Sunday, 17 May 2020

Someone Actually Read My Novel...

I'm not sure why I failed to link this back in 2019, but here's an extensive analysis of the book what I wrote, Against Nature, many, many copies of which are doubtless still available from no good book retailers. Tibère gives me a lot more credit than is my due with the parallels he finds, many of which are simply parallels with aspects of Mesoamerican culture which I reiterated, not necessarily with quite such deliberate intent regarding the symbolism; but his observations are absolutely on point, and enough so that I wish a few more had been deliberate - particularly with reference to Rabelais. Additionally, it's massively satisfying to see that someone picked up on a few of the details relating to Plato, Huysmans and the like.

Against Nature was a real labour of love and took a long time to write for one reason and another, and I was literally living in a different country by the time I finished it. I wanted to write something which would affect the reader in the same way that This Town Will Never Let Us Go had affected me, and which had enough philosophical depth to keep anyone busy for a couple of months, should they be of ponderous inclination. Its reception was therefore a bit underwhelming from my perspective - those who expressed a view mostly liked it, one or two really liked it, and a few didn't seem to appreciate my having filled it up with all those words 'n' shit. Weirdly, and against my expectation, I found the criticism didn't bother me as I thought it would. Mostly it seemed like those who regarded Against Nature as incomprehensible had wanted an entirely different book, one of a kind I've never wanted to write; but it still seemed a shame, like when you take time to cook something for the boy and it turns out that all he really wanted was a burger. It would, after all, be a boring world if we all liked the same thing.

Anyway, I hadn't thought about Against Nature or Faction Paradox for a while. It's old news and I've found the increased desire within sections of the potential readership to fit everything neatly onto the same bookshelf as the outer space robot people of television's Dr. Who kind of depressing. I don't resent the association, except where the Faction is understood as only that and not much else. I'd like to think I spent nearly eight years - or whatever it was - writing something with qualities besides how well it squares with something on the telly. Anyway, that Tibère took the time to think this hard about what I'd written, is gratifying, even humbling, and actually makes it all worth the while.

Monday, 13 April 2020

Introducing the Bernard Mannish Boys

Anyone who follows my music reviews posted on Bricklaying the Charleston possibly will have noticed the name of Harsh Noise Movement cropping up on a couple of recent occasions. Harsh Noise Movement is both a label and a musician, and possibly one of the strangest, most genre-defying, and certainly the most prurient I've encountered, which is saying something.

The most recent HNM release I've had the pleasure of receiving is a cassette copy of a split album with one side by Dr. Heathen Scum of the Mentors, the other by Harsh Noise Movement. I was quite surprised at the musicality of the material by Dr. Heathen Scum - outrageously offensive lyrics set to traditional pounding heavy rock. It reminded me of something I'd tried to record with Andy Martin back in the days of UNIT. We had this discussion which somehow ended with the conclusion that the thing we had most enjoyed about heavy rock before it went all emo and admitted it also listened to Wire and Joy Division was the sexism, by which point we were laughing so much that our stomachs hurt. You probably had to be there. That week I set to work on a few tracks and wrote some lyrics. Andy played lead guitar and sang on one of them, and then we just kind of ran out of steam; which personally I blame on Andy's nagging mother in law being up on the blocks that week, leaving the remaining three instrumentals as damning metaphors to men as a species finding our voices unfairly silenced by all those man-hating period ladies and being all for women's rights but feminism has gone too far etc. etc.

I once played these tracks to Stan Batcow, and I think his comment was very funny, then shame on you, or something of the sort, and with Andy and myself having moved on to other things, that seemed to be the end of that; until I mentioned these tracks to HNM's CEO and he suggested releasing them as part of a split; and so here they are at last, presented in unholy union with a fat slab of Harsh Noise Movement at their most violent and confusing, and free if you're too tight to feel like paying.

