2015: A Year in Books

I spend a lot of time writing – music and book reviews, fiction, blogs rants and all the rest. But when I’m not writing, I’d much rather hunker down with a good book than watch television, and generally favour books over films. Lunch breaks and train journeys and well as the wind-down before sleep will invariably find my immersed in a book. Inevitably, some of the material I’ve read will influence or inspire my own writing in some way or another, immediately or much, much later. These are the books I read in 2015, in chronological order. Some I enjoyed more than others, some I read for research or review purposes, some I’d read previously, others I’d started but abandoned and decided to revisit. Sometimes I read two books at a time, switching between sessions. Regardless of the circumstances, these are the texts which provided the literary backdrop to the last 12 months of my life – for anyone who may be interested. Mostly, it’s a record I like to keep which I tend to make public, just because.

 

Nick Jones – 9987

Ray Bradbury – Farenheit 451

Paul Ewen – Francis Plug: How to be a Public Author

JG Ballard – Running Wild

Chuck Palahniuk – Doomed

Danny King – The Pornographer Diaries

Megan Milks (ed) &Now 3

Ed McBain – Like Love

Ed McBain – Killer’s Payoff

Jim Thompson – The Grifters

Bill Shields – Lifetaker

Jeff Noon – Vurt

Paul Auster – In The Country of Last Things

John Niven – Straight White Male

David Gionfriddo – The Good Worlds are All Taken

Derek Raymond – He Died With His Eyes Open

John J. Niven – Cold Hands

Cormac McCarthy – The Road

JG Ballard – Super-Cannes

Supervert – Post-Depravity

PA Morbid – Gorged on Light

Reuben Woolley – Dying Notes

JG Ballard – Hello America

Mike Meraz – She Poems

Charles Bukowski – The Bell Tolls for No-One

Mark Fisher – Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures

Sue Fox – The Visceral Tear

Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club

David Peace – Nineteen Seventy Four

JG Ballard – The Kindness of Women

Rage On the Road

They turn up in their cable-knit sweaters and cord trousers to nod amicably to observations about hedgerows in spring. They quaff half-pints of session ale and continental lager, red wine and soft drinks ‘because it’s a school night’ even though half of them are retired. They chat amiably about this and that, this and that, thus and that, primarily who has a book launch event coming up, who’s event they went to and whatever beautifully-crafted collection they’ve just read. It was recommended by so-and so, and so-and-so other did a simply delightful job of the artwork and so-and-so else gave their apologies but had recently had an accident or injury or was otherwise incapacitated or engaged… The poetry set. The ageing, the mumsy, the middle class pseudo-sophisticates… the middlebrow, nicey-nicey, bland-as-fuck head-in-the-sand dinner-party chatterers who think a mild swipe at Cameron set to an acoustic rendition of some 60s pop hit qualifies as edgy, pithy and political…

I don’t sit comfortably with the poetry set. Nevertheless, I occasionally raid their spoken word nights as an uninvited guest. Sometimes, I’m invited to perform, too.

The momentum of the Rage Monologues may not have gathered quite the pace I’d hoped for in the last couple of months, but April’s calendar so far looks rather like this:

April 23rd – Nevermind, York (5-7pm)

April 25th – Basement, York (7:30pm start)

Expect rage. Expect to see me die. Slowly and painfully. Get in touch via Facebook / Twitter / whatever if you’d like me to come and spill fiery venom at your event. Will rant for beer.

Book Review: Allegorical Beasts by Leo Schulz

It’s oft said – not least of all by me – that it’s important to learn the rules before breaking them. Otherwise, it’s not subversion, but plain ignorance. On reading the sonnet sequence that occupies the first half of Leo Schulz’ Allegorical Beasts, it’s clearly apparent that the author knows his way around a sonnet.

That Schulz has actually produced a sonnet sequence is in itself extremely telling: in vogue briefly during the Elizabethan period, it’s hardly the verse form of choice for contemporary poets. Not that the forty-five poems that comprise ‘Sonnets of the Sea’ contain any half-arsed doggerel, sixth-form scribblings self-consciously imitating the Petrarchan or Shakespearean form: this is sonneteering 21st century style, which dispenses with the fussy rhyme scheme and the restrictive metrical dictates of old convention to produce a series of poems that pack some real punch. Schulz certainly doesn’t dress things up in draperies of poetic euphemism. Yet at the same time, ‘Sonnets of the Sea’ does follow the principles of thematic unity, and fills the lines with magnificent imagery, some contemporary, some timeless, and succeeds in doing so without being overtly self-conscious or revelling in the author’s own cleverness, a feat also achieved in the three-part ‘Imitation of Dante.’

If ‘The Devil Writes to a Woman Who Loves Him,’ the first of the three prose pieces, seems a little weak despite its twisted psychology and cunningly-devised scenario, it’s only because it’s overshadowed by the final story, ‘Love: A Confession’. The direct, first-person narrative drags the reader through the emotional wringer as the speaker (who I would hate to align with the author, although its raw intensity is so specific and detailed it makes it more than just a little tempting) picks over the scabs of a defunct relationship. Occasionally amusing, always observed and detailed with a stunning precision, the story is delivered with a vivid sense of tormented humanity, making t one of the most engaging short stories I’ve read in a while.

‘Allegorical Beasts’ is an intense and intelligently-written book that marks Schulz as a unique and remarkable literary voice.

Allegorical Beasts is out now on Königreich Böhmen and is available via Amazon.

 

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And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

A Year in Literature: Christopher Nosnibor’s 2010 Read-a-thon

So after a couple of years during which reading for pleasure took very much a back seat in my life, I vowed that in 2010 I would make time for books once more. After all, despite having all but stopped reading for pleasure (that isn’t to say the books I had to read weren’t pleasurable, but simply that after studying for several hours straight, my brain was too fried and my eyes too shot to read more), my book purchasing continued unabated during this time.

During the last 12 months, my to-read pile has continued to grow, albeit at a slower rate, since I have been slowly chiselling away at the stack of unread tomes that have accumulated in my home office. Since January 1st, 2010, I have fed my head with the following works… and it feels good!

 

J G Ballard – Millennium People
Richard Allen – Complete Vol 3 –     Trouble for Skinhead / Skinhead Farewell /                       Top Gear Skin
Philip Sidney – The Defence of Poesy and Selected Renaissance Literary Criticism
Raymond Chandler – The Lady in the Lake
Toby Litt – Ghost Story
Mickey Spillane – The Snake
Chuck Palahniuk – Snuff
Alain Robbe-Grillet – In the Labyrinth
Chuck Palahniuk – Choke
Phil Baker – William S. Burroughs
Chuck Palahniuk – Haunted
Stewart Home – Blood Rites of the Bourgeoisie
Ian Rankin – A Cool Head
David Conway – Metal Sushi
Stewart Home – The Assault on Culture
Alex Garland – The Coma
Arthur Nersesian – Unlubricated
Donald Ray Pollock – Knockemstiff
Vincent Clasper – Kicks
J G Ballard – The Atrocity Exhibition
Ian Crofton – Nettle Knickers and Exploding Toads
Brian Masters – Killing for Company
Ed McBain – The Empty Hours
Various – Paroxysm
Lee Rourke – The Canal
Henry Millers – Plexus

 

 

And if you’re living my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk