s list of New Things in the House, Ally May’s mindfulness in Westgate Road, Jim Gibson’s mind trickery of Mottled & Katie Lewington GB, who has us questioning is it people or place that shapes identity.

What a great batch of writers, bloody brilliant.

Only a few issues left of Glove #2

Glove #3 is OUT NOW

£3 UK, £4 EU & £5 R of W

40 pages of outsider prose & poetry by 32 writers – PayPal to iancusack@blueyonder.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review Dean Lilleyman Ford Dagenham Glove Gwil James Thomas Joseph Ridgwell Reviews Zines & Journals

The Africa In My House

by Andrea MbarushimanaDGhAon3U0AAEFl0

This was a surprise addition to my order from the generous publishers at Silhouette Press. A deep red sunset boomed from the package, tribal masks and shields protecting its contents. I could hear the voices inside. The Africa In My House is a book of poetry, stories and events, touching through the troubled country of Rwanda, picking at time and looking at events that author Andrea Mbarushimana experienced there, the echoes of genocide and trying to fathom why, hoping that it will never occur again.

Andrea manages to beautifully mingle legend, mythology and her experiences to help herself and those who want to know, understand and cope with a country she now has a better understanding of.  Her words and illustrations are totally mesmerising.  Visitations that permeate dreams, her psyche deciphers it with ink and words. The original purpose of her stay there is not really established. I get the feeling that some humanitarian work, maybe teaching drew her there, where she fell in love, where her experiences have permanently connected her to the place. Her daughter a special link to keeping the threads of heritage in their hearts.

Rwanda became the country where horror stories overtook the rich tapestry of fable. Its displacement after colonial rulers abandoned, chose a side and said sort it out amongst yourselves was never going to be a pleasant start. Here, Andrea never glosses, these are hundreds of minds flowing through her, continuing lessons, making us aware of the complexities of tribe and the flow of the modern.

The imagery Andrea describes directly transports you to the village life and painful memories. One of the strongest to encounter and first to bite is Hyena pointing out the  dichotomy and dilemmas faced when the wrangled lost and desperate follow orders. When one’s own survival could be at the hand of another’s compassion. This story unfolds with high tension. When it is just your job and the consequence of not following orders is a moral conundrum that one can only know the answer to if put in that situation. When the realisation that ‘we are two people” overides the political.

Murambi Genocide Site, passes over the extreme “It’s hard to find your way sometimes, Past death’s mask“. The horrors that have been witnessed, memory’s ghost imagined, thoughts shared to help the healing. Rabbit is another squirmish, told with an exquisite meticulous pace, the process a recipe that is merely survival.

There are loads of survivors that Andrea has met and not met. You get the feeling that Andrea needed to be the storyteller here, this is her healing and we as readers are one the richer. There is no glossy sentimentality but there is true beauty here. Andrea slips in and out effortlessly of styles and intensity. The beautiful haiku of Kigeme, the questioning of when it is right to go back in Healing and the sublime Folk Tale Resurrection. In Power Cuts 2001 a time when the country is trying to return to some semblance of sanity. “Ce nest pas le guerre!” humour is such a rich healer. When the power goes out in, the difference between the same occurrence in Rwanda and in the U.K is an interesting one. There is a constant back and forth of place and contrasts throughout that become dreamlike. There are longer stories like God Of Shadows that are such an odd mixture of cult, west meets witch doctor revealing a fear so potent that one can’t believe the trauma it inflicts.

Dipped between chapters are Andreas prints. As Andrea is a masterful story teller, you can understand why her prints also contain enough drama and information to sink you. The plight of people in Refugee Art Group, the mere suggestion of the day’s painting topic of favourite food from home has me crying and when love became something certain in Gatyazo Bar, I was humbled. More stories, more poetry. I adore the strength, beauty and eccentricities of the people she met and the people whose lives she chose to speak of here now, forever remembered. You can purchase The Africa In My House via Silhouette Press. You can connect with Andrea via twitter.

Andrea Mbarushimana Book Review Poetry Silhouette Press

Remembering Hiroshima

Sadako And The Thousand Paper Cranes

by Eleanor Coerr

When I visited Pearl Harbor Memorial it coincided with a naturalisation ceremony on top of the de-commisioned battleship USS Missouri – its upper deck the venue where Japan formally surrendered on September 2 1945 in Tokyo Bay ending World War II. You can see photographs, original paperwork and a plaque that marks the spot – atomic muscle proving to be a persuasive solution and as we know, leaving an aftermath of death and illness when Enola Gay dropped the ‘little boy’ on Hiroshima on Aug 6 1945.

