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 third festival of its kind to be held in Hull in three years follows a successful return in September this year, which saw more than 30 events taking place in the city over three days, with leading poets and world-class spoken word artists taking to the stage alongside new voices.
Contains Strong Language 2018 was a partnership between the BBC, Wrecking Ball Press, Arts Council England, Absolutely Cultured, 14-18 NOW and the British Council.
18 of the most interesting and diverse poets formed the Contains Strong Language company of artists. The Hull 18 brought new and existing poetry to the festival. The Hull 18 were Amanda Dalton, Jackie Kay, Simon Armitage, Louise Wallwein, Jacob Polley, Isaiah Hull, Vicky Foster, Joe Hakim, Shirley May, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Jay Bernard, Malika Booker, Kat François, Ishion Hutchinson, Jay T John, Charnell Lucien, Vladimir Lucien and Tanya Shirley.
In 2017 the festival took place for the first time in Hull as part of Hull’s UK City of Culture celebrations.
Programme details for 2019 will be revealed in the coming months but Contains Strong Language 2019 looks set to be the biggest event of its kind to date.
The new shop sells the entire Wrecking Ball Press catalogue, as well as a range of books from independent publishers, new and used vinyl, merchandise, gifts and gig tickets.
The independent retail outlet is a joint venture between Wrecking Ball editor Shane Rhodes and Gary Marks.
Three weeks in and the shop is proving to be a success and has quickly established itself as a relaxed place to browse, chat and buy music and books.
Seven times snooker World Champion and green baize legend Stephen Hendry will be dropping by the shop on Wednesday October 25 when he will be signing copies of his autobiography Me and the Table at 12.30-1.30pm.
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.