Call for Submissions: Novels

[Submission window: 1st December 2015 – 1st March 2016]

 

In 2017 Influx Press would like to publish two novels. We wish to receive completed manuscripts or proposals. We welcome work from emerging writers and established authors alike.

We want work that investigates and interrogates culture and life under-represented in mainstream literary output - like all of our previous, non-novel publications.

We are particularly interested in submissions from BAME writers and those from low income or marginalised backgrounds.

We want exciting, original stories of characters and places that make us see things in a new light, see things from a different perspective, encourage us to think in other ways.

If you would like to send a proposal please email Kit on kit@influxpress.com. You must already have some work published so we can assess your writing as well as your ideas.

If you would like to send a manuscript submission please send a synopsis and the first 30 pages of your book to submissions@influxpress.com, marked ‘Novel Submission’.

We welcome submissions through agents and writers without agents.

We look forward to reading your work!

Kit and Gary, Influx Press

Kermit
Kermit

The Battle of Kingsland Road - by Paul Case

[This is a story from our first book, Acquired for Development By. In light of the Fuckparade protest thing and everyone getting their knickers in a twist about gentrification and the battle for space in the city, we thought we'd post Paul Case's now rather prescient satire on this sort of thing.]

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Influx Press Summer Reads Recommendations 2015

Here is a list of books editors Gary Budden and Kit Caless, authors Eley Williams, Clare Fisher and Darran Anderson are looking forward to reading this summer. They're not necessarily new, but we're certain they're all banging.

 

Darran Anderson (Author of Imaginary Cities)

 

Athanasius Kircher's Theatre of the World - edited by Joscelyn Godwin

Long before there was the internet, there was Athanasius Kircher. This book is a source of endless wonders.

Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, 18th edition

Another cabinet of curiosities in book form. I read this as a teenager and it has sent me off in a thousand different directions. I've started writing a mythological travel guide involving real places so now seems like a good time to return to it.

Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

I've made a good stab at reading all of the superb SF Masterworks series of books and the one I'm inclined to return to most is this curious and mesmerising exploration of the universe. A book for the oddballs among us who like night-walks and staring up at the cosmos while the rational world sleeps.

     

 

 

 

Clare Sita Fisher (author of the forthcoming How the Light Gets In, 2016)

 

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

This novel focuses on the relationship between the narrator and her perpetually suicidal sister. It’s perceptive and moving and, believe it or not, hilarious. It asks the old ‘what’s the point?’ question from new and satisfyingly oblique angles, and definitely comes out on the side of life.

Don't Try This At Home by Angela Readman

Try this at the beach, on the train, by the pool, on the balcony, at the park… You get the idea. I’m hardly magic realism’s No.1 fan but Readman’s existential take on the genre took my breath away; there are things you can only say through a character’s transformation from mother and employee of a chippy to, erm, Elvis.

Can't and Won't by Lydia Davis

If you’ve read Davis’ Collected Stories, don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve seen everything she can do with a sentence; you haven’t seen s**t. If you’ve never read Davis then what are you doing still sitting here, reading this? Go out and dose up on a totally unique interpretation of the short story form – her latest collection is as good a place to start as any.

 

Eley Williams (author of future Influx short story collection in 2016)

 

Shklovsky’s Zoo by Joanna Walsh

The 10th of July sees the launch of Joanna Walsh’s Shklovsky’s Zoo from Pieces of Paper Press, and you BETTER GET YOUR SNAFFLE-HOUNDS THITHER because this fascinating chapbook has a limited run of 150 copies. Limitation and constraint are crucial to this piece, which sees Walsh trouble and disrupt the concept of autobiography, literary lineage and what it is to occupy a page.

A writer of [seemingly endless] energy and innovation, Walsh’s work is a consistent delight, always witty and yearning and completely artful: Shklovsky’s Zoo looks like it will be a neat, nigglesome trick-shot of writing. There is nothing better.

It is small enough to fit in a pocket. You have a pocket, and you should put this in it. A taster for the forthcoming memoir Hotel (Bloomsbury, 2015) and novel Vertigo (Dorothy, 2015).

     

 

 

 

(O) by Sophie Mayer

I’m really looking forward to falling and falling and falling into Sophie Mayer’s new collection (O), available this summer from Arc Press. In the past, educator and activist Mayer has described her work as ekphrastic and adaptive – I’d add intricate, beguiling and just so bloody clever. As a poet who frequently packs more into a single, cool seethe of a sentence than many writers manage in an entire essay, add that the book’s blurb promises ‘[s]pirited, politicised, contemporary and Classical, these poems bring a poetic voice to the women that have lived in the cracks of history’, this an instant addition to my summer bookshelf. I find I’m forever returning to Her Various Scalpels (Shearsman, 2009) and The Private Parts of Girls (Salt, 2011) because of the way Mayer makes language and ideas buckle and blister. Her writing is a finger at a wineglass, making the air ring. In short, the idea of a new book makes me mix metaphors with giddiness. I can’t wait to be snagged in (O)’s orbit.

