Earwigging is outside time. Conversations overheard in part, decontextualised by momentary existence, come together to create a world that exists only in the now. The man at the bar, the woman on the phone heading towards the Tube, the couple dragging their feet down Drury Lane: they are by no means connected but all inextricably linked, like the people in the background of a photograph, brought together for one time only, limited edition, a special occasion.
This overheard world is split apart by stories. Pieces of the past between the now, tales of who did what with whom and for how much. A world too unreasonable to have been real, but too unbelievable to be mere fiction. They say that there’s nothing as strange as the truth, and McGowan is the king. Travelling out of London, across the country, halfway around the world, the stories that punctuate Earwigging are absurd, hilarious, unlikely, and harrowingly real, dragging the reader on a rollercoaster ride of the bizarre until not even the normal is mundane anymore and each corner holds a new and strange surprise.
Earwigging & Other Stories is the momentary beside the memory: poignant, as unreal as only reality can be, and not to be ingested over tea for fear of surprise bouts of laughter turning beverage into projectile. The four-word foreword of only “Loose lips sink ships” sets McGowan’s book firmly in place: the telling of yesterday’s tales can begin a questioning of just how today happened, and private conversations held in public places are always going to be overheard by someone. Here, that someone is Dave McGowan – Londoner, writer, ale aficionado, wearer of hats – with his notebook of other people’s words.
“This is the real stuff. Stories from and about the street, from the soft belly of hard places. Stories that make you wince, laugh and wonder. A great collection from a writer of wit and talent.” — Kit de Waal, author of My Name is Leon and The Trick to Time.
“Dave McGowan is a trenchant observer of everyday life. These pieces are moving, insightful, hilarious and tragic by turn. Stories of London life in all its messy complexity — and a lesson to watch what you say, because you never know who is listening.” — Julia Bell, author of The Creative Writing Coursebook.
“Let Dave McGowan be your guide to a hidden seam of city life. He is part flaneur, part fly-on-the-wall, but be warned: once you’ve tuned in to the chatter you may not be able to turn it off.” — Tony White, author of The Fountain in the Forest.
Earwigging is available here.
The book tells the story of three generations of women from either side of Germany’s 20th Century horror story – one side, a Jewish family from Vienna, the other linked to a ranking Nazi official at Dachau concentration camp – who suffer the consequences of what men do.
Fast-forward to 1990s California, and two survivors from the families meet. Rosa is a young Australian musicologist; Otto is a world-famous composer and cellist. Music and history link them. A novel of music, the Holocaust, love, and a dog.
“Most moving and impressive. In J SS Bach Martin Goodman manages an original slant on what has become all too familiar – the ‘Holocaust novel’ – and has created something really worthwhile as a result. It is beautifully structured and has a distinctive and haunting tone. Altogether a very clever and memorable piece f work that deserves to do well.” – Simon Mawer, author of The Glass Room.
J SS Bach can be pre-ordered here.
“Nosebleed is the first time you feel alien to yourself, even as a child, so imagine how I felt, when this came out.”
Visceral and raw, this collection explores family, life, and the real world. Hard-hitting poetry written to be spoken aloud, but making the transition to the page with remarkable ease and clarity.
Coming from a voice far older than the poet’s young years, Hull’s writing is soul-searching and down to earth. Nosebleeds is an exploration of expression, traversing emotion and form.
“Isaiah’s writing holds a weight and maturity unparalleled by anyone his age. He is the voice we all need to hear.” – John Berkavitch, poet and creative director of Shame.
Nosebleeds is available here.
The landscape of Kent and Manchester are brought to vibrancy via Jamaica: the twisting road taken by people displaced and making new communities on strange soil. There are stories, kept and told and shared.
There is wisdom, there is memory, there is future, and there is hope.
“Blazing with emotion, challenging all the senses, this life-affirming collection demands to be read. Charting a journey from Jamaica, these beautifully crafted poems offer a fresh, detailed insight into the experience of migration.” — Sue Roberts, BBC Producer.
She Wrote Her Own Eulogy is available here.
The successful trip to the country steeped in literary history going back to the pagan Eddaic poems and skaldic verse of the ninth and tenth centuries has resulted in Wrecking Ball securing the UK rights to publish Zeshan Shakar’s Our Street (represented by the Gyldendal Agency) and ongoing negotiations, now at an advanced stage, to publish Lotta Elstad’s I Refuse To Think (published in Norway by Flamme Forlag).
Wrecking Ball editor Shane Rhodes said: “In the modern day when a lot of business is done via email or over the phone I felt that it was important to go and meet Norwegian publishers face-to-face, to have conversations in person and to really get a flavour of the nation, its writers and the exciting work that is being created there. It was a successful trip given that we ended up securing the rights to Our Street and also look set to publish I Refuse To Think.”
