Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sunday 27/11/11

Every Friday night, there’s a show on BBC2 called The Review Show. They’ve got an alternating panel of people on, people who have other jobs too I suppose, but their job here is to be critics. So during the week they’ve given them a movie to watch, maybe a TV show too, a book to read and sometimes an exhibition to go to and then they let them loose to critique it. There’s no other show on TV that interests me and terrifies me in equal measure, like The Review Show does. I record it each week and I have to gather the courage to watch it at some point during the weekend (fast forwarding through the bits that I’m not interested in, of course, which is most films and most exhibitions). But when they start talking about the books, oh God, I get completely sucked in, but at the same time watching is so uneasy.

Whether they’re talking about an unpublished Kerouac novel or a Joan Didion memoir or something by a new less established writer (though let’s face it, for any book to land on the show it needs to have some serious publisher muscle behind it) I can’t help by wonder what they would say if they were discussing Exit Through The Wound.

As I said there’s a rotating panel, but the key components basically are:

- An middle-aged character actress of some sort who’s there to be nice about the things that are not her medium (books / exhibitions / other) and namedrop other actors who have actually made it when it comes to the films / TV shows

- One of those malformed, grey-haired critic bros whose actual job is to wear black and appear on TV talking about other people’s work

- Germaine Greer (or similar)

- A university literature professor who’s there to pick the prose apart when it comes to the book reviews and analyse it as if they’re talking to a room of post-grad Lit students they’re fed up with

All of the above actually stress me (though the lit professor most of all, naturally) because they really go for it. They discuss book content, style, motivation, effect; they discuss the authors, their lives, their worth. They don’t necessarily always say mean things, most reviews are mixed if you take an average across the panel, but the fact is that everything is discussed in detail. And to be honest although there is a part of me that would kill for my book to be on there (BBC EXPOSURE, PPL) another part knows that I could never watch it, if it were.

So, I’m not sure exactly how Exit Through The Wound comes across to anyone out there. Being a first-time writer with a very small publisher means that it hasn’t got picked up for review by any major streams. In terms of actual reviews there has been one on QX magazine and one on the So So Gay website, and from what I understand there will also be one in Esquire magazine in a couple of months. From there on, I’ve become aware of some online reviews by individual bloggers, like Sam Downing or Jimmy Bramlett. There are several favourable reviews on Amazon – both US and UK – and there are also a few on the GoodReads website. Now if I also take the next step of googling my name and book title I also come across a couple of messageboards where people are discussing me, but in reality they’re not discussing the book, they’re just discussing London Preppy, the character they think I am and, in summary, how I look really shallow and stupid and self-involved and therefore my book must be crap. (Just an FYI for the people who think that side of my online presence a reflection on Exit Through The Wound, hey, did you know how many NEW books come out each year in the UK? Around 200,000. And in the US? Around 290,000 [thank you, Wikipedia]. So my direct competition of newly-published books this year in my two biggest markets are about 500,000 and if me taking my shirt off and posting a picture on Tumblr makes me stand out even a tiny little bit and causes even two more people to look up my book, I’m gonna do it bro, sorry).

So yeah, I guess I wanted to say all this in terms of Exit Through The Wound reception. In reality, I know that reading reviews of your art / work is not really beneficial and it can fuck you up big time. Plus it really shouldn’t matter what other people think (unless every single person tells you that it’s really shit, in which case perhaps you should sit down and have a think about it, but thankfully this hasn’t happened).

Point is that I’m at a stage where I’m planning my next book. And though I don’t really know what those guys at The Review Show might make of Exit Through The Wound, the feedback I’ve got from regular peoples, like, seems to be pretty good. And I’m thankful for every single person who has messaged me or seen me and told me that they read it and liked it. And I guess we’re allowed to move forward and plan the next one, right? I think we are.

(Please note, ETTW has only been out for 2 ½ months and I’ll be spending the next year promoting it; I have events / readings booked for several months ahead, I’m not about to give up on it, but in my head I have to be prepared to write a second one, this is what this post is all about).

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Wednesday 23/11/11

Right, here are the details of the event in LA in a couple of weeks. There will be a 'meet and greet' (everyone loves these social situations and they are not awkward AT ALL, right?) I'll read a bit from the book, maybe for ten minutes or so, and then we can all go home. How about it?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Monday 21/11/11

Thanks to everyone who emailed about the ETTW cover art. It will be making its way to Denver, Colorado this week to be united with its new rightful owner.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Thursday 10/11/11

These are the events / readings I'm doing in November / December.

Please come...if you wanna.

Wednesday 16th November - Polari at Lo Profile LONDON

Info:

"London's peerless gay literary salon" pops down to Lo Proile.

Hosted by Paul Burston with authors DJ Connell, Timothy Graves and Jonathan Kemp (pictured), who have all been shortlisted for The Polari First Book Prize.

Plus North Morgan, reading from his debut novel 'Exit Through The Wound'

Free entry

Link: Polari at Lo Profile

Thursday 17th November - Limehouse Books Birthday Party LONDON

Info: Birthday Party with Rock, Roll, Poetry, and Maine Hudson. To celebrate the survival of Glass/Limehouse Books to a second anniversary, we will be having our very first gig.

Free entry

Link: Limehouse Books Birthday Party

Thursday 15th December - Reading at performance space LOS ANGELES

I'll post more details on this when I know them. Just as a heads up, it will be a reading as part of an arts centre's Lounge Reading Series. Please come if you're based around there. I don't think US events will be happening very often at this stage.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Monday 07/11/11

I like this quote that someone wrote about Exit Through The Wound in an Amazon US review:

"Exceptionally funny, while also being an absolute downer"

It makes it sound like perfect Christmas reading material:

Outcome A - If the holiday season is bringing you down and you're feeling a little depressed, ETTW will push you over the edge and lead you to an early demise, perhaps by turning the gas on and sticking your head in the oven [via Sylvia Plath]. Though if you do that, it is advisable to seal the kitchen door with a wet towel to protect other members of the family who will be enjoying their sherry in adjoining rooms - there's no need to be a complete jackass and take them down with you.

Outcome B - if you like the holiday season and are particularly cheerful around Christmas, ETTW will provide you with some additional LOLZ

Anyway, here's another excerpt from the book. This is from chapter 3.

I've read this at a couple of events and nobody threw anything at me, so I'm going to assume that it went down well.



This is the Monday after the weekend and on this Monday, I opt to go to work, for no other reason apart from I have to. Had I chosen to stay and live in Athens, I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have to go through this daily torture. My brother is 27 years old and he’s never had to do a day’s work in his life. I, however, am being punished for choosing to live abroad, a choice which my parents have decided to take as outright aggressive, part of a spiteful plot to hurt them and send them to an early grave. Hence, they’ve decided to only pay for my rent and bills while I stay in London, forcing me to have a job for my other living expenses. This, of course, is terribly unfair and it cuts me up inside. Not enough to move back to Athens, mind.

As a job, I have chosen to under-perform daily in a central London business consultancy. My full title is Associate in the Media Sector, and I’m not sure exactly what that involves, but I think it has a lot to do with turning up every day, emailing my colleagues Danny and Harper who work there with the same vicious abandon that I do, and occasionally interacting with clients who should know better than to pay me for my so-called services.

I got this job soon after I finished my MSc in European Public Policy at UCL, which I only took on just to delay getting a job another year (and it seemed like a good gateway to living in London). My first degree, a BA in Medieval and Early Modern History from Durham University was just about as useful as it sounds and it only served its purpose as a means for my Mum to show off to her friends. Admittedly, pointless Arts degrees do sound quite impressive and I’m not going to pretend I won’t push my children into something similar; if nothing else, just for the prestige. Any degree that’s practical or pragmatic or actually useful indicates that you need the work it’s likely to get you, which is as unattractive a concept as I’ve ever heard.