Download it here, and please accept my apologies in advance. Stan was right about us.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Bricklaying the Charleston

If you're presently barricaded in with five billion rolls of bog paper, no plans to go anywhere for the next couple of weeks, and you've already binged all the Jersey Shore and Wheel of Fortune you have stored on your magic telly recorder, then why not treat yourself to a big fat paperback of music reviews previously posted on this blog, but now smartened up and collected in a form more closely resembling a traditional holy book, complete with individual pages? There are probably several good reasons why not, not least being that you could read the fuckers for free online if you cared that much, but you should buy the book anyway. It contains jokes, light-hearted remarks and observations in the vein of Richard Stilgoe, some judicious sneering, and five years worth of highly subjective opinion on musical artists ranging from Nurse With Wound to the Goodies, and it will keep you busy for fucking yonks, particularly if you're spending that time sat on the bog; or you can use your big fat copy of Bricklaying the Charleston to brain any criminals who happen to break in, hoping to make off with your beloved toilet rolls.

Self-deprecating gags aside, a lot of work has gone into this one, and I genuinely believe it to be a cracking read, albeit of the kind which you dip into rather than pore over for hour after hour; and such is my confidence that I shelled out to commission one of Paul Walsh's powerful digital artworks for the cover. 

Buy it here. Ideal gift for the black sheep of the family etc. etc.

Anyone able to review this book, please get in touch and I'll sling you a freebie, providing wherever the review appears is an enterprise of which I approve - so probably nothing with either fan, cult or industrial in the title, sorry. I have standards to maintain. Should it need stating, review copies are not sent out in expectation of a good review, only of a review which is more than just one sentence and a link.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

In the Days of the Form Destroyer

The Form Destroyer is the supernatural force equivalent to Satan in Philip K. Dick's A Maze of Death. It may seem a little melodramatic to equate a president with Satan, given that I regard all politicians as inherently corrupt, but it felt entirely justified back in 2016 when he first slid into office with all the grace and dignity of the jobbie that slides from one's bumhole on the morning after an evening of alcoholic oblivion. The book assembles all that I wrote for An Englishman in Texas - and a couple of things which I mostly kept to myself - from the first two years of his time in office. I'd like to claim it represents a snapshot of America during that strange, shaky period during which some of us wondered whether he would actually start rounding us up and having us shot, but it probably doesn't because I'm too easily distracted; although it touches upon himself in a couple of places, and is hopefully at least marginally funnier than America has been of late, politically speaking. You can read it all for free online - excepting the couple of things which I mostly kept to myself - or you can buy it in book form from my Lulu store here, which is frankly much nicer. Whilst reluctant to appear either presumptuous or boastful, I'm giving up false modesty for Lent (whenever that is) so will end by saying only that Form Destroyer is a fucking cracking read* and that I've slogged my bollocks off, figuratively speaking, in order to bring you a tome of such amazing quality and value. Don't make me look a tosser by failing to buy one. Thanks in advance.

*: At least two people who aren't me have actually said this.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Mist Softly Happened

Here, at long last, is the third collection of my book reviews, assembling everything written between 2016 to 2018, and a few which didn't get posted on Pamphlets of Destiny for the sake of diplomacy. I say at long last because it's been ready to go since about June and the interim has been spent wrangling with Lulu over the cover failing to print right, which seems to be sorted out now. I mention this only so as to indicate the degree of care and attention I plough into producing these books, which I mention having recently come across a number of sniffy comments regarding print on demand, none of which have been made directly to my face for fucking obvious reasons.

Anyway, the blurb runs as follows:

Mist Softly Happened is the third collection of Lawrence Burton's book reviews as originally posted on his Pamphlets of Destiny blog. This time there's more van Vogt, more comic books, the significant presence of material by both Murray Leinster and Robert Moore Williams, and less actual science-fiction than featured in the previous two. We also have extended rambling essays on Philip K. Dick's Exegesis (which he enjoyed) and Alan Moore's Jerusalem (which he didn't), along with the usual exclusive selection of embittered rants which he was too scared to share online for fear of them being read by those he had deemed authors of shite. Additionally we have the inception of a potentially new literary sub-category - Theosophic science-fiction, tentatively encompassing the work of Richard Shaver, William Dexter, the aforementioned Robert Moore Williams and others, which is probably comparable to Gretchen Wiener's attempts to get fetch happening in the movie Mean Girls, but never mind.

