THE PLAGIARIST: REWIRED – 360-Degree Audio-Visual Multisensory Assault Hits York on November 16th @ Wire Wool 1.2

It’s not often I plug stuff in my blog, but then it’s not often I take this particular show on the road, and while I’ve been making fairly frequent spoken-word performances in recent months, THE PLAGIARIST: REWIRED is no simple spoken word performance. It’s entirely fitting that I should be participating in the re-run of Wire Wool 1 that ran a couple of months ago. Curated by VIEWER, a band I’ve championed because they’re seriously good and not because they’re friends of mine (although they are) Wire Wool features music by SAND accompanied by some fucked-up visuals, incisive social commentary and intersections courtesy of AB Johnson and DJ sets by Tim Wright (of Viewer / Sand who’s previously recorded under the Tube Jerk moniker)… and my brain-malting multimedia explosion.

Brace yourselves and be there… details below. And yes, it really is free.

I’ve also found a handful of numbered copies of THE PLAGIARIST in that I’ll be flogging or willing to exchange for beer.

 

Wire Wool 2

 

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

 

 

THE PLAGIARIST Strikes Back: Losing the Plot (Again)

When I signed up to participate in the segment of the Leeds Bookend Festival curated by Pastiche Magazine, which has been good enough to publish my work in the past, I figured it would be a good lineup and moreover, the availability of a multimedia lot meant I would have the opportunity to try something I’d been wanting to do for years, namely the full PLAGIARIST multisensory live experience.

It was a gamble: one of those pieces that if I pulled it off, it would be spectacular and annihilative all at once. But if it didn’t quite happen, it wouldn’t so much be a disaster as a pathetic disappointment, akin to Spinal Tap’s ‘Stonehenge’ debacle. Conceivably one of the funniest moments in film, you wouldn’t want to be in the band it actually happened to. But artistic achievement is all about risk-taking.

The idea was to take one of the versions of film I’d posted on YouTube (I’d made three different edits), remove the bulk of the audio track of me reading, add significantly more white noise and feedback audio (a ‘sample’ of course) and then perform the bulk of the reading live. What could be simpler?

Aware that I only had a couple of weeks I set to work straight away. By which I mean I set to scouring my hard-drive for the files, but to no avail. The final AVI files were there, but not the editable projects, which I’d (foolishly) assembled in Windows Movie Maker. They weren’t on my backup hard-drive either. I should by now have realised I was asking for trouble in having offered to take the slot, which was still unconfirmed. Nevertheless, I figured they were probably on the hard-drive of the PC I’d used to produce thee original film, which was still in storage in the loft. So,at the weekend, after an hour and a half trying to locate the old HP base unit and monitor, and another half an hour almost breaking my neck trying to lug it down the loft ladder perched on top of my head, I discovered that the project files were missing. This left me with a week to recreate something that had taken me almost two months to create the first time around,some three years previous. But at least I had made an important decision: to flog the old desktop, because it’s needlessly cumbersome and completely redundant (although I do yearn for a more solid keyboard than the one on my new Toshiba Satellite Pro, which is nice enough laptop overall but doesn’t type as well as my old Asus. Yeah, yeah, workman, tools, etc.).

As I slogged away for a succession of late nights, I became increasingly square-eyed and more concerningly, debilitated and frantic in equal measure. Progress was reasonably swift, and infinitely less fraught than thee first time around, partly because I knew what as doing and partly thanks to a significantly more powerful computer. Even so, as the deadline loomed I had to break off to complete my research for, compile questions and then conduct an interview with Joe Cardamone of The Icarus Line for Paraphilia Magazine. He’s in LA, I’m in York and I had to sync times and dick about with software as I’d lost the programme I used to record Skype hook-ups when the Asus had croaked a couple of weeks before.

Having the interview in the bag and an email confirming times for Saturday’s show didn’t resolve my reservations about performing what was perhaps my most brutally confrontational conception in a shopping centre in a large city in the late afternoon / early evening. The lineup, however, was excellent, and included a number of writers I’ve been impressed by in the past, notably Rab Ferguson, Laurence Reilly and ‘punk poet’ Henry Raby.

