A shit argument for Brexit

Featured Image -- 6112I’ve only just catching up with Giles Fraser’s reactionary warm-beer-and-cricket bexiteering spiel, though I gather that there’s been lots of twitting about it for days. So here’s an excellent counter-spiel from a blog called Wee Ginger Dug – with links to the original – tellingly titled A shit argument for Brexit. I imagine that Mr Fraser’s folly has already been a big generator of bottom-oriented puns.

The blogger’s titular ginger dog is as good as any an illustration for this article!

“Essentially, Giles’ argument about why ending freedom of movement is a good thing boils down to this. When you’re old and incontinent, it means that your kids can wipe your arse for you instead of some social services worker from the EU, and that’s great for family cohesion. We can all bond as a family over soiled toilet paper.
It’s telling that Giles in his piece felt it was the role of a daughter to wipe her father’s arse.”

Wee Ginger Dug

I wrote a blog article last night which was published in the wee smaa hours. Then this afternoon I published the weekly dugcast. So I had reckoned I’d done enough for one day to keep readers of this blog amused. But then I came across Giles Fraser’s apologia for Brexit and ending freedom of movement on the digital site Unherd, and now I’m fuming.

https://unherd.com/2019/02/why-wont-remainers-talk-about-family/

I’ve not been this angry since Magrit Curran was my MP. First off, a word of caution. Please don’t read on while eating. This blog deals with some unpleasant realities about the human body.

Essentially, Giles’ argument about why ending freedom of movement is a good thing boils down to this. When you’re old and incontinent, it means that your kids can wipe your arse for you instead of some social services worker from the EU, and that’s great for family cohesion. We can all…

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Shoutout for Helen’s Story from Rebecca Baumann

rebecca-baumannEveryone… listen to this podcast from Abebooks!

It originally came out in November 2018 but I was revisiting it yesterday. Because… Well, because listening to people say nice things about your book is just the thing you do on a Sunday afternoon to put off a long-delayed visit to the gym.

The podcast features librarian and rare books collector Rebecca Baumann, who shares her love for classic weird fiction. She also discusses contemporary writers who are inspired by the tradition, yet write against the sexism and racism found in the old texts.

She makes the point that the best critiques of classic fiction appear in other fictional works rather than formal literary criticism. And… ahem… this includes a big shoutout for my novella Helen’s Story, which she describes as “amazing”. And what’s more, I find myself inhabiting the same paragraph as Victor LaValle and his deconstruction of HP Lovecraft. That’s amazing too.

On the podcast page there’s a list of books discussed in the interview, which includes some from ‘lost’ women writers of strange fiction. This has opened some new reading territory. I’ve never heard of Rachel Ingalls, a US-born writer living in London, but found out about her here. I definitely want to check out her novella Mrs Caliban. In the podcast it’s compared favourably with the award-winning Guillermo del Toro film The Shape of Water. 

So this podcast not only bigged up my own book but pointed me in the direction of a few others. Highly recommended.

Resonance & Revolt listed among year’s best in Vector – plus Kindle edition and two more reviews

devan 2In a great start to a recent weekend, I discovered that writer and critic Dev Agarwal has listed Resonance & Revolt among his year’s best in Vector. Never mind the croissants – this was the ultimate treat with my Saturday morning coffee. Dev writes:

“These stories span historical European settings, contemporary Britain and the near future. The collection is thematically linked around the concepts of resistance and Lynda Rucker discusses in her introduction how Rabinowitz’s evocative prose gifts the reader with a sense of the history and also a present that feels layered by the lives of those now past.”

Thanks, Dev.

And now in further R&R news, the Kindle edition of Resonance & Revolt is now live. Since 2010 I’ve been an avid Kindle user. Yes, I enjoy paper books and will always keep a lot of them on hand. I still buy them for special occasions or when I’m looking at a book with beautiful graphics. However, I love being able to transport an entire library with me. It’s especially useful when I have a few anthologies and collections on the go. I always appreciate the opportunity to try out new writers with an inexpensive click, so I’m very pleased to make my book accessible this way and available at £2.99.

I am also pleased to report two more reviews since the last R&R Review RoundupOne was part of a roundup by David V Barrett in Fortean Times (374). He writes that “revolutionary religion and politics, music and art wind in and out of these fascinating stories”. This review isn’t available online but I’ve posted a screenshot below. It includes a piece of the next review, which looks at Christopher Priest’s book An American Story. I did this partly for the sake of symmetry and also because I’m happy with the company.