Kumkum Malhotra by Preti Taneja

Fresh from winning Gatehouse Press’s New Fictions prize, Kumkum Malhotra is the new novella from Preti Taneja. I’ve the pleasure of hearing extracts of the work in the past, and so I am completely unsurprised to see Taneja’s spare prose – lyrical but incisive, elegant in its precision – earning her a legion of new fans (‘beautifully sculpted surfaces and terrifying depths’ says Maureen Freely, with Deborah Levy adding 'Preti Taneja is a writer to watch, no doubt about it'). Set in the Nizamudin area of contemporary New Delhi, Kumkum Malhotra is a story centred upon crisis, loss and unearthing: with an eye for the taut and uncanny, this is a writer who regularly, utterly transfixes. Get it while it’s hot.

Gary Budden (Editor, landscape punk)

 

Francis Plug – How to be a Public Author - by Paul Ewen

The funniest book I have read in years, about deluded alcoholic gardener Francis Plug (also an aspiring writer, of course) and his one-man mission to get as many Booker prize winning novels signed by their authors. Highlighting the ridiculousness and over-seriousness of live literature events, this book is a must for anyone who’s ever been to a book launch and had too much free wine.

My favourite parts were where Francis decides to quote Hilary Mantel dialogue at a bunch of bankers, calling one of them a ‘leek eating c**t’, and when he meets V.S. Naipaul at the Hay Festival , claiming AS Byatt is the wind and trying to blow the tent over in reaction to Naipaul’s comments about female writers.

Common Ground- by Rob Cowen

This is a perfect example of when the ‘New Nature Writing’ works; Rob Cowen’s account of his fascination with an unloved patch of edgeland near his new home in Harrogate merges autobiography, social history and extraordinary passages of fiction to great effect. Common Ground is also pleasingly politicised, veering away from the twee wistfulness that can blight this kind of writing. There is a sustained piece of charged imaginative writing early on in the book, charting the final day of an elderly male fox, which will stay with me for a very long time. This is how to write about to place.

Hellgoing- by Lynn Coady

Not exactly new, but new to me, Canadian author Lynn Coady’s collection is one of the finest examples of short-fiction I’ve had the pleasure to read. Sharp, insightful, dropping the reader into the middle of the characters’ complicated (and often unusual) lives and getting out before any solid conclusions can be made, Coady’s writing is exemplary of the form.

     

 

 

 

Kit Caless (Editor, highest batting score this season 83*)

 

Hotel Arcadia - by Sunny Singh

I met Sunny at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival and was immediately taken with her articulate, knowledgeable, warm personality. She spoke on a panel we helped organise fluently and with great wisdom. Since following her on Twitter I seem to have learned more in the last two months than I did at secondary school. Hotel Arcadia is her newest novel, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. A thriller set during a terrorist attack on a hotel, with what seems like a John McLean style photographer not wishing to die hard, it’s sounds right up my street!

     

 

 

 

Best of British Short Stories 2015 – edited by Nicholas Royle

Each year Salt produce a wonderful collection of short stories from our rainy island, published in various organs over the year. This year looks as vintage as ever with stories from Hilary Mantel, Helen Simpson, Alison Moore and Matthew Sperling. Nicholas Royle has an excellent eye for the short story and has edited some of my favourite novels in the past so I know the book is in safe hands.

 

At Hawthorn Time - by Melissa Harrison

Unfortunately, Gary’s influence seems to be rubbing off on me and I’m looking forward to reading a book set in the, wait for it… the countryside (gasp!). Melissa’s writing is excellent – I really enjoyed Clay and there’s a central character called Kitty (close enough for me – last year I chose Nikesh Shukla’s Meat Space which had a character called Kitab in it, so this is proving somewhat of a tradition) in her second novel. It’s been praised to the high heavens by plenty of people who like great books. I can’t wait to read it while sitting in Hackney Downs pretending I’m in a meadow or something.

An evening with Jacaranda Books at Pages of Hackney

On Monday 6th July, 7:30pm - 9:30pm at Pages of Hackney, we present Jacaranda Books for an evening of readings and discussion.

Jacaranda publish exciting new fiction from the UK and around the world. Following on from Africa Writes Festival, Jacaranda are bringing two great novelists, Francis Mensah Williams and Pede Hollist to Pages of Hackney for readings and discussion with Valerie Brandes, originally from Hackney and the founder of Jacaranda.

Please come down, support the event and listen to some excellent authors and what will prove to be a very interesting discussion!