Anyway, Saturday rolled around and I had my reworked audiovisual tracks ready and while I knew there’d be a projector and screen, wasn’t sure about a PA so bunged my speakers – a pair of Labtec Spin 85s I’ve had for about eight years – into my rucksack before heading for a train. I’d road-tested them in the living room after they’d been in storage for a couple of years in the loft and was pleased by how much poke they had given their dimensions and wattage. I was reasonably well-rehearsed, but had elected to pick some passages at random in keeping with the spirit of both the book and the performance. The only real downer was that I’d developed conjunctivitis in my left eye, which was by now swollen and streaming. I also managed to get confused about train departures and arrivals in relation to the slot, so arrived more than an hour early to find the place dead.

At least I’d located the venue and this uncommon error on my part afforded me an hour in which to sip a leisurely pint of the Magic Rock Brewing Company’s superbly hopped High Wire West Coast Pale Ale (5.5%ABV) in the Brewery Tap and read some of Jim Thompson’s Savage Night while I reflected and mopped my eye, which was growing increasingly itchy and painful.

On my way back to the Customer Service Lounge, where the readings were taking place, I took the time to truly soak in The Trinity shopping centre. I ambled casually past the shops – standard fare and then some: H&M, Boots, Next, a new Primark to be opened later in the year – and made a lap of the watering holes I’d bypassed in my eagerness to hit the Tap. It was in passing these sleek, anonymous façades that I began to feel particularly uncomfortable, and peering in past my reflection in the plate-glass frontages and through blurred eyes into the interiors the the full horror of the air-conditioned nightmare that is The Trinity really hit me. The Trinity is a faceless, shiny architectural vacuum of personality that is in so many ways the physical manifestation of the multi-layered geometrical hells Ballard depicted in High Rise and The Atrocity Exhibition.

It wasn’t simply the construction and layout and the lack of soul, but the vapid, superficial nonentities it seemed to be packed with, all shouting at one another to be heard over the reverberated sounds of music and other people’s interlocutions and telephone conversations. This was all amplified through my own filters, and as such my response to the situation was more pronounced and more acute, but even had I not been feeling particularly edgy, I would have still felt an intense paranoia as I paced by traversal to make a suitably timely arrival at my destination.

Before the event got under way, I had the opportunity to chat with Henry Raby, and to speak briefly with Laurence Reilly, who informed me that reading The Gimp had left him somewhat traumatised. I deferred thinking what kind of effect the piece I as about to do might have. Frustratingly, I would have to leave before Henry’s session-ending multimedia piece, but Rab Ferguson would subsequently deliver a reading that was confident and solid and Laurence’s performance – and performance is the word – was immensely powerful: he guy really got out of his skin and into character.

As the first few of speakers took their turns following a brief introduction from curator and Pastiche editor Clare DeTamble, I found myself struggling, again with the space and the context, namely of a large bright-lit area resembling an airport lounge, with an pen front and situated off a large brightly-lit concourse. The customer service desk, compute terminals and large-screen TV with BBC News 24 playing silently but with subtitles all contributed to the disconnected sensation and the strangeness of the whole thing. Most of those present were either reading or had come along with a reader for moral support. The Trinity staff would occasionally answer the phone, but mostly milled about distractedly, but very few casuals crossed the threshold, and even fewer took seats.

It wasn’t entirely surprising: I found myself struggling as I watched the other readers. It was no discredit to their texts or performances that I was finding it difficult to focus on their words, as they were half-buried in passing noise and conversations. Even amplified, I suspect it would have been a challenge. And it was at this point that I realised THE PLAGIARIST REWIRED was the perfect piece for the setting.

Having endured torture of shopping mall, it was only right I should be afforded my revenge and wreak psychic havoc on the very location that caused me such existential alienation and distress. By the time it was my turn, I was adrenalized and raring to go. The lack of volume, the less than perfect angling of the screen, the small audience, the TV in the background, the weird, bright performance space that no-one could possibly describe as an auditorium… none of it mattered.