 

This is followed by a review from Seregil of Rhiminee at Rising Shadow. He writes:
“It’s a must-read collection for everybody who loves literary and intelligent speculative fiction, because it’s different, captivating and thought-provoking. I was deeply impressed by this collection and found it utterly compelling. It’s an intriguing re-imagining of what the world could be like, but it’s also much more than that, because there are many layers in it. Reading it is like pealing an onion and seeing what lies behind each layer. Whether the revelations are beautiful, challenging or strange, they’re always captivating and intriguing, because time and history are wonderfully intertwined in the stories. There’s also insightful wittiness in the stories that adds fascination to them.”
This review had been published in December 2018. It was just the thing to read and reread slowly as the mid-winter darkness rolled in. 🙂

The Golden Hour in Best British Horror – and two real-time reviews for Uncertainties III

20180924_184825I’m pleased to announce that The Golden Hour, originally published in Uncertainties III, has been selected by Johnny Mains for the 2019 edition of Best British Horror. Though I had honourable mentions from Ellen Datlow in 2016 for The Lady in the Yard and Meat, Motion and Light, this will be my first appearance in a ‘best of the year’ anthology. As with any reprint, it is lovely to know that not only one – but two – editors liked a story enough to publish it.

Here’s  the table of contents. I’m thrilled to find myself among such a distinguished and exciting bunch of writers.

CAVE VENUS ET STELLA – Anna Vaught
WORMCASTS – Thana Niveau
THEY TELL ME – Carly Holmes
DISAGREEABLY HITCHED – Gary Fry
PACK YOUR COAT – Aliya Whiteley
VOICES IN THE NIGHT – Lisa Tuttle
THE FULLNESS OF HER BELLY – Cate Gardner
MAW – Priya Sharma
TEUFELSBERG – Madhvi Ramani
THE OTHER TIGER – Helen Marshall
SENTINEL – Catriona Ward
THE WORM – Samantha Lee
THE ADJOINING ROOM – AK Benedict
THE GOLDEN HOUR – Rosanne Rabinowitz
THE PERFECT DAY TO BE AT SEA – Kayleigh Marie Edwards
THE HARDER IT GETS THE SOFTER WE SING – Steven Dines
THE DEMON L – Carly Holmes
BY SEVERN’S FLOOD – Jane Jakeman
FISH HOOKS – Kit Power
OLD TRASH – Jenn Ashworth
BOBBO – Robert Shearman

I thank Johnny Mains for selecting my story and I also thank Lynda E. Rucker, who edited Uncertainties III. The Golden Hour is one of three stories selected from this anthology; the other two are Bobbo by Robert Shearman and Voices in the Night by Lisa Tuttle.

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And while I’m talking Golden Hour, I’ll also post two ‘real-time’ reviews of Uncertainties III. One comes from Des Lewis, which I somehow missed when it was in progress over September and October 2018. The other appeared in Supernatural Tales, which ran a review over several weeks.

Des writes that the anthology is “crammed with unforgettable observations of our imaginarium, our past country that is LP Hartley’s as well as a future rapture when the present is finally transcended.” He concludes a rundown of all the stories with comments about my own contribution. I particularly appreciate the way Des put the story in context with my other work and its recurring locations.

“An effulgent work amid this by-line’s characteristic stamping-ground of 20th interfaced with 21st century inner South London. Working people in interface with rapture and haunting, to try shake off the thrall others have put on them… As a photographer myself in recent years, I cherished the description of this art herein. And the whole ambiance of this equally free-flowing text positively subsumed any of my negativity today.”

David Longhorn’s review of this “nifty new anthology” in Supernatural Tales starts on 27 October 2018: “Uncertainties means just that – the moments when we are unsure if we have glimpsed a ‘little slip of the veil’, exposing us to something that may be supernatural, or at least unknown.” He goes on to review each story and concludes with a look at The Golden Hour.

“The story is strange, and rather wonderful, but it is rooted in the sheer oddness of friendship – how people come together, how they drift apart. Friendship is more mysterious than love, in some respects, and the author explores this mystery while conjuring up a London as numinous as anything in Machen.”

These are the kind of reviews I need to reread if I get downhearted. Thanks very much, David and Des.

 

Shock Against Racism in Brighton – a great evening of readings

Here’s an account from Tom Johnstone of last week’s Shock Against Racism event in Brighton. This includes a perceptive discussion of the themes in the stories that we read, which finds connections that I hadn’t been aware of at the time. And I’m rather flattered at his description of my story Survivor’s Guilt as “something of a twenty-first century anti-fascist horror classic”. Thanks!

Like Tom I was pleased to have the opportunity to hear Victoria Leslie’s story “Almost Aureate” that recently appeared in New Fears 2, a book I definitely plan to buy (once I get my lost Kindle back).

I’ll also add that I was intrigued with Tom’s extract from his yet-unpublished story “The Topsy Turvy Ones” set during the radical ferment in 1649 – and 350 years later when Pinochet, ex-dictator and great friend of Thatcher, is awaiting extradition in Surrey while ‘The Land is Ours’ squatters commemorate the anniversary of Winstanley’s Digger commune. If you like your horror historical (with present-day political resonances), this is one to look out for.