It's free, of course.

jacarandaflyer

The Anti-Canon: Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo – by Irenosen Okojie

The Anti-Canon: Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo – by Irenosen Okojie

 

I first picked up Ishmael Reed’s inventive satirical thriller Mumbo Jumbo in college, on a sticky summer day. I found it beneath a turnstile on my way to the computer lab, as though it had emerged through a rabbit hole and landed at my feet. Published in 1972, Reed’s seminal novel set in New Orleans, New York and Haiti introduces us to a central character called PaPa LaBas, a private dick operating from Mumbo Jumbo headquarters with a sign on the door that reads ‘PAPA LABAS MUMBO JUMBO KATHEDRAL FITS FOR YOUR HEAD.’ At the beginning of the novel, we encounter an American south in peril, the psychic epidemic Jes Grew is tearing through the land with cases reported of people in a state of uncontrollable frenzy, doing stupid sensual things, wriggling like fish, dancing the ‘Eagle Rock’, the ‘Sassy Bump’, ‘lusting after relevance’ with the only successful anesthetizer being sleep. Jes Grew’s symptoms include seeing Nkulu Kulu of the Zulu, a locomotive with a red green and black python entwined in its face. And feeling like ‘the gut heart and lungs of Africa’s interior.’ It is an anti-plague even, characterised by ebullience and ecstasy that defies race, class and consciousness.

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Poem of the Month: May

Each month Influx Press is featuring a contemporary poet you might not know but definitely should.

This month to mark Dementia Awareness Week (17th- 23rd May) we chose a couple of poems from Sarah Hesketh’s The Hard Word Box. This collection is a result of the twenty weeks Sarah spent in a residential care home as part of a project called Where the Heart is. This month we’re also featuring a Q&A between Kyra and Sarah which delves further into this fascinating project and behind Sarah’s creative process.

Spoons

   Spoons break up the day.
Yes. No. Out of mouths
    wedged in the spaces
between who and when. In
    bookshelves and along
windowsills, bright slugs
   who came in for the night.
Such shiny visitors,
    they give us back to ourselves,
our faces strangely curved.
   Small windows into tiny worlds
we hold to impossible angles.

The Hard Words

Look, let’s be clear: don’t imagine
there is anybody here who enjoys
dribbling poetry. If you think we’re
holding stars on our tongues
that’s your eyes want testing.
If you hear music when we grunt
you haven’t understood exactly
what it is we needed to say.
You might enjoy the ruins
of our grammar, the way we
chew up our nouns to song.
It’s not your hand that’s getting
thinner on the blanket.
Please don’t ask us to speak
the hard words all at once.

Did you do a lot of research into writing that has already been produced through working with Dementia patients? If so did that influence how you approached the project?

When I first started on the Where the Heart Is project it was all quite daunting so yes I did start by trying to research and read as much as I could. I was already familiar with the work of the artist David Clegg and The Trebus Project, so that was a huge help as a starting point. What I quickly discovered was that there wasn't all that much writing out there that had been produced as a result of working with people with dementia. I read a lot about memory, both scientific and more literary works. Penelope Lively's book Ammonites and Leaping Fish was very helpful. Most of my research ended up being more around form and the crossover between visual art and text, because as well as the book, I knew my poems were going to have to feature in a physical exhibition, and that was a new kind of work for me.

I love the fragmentary form of these poems. I think you've perfectly captured in poetic form how memory works - we don't remember things in a linear way yet often as writers we attempt to impose this linear narrative structure, so I think the poems work because not only are they reflecting the disorienting, disintegrating aspects of Dementia but of life generally which is fragmentary and disordered. Did that kind of style come about because of the project or were you already naturally inclined to write that way?

The fragment form was something that I was already very interested in. I'd already started a fragment sequence on another topic, but these parallels that you're describing were part of the reason why I was so attracted to the residency opportunity in the first place. I'm very interested in gaps and what readers choose to put into them, and I think that the experience of reading a poem, and the experience of having a conversation with someone with dementia can be very similar and require similar strategies for extracting meaning.

You work with found material and the collection includes conversations you've transcribed. Did you find it challenging balancing your own poetic voice with the voices of those whose stories you were communicating?

From the outset, all of the artists on the residency were encouraged to think of the work we produced as collaborations with the people we were working with. I wanted my own impressions to have a place in the book, but I was also very keen to capture the voices of residents, relatives and the care staff, and also to find a way to represent those who were no longer able to speak, but were still full of communication. In some ways I thought of the book as a group portrait - a picture of a certain group of people at a certain time. I think that image also stops people from looking for too many general 'truths about dementia' in the writing.

Can you tell me about the inspiration behind the title?

The title comes from a line in an Anne Carson poem, 'Mimnermos: The Brainsex Paintings,' that features in her collection Plainwater. Carson's poem is, as you would expect, a complex one, but one of the ideas she's exploring is the pressure we place on people to speak and tell of themselves, and that was something I was very interested in during my residency. It's also a line that gestures at the difficult connections between dementia and language.

As it's Dementia Awareness Week and I know the project was keen to get past the simplistic use of the arts in health care settings, maybe you could comment on the value of poetry in particular in exploring the topics of Dementia and old age.

I'm very wary of making any special claims for any kind of arts practice in dementia settings. I think the arts can bring a huge amount of joy and interest into people's lives - whether you have dementia or you don't. I don't think the arts should be positioned as a 'cure' or a 'treatment' for dementia, because I think that can lead to situations where the arts end up as a smokescreen for bigger problems in a healthcare setting. I do think that art, and perhaps in particular words, can be a great advocacy tool for improving care for older people. People with dementia are largely voiceless in society at the minute, and I think artists and writers can help to amplify those voices and encourage them to be heard.