Shakar’s book is the Winner of the Tarjei Vesaas’ Debutant Prize 2018 and is set in Norway in the 2000s. Two boys grow up on the street Tante Ulrikkes street in Stovner, the north-east part of Oslo. Their parents had hope. They themselves are in the middle of the transition between suburb and wider society, between car wash and student canteen, exam grades and keef.
Heralded as one of the best books to come out of Norway in 2017, “Our Street isn’t important because it represents something or someone, but because it’s a really great novel.” (Morgenbladet)
Shakar is a profoundly literary and authentic voice, describing second generation immigrants’ position as both insider and outsider in Norwegian society.
Elstad’s I Refuse to Think is a dark, feministic contemporary comedy about politics, love – and an abyss that is getting dangerously closer. The book was nominated for The Oslo Prize in 2017 for Best Novel.
I Refuse to Think has been called “A Feministic Bulls-eye” and “…one of this year’s most enjoyable reads” by critics. Elstad, who is garnering attention around the world and destined to become the next Norwegian literary star, writes with sharp and smart humour and original style.
The trip was part of the Literature Visit programme supported by the British Council that aimed to build networks in literature ahead of the Indonesian market focus at London Book Fair in 2019.
Editor Shane Rhodes headed out to the Jakarta and Makassar International Writers Festival in May in order to identify publishing opportunities, find out more about Indonesian culture and literature and meet with writers and Indonesian publishers.
Both books will be published in 2019 in readiness for London Book Fair at Earl Court in March next year.
We Are Nowhere And It’s Wow is Johani’s first poetry collection and is divided into three sections, home, home part deux, away, and we are nowhere and it’s wow. because he likes being coy. home is away, away is home, part deux is part un, nowhere is somewhere etc. includes such orientalist pesudo-political poems as away with wiji thukul I-VIII as well as apathetic occidentalist ones like esthétique du mall.
Museum of Pure Desire contains choice examples of contemporary Indonesian poetry whose richness derives from their destruction of the constraints that surround poetry. Dewanto’s poems challenge the reader to stop and reconsider what first comes to mind upon their reading and to consider an entirely different interpretation altogether; they pull the reader into a state of tension between extreme juxtaposition and hidden logic, between childlike playfulness and calculated detachment.
Other publishers in attendance at the Literature Visit were MacLehose Press, Portobello Books, Tilted Axis Press, Oneworld Publications and Harvill Secker.
30 Indonesian publishers and copyright agencies are expected to head to London Book Fair in 2019.
So what (un)earthly delights are we offering in 2017?
Here’s the line-up so far :
Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile
by Adelle Stripe
“You write what’s said, you don’t lie. Or say it didn’t happen when it did all the time…”
Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile is the keenly anticipated debut novel by Adelle Stripe and is inspired by the life and work of the Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar.
This slice of kitchen sink noir tells Dunbar’s story in print for the very first time. Featuring a cast of real and imagined characters, it is the result of four years’ painstaking research that has unearthed the hidden story of one of the North’s most enigmatic figures. It is a tale of the North / South divide and reveals how a shy teenage girl defied the circumstances she was born into to become one of West Yorkshire’s greatest dramatists.
Set in the Thatcher era, it maps the extraordinary rise of a young woman from the Buttershaw estate, who is discovered via a Women’s Aid refuge. She is propelled into the London theatre establishment and an adapted screenplay of two of her early plays brings her wealth, accolades and notoriety, while raising three young children.
Rita, Sue and Bob Too! is a national scandal upon its release, and its tagline ‘Thatcher’s Britain with Her Knickers Down’ ensures it is a box office sensation. Fame brings anxiety however, and Dunbar is unable to cope with the media attention, pressures of family life and writer’s block. She slowly succumbs to the pitfalls of drink and spends her last days in her local pub The Beacon, where she completes her final script based on a gang of unscrupulous debt collectors. In 1990, aged 29, she collapses from a fatal brain haemorrhage.
One of the most important writers of her generation, this remarkably stubborn ‘genius straight from the slums’ recorded the everyday realities of working-class life. Dunbar’s unflinching autobiographical plays included themes of domestic violence, underage sex, poverty, racism, alcoholism and the declining status of men. By using frank and expletive-ridden dialogue she created a no-holds-barred account of the underclass composed in the tradition of social realism.
A bittersweet literary depiction, Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile explores a world whose themes are more relevant today than ever. It marks the arrival of one of the UK literary underground’s best kept secrets.
Adelle Stripe was born in 1976 and grew up in Tadcaster. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester University and is the recipient of the 2016 K Blundell Award for Fiction. She teaches at MMU.
Adelle is the author of three chapbook collections of poetry, the most recent, Dark Corners of the Land, was 3:AM Magazine’s Poetry Book of the Year. Her writing has appeared in publications in the US and UK including The Guardian, Stool Pigeon, Caught by the River, Penny Dreadful and Chiron Review.