The ship was a buzz of proud families, clicking candid moments as one hundred new citizens originally from places like Brazil, Benin, Germany, Kuwait, Russia, South Korea, Jamaica, Switzerland made the United States of America their new homeland. I heard a woman being interviewed, ecstatic, waving her flag and bursting with emotion. She said how happy she is to belong to the country that gave her all her opportunities. She now looks forward to elections, when she always felt like an outsider because she couldn’t vote – where she was born, people died for that right.

imagesPearl Harbor turned out to be a very reflective place for me but not for the most obvious reasons. Sure, include the bottom line – for those that died and all affected by that day. I can only imagine the fear and suffering of such an event and I am in a constant state of pained nausea if I let my mind wander to all the atrocities of war past and present.

The memorial itself run by the National parks trust is done with solemnity and respect. If you’re into the strategies of battle you will be satiated. You can take photos in front of missiles, straddle torpedoes, view planes and walk through an impressive museum that tells both sides of the story.

On my visit, I was taken on a different journey of war. In the visitors centre was a display highlighting a book for International Peace Day. Sadako And The Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. Sadako, an original Hiroshima survivor was diagnosed with leukemia at age 12. To help gain courage, Sadako’s friend gave her a folded paper crane and reminded her of the Japanese legend – if a person is ill they will have their wish granted if they fold a 1000 paper cranes. Besides wishing for her own health, Sadako wished for world peace with every crane she folded.rainbow

So I purchased a copy and began reading the slim tome whilst exploring the grounds. Every spare moment between exhibits I read a few pages. This precious flower folded these cranes using whatever paper she could find, from medicine labels, newspaper and paper donated by friends, the distraction of it keeping Sadako strong as she faced her mortality – a heart wrenching realisation when someone so young and innocent is caught up in the mess of others. I read bits of the book on the park bench, in front of fat sparrows, I read more sitting on the grass as red faced finches hopped and feasted on some micro seed heads. More pages are turned sitting on a boat on the way to the water memorial, my concentration stolen by the most magnificent fully formed double rainbow as it framed the grey.

oil slickWhen you walk on the memorial itself, a silence takes over and you stare up at the black embossed names of those lost and interned in the ships grave. Over the edge the oil still seeps after seventy or more years, it’s old life’s blood forming an amazing colour spectrum on the surface of the water. Looking at the rusted bones itself nature has taken over. A new beautiful reef of coral, weed and fish shimmy distracting and easing the pain and enormous weight of grief of the Dec 7 1941 attack.

Tears streamed down my face as I finished her story. Sadako died October 25 1955 – she didn’t get to finish her cranes. This book caressed and stirred me more than any of the steely strength of ships and weaponry, code breaking, tactics and casualties could. You can’t sugar coat the realities of war, but now Sadako’s life story, however short, has become a beautiful symbol of peace and I am one the richer for discovering her message in such an unexpected place.

Book Review Eleanor Coerr Uncategorized

Joseph Ridgwell – Mexico

Ridgwell and Pig Ear Press join forces again and produce hand-stitched beauty.

Time to check in on authors who regularly get radared here at Urban F HQ. I’ve had this little burgundy book for a while now. After six weeks off work it’s amazing what you find in your notes and hidden journals around the place. A sketch of a volcano, lists of strange encounters, overheard conversations, personal dreams and a short paragraph on Joseph Ridgwell’s, Mexico.

Having been familiar with Ridgwell’s classic road novel Burrito Deluxe, also set within a Mexican backdrop, I couldn’t resist this little gem on offer from Pig Ear Press. A kind of mini Burrito… with less chili. Shaped like a British passport, its gold embossing tells of hearts belonging – at this particular moment – somewhere else, somewhere exotic, somewhere away from the fuzz. Back on the Beach Of The Dead, our favourite miscreant Ronnie is waxing astronomical with wads of philosophy between sips, snorts and swings. “It’s like everything’s dead, even the stars are stillborn“. Back on the prowl, the boys begin looking for more fun before Armageddon, in which, Ronnie & Joe experience some tender and unlawful moments.

Mexico is another taste of the writing style and stories you’ll get from a Ridgwell release. The difference between this and other snippets and short stories is the sexdefying splendor of the print job. All this artisan book binding, handmade paper, embossing and personal touches has this printer’s daughter weak at the knees. It ain’t long, but its quality counts for more. If you are a supporter of the small press revolution, then seek out similar gems from this publisher, if you are new to this rebel lit fiend caper, than this would be a great start to your collection and the many adventures of Joseph Ridgwell.

