chart

Chart / October

October is definitely the best month for writing because I no longer feel guilty when I’m sitting inside as the sun is shining, and I’m not yet hopelessly depressed from day turning to night at 3:30 pm. In that spirit, I managed to write a third (I think….approximately) of my new manuscript. The good news is that I don’t utterly hate it every time I open it. Some days I actually want to work on it, which is a feeling I’ve been unfamiliar with up to now. Maybe the worm has turned. Maybe one day I’ll happily sit here for three hours each day spewing reams of text out onto Microsoft Word. Only joking.

By the Feet of Men has broken the 600-sales mark, good old plucky book that it is. I’ve effectively stopped promoting it now, because I’d rather do literally anything else, but I did have a few things going on for it in October. Over at Between the Lines, I wrote about how we should respond in the face of a crisis (hint: I’m talking about the climate one) and compare it to some of the characters in BTFOM. At Whispering Stories, the novel received an excellent review, with “vivid gritty descriptions and a liberal use of metaphors, similes and pathos to paint an earthy picture of life lived on the edge”. Meanwhile at The Big Smoke, Joseph Haegar offered a thoughtful, in-depth critique that summarised the book as “like walking into a room and catching a scent from a recently departed friend”, which sounds very literary.

In productive writing news, I had a piece of creative non-fiction titled ‘Rust in vrede’ published in the new journals Cleaning Up Glitter. It was quite a personal piece, so I was glad to see it placed so quickly.

And now for music to soundtrack the comings and goings of hooded human beings on rain-lacquered streets throughout November:

  1. DIIV - Skin Game

  2. Floating Points - Anasickmodular

  3. Teebs - Black Dove

  4. billy woods, Kenny Segal - A Day in a Week in a Year

  5. Little Simz - Pressure

  6. Lone - Glyphic

  7. Nick Cave - Night Raid

shadows in time

shadows in time

Chart / July

The big news this month: I finished the second draft of Mekong Lights before Heat Wave Number II turned me into a puddle. I now have that cast-adrift feeling that I get every time I finish a draft, like everything is possible but the energy required to boot up Word and turn a blank page into a new story is simply not there. It is, though; I’ll just have to dig deep to find it.

I wrote a little piece about climate guilt for We Don’t Have Time, which was published on Medium and received a nice boost from the platform when they decided to spotlight it. In terms of reviews, Tony Jones at Horror DNA offered a kickass one, calling By the Feet of Men “a thoughtful and inventive addition to the environmental apocalyptic genre”, which is cool, as well as a request from Diamond at Biblioculus to turn the story into a trilogy. Probably need to sell some copies first.

Not a lot of music this month, which I attribute to spending too much time working:

  1. Freddie Gibbs/Madlib - Situations

  2. ROSALÍA - Aute Cuture

  3. Janelle Monáe - Django Jane

  4. Whitney - Giving Up

  5. Caroline Polachek - Door

  6. Sakanaction - 新宝島

  7. Four Tet - Dreamer

  8. Ride - Future Love

  9. Fatima/Floating Points - Mind

And a shout-out to the album Caligula by LINGUA IGNOTA, which is fucking terrifying from start to finish.

pins.

pins.

Chart / June

Busy month. So busy I didn’t have time to make my little music chart. I managed to plough through 100 pages of the manuscript, so the second draft should be finished by the end of July. I unexpectedly received a glowing review (9/10!) for By the Feet of Men from Starburst Magazine, a useful appraisal from Foreword Reviews for their July/August print magazine, and a detailed critique from Literary Portals that has maybe my favourite quote in any review so far (“it was just too brutal and depressing for me, with a too realistic portrayal of humanity at its worst, eerily believable and entirely too possible in the not so distant future”). Also, as I said in my last post, I wrote a guest article on author Kate Vane’s website about the power of fiction to change the discourse on the climate emergency for the better. And I wrote a piece about refugees living in Germany for Lemon Theory Magazine.

There should be more baller content that is en voie d’èlaboration. We’ll see.

Music for the hot times:

  1. Jai Paul - Str8 Outta Mumbai

  2. Scholar X - Reality

  3. Apparat - CARONTE

  4. Denzel Curry - AUTOMATIC

  5. Floating Points - LesAlpx

  6. Hatchie - Unwanted Guest

  7. Riot City - The Hunter

  8. Diamond Head - Coffin Train

  9. Patrice Bäumel - North

  10. Billie Eilish - i love you

  11. Celer - Rains Lit By Neon

the future of big coal.

the future of big coal.

