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Barney Farmer, Drunken Baker, Coketown and Brexlit

The Observer featured an article on Sunday 27 October about the growth of a subtle and complex new movement in contemporary British literature: Brexlit. “Some are epic tales of the ancient kings who battled to rule Britain. Others are books about bakers in abandoned northern towns.” The latter, of course, referring to Drunken Baker by Barney Farmer, published by Wrecking Ball Press.
 
“Novels about ‘the left behind’ make up another strand of Brexlit. In Drunken Baker by Barney Farmer, characters created for the celebrated Viz comic strip Drunken Bakers are immortalised in a book ‘so soaked in booze the pages almost smell’, according to one critic. It’s a comic novel that takes place over a single day: as the bakers get drunker and fail to bake, they reflect on their failures in life and the decline of everything around them. ‘You see the impact of the collapse of a northern town from the point of view of the bakery workers. And it’s just so full of despair. It’s very, very bleak.'” Read the full article here.
 
On the same day, Robin Ince hailed Drunken Baker as “remarkable” and named it his book of the day on twitter. Ince said: “This book is a remarkable book and if it wasn’t connected to Viz, or it was published by Faber & Faber it would probably be considered to be one of the most intriguing, fascinating and beautifully written books about a world of austerity, a broken world and a world of drunken bakers. Some of you will read Drunken Bakers in Viz it’s one of the most brilliant cartoons anyway, Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The Ballad of Halo Jones) believes so. Alan Moore sees it as Samuel Beckett with Battenberg. Drunken Baker by Barney Farmer is remarkable. So, buy this book. It would be nominated for stuff if the literati knew what they were talking about.” View Robin Ince’s twitter post and video here.  
 
Barney Farmer’s second novel, Coketown, is published by Wrecking Ball Press in November.  Barney told The Observer: “I’m interested in the people that politics creates. When it comes to cause and effect, the cause is endlessly discussed. But the effect on the individual is more interesting to me, as a writer, than the grand personalities and the great sweep of events. There is more for writers to reveal by approaching political writing from that angle.”
 
Coketown can be ordered online here.

BBC drama Bathwater now available from Wrecking Ball Press

BathwaterBathwater, the script of Vicky Foster’s BBC Radio 4 drama, has been published by Wrecking Ball Press. The book contains the full-length script, including material not aired in the radio version, and additional prose.

Bathwater is a gripping, ever-twisting, often moving, somewhat shocking and often agonising piece of work.

Vicky Foster said: “Bathwater is based on my real life experience of domestic abuse and the impact that violent crime has on families.”

Rather than a cathartic over-share, however, Foster goes way beyond writing what she knows in order to craft something that is simultaneously hard-hitting and poetic. She has written a work of literary beauty, despite the harsh and uncomfortable subject matter, combining prose, poetry and dialogue.

This is as bold a line in the sand as a writer can make to announce their arrival.

Poet Helen Mort, five-times winner of the Foyle Young Poets award, says that Bathwater is, “A powerful, extraordinary piece of drama. It has left me changed. Courageous and compelling poetry from a very talented writer.”

Bathwater is available to purchase now and can be ordered from the Wrecking Ball Press website.

A limited number of copies of Bathwater signed by the author will be available. Please indicate if you would like a signed copy when you place your order.

Love, music, the Holocaust, and a dog called Mango.

On March 6th this year, Martin Goodman’s new novel, J SS Bach, will be published by Wrecking Ball Press (available for pre-order here). Martin Goodman, award-winning author and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Hull, “writes enchantingly” (The Literary Review), in beautifully crafted and emotive storylines with the greatest sympathy for his subject. J SS Bach is no except. The story of three generations of women from either side of Germany’s 20th Century horror story suffering the consequences of the actions of men, spanning from 1990s California right back to the midst of the Second World War, is intricate and moving. 

Without giving away too much, let us say this: J SS Bach is singlehandedly one of the most affective and beautiful books that you will read this year.

Tonight (Tuesday 29th January), Martin will be on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking at 10pm. Listen to him in the company of art historian Monica Bohm-Duchen and cultural historian Daniel Snowman, with host Anne McElvoy, discussing ‘Art and Refugees from Nazi Germany’ here. If you miss it, the wonders of modern technology will keep the programme available as a podcast for 30 days.


There will be two launches of J SS Bach, in London and in Hull, with Martin Goodman reading stories from the novel and – a special treat – live performances of Bach’s cello music.

The first, on February 26th at 6pm in the University of Hull’s Middleton Hall: French cellist Brice Catherin will play Bach’s 6th Suite and a range of other pieces (including his own compositions) to reflect Martin’s readings. Booking is highly recommended and may be done so here.

Second up, the London event. On March 7th at 7pm in the Great Chamber at Sutton House (Hackney) and hosted by the glorious Pages of Hackney: London-based cellist Hannah Monkhouse will play Bach’s 1st Cello Suite, and Martin will read from the book and tell stories of its conception. Tickets may be purchased here.


And, finally, a review of J SS Bach by Paul Simon of The Morning Star can be read here. The final words, “A masterful novel,” have never been more accurate.

New Work From With-loving Wilson

WITH cover and bagThere’s been anticipation for new work from the fourth best poet in Hull – Dean Wilson – since 2017 thrust him in front of bigger audiences. The secret’s out, now, and Dean’s increasing number of fans want more.
 