I paced the area in front of the audience like a man possessed, stamping one way and then the other, and then standing close to the front and presenting a confrontation stance. Behind dark glasses (handy at the best of times, essential for creating mystique and hiding the sick eye) I was wired and observed an array of expressions ranging from nonplussed to horrified. I was in the zone. The words flowed from me at increasing volume and pace as the images flickered and the shards of noise shot from the speakers – not nearly as loudly as Id have liked, but still, the effect was there. As the piece reached its climax, the words looped and fragmented, while the images strobed behind me and electronic white noise completed the sensory assault.

My other prior engagement back in York meant I had to slip out during the next speaker’s set, so I wasn’t able to stick around for feedback and to gauge the reaction. I suspect most of those who witnessed the performance thought I’d lost the plot. And that’s fine, because as I always say, plot’s overrated anyway.

 

 

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

Who Are You Calling Stupid?

It’s probably fair to say I’m better known as a music reviewer than anything else. That isn’t to say I’m at all ‘well known’, but everything’s relative. The fact is that my ‘bread and butter’ writing emerges in the form of music reviews. This is primarily on account of the fact that I always wanted to be a music journalist and my first published pieces were reviews which appeared in local and regional inkies in the early 90s when I was in my late teens and early twenties and now I’m living the dream of getting more free music than I can listen to. I might not actually be getting paid, but that’s rather beside the point. I’m doing something I enjoy, which is something very few people can say with absolute sincerity, and consequently it seems daft to stop. Nevertheless, I’m also a writer of fiction, and have had stories published here, there and, well, perhaps not everywhere, but I’ve also written a handful of books, to varying degrees of success. Again, success is a most subjective word, and again, everything’s relative.

My current project, which should emerge into the public sphere in the Summer, is entitled This Book is Fucking Stupid. It’s a surefire hit: of that I’m convinced. Of course, I’ve been equally convinced with previous works, but am at the same time aware that none of my work has even the remotest mainstream appeal.

My most successful book to date – by which I mean the one that’s sold the most copies – is THE PLAGIARIST, a book inspired by William S. Burroughs and Kenji Siratori. Sitting somewhere between Nova Express and Blood Electric, the book was billed as ‘a riot of experimentation’ and reflected my preoccupations with time, space, the limitations of conventional linear narrative and issues of ownership, copyright and ‘originality’. These same preoccupations provided the foundations for From Destinations Set, which explored the possibilities of presenting simultaneously occurring events and pushed the formal style of some of John Giorno’s poems to an extreme within a more overtly narrative context.

This left me with the question ‘what next?’ It isn’t that I won’t or don’t ‘do’ linear narrative, because I do, but it’s impossible to shake the feeling that I need to be pushing in new directions and to challenge myself and the conventions of ‘the novel’.

Inspiration hit around Christmas. Stewart Home had just posted a blog on the reader reviews of his books on the Goodreads website. One of the reviews of his novel 69 Things to Do With a Dead Princess proclaimed ‘this book is fucking stupid’. Now, sidestepping the samples of the atrocious fiction this ‘reviewer’ had available, I found myself further considering the difficult space that exists between author and reviewer that not only this review, penned by an ‘author’ highlighted, but which provides a core element of the novel in question. However, before these thoughts had begun to evolve in any tangible sense, I posted a comment that ‘this book is fucking stupid’ would make a great title for a book. Stewart posted a reply in agreement, saying ‘let’s see who can write it first!’

It doesn’t take much to get me going when the planets are correctly aligned, and while this may not have been a genuine challenge, I elected to set the writing of this very book as a challenge to myself, and the idea very soon fell together. I’d already written a novella that was languishing on my hard-drive. Destroying the Balance had been kicked out during an intensive spell immediately after I’d completed THE PLAGIARIST. Having completed it, I had felt it lacked something, being all too conventional, and so shortly after began chopping it up and rewriting the text to produce From Destinations Set, which rendered the positions of the two characters more explicitly separate and distinct. Although I was pleased with the result, if not the reception, which was the review equivalent of tumbleweeds blowing through the last one-horse town before the eternal Nowheresville desert, I felt that there was still something to be done with Destroying the Balance.

