Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Recreation Ground the book on Amazon and so on

Although it isn't officially published until October, Recreation Ground the book - published by Two Rivers Press - is now available for pre-order from Amazon. That said, of course, orders direct to Two Rivers and purchases from your humble correspondent would be a more than welcome alternative once it has been published. Opportunities to do just that should occur in Bristol and Reading (UK) in September, Prague (Czech Republic) in October and Bristol again (UK) in November. Ongoing comments, tasters and the like are on the book's Facebook page here.

Monday, 9 July 2012

'Samuel Mapping The Dead': The Future Cemetery at Arnos Vale, Bristol

'Samuel Mapping The Dead' is a short piece of theatre I was commissioned to write for The Future Cemetery project at Bristol's Arnos Vale Cemetery - a project to explore ways of bringing heritage to life using performance and technology in various combinations. Four pieces were given a 'test drive' at the cemetery on 30 June: here's film of my contribution as performed by Doug and Alex of Invisible Circus (in between rain showers) that afternoon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmC87fcYgqE

Friday, 6 July 2012

Vermosh, Albania

Some YouTube excursions from where we will be in three weeks' time with the Balkans Peace Park Project ...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfZrHfO2608 Sorry about the completely inappropriate soundtrack.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H36xl_zSvIY&feature=related A social gathering followed by footage from the road into the valley - ulp.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N6kLkUmzz0&feature=related The Miss Bjeshka competition in Vermosh in 2010.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3iZVmgtIHg&feature=related And now the region in a kind of MTV-friendly format - for some reason this song reminds me of Public Image Limited.

Books again for a change

The Country Where No One Ever Dies Presented as a novel, Albanian writer Ornela Vorpsi's slim tome is probably best described as a collection of short stories. From chapter to chapter, the identity of the narrator seems to shift, while the precise setting of each episode often remains unclear. As a result, it has an uncertain fabulous atmosphere familiar from some of Ismail Kadare's work: each narrative might be archetypal, might be hearsay. A bitingly unsentimental portrait of both communist Albania and traditional patriarchy, it's also a bitter lament for a lost home.

Rules of the Road Mike Manson's hippy road-trip novel set in the Balkans - good fun, with lots of well-turned jokes, mostly at the expense of dim-witted Westerners (which makes a change). One of the few works of fiction (in English) to mention the Han i Hotit border crossing post in northern Albania.

Women Who Become Men Hugely readable anthropological study of the 'sworn virgins' of northern Albania by Antonia Young. I should probably have read this about six years ago.

Slow Winter Alex Hickman pretends to be a 'war correspondent' in Sarajevo before travelling to Albania to organise an international business conference just as Albania's about to plunge into the notorious 'pyramid lending scheme' disaster. He must have been there around the same time as Robert Carver (of The Accursed Mountains), but while he's not averse to the odd Albanianist comment, Hickman does at least give the place and, more importantly, its population the benefit of the doubt.

The Tao of Travel Paul Theroux makes a concerted effort to become the voice of contemporary travel writing with what is, against all expectations, quite an entertaining compendium - although, to be honest, his wants-to-have-his-cake-and-eat-it stance that travel writing doesn't have ethical consequences (in its portrayal of 'others') but is also key to our understanding of the world and ourselves does start to grate after a while. Come on, Theroux, is it a worthwhile genre or not, eh? This kind of dithering is possibly why I can't watch his son Louis's equally want-it-can't-have-it documentaries on TV.