It took me just a couple of months in my current job to realise that working in an office is a wonderful thing, if you want to lose your self-respect and dignity nice and quickly. I estimate that people who work in an office doing something as tenuous as ‘consultancy’ die inside approximately 34 years earlier than people who have other, meaningful, worthy occupations.

In my brief office career, I have come across two types of people: those who don’t give a toss, and those whose lives are otherwise so empty that they do. The latter group is usually made up by people who are good at this. I’m not very impressed – being good at your office job is about as admirable as being good at wearing a hood and pointing out members of the resistance to Nazi officials in Germany circa 1939.

People who like working in an office get a huge sense of accomplishment and gradually develop a very smug, superior attitude. I come across those people occasionally. My boss’ boss, Jonathan, once mentioned in casual conversation that he gives ‘100% to everything he gets involved in’ (verbatim). I find it very hard to take in such a concept, considering that I haven’t given 100% cumulatively to everything I have ever gotten involved in grouped together.

In my lovely office, which occupies a provocatively gigantic building just off the Strand in central London, some people go into work early and leave very late, in order to impress their manager and benefit from future promotions, pay rises, bonuses, etc. The last time I had to play games like these, where I tried to appear busy in order to deceive somebody who held power over me, was when I was 11 and I had to run, open a textbook and pretend I’m doing my homework every time I heard my Father come home. I am not pre-pubescent anymore, so I won’t play along.

Soon after I started working there I realised that in an office environment, the variety of topics you can discuss with your colleagues in a social manner is both very limited and predictable. Having had a lobotomy will help you answer questions such as: ‘Any plans for the weekend?’, ‘How was your holiday?’, ‘How did your client meeting go yesterday?’ and ‘Have you got any annual leave left?’ for the millionth time in a manner that’s friendly, neutral and non-offensive. In fact, perhaps lobotomies should be offered upon joining my consultancy instead of the usual pension scheme contribution. I know which one I’d benefit more from in the short-term.

I do know of a three or four former colleagues (of the same Graduate intake as me) who tried to break free after deciding that their current role was not fulfilling, so they tried to get out of it and pursue a career change. Three months later, all these people found themselves working in a different office down the road for a rival consultancy, still wanting to kill themselves, but earning £10k less.

In the mornings, as I walk in my office, I often recall the Smiths’ lyric about looking for a job, finding one and still being miserable. But this does seem awfully pessimistic. It’s not all that bad. I try to keep in mind that working in an office will only take up – on average – 9 hours a day for 43 years of my life. Then I will suddenly be 67 and I’ll have the rest of my life ahead of me to do whatever the hell I want.

I’ve worked here for just over two years, but I think they regretted employing me right about the second week. I don’t see this as a personal failure though; I blame my lack of work ethic on my upbringing. When I was younger, every time it was mentioned in conversation that a friend of mine had got a part-time job after school or college or even University, Mum and Dad would sneer that theirs must have been a poor family, that they had to resort to pushing their kids into child labour, that it’s generally an embarrassing situation to find yourself in. Consequently, the lesson I took away from my parents was that work equals humiliation. And in terms of lessons that I’ve learnt I’m not willing to ever let this one go.

[...]

On this Monday morning, I walk through the revolving glass doors, take the lift up to the 6th floor, lower my eyes to the floor and walk to my desk. The beginning of a good day is one where no one says ‘Good morning’ from the moment I enter the building to the moment I sit on my chair. Today has been awesome so far. I turn on my laptop, open Outlook, ignore three client emails and make the executive decision to prioritise an email from Danny, a workmate I actually like, who joined the same time as me, is sitting three desks down and is one of the few people in the office who’s making my work ethic seem unbeatable. Danny has written:

‘Have you seen the video of the guy who was killed last February at the Olympics? I’m about to watch it on YouTube.’

‘Wait, somebody was killed six months ago at the Olympics? This is huge. I need to turn on that TV more often.’

‘Yes, I’m watching it now. It’s horrific.’ ‘Is there blood?’