Like a number of works written around 2008-2009 – including ‘Corrupted from Memory’ which began life as a novella before being trimmed down to 17,000 words for publication in the Paraphilia Books Dream of Stone anthology late on in 2011 – Destroying the Balance took its title from a Joy Division song, namely ‘Passover’ from the second album Closer. It seemed fitting for a story that was centred around the uptight and carefully managed life of a suburban thirty something on the brink of a premature midlife crisis, given that the full lyric is ‘This is the crisis I knew had to come /Destroying the balance I’d kept’.

So, despite having used the text as the basis of From Destinations Set, I could still see scope for another radical overhaul within the context of what I had in mind, namely a book that was the absolute extreme of postmodern information overload and experimental, but in a different way from the books I had produced previously. After all, it’s very easy to write oneself into a cul-de-sac, and also to become stuck in a rut – not to mention becoming typecast as an author of inaccessible or difficult works of limited appeal. I was therefore conscious of a strong need to reign in the wild experimentalism of THE PLAGIARIST in order to repackage the dilemmas of the Postmodern Condition in a more broadly accessible format.

As with all of my works to date, the result is, in many respects, an abject failure. Yet this failure is equally a measure of success. While segments continue to circulate amongst reviewers and to be touted to periodicals to largely negative responses, the final version of the book continues to expand, and the project’s incorporation of all of the pre-release responses – the more negative the better – means that the book is creating its own anti-cult. This is precisely the inversion of all things – from literary tropes to the commodification of literature – that I had aspired to. Put simply, the whole purpose of This Book was (and I intentionally speak of it in the past tense despite the fact it remains to be completed) one of self-negation.

The premise of the avant-garde was to destroy all that preceded in order to create anew, and subsequently, postmodernism has devoted considerable time and energy proclaiming the death of practically everything. My objective was to create a work that killed postmodernism by beating it at its own game and producing a text that was entirely self-collapsing, and, more importantly, self-contained. Postmodern criticism has (arguably, contentiously) written itself into a self-negating web of endlessly cyclical (self-)analysis, while postmodern novels have taken self-reflexivity to a point that seemingly cannot be exceeded. And that was precisely my plan: This Book needed to not only contain everything that had and could be said about it, but to preemptively comment on it.

This book will eat itself. There really is no success like failure.

 

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

 

Too Busy to Blog!

For many writers – both accomplished and aspiring – a common obstacle to productivity is inspiration. Most people run dry at some point. It’s not a brag when I say that this isn’t a problem for me: no, my real problem is time. There simply isn’t enough, and there are only so many ways to stretch it.

Over the past few years, a fair few people have asked me how I manage to maintain my output, how I find the time. The answer has always been that I make time, and type quickly. But then, every now and again, it becomes insustainable, and when it does, something’s gotta give.

I didn’t set out to become a music writer: it was something I once dreamed off, made a few stabs at and did on a very part-time and voluntary basis for a couple of local and regional papers back in the early 90s before giving it up. My applications to music papers for paid work had been unsuccessful, to the extent that none of them had even bothered to reject me, and I decided it was simply too competitive for me, a person who’s not particularly competitive by nature. Moreover, not given to being all that outgoing, and steadfastly refusing to suck up or otherwise ingratiate myself, I decided music journalism wasn’t the career for me. I was 25, working full time and studying at the same time, and in my spare time, attempting to carve out a novel. I was going to be a proper writer!

It took another five years to get my first book, Bad Houses out into the world, and the novel I had been working on, Exiled in Domestic Life, along with its sequel, Rusty Bullet Wounds, remains languishing, unpublished. Still, a lot’s happened since then, and while I have received some help and support – not to mention invaluable exposure – from people who I’ve encountered along the way, my weekly blog on MySpace did contribute considerably to whatever readership I achieved.

People are always going on about the importance of maintaining a blog as a means of building and maintaining one’s profile, and at the time, it seemed that they were right, but when the MySpace community dissolved before my eyes, so the hits to my blog plummeted. Rebuilding a readership from scratch just felt like too much effort for questionable reward, and by this time I had begun reviewing for Whisperin’ and Hollerin’, something I had fallen into quite by accident, but it felt good to be reviewing again. It had been noticeable that the reviews I had posted on my blog had been the least successful by miles, receiving half the hits of my rants. Having a proper outlet for the reviews was an extremely positive thing, and besides, it meant that even if I wasn’t being paid, I was getting free CDs and entry to gigs – plus being able to say that I was a writer for a recognised site meant I was able to approach PR companies directly and have them add me to their mailing lists. This meant even more freeness.