Book Review Joseph Ridgwell Reviews

Undertow

Strong paper quality often catches my attention. Curse of the printer’s daughter. Sometimes this can undermine, take over the content inside. This is designed beautifully, a real eye capture. The little ‘hello’ story introducing Issue two of Undertow magazine, quashes my fear. A strong do-it-yourself mentality has been cemented into the rib cage of Undertow’s editorial team. Most people would go to hospital to complete the second stage of a serious bone break, but hey, go figure. The back shed, your dad and a rusty saw is just as good. Subdued colours, photographs accompanying a handful of articles covering music, art and the everyday flicks in my hand all glossy and stiff.

undertowFirst, highlight is local Tassie artist Calypso Brown, her Soundcloud releases in my ears. Strong and elegant voice taking electronic steps, discovering her possibilities, and what direction she wants to take next. Her track Hunting from Calypso released in June, mellows the air with sweet beats and played for pleasure. Field Of Violets has a capella harmonies rounding throughout her exquisite range. The journalism isn’t heavy, they just let the artist take the wheel which can be dangerous if the interviewee is caught on a day when they haven’t got much to say. The key is to get them to chat, away from their speciality, what one wouldn’t expect them to talk about. Rather hear about the aphids on their morning roses, the salt on afternoon margharitas than how they write their music. There is more to Calypso Brown than the struggle, the boredom, where you traveled, the growth one experiences as a musician. I look forward to discovering more and meatier chats.

A conversation with Theia and Grace might sparkle. The mere mention of Facebook has me squirming, but the kids dig it, so the start of that chat is forgiven. Like a cold engine, the timing is all wrong, off kilter. Soon the pistons fire. Visual Bulk is a new art space in Hobart. It’s all about how people ‘navigate spaces’ and the challenge of determining “what’s the work and what’s the space”. Once the pics show themselves I get it. Overall, this sounds like a cool gallery.

Really loved Buying a Banger? Trisso know’s his stuff and give’s great advice and lip on just about any car you can think of. This issue’s banter is ‘Do Bargains Really Exist When Purchasing Cheap (Shitty) Cars? Well some are “rare as unicorn poo”and the goss is all the hipsters are getting to the bargains first! Surely down in Tas you have a better chance than on the mainland. S’pose rust would be an issue, must ask Trisso next time.

There’s a bit of collaborative art by Mish Meijers and Tricky Walsh. Their #dearministerforwoman photography packing some visual punch. It’s amazing what meaning a watermelon and makeshift wooden leg shackles can summon. Hobart Hackerspace is a community run place for ‘geek rebels’ with plenty of machinery to pull apart and share in new designs. They get loads of equipment donated to by decommissioned radio and tv stations as well. A place of big ideas and contributions to scientific research. Looks like serious secret business to me.

I love Undertow’s mission. “The rise of individualism sees more and more people trying new things to improve their life, plug a hole or gain independence. This issue, we wanted to talk about all that stuff”. This may be an old issue, even a gem of a house up for rent has probably had it’s second tenancy, but as a time capsule of winter arts in one of the most wonderful states of Australia, you can see how brilliance develops in isolation. So that’s issue 2, how does one get hold of more?

Art Book Review Reviews Zines & Journals

The Glue Ponys by Chris Wilson

Chris Wilson strikes me as an observer, someone you can sit with in a room and hardly know he’s there. There is a comfort that some individuals just have. A story sponge that find themselves right in the thick of life. Excess, this and that, booze blood and needles but still have the faculties to recall and the imagination to retell the stories on their road. Looks like Chris’ path was a hard one at times, but I also get a feeling it is one that he would never change. How could you when you have a collection of tales like this under your belt. The Glue Ponys travels various timezones and hangs out with the wasted, troubled lifers, loners and drug dealers that join him in the bliss of being somewhere else but here. Amalgams and just plain scary real, these dangerous journeys can take their toll. Early death is a usual outcome, but to give it all away for a more serene existence is freaking hard. One where you ain’t stealing or becoming a living, breathing mind waster. Where personal drama is the only thing you have to make you feel alive cause you are so dead inside. For Chris Wilson, long prison stints broke the habit. Inside he found philosophy and a myriad of stories. It’s the combination of this that makes this collection of short stories so tantalising. gle-ponyA real understanding of the characters motivations. The Glue Ponys sums up addiction, the seedy side. There is a desperation and defiance with many of his characters, a kind of I’ve had enough, save me scenario. Not in a finding god way, just peace away from the inner torture. A different direction is a brave move. Chris found better ways to waste his time that has benefits for us all. The sheer beauty and raw style that is his voice inside these pages. Chris has an extraordinary talent to be the voice of those he writes about. Part ‘it was told to me and this is what they saw’ and part ‘I was there and this is what I saw’. Characters like The Lieutenant who makes himself a god in his own lil kingdom of depravity and abuse, a Kurtz-like druglord on a bed of his own apocalypse. The Pugilist, when a spades partner doesn’t want to play the life game anymore, the carrion swarm in quick. Trying to disassociate yourself from your actions, where a timespan of events leads to freaky scenes and tragic outcomes is a constant in these short stories. Searching for “holes in the links”, thinking about his own great escape. The prose moves easy, stark and in it’s own way very poetic. Sex and age is no barrier to pain, these are stories of the lost and desperate. This book, like his art, are figures that transform into a blurry mash of ghosts that intrigue in their solitude, disturbed auras and beauty. This artist has captured me this month. I look forward to exploring more. You can purchase The Glue Ponys here and can contact Chris via Tangerine Press’ website or via twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review Chris Wilson Tangerine Press