And look out also for future Shock Against Horror events!

By the way, this is my first attempt at reblogging… The result doesn’t include all the graphics in the original post so I’ll put one of them here: The World Turned Upside Down.

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tomjohnstone

On the 25th November, I participated in an event that was one of the launching points for a new initiative in the world of horror literature: Shock Against Racism.The recent surge in racism and fascism, whose most obvious global manifestation is the emergence of Donald Trump as US president, has long been a source of anxiety to many of us in the horror community, as in other sectors of society. Some of us have started a group called Shock Against Racism, as a kind of cultural arm of the fight against this phenomenon, because after all the Far Right fights in this arena: the so-called ‘culture wars’.

The group has already held two evenings of dark fiction, with readings from some of the finest talents in the genre. The first was at Write Blend in Liverpool on November 23rd, with Simon Bestwick, Cate Gardner, Priya Sharma and Ramsey Campbell, in…

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R&R review roundup

After that first wonderful review from Des Lewis in May, there was a vast silence of several months on the Resonance & Revolt review front. To be honest, it had me worried.

But eventually the reviews began to appear, starting with a couple on Amazon and GoodReads.  Clare Bonetree wrote: “Rabinowitz has an incredible imagination, but a really down to earth style… Totally recommending this to speculative fiction fans, and anyone who wants to live in a different, more creative world.”

A certain Steve describes “radical and mysterious journeys” and “stories from London, in the recent past and near future, from medieval and contemporary Europe and from a century or so of America. Music, pictures, sounds, and acts of rebellion resonate across time”.

And just before I packed my bags for Fantasycon I came across this post on Peter Coleborn‘s blog.  Peter brought up the same dipping vs devouring question that I mentioned in relation to Uncertainties III. And so it seems that R&R is one for dipping. Perhaps that’s why it took a  while for the reviews to appear, what with all the dipping and sipping going on! 🙂

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“Rabinowitz is a wonderful stylist who writes compassionately about characters you want to care about. She writes from the heart… I suggest that you dip in and out of Resonance and Revolt and savour the tales along with a glass of wine (or coffee or tea or G&T; your choice, I’m not being prescriptive).”

I personally would recommend whisky myself to accompany an R&R reading session, but I wouldn’t want to be prescriptive either.

panNext up is the Pan Review. Like Deborah Walker in her Goodreads (and Amazon.co.uk) review, editor Mark Andresen singles out “Bells of the Harelle” as a favourite story:

“This collection’s finest, most satisfying tale, deserving of future anthologising. Served mainly by its narrative’s sense of urgency, the opening line alone pulls you in…”

Mark also mentions certain stories as ‘lesser tales’ that didn’t quite do it for him. I found this most interesting in light of my deliberations as I put the collection together. When I was reading through the stories I was thinking that a bunch of back-to-back novelette-length historical tales might be kind of… too much at once. So I concluded it’s best to have something short and snappy and lighter between them. I received some advice suggesting this as as well – and I wrote about the process in a guest post I contributed to the Milford SF blog.

Of course, I discovered again that everyone has their own preferences. Later, comments from Steven Andrew at the Morning Star reflected both on the larger themes and the smaller stories:

DrZ0P7BWkAEJRet“Rabinowitz eschews clumsy agitprop-style didactics and doesn’t offer easy answers. Given to open-ended responses, her interest is largely driven by wonder at people’s continued ability to love, think and rebel against capital, often in the most difficult and unlikely circumstances… Another strength is that Rabinowitz brings to her writing a deeply rooted sense of place and many of the passages are informed and affectionate celebrations of her now-native London.”

Along with ‘insurrectionary insights’ this reviewer also enjoyed the quieter and more personal elements of the stories:

“Lots of the radicals dip in and out of struggle, get drunk, fall into relationships and are often wracked with self-doubt, jaded librarian Richard in Pieces of Ourselves being a prime illustration… Often a quiet, gentle and comedic perspective ensures that not all the contributions are full of frenzied street fighting. The magical realism of Tasting the Clouds is kick-started by a chance tasting of Zapatista coffee and an all too familiar conversation about the merits or otherwise of ethical shopping.”

So I found it very enlightening to read through different reactions. All these stories received multiple critiques before they were first submitted and published but there’s nothing like an overview of a collection from a fresh eye. This is all part of a learning curve and offers food for thought as I plan my second collection.

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Later, Phil Smith wrote about my use of realism in writing the fantastical in his Mythogeography blog. That gave me a glow because I’ve always responded most to works that mingle the concrete and gritty with the strange and numinous. This applies to what I enjoy reading and the effects I try to achieve in my own work.