At present, I’m managing to review approximately half of the stuff I get sent, and given that I’m kicking out an average of one to two reviews per day, you can get an idea of just how much the reviewing gig’s grown in the last couple of years. But I don’t want to be known simply as a music writer: I do still write fiction, after all, and have some pretty hefty projects in the works, with the story ‘Corrupted from Memory’ which appears in the new Paraphilia anthology A Dream of Stone being the first of a new wave of fairly dense pieces penned recently.

Then there are the interviews. I’d be daft to turn down the chances I’ve had to meet up with various bands, or to conduct email interviews with Malcolm McNeill and JG Thirlwell. They’re once in a lifetime opportunities. None of them came about because of my blogging, though, and finding the bile to spew out a weekly rant in a blog just wasn’t something I had in me.

The discipline of maintaining a regular blog is healthy for a writer, primarily because it’s so easy to procrastinate, defer and postpone: a commitment to produce a piece each day or week can be a great motivator and can provide the impetus to knuckle down to writing and attempt something new. By the same token, it can all too easily become an obstacle to producing anything else, with the main work becoming sidelined by the thing that’s supposedly a mode of liberation and promotion. Moreover, in churning out pieces on not only a regular but a frequent basis, it’s easy for the quality of output to suffer and to find yourself saying the same thing. If it gets boring to write, it’s going to be equally boring to read: if and when that moment arrives, it’s time to quit.

I had other reasons to quit, or at least cut back though: well, something had to give. I’m no longer studying, but am still working full-time and then some. I can’t not: there are bills to pay, and very few writers actually get to make a living from it. Besides, getting to teach English Literature to undergraduates, albeit on a part-time basis, is often rewarding, but make no mistake, it’s hard work, especially in conjunction with holding down another job at the same time. So how do I find the time to write? Make time, and type fast, of course. But without blogging, at least as often. Has it damaged my readership? No, I don’t think so, and while I receive more hits to my site via searches for ‘Christopher Nonsibor reviewer’ and Christopher Nosnibor Whisperin and Hollerin’, I still get the same number who arrive at my site having searched for ‘Christopher Nosnibor writer’ or for one of my books (more often than not THE PLAGIARST).

But then, I’ve recently found myself wondering if maintaining a blog is as important as it used to be – not just for me, but in general. I still read voraciously, but the number of blogs I read has diminished, and I instead prefer to read a small number irregularly, rather than a large number regularly, partly because many of the blogs I follow tailed off around the same time I allowed my blogging activity to become less of a feature of my writing output. Is the golden age of blogging over? Does it really matter? A world in which everyone has a blog is a cluttered one, but shouldn’t be mistaken for a well-informed one. Knowledge may well equal power to an extent, but with no shortage of blogs brimming with ill-informed opinions and even outright hateful propaganda receiving ample traffic, it would equally appear that misinformation is power, and besides, who cares about what you’re saying as long as you’re popular. The interest in celebrity blogs and Tweets remains unabated. Ok, so bloggers like myself (i.e. the authors of the blogs I like to read) are never going to be in competition with these ‘celebrity’ retards, and never were, but there comes a time when pissing in the wind stops being fun and simply becomes a thankless slog.

For me, the blog always served a dual function: to vent or to comment on the things I had no other outlet for doing so, and, if I’m honest as an indirect means of promotion. Now, I have other channels for both promotion and venting, and besides, I’ve come to the conclusion that the world only needs so many producers of culture and of comment, given that there are only so many consumers. Personally, I try to do both, but it’s hard to consume while producing. It’s simply impossible to read an article and write one at the same time. So, while I continue to work on the job of perfecting a clone or two to enable me to multitask more effectively, the blogs will remain on the back burner while I crack on with the real work…

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

A Dream of Stone (and Other Ghost Stories), edited by D M Mitchell and Dire Mccain is out now in the US through Paraphilia Books.