Sarah Hesketh is a poet and freelance project manager. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from UEA and her work has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies including The White Review, Soundings, Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot and Binders Full of Women. Her first collection of poetry, Napoleon’s Travelling Bookshelf, was published by Penned in the Margins in 2009. These poems are taken from The Hard Word Box (Penned in the Margins 2014). In 2013-14 she was a poet in residence with Age Concern Central Lancashire. You can read Sarah's blog on the project here: http://wheretheheartispreston.tumblr.com//

Poem of the Month: April

Each month Influx Press is featuring a contemporary poet you might not know but definitely should.

This month we chose Keston Sutherland said by The New Statesman to be 'at the forefront of the experimental movement in contemporary poetry'. Sutherland’s radical poetics confront social and political issues. The Odes infiltrate the conventions of prose poetry combining a highly sexualised language with the jargon of capitalism, computers and the products of our rampant consumer culture.

Excepts from The Odes to TL61P

by Keston Sutherland

(NB.

In order to keep Keston's poetry as true to how it was published as possible we've had to create a image of it in order to get the line breaks and justified text correct)

Keston Sutherland is the author of The Odes to TL61P, The Stats on Infinity, Stress Position, Hot White Andy, Neocosis, Antifreeze and other books of poetry, and of Stupefaction, a book of essays about Marx and poetry. Lots of his essays on poetry, art, politics and Marxism are available online. He is the co-editor with Andrea Brady of Barque Press. He lives in Brighton and works at the University of Sussex.

These excerpts are taken from The Odes to TL61P (Enitharmon Press, April 2013) His collected works Poems 1999-2015 will be published in May 2015 by Enitharmon Press.

Influx Press at Stoke Newington Literary Festival

Last year, the year before that, and the year before that we have had the pleasure of holding events at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival.

In 2013 we collaborated with 3AM Magazine, Galley Beggar and the Lonely Coot Press. It was at the Mascara Bar and those who came will always remember it as, 'that time I saw Eimear McBride read from A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing before it was even published'. Probably.

In 2014 we did a late night, booze sodden, literary salon with Galley Beggar and 3AM again. This time the night would be less well remembered due to the amount of alcohol consumed, but with fuzzy recall you would definitely remember Nikesh Shukla reading from Meatspace before that lamb chop got on in the pages of the Broadsheets. You'd have also been captivated by the inimitable Jack Cheshire performing a cover of 'Killing Moon' by Echo and the Bunnymen.

This year, on June 6th the festival have given us a full day to programme whatever we want. This is a great opportunity for us to share the platform, or hand over our platform to other presses and organisations we believe are producing important and interesting work exploring Britain and London. We are grateful to Liz from Stoke Newington Lit Fest for giving us this space and we've put together a diverse and fascinating day.

All events will take place in the charming upstairs room at the White Hart on Stoke Newington High Street. Dangerous, you may think, given our fondness for the sauce, but rest assured, we shall maintain a professionalism right up until we don't have to.

The programme is as follows. The details aren't fleshed out, but this should provide a taster of who we've invited and who might be reading.

1-2pm: Test Centre

Test Centre is an independent publishing house and record label with an interest in the spoken and written word. Based in Hackney, East London, it was established in 2011 by Will Shutes and Jess Chandler. Test Centre's authors include Tom Chivers, SJ Fowler and Stewart Home.

"Test Centre…have returned Hackney to a state of readiness and experimental action. - Iain Sinclair

3-4pm: Unofficial Britain

Unofficial Britain is a celebration of the uncelebrated. A champion of the overlooked. A history of the forgotten. Unofficial Britain is a hub for unusual perspectives on the landscape of the British Isles, exploring the urban, the rural and those spaces in between.

5-6pm: Media Diversified

Media Diversified is a young and growing non-profit organisation which seeks to cultivate and promote skilled writers of colour. Media Diversified has provided a much needed life-line and vibrant forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences. It’s a mothership of affirmation and nurturing for writers, building resilience for the future and supporting people to take risks in tackling controversial topics and subjects that others aren’t.  It also articulates how racism works in so many areas of life, be it from colourism to the fashion industry to the recent moral panics. More positively/subversively, it considers whether having more writers of colour in the media undermines racism.

7-8pm: Squatting London: Total Shambles and Place/Waste/Dissent

Total Shambles by George F. and Place/Waste/Dissent by Paul Hawkins are both books that explore squatting culture, self-housing and the occupation of buildings for political, social and economic reasons. This event sees George and Paul discuss squatting and space in London - its history, social effects and its future.

9-11pm: Influx vs Galley Beggar: The Late Night Literary Salon

Similar to last year's salon, we have invited old pals and collaborators, Galley Beggar to join us in the evening for a book party like no other. Rounding off the day with drinks, music and readings from Influx Press and Galley Beggar authors, this is the only place to be on Saturday evening of the festival. Expect laughs, profundity and entertainment in full measure. Who knows, you might be watching the next big thing before anyone else. Or just watching Kit make worse and worse jokes as he introduces each writer into the sweet hopped heat of the night.

