The Secret Life Of The Novel by Dean Cavanagh

Spent days trapped in a world where words are alive. Four to the beat, smashing symbols. Thousands of characters born into an idea. An alchemy of the beautiful, the lost, confused and nasty finding some way to gel, to become real. In starting this book, one might think it is full of typos. My mind was glitching, electronic aspic playing tricks in the formatting. A few quizzical frowns later it hit me. Once attuned to the author’s rhythm something wonderful happens. Extraordinary notes fall beats between words missing, then discovered with stealth ear, the ampersand as proper noun. Well it was once held in high esteem, brutally taken away from the alphabet and now the ultimate character in this extraordinary piece of art.

When one smiles two pages in, you kinda know you gonna dig the beast ahead. The power of language, ideas and worlds that smash into your own and form our illusions of reality, our lives just one big novel filled with a ‘remix of superstition, fear, confusion and hearsay’ Sharing his life of information -duration spent in fresh air with a good dose of cathode input – Dean shapes and spits antecedent memory, breathing inside our disjointed fragments. This book is its own attempt to understand itself.

The narrator comes alive. A big buttinski that appears like the hand of god, her finger pointing in his ribs. The prose moves in and out of its own subconscious, or just loses its train of thought, bored, goes for a smoke, who knows. But it does regroup and old friends come back to haunt me. It triggers again and again inside an ether filled handkerchief. Biblical re treatments, fantastical celebs make guest appearances, a mishmash of identities as philosophical theorems get a workover in a post post-modern cut up that makes perfectly feasible nonsense, controlling theories of our chaotic magick awakening. ‘She’s placing wagers on Ouija boards again, speculating on the outcome of man made disasters body count and collective trauma’ these moments hold you in your tracks, his opals of unmined walls.

A psychick doll of stories taking great swipes at the self-promoting super sceptics. Could this be a book without a point? Each page gets more farfetched, crazy ideas spiral out of control. Words that you will only see in deep search for synonyms appear like cities from a power beyond. Pages and pages of extreme depravity, word wizard pushing his own limits, knocking off lists of despicable acts, degenerate visions that would make the horror gods tear up their manuscripts or push wads of money down his breeks because their minds couldn’t match the scenes pulled out. You keep reading, trusting in the author, that it will all make sense and if it doesn’t you will be seduced by the information dumps. You will definitely get a good chuckle out of it, maybe even help one dig out of their stagnant mind-well. The detective work is done by the reader, a chart where everyone takes their own route.

c3edpytumaa0y3gFusing novel with essay, with dream, with review, with stories, when Ampersand enters the chapters all hell breaks loose. It switches from hard boiled in a blink. I adore when he goes noir on our asses, the cigarette smoke and sweet tea scenarios drift through the senses. This is more than one event it is a line of binary in parallel universes triggering mind hops and tangents for the dimensionally jarred. Always struggling to join the dots, chastised and tormented. Puns, rhyming slang, sayings, the dance of language rolls through the words, a manic, Tourette stylee. A rapid fire white patois rap of inner monologue gets quite scary in that it won’t stop. The ability of letters to transform into accents, missing letters become ghost limbs, all is understood, phonetics are a secret language. Will he achieve all he set out t say, *errrr grimace and spasm* I reckon he does, though many will run out of cuticle from scratching their heads. I found it intelligent, exciting, sexy, violent and inspiring. One can only adore the chaos, the tricks to reveal his truth.

Get your mirrors out cause he really loses it. This book is physically draining, a tongue workout while you chase the author round the white space expecting him to shed his straightjacket at any time. Totally fucking wild. Unedited word tanties, god I love this book’s total gaga gobbledegook cut and paste brilliance. Though at times, wading through the mess has you drooling on your desk. I feel you experience the ride more empathising with the author himself and the struggle it can be at times to get the story out of your head and onto the page. Some paragraphs feel they have been written after eating a bad curry. Dean Cavanagh has an unlimited supply of different ways of communicating wavelengths and if you can’t keep up then this book will leave you at the bakery, a snappy ride, where-to-next finger clicks. My only advice is to open your mind and hold onto the hand that is dragging you into this.

