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Jock 'em if they cannae tak a fek! - click opera
February 2010
 
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Mon, Aug. 17th, 2009 07:00 pm
Jock 'em if they cannae tak a fek!

Pat Kane -- author of The Play Ethic and one half of Hue and Cry -- has just published a 2300-word appraisal of The Book of Scotlands and The Book of Jokes in The Scottish Review of Books. Their version isn't online, but Pat's put the piece on his Play Ethic blog too -- here it is, with the witty title Jock 'em if they can't take a fuck.

Kane -- a parent of young children -- distances himself from the "too-playful" provocation of the novel:

"The Book of Jokes - an unrelentingly taboo-busting Joycean rollercoaster of a short novel - could easily be sucked into the kind of media vortex of fear and loathing that currently swirls around Lars Von Trier's Antichrist," he writes. "It’s the kind of genuinely disruptive fiction that's only been attempted a few times in the twentieth century, and for that – as my queasiness and occasional disgust can testify – we can be thankful. The Book of Scotlands is an altogether less alarming, more usable volume of Borges-style "fictions" about the possible Scotlands that might inform a nation heading towards independence. Though I doubt whether the Government will be looking to Momus's habitual surrealism for any substantive policy advice."

I particularly like the bits where Kane slots me into a Scottish literary context including several heroes of mine:

"But like Alasdair Gray and the masochistic and misogynist fantasies that suffuse his writing, or Ian Hamilton Finlay and his veneration of the murderous Saint-Just in Little Sparta, you have to grapple with the dark, all-too-playful side of Momus's creativity."

"If he were spun back into life from a scrap of DNA, Hugh Macdiarmid might well be thumping Momus with the same insult – "cosmopolitan scum" – that he landed on a kindred psychonaut, Alexander Trocchi, in the sixties."

"Nothing is not possible in Momus's Scotland (or as Edwin Morgan might say, there's nothing not giving messages)."

"Currie, knowingly or not, is joining a welcome recent trend towards speculative Scottish fiction (only developing, of course, what Morgan and Gray had self-consciously begun), in which we can count Andrew Crumey's Sputnik Caledonia, John Aberdein's Strip The Willow, Ken McLeod's The Night Sessions – and of course, the transhuman comic fictions of Mark Miller and Grant Morrison."

The answer to that "knowingly or not" is, mostly, not. Which is why it's great to have such an incisive and referential review, probably the most morally rigorous I'll get.

18CommentReplyShare


(Anonymous)
Mon, Aug. 17th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)

Ah, get your mates to review your books, nice! That's one literary convention you won't be busting, then.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Aug. 17th, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC)

Pat Kane was my editor at one point back in the 90s, commissioning reviews in the Glasgow Herald. I think I've only met him twice in real life, though -- does that count as a "mate"?


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Aug. 17th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)

Being declared "all-too-playful" by Pat Kane is a bit like being declared "all-too-communist" by Karl Marx or "all-too-Catholic" by the Pope!


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Aug. 17th, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC)

Hi, Nick. I will be interested to hear if the more transgressive novel will sell better than the less alarming "Book of Scotlands". Any news from the publisher on how how they are doing?

Richard


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Aug. 17th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)

Caroline from Sternberg told me on Saturday night that The Book of Scotlands was selling "well", but I didn't ask for any specific sales figures. The Book of Jokes isn't out yet: it's due on September 15th in English, and early 2010 in French and German (La Volte and Blumenbar, respectively).


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Aug. 17th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)

interesting how his adjectives for you mirror some of the ones I jot down occasionally when contemplating momus: mandarin, uncompromising, talent (aptness, facility), challengingly brilliant (I had relentlessly intelligent), impressive, guiding spirit (virgilian, socratic), exilic (expat), playful... I also think that there is another quality -- the sweet, shy side of the gifted child that you often repress and others miss but I find equally charming.


this review is one for the scrapbook momus -- well done, and well deserved :)


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Aug. 17th, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
Bloomsbury reprezent...

Wow. Just, wow. Congratulations, Nick... x


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Aug. 17th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
review

Measure it by inches!


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Aug. 17th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)

I doubt I will ever read them, but well done. I'd rather have a collection of songs myself. You and Pat Kane seem like an unlikely pairing given his musical output was rather white soul boy got lucky for a brief moment in time. Not a musical area you ventured into as far as I'm aware.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Aug. 17th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC)

Oh, I dunno!

Pat belts 'em better, though.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Aug. 17th, 2009 11:48 pm (UTC)
hmmmmm kane!

ive read the "play ethic" and went to his extract reading at borders book shop glasgow.he is full of self important mince.he try's to be intellectual.everything he writes screams bourgeois pseud.
i know the maxim goes birds of a feather etc but your good momus.
its great to read good reviews (i am a fellow artist) but careful.remember where it got ed ball in the brilliant "man of letters" doc/movie. flattery can corrode both flatterer and flattered.

ps your books great by the way.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Aug. 17th, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC)
Re: hmmmmm kane!

flattery can corrode both flatterer and flattered. ps your books great by the way.

I love how you delivered that without the tiniest hint of irony! Can you feel us both... corroding... now...


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milky_eyes
milky_eyes
milky_eyes
Tue, Aug. 18th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)
Re: hmmmmm kane!

congrats!!!

I have become quite curious as well... I'll pick up a copy. I tend to enjoy twisted surreal tales...

taken from the review...
'he's one of the most challengingly brilliant Scottish minds of the last twenty years.'

Thats almost a diss... from Scotland in the last 20 years? how many people are in that pool of possible candidates????

I'm sure you're more important then that... come on now...

========
Do you know of Peter sotos?
ah, nothing similar perhaps... but he deals w taboos in the extreme sense, and also, which I find most interesting is his structuring of the text (He is perhaps an example of uneven genius)...
One of his books he has a couple of blank pages in the middle of the book... meant for space/time to contemplate... which I found to be quite remarkable.



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(Anonymous)
Tue, Aug. 18th, 2009 07:25 am (UTC)

BOOK OV JOKES


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Aug. 19th, 2009 11:00 am (UTC)

It occurs to me that the "negation of the negation" idea that Pat Kane borrows from Paolo Virno is a very common justification for art considered morally nihilistic: the artist's freedom to say the socially unsayable or irresponsible can be converted into a humanist value in itself, even when what the artist is actually saying cannot. Pat Kane cites the Chapman Brothers, and it's interesting to note that they explicitly resist, in interviews, precisely this attempt to turn their anti-humanist messages into humanist ones. This strategy is, itself, a negation of their negation.


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shiftwork
shiftwork
Wed, Aug. 19th, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)

Do you know how easy it is to get a hold of your book in Glasgow? If so, where?

It sounds from the Kane review that there might be echoes of 1982, Janine. Do you see any of this yourself?

Thanks for an interesting blog too!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Aug. 19th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC)

I doubt it's in any Glasgow shops, but you can order it online via Amazon.de.

I think Alasdair Gray's books (including 1982, Janine) have influenced me quite a bit. I met Gray in Aberdeen at about the time 1982, Janine came out.


ReplyThread Parent
craig_pulsar
craig_pulsar
craig_pulsar
Fri, Aug. 21st, 2009 01:17 pm (UTC)

I went to order Book of Scotlands on amazon.de but don't have a credit card. I will have to wait until it is available on amazon.co.uk.


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