Poem of the Month: February


Each month Influx Press is featuring a contemporary poet you might not know but definitely should.

This month we chose Sarer Scotthorne. Sarer's poetry is a visceral descent into the psycho-sexual. In this poem Sarer interrupts the domestic and the urban scene with words which ooze with the pulse of an ebullient female sexuality.

The Blood House
by Sarer Scotthorne

The stairs creak voices - ketamine thuds bleed through
a single skin of brick; floorboards leak every secret.

The clock reverses - intermittent Gabba - radar moon. Cats scream,
I scream, howl my longings into cotton sheets. I scratch at the floor,

draw words in the mist of breath on pane; look through letters
lit orange by the light of the city night, at my beloved street below.

Bodies crawl, fumbling for keys - staring into shadows.
My hand-printed curtains float, lifting up as the city's sweat billows into my room.

The shouts of children climb through my windows like burglars,
angry mother’s scream and drag them back out.

This house breathes for me - joists splintering with love,
the beat of slamming doors hides the sound of the past

that is buried alive in the red brick cellar below.

Sarer Scotthorne is a feminist, poet and martial artist who plays with film and teaches Kung Fu and Creative Writing. This poem is from her first published collection The Blood House (Hesterglock Press, 2015). She co-edits the poetry/flash fiction pamphlet Boscombe Revolution and Westside HERstory. She has a website here: https://thebloodhouse.wordpress.com/

Poem of the Month: January

Each month Influx Press is featuring a contemporary poet you might not know but definitely should. This month we chose Alex MacDonald's poem to complement the release of Dan Duggan's Influx book Luxury of the Dispossessed.

Reasons for Asylum Admissions

by Alex MacDonald

Alex MacDonald lives and works in London. He has poems published in Poetry London, 3:AM, The Quietus and Clinic. He hosted a series of readings at the V&A Museum on independent poetry publishers and was recently the Digital Poet in Residence for the Poetry School. Reasons for Asylum Admissions was compiled from a list of real and imagined reasons people were admitted to an American sanatorium in the 1800s.

Books of 2014 - discussed by Influx Writers

 

We asked ourselves and our authors to tell us what they've been reading this year (not necessarily released in 2014). This post would be ludicrously long if we included pictures of the book sleeves, so you'll just have to imagine them there!

Also, the length of recommendation varies wildly.

Gareth E Rees (author of Marshland: dreams and nightmares on the edge of London)

Light by M. John Harrison
-head-mangling quantum space travel epic.

The Transmigration of Timothy Archer by Philip K. Dick
- in which a bishop questions the origin of Christ

One Three One by Julian Cope
- a narcotic Neolithic time-slip romp.

The Village that Died for England by Patrick Wright
- a multi-angled history of the lost Dorset village of Tyneham, swallowed up by the MOD’s tank range.

Springfield Road by Salena Godden
- a moving evocation of 1970s childhood

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
- a series of shifting poetic perspectives on loss and landscape.

On Walking by Phil Smith - a mythogeographic journey in Sebald’s footsteps.

In the Dark Room by James Knight
- an abstract and nightmarish short story combined with artwork

Hard Shoulder  by Baron Mordant and Zeke Clough
- a highly surreal comic strip road-trip.

 

Sam Berkson (author of Life in Transit)

Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest

Regardless of the hype, Kate is a good poet. She is also remarkably prolific, having put out two music albums, three theatre plays, two poetry collections and is working on a novel. She turns 30 next year. Hold Your Own is a Picador publication and starting with an 25 page retelling of the Tiresias story which becomes the coda for the collection, Kate reflects on her life changes from tom-boy to teenage woman to gay adult (using the sex-shifting blind prophet as its archetype) to successful truth-teller, exploring issues of gender and sexuality. Its edited by big cheese page poet Don Paterson and his influence is evident. It's more like proper poetry. She even uses line breaks this time. Some of that's good. At times maybe we lose a little of her distinctiveness but then again some of her 'this is how the world is', rhyming streams of consciousness stuff doesn't work as well on the page as it does in highly emotive live performance. "You've only yourself to blame when someone half as talented as you ends up achieving twice as much" is one piece of didactism which doesn't sit too comfortably with me. The gatekeepers have certainly welcomed her but then again she is five times as good as most of the Kate Tempest lookalikes pulling their tee-shirts and screaming out bad platitudes meant to be grand truths at poetry nights all across the country.

Springfield Road by Salena Godden

Long awaited childhood memoir, the result of many years of struggle - both internally and with fickle publishers. It is a brilliant book. She recreates the 70s and 80s of her East Midlands childhood, growing up with a single Jamaican mum as a mixed race girl in a white area., the family trying to come to terms with the disappearance of her dad. Issues are there but it's not an 'issue book', there are some achingly sad moments but it's not a 'misery memoir'. Its brilliance comes from the way she gets into the world of children and to recreate in detail what it is to be a child, her ability to empathise so perfectly with children in contrast with those adults in her life who (like her stepdad) clearly cannot. Memory, you realise, is an act of imagination. We recreate a plausible fiction from what we know of the characters and events, the test of its truth not being a measure against some absolute reality but the consistency and plausibility of what we describe. Her cuts between scenes keep the book moving, the decade she describes and the experiences of her childhood a common experience but one much under-represented in literature. Get it!