A friend leaned into my kindle

“it looks like word art”

“Yep it is”

“lots of swearing in it too”

“Yep there is”

I’ll leave you with an extract from a review written in 2026 with Dean Cavanagh who chats about his book, The Secret Life Of The Novel…

I saw my relationship with the reader as a sort of sexual one. But now it seems more like a late-night conversation with really good friends, when the bullshit stops and the masks come off

We are the words not uttered.

You can grab a hard copy of The Secret Life Of The Novel via amazon, also available on less satisfying circuitry devices. Connect with Dean on twitter  and Goodreads.

Dean Cavanagh Reviews

Hand Job 10

There is a lot of spirit in this issue. I’m sensitive to these things and this seriously vibrates with the stuff. Poetry, photography, short stories and performance, all here. I slowly peel back the clear plastic sleeve to see who’s inside. Hand Job Issue 10 gave a call out for all things a little…um, strange. An ‘Occultist Realism’ theme. You know, something Alistair Crowley could peruse while dunking biscuits in his tea. Jim Gibson and Sophie Pitchford searched far and wide on this one. No stone circle was left unturned. The tin foil hat brigade reject slips were sent out quick, leaving them with a stellar bunch of writers to accommodate the page. CmmNHI7UEAAmKfbSo, we start with Granton Leviathon. I grab my blanket and get stuck in. Like Renwick’s grandchildren, I stare up into the old man’s face and let the tale unfold. ‘Tell us of the Granton People eater’ we whisper. We are all ready for a candle-under-the-chin story, but my ears are settled on what is going on next door. Magdelena is frustrated. Promises of a new home, a new life back in her homeland once they save enough money is not coming quick enough. So she kicks her no good husband out into the cold night. A lighthouse and a six pack is his destination. Will he meet the monster himself? Of course! No one writes domestic squalor with comic accents quite like Joseph Ridgwell can. Funny, edge of your seat and nasty, his Granton Leviathon is a great start. Another component of this surprise package of a zine is the bonus poetry performance CD of artists who have been in this and past issues. Joseph turns on the mic and bursts out first with his do-it-yourself, no airs, no graces, just himself and some chintzy back up tapes. It has all the clunks and amateur fades of a bitter bingo caller. I dig it muchly. 8mm is all tequila and mucho macho, and reminds me of his brilliant novel Burrito Deluxe. He spins a few on this bonus CD, Arose From The Dead, The Kiss and Satan’s Garlanded Pimp, all with cheek, irreverence and fun. I’m excited because I have Raif Mansell in my ears at the same time reading him. I remember other poems of his when I was catching up on the evolution of Hand Job. Bang On is a lesson in synonyms and love ‘the moon was hanging with the sun in the sky‘ a touching poem of a father and daughter, and the influence from all that surrounds them. His soft delivery exactly what the title suggests. A Waiter In Kingston Upon Thames just as thoughtful and hopeful. The Holy Hydron Collider is next forming a weird synchro as I can hear the popcorn festival of Angels & Demons on the background telly as I type. So its links to the Hadron Collider and the god particle is pretty fresh in my mind. Ben Williams confirms that these scientists’ gods are in for a bollocking, theories fly by like short stories, their own gods dangling from their keyrings. Time for some photography and Hand Job‘s own Sophie Pitchford nymphs it in the buds and brambles of nibbled mushrooms and shows us some nature shots. We ask the forest for answers, we see them in the trees and soil. Onto The Shine Of John Donne where ‘everything glistened like the inside of a drunk God’s puppet-theatre’ I’m an avid follower of Miggy Angel‘s work. His poetry, photography and collaborative ventures are exceptional. This metaphysical story on the stairs glows like a dustbin fire and tears into you. No truer tale could teach as much. Besides hosting a premiere performance poetry night called Speech Therapy every month, Miggy is also editor of the wonderful ‘not for profit/for prophecyBurning House Press community. It is a must to explore this supportive and encouraging project. Azeem Ali’s symbols and simulcrae have me staring for a while and ready to tackle Dead Witches and that old chestnut fear of being different. Cody Yeo brings the rituals of both parties through a tight dialogue