‘No.’

‘OK. I’ll watch it anyway. Link?’

He sends me the link and a few minutes later I write back:

‘Right. You had made it sound worse. You don’t really get to see anything.’

‘Well, how often do you actually see somebody die?’ ‘Every day; when I look in the mirror.’

I spend the rest of the morning locked in the bathroom talking to Sadie on the phone and then back at my desk reading Wikipedia entries on Albert Camus, Melissa Joan Hart, the TV show The Big Bang Theory (which I’ve never seen), Kelsey Grammer, Franz Kafka and Coca Cola Zero, which brings me to 1255, so I head out for a walk. During this walk, I listen to the album Elastica by Elastica in its entirety whilst pacing up and down the Strand and eventually go back.

In the office again, and while I’m actually busying myself with some work-related tasks, I receive the following internal group email from Luan, extravagant South-East Asian and self-appointed social secretary. Luan tells us:

‘Hi Guys,

due to popular demand I’ve provisionally booked the Charlito restaurant on Friday 17th September at 7-9pm. If you haven’t been before it’s basically a mix of Mexican, South American and Spanish food in a fairly lively atmosphere. Can you let me know if you’re keen so I know how many people to confirm?’

This email, which has gone out to all 45 people making up my department, is obviously hilarious and needs to be analysed in depth, so I look over to Danny’s desk and – disappointed that he’s not there – start to email Harper instead, who’s sitting at the other end of this open plan office.

I write:

‘“...fairly lively atmosphere”, I hear’

Harper replies:

‘Exactly. I’m definitely out. That’s like saying someone is fairly sexy, it just doesn’t work, does it? Other examples: “He is fairly suicidal”

“She is fairly pregnant”’

Then I write:

‘“He is fairly paralysed from the waist down”

“She is fairly a bitch”

“He is fairly shocked to his core”’

Then Harper writes:

‘“I’m fairly having a mental breakdown”

“Their marriage is fairly on the brink of collapse”

“He is fairly willing to die for the love of his life”’

Then I write:

‘“He is fairly in love and regretting the rest of his life so far and all the choices he made”

“They are fairly married”

“She is fairly lobotomised”

“She is fairly dying to see her boyfriend”’

Then I get bored of this game, plus I think we’ve killed it a bit, so I write:

‘Hi Harper,

I wanted to ask you:

What were you doing on this date, at this time last year?

What were you doing on this date, at this time two years ago?

What were you doing on this date, at this time three years ago?

Oh, you were sat at the same desk doing the same thing, you say.

I just wanted to check.’

Harper lives in Whitstable, a small seaside town in Kent, which makes her total commute per day approximately two hours each way. She has worked here two or three years longer than me, but she recently got married and rumour has it that she’s about to hand in her notice to stay at her lovely seafront home and prepare to start a family. This is the lamest excuse for quitting your job that I’ve ever heard, not that I blame her one bit.


Buy the book:

Amazon US
Kindle US

Amazon UK
Kindle UK

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Thursday 03/11/11

Hello. This would be an Exit Through The Wound competition. And by competition, I mean I was clearing some shelves and found this thing that someone might want to have if they've read the book and liked it, etc.

It's a printout of the final proof of the ETTW cover art.

It's basically a - relatively thick - piece of paper, it measures 30 x 42 centimetres and it looks like this when a person is holding it standing next to a cricket bat:



I'll date and sign it, stick it in an envelope and post it to you and from then on the choice is yours. You can tear it up and throw it in the bin, you can frame it, you can burn it and inhale the ashes, do you what you like.

So if you fancy it, send an email to london.preppy @ gmail dot com with your name before the 20th November. THAT'S A SUNDAY.

I don't really expect more than 0.8 - 1.3 people to be interested in this, but just in case and so that we have a way to distinguish between any 'entrants', please include the reason why you want this in your email. That's all.

I'll get back to the 'winner' (term used very loosely) on the 21st to ask for your address and post it.

All right then.