Her prose-poem The Humber Star will feature at Hull City of Culture 2017 as part of John Grant’s North Atlantic Flux programme. She has recently recorded vocals and lyrics for production duo Smagghe & Cross. Their experimental ambient track Cock of the North will be released in spring on Offen Music.
Find out more at:
Spit and Hiss
by Mike Watts
photo by Jerome Whittington
Spit and Hiss is the fourth collection by Hull born poet Mike Watts. As well as carrying Mike’s trademark brutal honesty and hardboiled insight, these poems betray a deeper and more lyrical maturity to Mike’s current way of looking at the world. From corrupt local councillors and lost weekend lovers to memories of youthful exuberance and present-tense mid-life panic, all life is here, in all it’s marvellous bare- arsed glory.
Here’s a little taster, a poem called Let The Good Times Roll, which has been selected for publication in The Morning Star:
Let The Good Times Roll
His tearful mug crumbling from the front page of the local rag,
the political candidate swore-blind he’d been punched
simply for posting his party’s propaganda.
Turns out he was being economical with the facts,
the alleged ‘man-mountain’ of an assailant insisting he
didn’t take a swing at all,
he merely objected to having unwanted junk posted
through his letterbox and attempted to return it
by pushing it back into the posters pocket.
The candidate assumed it would be good publicity if he
so the local press sent out a team to capture HIS version
The paper has an on-line comments section.
It stirred-up quite a debate.
Some said the guy was probably an unemployed thug
whilst others defended him.
Personally, I think the political candidate is a weasel
(I think most of them are)
and in this town I think he got off pretty lightly,
considering his politics.
This crappy bull-shit no-news story made front page,
so obviously all is well;
diminishing crime rate, zero unemployment and
the local economy booming.
Quick, pour the cognac, light the fire-works,
pass the cigars;
at last, we’ve cracked it!
In other news, Mike has just had a poem “Yorkshire Princess” selected in this year’s “Anthology Of Yorkshire Poetry”.
International Poetry Collection … TBC (!)
We Know What We Are
Short stories by Russ Litten
painting by Mark Hebblewhite
The debut short story collection from the author of “Scream If You Want To Go Faster”, Swear Down” and “Kingdom”. This latest batch of tales are all centred in and around Hull in the year 2017 and feature a cast of citizens whose lives play out in the furthest edges of the penumbra of the City of Culture spotlight.
Here’s a short excerpt from “The Light That Lights The Dark”, which previously appeared in “Pearl” in the USA and “Verbal” in the UK.
He gets up before you, goes downstairs and lays the table; a plate of toast with the margarine at two o’clock, the jam at three o’clock, a mug of tea on the right hand side and the knife on the left. You sit and eat together and talk about the day ahead. He tells you that it looks like it’s going to be a nice day outside and you should both go for a walk, blow away the cobwebs. When you’ve finished breakfast he runs you a bath and holds your hand as you step in. He washes and conditions and rinses your hair and then goes through to the bedroom and lays your clothes out on the bed from left to right; knickers, bra, fishnets, the long multi layered black and mauve skirt, the black satin bustier, your favourite mesh top. Then he gets himself dressed and flicks through the TV channels until you call for him to help you out of the water.
And when you’re dressed he blow-dries your hair, your head between your knees as the heat roars around your scalp. Then the backcombing, the gentle tugging and teasing of his fingertips and then the throat catching blasts of hairspray, the mist settling on your spikes like a sticky net. He sits you down in front of the mirror and does your make up. The cold lick of foundation and the tickle of the brush on your cheeks and forehead. He describes the colours he’s using around your eyes, the purples and the greys and the greens and then falls silent as he leans in closer and concentrates on drawing in the lines around your eyes, the arch of the brows and the cat lick at each corner, his warm breath at the side of your face.
I’m getting good at this, he says, and you say that you’ll be the judge of that.
Debut Poetry Collection from exciting northern punk poet … TBC!
We’ve also got amazing short story and poetry collections coming up from some very exciting new and established names. But that’s not until next year. In the meantime, if you want to get on the Wrecking Ball Press Book Club and take advantage of our ludicrously generous nature, please follow this link here:
In the meantime, steer by the light of the whalebone and look after each other.
POETRY AND PROSE FROM THE POSTMAN
Here’s a happy notion – a brand new Wrecking Ball Press title delivered to your door every single month! Here’s how it works – you send us a cheque for sixty five quid and we send you a book on the same day every month for a year. We’ll pluck one out at random, or you can go through our back catalogue and pick the book you want.* Choose from literary legends like Dan Fante, Roddy Lumsden, Geoff Hattersley, Niall Griffiths and exciting new voices like Dean Wilson, Lee Harrison, celeste doaks, Andy Fletcher and Peter Knaggs. Good, eh?
So what are you waiting for? Hit this link
and we will add you to our lovely list of lit. lovers who will be getting a years worth of words, one month at a time.
*Excludes 2017 titles onwards.