and brings to the fore the truer evil. Ian Cusack’s The Wicker Man is as mad as putting a toad in your mouth. I love its cantakerous rant. Terence Corless never stops impressing me. So pleased to read his short story Gladys. An intriguing, mystical, sad and joyous mind bomb of a story. Bonus thrill is his aural contribution Taking It In produced by Penny Ashdown with Music by Matthies -LS. Thoughts swallowed when the sensurround kicks in. There is a cool abstraction by illustrator and collager Blair Frame, his contribution If Death Can Fly, So Can I swirls with everyone’s own meaning. Dean Lilleyman reads like a hallucination with Moon Burns The Sun. A ritualistic trance into another realm, shifting shapes raw and instinctual, in and out of his own night sweats. The poem Changeling by Michael Murray skips inside its folkloric beat ‘with crumbs for dreams and a blob of butter where my heart was’, loneliness is a strange creature. Thrilled to see a piece from Dean Cavanagh. This poem I’ve read dozens of times. Like a casino floor of Dante’s that’s been closed for renovations. The dice man’s reflection twists in a modern fury of randomness and manipulation leaving me with a beautiful fear, a calm inside an uncontrollable future. Yvette Robinson and Jennifer Skip’s photography looks like a switched on absurdist revival. Closer investigation reveals a deeper meaning on gender, body image and the media. Their photography from promotion during The Festival Of The Body held in Leeds in March stops me in my tracks. More words and Michael Murray is resurrected inside the vivid world we enter in dreams and vice versa. Onto the world of a cashless society. Paul Case’s story of Mr Fitzjohn’s frustrating transformation in The New Bank shows the futile circle we get ourselves into. The pages now thinning I see Jason Jackson’s name. His childhood once again reminisced. A haunting of Worms so perfectly recalled, where dream becomes real becomes dream, just perfect. The words keep flowing as I pop my headphones back on and get all snug inside Holly Watson’s (The Conventry Conch) The Carboot story. This has me in stitches. Later, she has Nanny Pams Jeans on. Holly sounds exactly how I read her in my mind. The sweet, straight delivery of her own prose has perfect comic timing. She just has to share more of these aurally. Holly is getting quite a fan base with everyone I share her work with. Listening to her read is just a joy. Hollow Hyms – Captain Of the Rant Vs Hair Explosion blasts nice bass beats between a spleen let loose, waxing on the homogenisation of our world, his passion wilted with frustration. The orchestration around the strong lament is enough to take this to the level of an extraordinary recording. CmmNDXPUIAAtSWpIan Cusack pops in between lunch and records this exclusive Universe Of Life. Having read Ian over the years, it is a delight to hear the strength and nuances on the lines he has cooked up. He is a great story teller, his no thrills intros like calling the next patient inside his surgery. Poisoned is grim, but what a story, I adore this CD so much, hands free, all ears. Dean Lilleyman’s I Get Into Town Early, is a piece from his novel Billy & The Devil. I have heard him recite many pieces before, usually uncomfortable squirmers, absolutely fantastic. His latest The Gospel According To Johnny Bender has been launched and ready to check out. Meetings And Tales by Yessica Klein and read by Anya Oderyakova flies over your mind. Words rest where they are needed. Line by line, the delivery is mesmeric. Lay on the grass, let the light in. This is a beautiful collaboration. When I first heard the collaboration of We Bleed Ink I was gobsmacked.  The poetry of Miggy Angel (Words/Voice)  combined with the brilliant sound sculptures of John Freer (Instruments/Production) are mesmerising. Freer’s audio poise is sublime and if they don’t release all the pieces they have in their back catalogue soon this emptiness inside me will remain forever. Their audio piece, The Saint, strolls the pavement until it has the guts to spit the truth. Finally something slips onto the ground. A folded A4, Jim Gibson residing on each side. These two pieces highlight his own skill with prose. You become the observer inside the melancholic haze of childhood, black and white moments. A great way to end this fantastic package of lit and performance that Hand Job has produced. Limited edition so get your hands on one quick.  Also out RPM – A Micro Zine and Children Of Snakehill, all available here.