 

Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures by Mark Fisher

Capitalist Realism was to my mind, the best political book written by a British person so far this decade. It was one of those that said all the things you had been thinking but hadn't managed to find the words for. Ghosts of My Life is a different kind of book. It's a collection of his blogposts and essays, a lot of it about music and TV that I don't know. Although he is very good at music journalism, I always find that stuff hard-going: reading descriptions of the sounds of tracks I don't really know. I leant it to my muso mate and he loved it. However, the central idea is an interesting one: he is not nostalgic for the 70s and 80s, he is nostalgic for the imagined futures that people were seriously hoping for in the 70s and 80s - the dream of a better world that got lost as the world didn't really get any better and popular culture got less and less interesting.

 

Kit Caless, Influx Editor

Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla.

A very funny novel about social media, writing and family. Now famous for sending a Tayyabs lambchop into space.

 

The Way Inn - Will Wiles.

A wry, insightful and surreal look at the world of mid-budget hotel chains. I've not looked at a hotel the same way since reading it.

 

Sapiens: A brief history of mankind - Yuval Noah Harari.

A page turning anthropology book. Who'd have thought it?

 

Darkmans - Nicola Barker.

I know it came out in 2007 but I read it this year. An astonishing book. A crackling energy charges page and its brilliant characters.

 

Eat Your Heart Out by Zoe Pilger

I recommended this for Summer Reads. And it's definitely one of my favourite books of this year. Very, very funny.

 

PUSH Anthology

Collection of the best stories and poetry from PUSH magazine. Writing that's as raw and upfront as possible. Featuring Adelle Stripe, Ford Dagenham, Melissa Mann, Michael Keenaghan and an introduction from John King

 

Linda Mannheim (author of Above Sugar Hill)

Go Well, Stay Well, by Hannah StantonOne of my favourite books in 2014 was published over 50 years ago. Picked up in a second hand bookstore some time back, this memoir about South Africa during the 1960 State of Emergency  revealed things about that time and place that I have not seen anywhere else, and believe me – I’ve gone swimming in an archive of writing about the period.  Stanton writes from the perspective of an insider/outsider  -- passionately and without illusion, and never taking herself too seriously.

 

Handbook for an Unpredictable Life by Rosie Perez was a revelation. Yes, that Rosie Perez – star of thegame changing Do the Right Thing and early ‘90s Hip Hop choreographer. I kept waiting for the usual disingenuousness that laces through celebrity memoirs to appear, but in this book, there was none. Perez’s voice is as distinctive on the page as it is in the cinema, and here she writes about her childhood in a Catholic children’s home and unexpected success in Hollywood with brutal honesty and buoyant humour.

 

Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem

Despite having grown up in the United States, I don’t often recognise the territory described in novels that are supposed to be about America, but I know the place that Jonathan Lethem is writing about in Dissident Gardens. It’s my home turf.  Lethem’s story about three generations of New York Communists was so familiar to me that I was almost spooked. And, unlike many of those books that are supposed to be about America, there is no author’s ego hovering in each scene. There’s instead a chaotic, playful, and magical narrative and revisiting the streets that I knew through it shook me up, left me moved.

 

Gary Budden, Influx Editor

The Dig by Cynan Jones

This was my knockout novel of 2014. Short, to the point, like a kind of condensed fusion of the best work of Niall Griffiths and those tight-lipped masculine American writers (yes, such as Cormac McCarthy). Rural fiction with not a drop of sentimentality, addressing head on the grisly issue of badger baiting in west Wales. I liked this so much I immediately went and read and Cynan Jones’ other three novels. Highly recommended.

 

The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

First novel from activist Paul Kingsnorth, The Wake is a timely reminder of the bloody roots of the current system of land ownership in Britain, charting the fates of a bunch of ‘grene men’ Anglo-Saxon guerrillas fighting the Normans post-1066. Written in an Old English ‘shadow tongue’ this really is something special.

 

Beastings by Ben Myers

Another novel that takes tropes and possibly also its style from those aforementioned US writers, but transforming into something utterly British, timeless and also quite unpleasant. At times I had images of Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter wandering through the Lake District. Another brilliant addition to a growing canon of what I’d call ‘anti-pastoral’ writing. I then went and read Myers’ 2012 novel, Pig Iron, which was also really quite good.(Also Ben Myers turned me on to the joys of English landscape death-metal and we must commend him for that at the very least.)

 

Vulgar Things by Lee Rourke

A Guardian review said this novel was repetitive, claustrophobic, and ‘too aimless to inspire’. That, of course, was the point. Dr. Feelgood, Southend, Canvey Island, quite a lot of alcohol and a disturbing look at the male gaze, Vulgar Things brilliantly captures the strange atmosphere of the Thames estuary. A breath of fresh air, and inspirational in terms of what you can do with a modern British novel.