“There is nothing predictable in Rosanne Rabinowitz’s short story collection Resonance & Revolt. Rabinowitz’s writing is very precisely detailed, drawing realist worlds and then infiltrating them; there are only a few monsters here, but mostly everything is monstrous. The most effective of Rabinowitz’s stories are those in which the realist details are radically possessed by shifting energy: tiny patches of skin that become a double in ‘Pieces of Ourselves’, a naff landscape painting that won’t stay fixed in ‘Keep Them Rollin’, a scruffy cap that passes for a mask in ‘The Peak’, an old bloodsucker in ‘Survivor’s Guilt’ and the spirit of ‘The Pleasure Garden’.”

And in the most recent review, Jaine Fenn makes this observation about how the stories fit together and complement each other.

jaine_green_bkgnd“Overall these tales are vibrant and relevant, displaying exquisite writing, passionate characters and strong sense of place. Although each story stands alone, I took great pleasure in spotting the links – or should I say resonances – between them. They cover themes including quiet but persistent rebellion, love without borders and the malleable nature of time and space as revealed by physics or ritual.”

There are also a few words of thoughtful criticism in Jaine’s review that are appreciated just as much as the praise.

Peter Coleborn’s comments have made me think more about the dipping vs devouring approach to anthologies and collections. Is one better than the other? I imagine that a novelist’s first thought would be: ‘I want to keep the reader reading FFS’. On the other hand, one friend has said that a powerful collection for her usually lends itself to dipping – the best stories are so intense that she needs space between them to think and truly appreciate them.

I’d be interested to hear what other writers and readers think on this score. And I’d also like to thank all the reviewers for taking the time to read and write about Resonance & Revolt. If anyone else reading this post would like to review R&R then get in touch with Eibonvale Press, or you can contact me if that’s easier. Or feel free to scribble a line or stick up a rating at Goodreads or Amazon or any review site of your choice.

Last, I’ll mention that not all the reviews were strictly literary. Jason Whittle speaks well of the rugelach that accompanied my reading of “The Matter of Meroz” at Fantasycon; he described my first attempt at concocting the Jewish pastries (with almond, sour cherry and apricot fillings) as “delicious”. So thank you too, Jason.

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Shock against Racism

sar logoShock Against Racism is a network of horror and weird fiction writers, artists and readers taking a stand against racism and fascism. We aim to raise funds for groups that are combating the rise of nationalism, anti-semitism and white supremacist movements while enjoying fiction that confronts these issues.

The main Shock Against Racism Facebook page is here and you can also read thoughts on the founding of SAR from Simon Bestwick. Two Shock Against Racism events are planned for this year, which will also commemorate writer and activist Joel Lane on the fifth anniversary of his death, 25 November 2013. As Simon writes: “Joel was avowedly political and a committed anti-fascist: I can think of no better way to honour his memory.”

 

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The first event will take place at Write Blend, 124 South Road, Liverpool L22 0ND, 7.30pm on Friday 23 November, and will feature readings by Ramsey Campbell, Priya Sharma, Cate Gardner and Simon Bestwick. Tickets will be £3.00 on the door, and all proceeds will go to Hope Not Hate. The Facebook page for the Liverpool event is here.

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I’m proud to be taking part in the second event in Brighton, where I’ll join Tom Johnstone and VH Leslie in a reading at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton BN1 4JA at 7.30pm on Sunday 25 November. Tickets £3.00 on the door, with all proceeds donated to Brighton Antifascists.

I hope to read from “Survivor’s Guilt”, a story that appeared in the 2010 anthology that Joel edited with Allyson Bird: Never Again: Weird Fiction Against Racism and Fascism. It was through this book that I got to know Joel as a friend. He also showed himself to be a sharp editor when he caught a misplaced umlaut in the German word “räterepublik”.

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Speaking of which… “Survivor’s Guilt” also touches on another anniversary that took place this month – the German revolution of 1918. This was an uprising against war, hunger and the monarchy, which led to the overthrow of the Kaiser and the upsurge of workers and soldiers revolutionary councils. There were also councils of writers and artists, who worked and created with the idea that ‘art is bread’. If you’re interested in finding out more about this, check out this article about women in the German revolution, and have a look at this general reading list from the Libcom website.

grande_scarlet1Another possibility will be a reading from “All That is Solid”, a tale of anxiety, art therapy and Brexit that appeared in The Scarlet Soul, an anthology published by Swan River Press that has since sold out. The story starts with a stroll in Covent Garden in the summer of 2016, where young Gosia hears a bunch of lads singing: “Rule Britannia… Britannia rules the waves, first we get the Poles out then we get the gays”.

Tom and Victoria no doubt are hatching plans for their readings. I look forward to them. In the meantime, check out the Facebook page for the Brighton event. And keep an eye on this space for news about a London event in the New Year!