 

 

 

Dean Cavanagh Dean Lilleyman Hand Job Joseph Ridgwell Miggy Angel Poetry Reviews Uncategorized Zines & Journals

Kubricks

DEAN CAVANAGH

The industry. Anyone with an ounce of smarts will pretty quickly sense the delusion from those in control. You feel it, it surrounds you. The walls you hit, the absolute tossers you meet in a nepotistic room of mediocre. A back woods of stale ideas, non risk takers with no chance of letting any outsiders adding to the creative gene pool. Top heavy management more concerned with the idea of being part of it.  A structure that stifles. Money wasted on just keeping those in power and all their cronies in a job. If you are not contributing, it’s time to take the long snow walk, I say. Anyway, it’s just too many games and a waste of time for those who see through the bullshit. This is how it will always be.

As consumers, us discerning ones, we begin the search. We tell the spoon feeders to piss off, we turn them off. Easy solution. There will always be lazy mouth breathers holding their remotes, nob twisters whose tastes are imprisoned by mainstream manipulators perpetuating low expectations for advertisers to slot into. “It’s up to the individual how much you want to play the game” Screenwriter Dean Cavanagh’s brilliant insight into the film industry should be part of life’s curriculum, not just film school. His passionate wisdom and ‘suffer no fools’ approach is yet another refreshing individual to cross my path. Sound and vision, his creative is non stop. A synchronistic barrage that melds into his followers. Firing wires, thoughts and ideas. The secret collaborative, inspiration experienced just by viewing his work.

It is too difficult to encapsulate on a page such an amazing artist. Dean is extraordinary. He doesn’t bombard with work. Taking his time between passions. Though what I have found so far definitely excites. So I thought I would start with his directorial debut. 2012 movie release, Kubricks. He and son Josh Cavanagh are given the reigns to see what they can conjure. Hence my spleen vent. It’s movies like these, small budget beauties that brighten me more than any heart string pulling, bulging blockbuster could ever do. Filmed over five days, this is pure heart and humour.

It is a vision of psychological games centreing around the power trips of Kubrick fan, Donald (Roger Evans). A complete egoist, directing his own imagination. His life an insane play filled with Kubrickian symbolism. It has plenty. The story moves through a neurolinguistics therapy session with real life neurolinguistic therapist and Chinwag host Chris Madden. These intimate barefoot sessions tell all and nothing. There is no way to get through to him. Between giggles, the real story of Donald comes out.  He is more in love with the ‘idea of things’ than having any real skill to fulfil them. His motivational tactics are insane. When the demands of a psychotic get screamed at you from a megaphone and in the confines of a yurt, it is not long before you see the cracks appear. An ongoing prop that had me and the cast in stitches. I loved the reality of that. What made this story move for me was its look at the creative experience, the ‘process of not having a process’. A dogma of having fun, making it so exciting to witness. You watch the bewildered cast within the cast weathering his onslaught. Is he “a madman genius” or “somebody from the mental institution who has just been for a walk“. Have they been duped by some maniac taking the piss. The acting is adorable throughout. It seems to have no script, an ad-lib magic that rumbles along with an absurd laughter that is infectious.

Actors Joanna Pickering & Gavin Bain are flimflammed into a chance to fresh air it and quickly get sucked into the trauma. The scenario experiencing its own certain ‘heart of darkness’ inside an ‘apocalypse now’ feel, in a field, on Hay On Wye. Joanna is sceptical, Gavin’s eyes are wide shut. Big cheers must go to producer Alan McGee doing his best to placate the madman on his property and believing in the whole project. He plays ‘down to earth landowner’ so perfectly, so patient and bewildered. Donald’s catalyst to reality. Tom Mitchell’s photography has moments of stunning but also that perfect fly on the wall personal moments. a2172169501_16Its pace within the soundtrack, written by Dean Cavanagh enhanced everything, delivering that madness that was so prevalent. A hyperreal homage to the mood that A Clockwork Orange soundtrack conjured when I was a kid. A reminiscence that exceeded my ears.  Loads of slow mo and white, countryside and masks, love the salted egg scene. Its documentary bones scraped close to real life.

 

“I AM THE DIRECTOR EVERYONE’S REPLACEABLE.”

 

You can watch Kubricks worldwide release here.  You can connect with more of Dean’s mind via twitter.

His latest The Secret life Of the Novel will be arriving in October 2016.

 

 

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