 

Gorse Journal

I really recommend, if you don’t know about it already, Gorse Journal from Dublin. Edited by Susan Tomaselli, the essays alone in the current issue (#2) are worth the price of entry. Favourites were pieces by Claire-Louise Bennett, Simon Reynolds (‘This Was Tomorrow’ is a very powerful piece looking hard at our current obsession with the past, and how our dreams of a future have died), and best of all, Brian Dillon (mainly because he was discussing Canterbury and Powell & Pressburger). In addition to this, it’s a real thing of beauty on your bookshelf that makes you look clever. Check them out: www.gorse.ie

 

Feral by George Monbiot

I read an article criticising Monbiot’s talk of invasive and ‘non-native’ species upsetting ecosystems in Britain, somehow comparing basic science with views akin to supporting the EDL and hating immigrants. Animals, of course, are not people, and thinking Japanese knotweed is a problem is not the same as voting for UKIP.This book is a passionate and eloquent call for the process of ‘rewilding’ to begin; not an attempt go back to some mythical pristine wilderness, but to give nature a bit of a nudge up and then let it get on with things. To put a little bit more diversity and enchantment back in the world before it’s all too late. The first book to give me any sense of hope for the future in a long time.

 

Stories from The Weird

The backbreaking anthology, The Weird (edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer), is something I have the feeling I’ll be dipping into for the rest of my life. At over 750,000 words, I doubt I’ll ever ‘finish’ it.Inside is an entire novella by the Finnish writer Leena Krohn. That novella is called Tainaron: Mail From Another City and is, in all senses of the word, fantastic. Conjuring up echoes of writers such as Calvino, Borges and Bruno Schulz, the novella is presented as a series of letters from the narrator to an unknown recipient, charting her times spent in the titular city, a place that shifts geographically and appears to be inhabited by giant sentient insects with fluid identities. Essential stuff.

 

Another stand out short-story was A Redress for Andromeda  by Caitlin R. Kiernan, horrifying, mind-bending and guaranteed to give you nightmares about marine biology and anything will gills or a carapace.Apiece of weird fiction about bird-watching is in many ways a dream come true for me, so discovering The Hide by Liz Williams was a real joy. An unclassifiable and eerie story, reminiscent at times of some of M John Harrison’s short fiction, it mixes the banality of British bird-watching with intimations of some ancient pre-Christian force in the landscape expertly, and like all the best weird fiction, doesn’t really explain what happened.

 

Finally, reading Kathe Koja’s Angels in Love made me feel quite ill and upset, therefore was a resounding success, so I went and bought her collection Extremities, and you should too.

Poem of the Month: November


Each month Influx Press is featuring a contemporary poet you might not know but definitely should.

Fist
by Hannah Lowe

When my brother put his fist through a window
on New Year’s Eve, no one noticed until a cold draft
cooled our bodies dancing. There was rainbow light
from a disco ball, silver tinsel round the pictures.
My brother held his arm out to us, palm
upturned, a foot high spray of blood.
This was Ilford, Essex, 1993, nearly midnight,
us all smashed on booze and Ecstasy and Danny,
6 foot 5, folding at the knee, a shiny fin of glass
wedged in his wrist. We walked him to
the kitchen, the good arm slung on someone’s neck,
Gary shouting Danny, Darren phoning for
an ambulance, the blood was everywhere. I pressed
a towel across the wound, around
the glass and led him by the hand into the
garden, he stumbled down into the snow,
slurring leave it out and I’m ok A girl was crying in
the doorway, the music carried on, the bass line
thumping as we stood around my brother, Gary talking
gently saying easy fella, Darren draining Stella in one
hand and in the other, holding up my brother’s arm,
wet and red, the veins stood out like branches. I thought
that he was dying, out there in the snow and I
got down, I knelt there on the ice
and held my brother, who I never touched, and never told
I loved, and even then I couldn’t say it
so I listened to the incantation easy fella
and my brother’s breathing,
felt him rolling forward, all that weight, Darren
throwing down his can and yelling Danny, don’t you dare
and shaking him. My brother’s face was grey,
his lips were loose and pale and I
was praying. Somewhere in the street, there was
a siren, there was a girl inside who blamed
herself, there were men with blankets
and a tourniquet, they stopped my brother bleeding,
as the New Year turned, they saved him,
the snow was falling hard, they saved us all.

Next generation poet Hannah Lowe was born in Ilford to an English mother and Jamaican-Chinese father and currently lives in London. This poem was published in her first book-length collection Chick (Bloodaxe Books, 2013), which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for Poetry 2014. Her published work includes The Hitcher (Rialto, 2011), R x (sine wave peak, 2013) and Ormonde (Hercules Editions, 2014). Her family memoir Long Time, No See will be published by Periscope Press in April 2015. She has a website here: http://hannahlowe.org/

Here is Hannah performing this poem and others at the opening ceremony of Norwich Showcase ’12.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80DAj18Z_DA#t=13[/youtube]

Poem of the Month: September


Each month Influx Press is featuring a contemporary poet you might not know but definitely should.