Dean has been living in Withernsea, East Yorkshire, for the last few months, and the poems have been coming thick and fast. 
 
“Why With? Why not? When people read the poems from WITH I want them to feel the urge to jump in the air and then jump in a car and go to Withernsea.
 
“I’ve been going to With on my holidays since the 1970s and I love the place. It’s friendly, and I never get bored there. It helps me. I tasted my first alcohol in the Spread Eagle and used to stay in a caravan on the park. It’s a place of pure joy and happiness and it always brings back happy memories.”
 
Withernsea has brought Dean’s muse back, in a creative period that has generated in excess of 150 new pieces of work, and has also seen him commence work on his first novel. WITH is a small selection of these poems, published here in a large format magazine by Wrecking Ball Press.
 
WITH page 3The creative outpouring followed an invitation from fellow poets Mel Hewitt and Vicky Foster to join them for an evening in a Withernsea chalet that Mel was holidaying in. 
 
“It was the opposite of debauched. It was in July. We chatted, went for walks, watched the sunset, and there was a strange and beautiful energy in the air, as there always is in With. Without that trip this poetry wouldn’t exist. I liked it so much there that I decided to get a place there of my own. I’ve got a chalet on the edge of a cliff.
 
“That place saved my life. I’ve been there recuperating and I’ve been writing like a silly bastard. All of the poems in WITH were written in With: the town runs through them and the place inspired the work.”
 
WITH isn’t a follow-up to Sometimes I’m So Happy I’m Not Safe On The Streets, because Dean would feel unfaithful bringing out another collection just yet, even though he’s written so much about the town that there’s probably enough for a full-length Withernsea collection in the future. Instead, WITH is a collection of eleven poems, with stunning photographs by Graham Scott of Human Design that capture the town’s spirit and magic. 
 
Dean bumped into Graham and Wrecking Ball editor Shane Rhodes in a pub a few weeks ago.
 
“I told them I was thinking of putting my With poems together as a pamphlet, because I have a stapler and I know how to use it. But they said no, let’s do it properly, and help increase the house prices in With.
 
WITH page 4Human Design designed my last book. Once you’ve had that level of perfection you keep on wanting it. The photographs and the design bring the town to life on the pages.”
 
A short title for a short collection, but not to be outdone by Dean’s first book WITH is subtitled You’re Sad And Lonely And You’re Coming With Me.
 
“It was a very personal moment. Someone was very insistent about it and that’s what they said.”
 
The mystery and intrigue doesn’t end there. WITH comes in a goodie bag packed with surprise seaside-related gifts.
 
“The contents are a secret. Well. One of them is a sixpence, because I remember playing in the arcades and amusements with sixpences. And there’s a bingo card, too, which has been ‘Dobbed by Dean’.”
 
Dean has written four pages of his novel so far. He’s given himself two years to finish it. Until then, WITH will provide its readers with quite enough to consider.
 
WITH will be launched in Hull on Tuesday 11th December at Pave (8pm, free entry), where Dean will be joined by Elvis impersonator Bobby Diamond (“I think he’s wonderful, he’s mesmerising on stage”). There’ll be a raffle, too, where prizes might include a signed copy of Sometimes I’m So Happy I’m Not Safe On The Street or might be more compelling secrets from the mystical Withernsea.
 
A Withernsea launch of WITH is planned for early 2019.
 
WITH can be pre-ordered here.

Out Now: Dave McGowan’s Debut Collection

EarwiggingDave McGowan’s debut collection of stories – Earwigging – has been published by Wrecking Ball Press.

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.

First Wrecking Ball Title of 2019 Announced

JSS-BACHThe first Wrecking Ball Press title of 2019 has been announced. Martin Goodman’s J SS Bach will be published on March 6, 2019.

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.

Isaiah Hull: A Voice Far Older Than His Young Years

NosebleedsNosebleeds, the first collection of poetry from Isaiah Hull, has been published by Wrecking Ball Press.

“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.

Shirley May Tells of Diaspora and Home

She Wrote Her Own EulogyShirley May’s first poetry collection has been published by Wrecking Ball Press. She Wrote Her Own Eulogy, slipping in and out of distinct patois, tells of diaspora and home.

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.

Helen Mort’s First Foray Into A World Beyond Poetry

ExireA new collection of work by Helen Mort has been published by Wrecking Ball Press. Exire is not a novel. It is not a collection of short stories. It is, instead, both of these things: stories that may stand alone whilst inextricably tied together. It is Helen Mort’s first foray into the world of fiction beyond poetry.
 
Dystopian Britain, the year unspecified. A new website, Exire, offers those who feel disconnected from their lives one last act of choice, packaged as a bespoke service. In this unsettling collection, voices fade in and out, people connected by Exire’s troubling appeal. At the heart of it all is Lorna, a young musician who has made a painful decision. We hear her story in reverse.
 
“Addictively sinister.” — Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
 
Exire is available here.

Face-to-face With Norwegian Literature

Shakar ZeshanWrecking Ball Press visited Norway in September 2018 to explore the country’s literary scene, which, in 2017, saw 538 Norwegian books translated into 44 different languages around the globe.

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.