Chart / May

Miserable things I found out this month include:

  • In Poland, Coca-Cola sent empty plastic bottles (with green labels) to influencers asking them to recycle the bottles, share their efforts online and encourage people to create a world without waste. The plastic bottles weren’t old ones that had already been used; they were new. This is the kind of behaviour that future generations will look back on and absolutely despise us for. Maybe they’ll even hunt down the people who came up with ‘initiatives’ like this and try them for environmental crimes. Fingers crossed. In any case, the Caligula years will thankfully be coming to an end pretty soon, whether we want them to or not.

  • The Botswana Democratic Party has decided to lift its elephant hunting ban, because stocks have rebounded to 110,000, and a few of those 110,000 are being a nuisance to farmers, killing a few unfortunate people and generally not respecting man-made boundaries. Instead of seeking a solution that is beneficial to both spheres (such as ramping up eco-tourism), preserving a critical part of a delicate ecosystem, protecting a species ranked as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List, and continuing to set an example to the rest of the world, they’re going to let overweight white men with small dicks shoot elephants in the chest until the problem goes away and everything is fine.

  • McDonald’s has released a vegan burger in Germany to cash in on that ethical dollar. This is one of those things where nobody is going to be right, but: for me, it’s a little like when Tony Soprano, an outsized sociopathic bastard who was awful to pretty much anyone he locked eyes with, did something a little bit nice (like, say, deciding not to kill someone) and the audience thought “ah, I guess he isn’t so bad after all”. Yeah, a vegan burger might be a step in the right direction, but McDonald’s is a brand that is wholeheartedly committed to animal genocide. It’s better to not support it at all. Only by taking a concerted stand against the concept of corn-engorged, bloodstained fast food will it one day become possible to liberate the global food supply from the hands of companies that couldn’t care less how much animal suffering they cause or how sick we become from eating what they serve us. The ‘value for money’ card doesn’t play, either - nobody who is eating a vegan burger at McDonald’s is doing so because they can’t afford to buy normal vegetables. Let’s be honest - by and large, veganism is the privilege of rich white people. And these are the people (as usual) who are influencing the discourse being taken here. So why not - instead of succumbing to laziness, hunger pangs, idle curiosity or whatever - do the right thing and ignore these pedlars of misery? They’re just trying to tempt you back into the fold.

  • The world’s population is now nearing 8 billion. I remember when it reached 6 billion as a kid (in 1999) and was amazed at how quickly it then went on to hit 7 billion in 2012. Now, just 7 years later, we’re close to the next milestone. I suppose it’s not so surprising, actually. More people equals more sex equals more babies. But the question is how long this is going to go on for. Do we just keep having babies until the systems in place can no longer support us and everything collapses? Modified monoculture crops paired with chemical fertiliser (the innovation that allowed the population to grow massively in the first place - cheers, Justus von Liebig) are already eating away topsoil at a catastrophic rate, contaminating rivers and groundwater, killing the insect population and killing natural diversity. The food we eat is, by and large, unhealthy and unnatural, and this will become even more so as we desperately strive to feed every new mouth that comes into the world. These cycles, in turn, produce more CO2, the thing we need to somehow suck out of the atmosphere in order to stop the Great Acceleration from turning into the Great Human No-brakes Joyride At High Speed Into A Wall of Extinction.

    But the question is why exponential population growth, caps and limitations aren’t part of the political discussion. I mean, I know why - it’d be political suicide. You can’t take a person’s right away to have a baby. Even so, if we’re changing the way we eat, changing the way we travel, changing the way we consume and use resources and changing the way we speak (climate change > climate crisis), why shouldn’t we change the way we populate the Earth? Even a cursory glance at the World Population Clock reveals our current approach (which is to do absolutely nothing at all) reveals how unsustainable it is to simply allow people to have as many kids as they want. What I’m certainly not saying is that a cap should be forcibly imposed. That’s fascism. There is a whole raft of religious, educational and socioeconomic issues to contend with here, too. But population growth should at least be a much more vocal element of the conversation on the climate crisis, and it might get people to think more about whether they do actually want to bring another child into a world already groaning under the weight of civilisation. Stuart Aken (who was kind enough to review my book) has some more coherent thoughts than mine on this.

Music with no discernible flow because nothing makes sense anyway:

  1. Tyler, the Creator - Igor’s Theme

  2. IDLES - Mercedes Marxist

  3. Autoclave - Dr Seuss

  4. Holly Herndon - Alienation

  5. Ellen Allien - Free Society

  6. Red House Painters - Between Days

  7. Critical Defiance - 507

  8. Tim Hecker - That world

ominous audrey.

ominous audrey.