Disaster Outdoors
by Andrew Spragg

you are a beast today
nervous visits and on
the bench, or rather a log
talking in the light
over there are standing stones
made of concrete
and tucked into the recess of that
log is an empty foreign export bottle

becoming fascinated the park erupts
across a spectrum of cricket songs
and out in the wild flowers

insist that you can’t
work here reconsider our position
we didn’t buy it

Andrew Spragg is a poet and critic. He was born in London and lives there presently. This poem was published in A Treatise on Disaster (Contraband Books, 2013). His books include The Fleetingest (Red Ceiling Press, 2011), Notes for Fatty Cakes (Anything Anymore Anywhere, 2011), cut out (Dept Press, 2012), To Blart & Kid (Like This Press, 2013), A Treatise on Disaster (Contraband Books, 2013) and OBJECTS (Red Ceiling Press, 2014). His writing was also included in Dear World & Everyone In It: New Poetry in the UK (Bloodaxe, 2013). He writes reviews for The Quietus and Bonafide magazine. He has a blog: sectorhabits.tumblr.com

The Anti-Canon: The Meeting of Failures - by Fernando Sdrigotti

 

Situationism meets Facebook – the 1960s Left Bank meets Dalston. These are the first things that come to my mind when I start thinking about The Meeting of Failures, attributed to Francis, member of a collective by the name of Everyone Agrees. I bumped into it by chance, after reading Michèle Bernstein’s The Night. (Bernstein, in case you don’t know her, is one of the founding members of the Situationist International; she was also Guy Debord’s first wife. This relationship would feed directly into her work as a writer, particularly into her novels All The King’s Horses and The Night.) Everyone Agrees contributed to the first English version of The Night (2013), and after this collaboration it is hardly surprising that their book is deeply influenced by Situationism, rehashing many of its clichés, from derivé to aborted revolution. I don’t mean this in a pejorative way, for in the age of solipsistic psychogeographic literature a la Sinclair any quirky re-appropriation of Situationist tropes is nothing short of a blessing.

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The Anti-Canon: Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven and 'The principle of non-acquiescence' by Kyra Hanson

 

The first time I heard about the Baroness was through an online course in Modern American poetry. She was introduced as having once advised American Imagist poet William Carlos Williams that if he were to contract syphilis from her he could then free his mind for serious art. She loved Marcel Duchamp, terrified William Carlos Williams and was praised by Ezra Pound for her ‘principle of non-acquiescence’. Duchamp even proclaimed that she ‘is not a Futurist, she is the future’. Her antibourgeois, anti-establishment and anti-hierarchical stance make her an undervalued precursor to the feminist punk movement of the 1990s and even conceptualist pop artist Lada Gaga. So what happened to this German poet, sculptor and model who was once the epitome of American Dada? Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven died in poverty in Paris in 1927. Like numerous other female artists, she was shunned as eccentric and mad in her own time and rejected from the overwhelmingly male literary canon of Modernism. Yet it is precisely her confrontational style and ‘linguistic fearlessness’ which deem her extremely worthy of attention.

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Poem of the Month: August


Each month Influx Press is featuring a contemporary poet you might not know but definitely should.

Congelatine
by Jennifer Cooke

here’s space punctured by skin where the linear races off tragic stories of a wanted self in Tescos noting codes or best befores the tracks there, meat running, soft pads ludicrous in aisles narrowed for hunting down sacheted emotions-for-one this id falls in the gap between civic art meets the drunk and both have something to say, yes, to each other, yes, this is

a fluted moment in precincts flickering of betrayals we sing wraps away me again shrinking and, breathe the cheese shop sign, breathe there’s Boots, oh, gains harden into paved passages duffed up and strangers are sudden and right fearful in the out placebos branded in blood-pumping force sidelooks of dislike reflecting me in many mannequined glasses

quick, there’s an apophatic quiz at the Brush Social Club a meat raffle for women who don’t own a thing from Ikea inching the animals out of market with cellophane-tightened muzzles while I is dreaming of spring onions growing from my scalp in a warehouse of chilled fruit there are busy plasma screens waxy-faced little slogans peep from boxes abroad, smuglike

empty they line canals awaiting youth and the dead fish so I say to the Booby Nymph “I think you should see someone, it might help” but I know he knows it’s no good because he just fell into the first sludge that caught his eye, camp stool and all. I can’t save him from his high street standards, I can’t love the animals because a tiger’s only perfect on TV, which it takes 369 months to yearn

with pretty hooves in your neon dessert eat more and wonder on jelly’s fat content, the least of its problems I’ve heard the singing is worsening in what looks outside every town like Asda but is more like footprints or stains. Closing down the shopped dreams and emptying the pubs not by force, oh no, by a boredom akin to waiting for a catch a pull a tug a faint sign of a

Jennifer Cooke is a senior lecturer in English at Loughborough University.
This poem was published in her first collection
Not Suitable For Domestic Sublimation (London 2012) from Contraband Press.