The book is thick in girth and substantial in content due to the vast wattage of  chuckles, entertainment, and sarcasm I've pumped into the thing, and it represents great value for money. You can read it online for free, or most of it, but a website link makes for a fucking lousy Christmas present; unlike the physical book, which is fab etc. etc.

Snap up your physical copies here at my Lulu store. Also, if you first take a quick look at the Lulu main page, there's usually some sort of discount code to be had.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Barbecued Humans #1

I have four pages of cartoons I drew back in the nineties reproduced in Barbecued Humans zine, edited by Mr. Bolus of Evil Moisture. It's sixty printed A5 pages which you can't download and I have no intention of scanning for you, so if you have no idea what I was playing at two decades ago, now's your chance to find out. It also features the Haters, Research Laboratories, Leif Elggren, Murder Can Be Fun, Martin Howse and others, with artwork and reviews by Suzy Poling, Heath Moerland, Seymour Glass, Cody Brant and more. I haven't had time to read my copy yet so I can't really comment further, but it looks good and very substantial, although I will admit I noticed not only some swearing but a couple of references to the sexual act.

Mr. Bolus says it costs ten euros a copy, but that you should drop him an email if you want one so he can work out the shipping and so on. The email address can also be found on the Royal Sperm site.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

The Mexico Diaries

I visited Mexico City on five separate occasions between 1999 and 2005. I'd been reading, writing and generally obsessing over Mesoamerican culture for some time and had reached the point at which I simply had to go there. I didn't have a passport, had never been outside of England, my Spanish left a lot to be desired and I was travelling alone, but it was something I had to do. It became easier after the first time, but nevertheless remained something of a leap in the dark.

Being a generally antisocial person travelling alone, I ended up with a fair bit of time on my hands - mostly evenings spent alone at the hotel rather than out and partying with complete strangers, as I would have done were I a fucking simpleton; so I spent a lot of time keeping a diary, recording everything I did, saw, and thought in pornographic detail (literally so in a couple of cases). Visiting Mexico seemed like the bravest (or possibly most reckless), most exciting thing I had ever done and I was determined to record as much as I could of the experience because it seemed important to do so, at least to me.

The first couple of diaries were eventually passed around friends who had expressed an interest in reading them. I'd written the things in part so as to amuse myself, and it was nice to be told that they were a generally decent read and funny in all of the right places. Rob Colson, co-author of Seaton Point (Spare Change Books, 1998), said he would be prepared to transcribe my handwritten scribble for publication if I was interested. I took this as an indication of my Mexico Diaries apparently having some quality beyond the spirit of cranky self-indulgence by which they were produced.

So here they are, nearly fifteen years later. I've transcribed, scanned, edited, proofed, re-edited, and gone over them again and again in an effort to elevate the material to the sort of standard I would expect of others. It's taken a while but I think it's been worth it; and my wife has now read the things with a gratifying quota of chortling and not too much rolling of the eyes. They're published as five individual volumes because that was how they were written, and because the sum total page count would be a little too much for a single collection; they're illustrated and include some photographs, at least one of which was sourced from a bongo magazine found in a hedge; and they tell an occasionally painful story through the media of anthropology, travel, toilet humour, swearing, and despair with humdrum episodes of my former English existence provided for the sake of contrast. Thrill as I climb the Pyramid of the Sun, puzzle over the nature of refried beans, eat worms and crickets, visit the temple of Tepoztecatl, fall out with my best friend in Oaxaca on Independence Day, turn forty, fail to have sexual intercourse, meet kids with guns, hang out with the family of the late Cornelius Cardew (which admittedly wasn't in Mexico), and throw up at a Ceramic Hobs gig (which wasn't in Mexico either) - or if not thrill, then just read about it. The choice is yours.

Buy your copies today at my Lulu store by clicking on this link. Collect the set. Ideal Christmas presents. May contain incongruous references to sexual acts. Etc.