Having noticed how well our irregular, jam-packed Antidotes posts go down, we’ve decided to give you a mini round-up of things each of us, plus some special guests, are enjoying, a little more regularly. We’re trying a weekly thing, but don’t hold us to that.
This week’s recommendations come from Jeff Barrett, Andrew Walsh, Robin Turner and Diva Harris of CBTR HQ, and longstanding shipmate John Andrews.
– The Duff Cooper Diaries, edited by John Julius Norwich/Truecrime by Jake Arnott/The Corrupted by GF Newman (pictured). I got through the back end of winter with the daily dose of a few pages from the paperback of The Duff Cooper Diaries, edited and introduced by his son John Julius Norwich (Phoenix 2006). I also started to re-read Truecrime by Jake Arnott (Sceptre 2003). I bought the latter in Stoke Newington Secondhand Bookshop. I have a distinct feeling it is the same trade copy I sold them amongst a few boxes of books when I left there nine years ago. I thought I had lost it as I have all of his others and had been searching for it for ages. By chance I found myself in N16 with an hour to spare so dropped into the bookshop to see what they had in their recent arrivals. Before I left I had a quick glance in the crime and thriller section and there was the book. It had been marked down to 50p. There is something very moving about being reunited with a book one has unwittingly sold, only to discover it untouched in a bookshop many years later. All in all, the re-discovery of this book felt like something from a ghost entry from Duff Cooper’s diary: he amassed a huge library over his lifetime, was a book auction addict whilst many around him fell back on ‘morphia’, and often the dramatic action in his diaries is punctuated with asides about new books he has just read, frequently in one sitting.
The beginning of the year began with the broadcast on Radio 4 each afternoon for a week of GF Newman’s The Corrupted – the third series, which was as unmissable as the first two. For some reason the BBC only keep things up for a week or two on iPlayer, but if you missed the series and get the chance to hear it again or on some hidden corner of the net, I can recommend it. It inhabits the same world as that painted in Arnott’s first four novels. A link to the background behind the series and some clips from it can be found here.
– The Memory Band’s A Fair Field. I can’t believe it was last year, and November in fact, but the night that I saw The Memory Band play The Camden People’s Theatre remains constantly in the mind. It was a phenomenal performance of songs from the new record A Fair Field, which, in conjunction with the pieces Stephen Cracknell has written for Caught by the River, is the continuation of a deep and forceful piece of work. Magnificent stuff.
– Obit. Florence Nora Mayo by atrmws. A pamphlet, sent to me by my old pal Mark Nicholls. It is a simply produced and beguiling account of the life of Florence Nora Mayo, 1918-47. It opens, ‘Who was this girl and how did she come to be here, in the ground this February day? So, metaphorically, I began to dig.’ Limited numbers may still be available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Doctor Strange – Both the film and the continuing Marvel comic series introduce a modern version of deep, odd psychedelia to the mainstream. And let’s face it, this is the warping of the mainstream – watching the film last year in 3D IMAX, bucket of popcorn to hand, I couldn’t help feeling like I was back home as a kid, trying to work out what the hell was going on in the piles of comics my Dad had stashed away. They channeled a kind of Cold War weirdness, a place where Eisenhower and Lovecraft chink glasses in an East Village dive bar. What appeared on the screen was far closer the classic ’60s take on Strange than I’d ever expected – a paranoid trippiness much more at home in art cinema horror films than in billion dollar blockbusters. There’s hope for the kids of today if they’re mainlining this stuff. Also, if you’re into the movie, the current comic series is even more spectacularly off its nut.
– M&S American Pale Ale. Brewed for the country’s favourite briefs and school uniform retailer by Bristol’s Arbor Ales, this continues M&S’ home run of own brand beers. I’m not going to get into mouth feel and resonant hop tones. Just know that this is a perfect train tipple – the kind of can to crack into as the metropolis fades into the distance and the coast gets nearer and nearer. What else is there?
– Ed Dowie – The Uncle Sold. Jeff sent me this a long time back and I didn’t quite get it. Listening to it, I heard a lot of Robert Wyatt – an artist whose recent work I hugely respect but haven’t really found the time to love (ducks for cover). What a difference a year and a load of stress makes. This record came back as a salve – a complete piece, something that ironed jagged moods flat. Ed’s words paint pictures, his voice adds hue and glow. A remarkable record. Must go back to Wyatt’s last few records. And sorry Jeff.
– Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and L.A. by Eve Babitz. Jeff got it for me for Christmas, and I’m in deep. These essays feel like short stories, when, in fact, Babitz is documenting her day-to-day life in 60s & 70s Los Angeles. She has a wonderful turn of phrase – case in point: ‘He looks like a Marlboro commercial up close. And he treated me with a chivalrous masculine know-how that I sopped up like a person who’d never heard of how chivalry was just another nefarious masculine scheme to keep women in their place.’
– Chibundu Onuzo. I saw her read (and sing) at this week’s Faber Social, and she was just amazing. I was desperate to get my hands on the piece I heard – a new short story called Sunita, but it hasn’t been published in print as of yet. Luckily, there’s a clip of her reading it for BBC Radio 3.
– Wesley Gonzales. I don’t know how I’m going to wait until June for his album to come out. See him live if you can – his dancing is second to none.
– Jono Ma’s Temples remix. Bonkers.
– The Burning Ground by Adam O’Riordan – the critically-acclaimed poet’s debut short story collection.
– Vice’s Swansea Love Story: an award-winning documentary which looks at a generation lost to heroin, as told through the tragic love story of Amy and Cornelius, a young couple living on the streets of Swansea.
– Faber Social, 8 February: Martha Sprackland reading the index of This Is Memorial Device as a poem.
– Our night at The Horse Hospital, 27 March: John Andrews’ first public reading of his recently written essay A Brief History of Caught by the River. Still, after nearly ten years, I cannot define what it is we do. Whenever asked to explain ourselves the raison d’être always eludes me. John, in this instance, gets as close to the heart of it as anyone has ever done and it brought a lump to my throat to hear the words read with such grace and sincerity. Also, I gotta say, put the way it was, it made me feel pretty proud of what we’ve all created. Whatever it is!
– Two Adcock centrepin reels, one previous owner. Used with style and skill for many seasons by a life-long Trent angler: Mike French, Beeston legend and a man I was lucky enough to call family. It was a privilege to spend many happy hours watching you pull chub out of the river, Mike. You were a good man and a bloody good angler. Thank you for being kind to my sister and thanks for knowing where the barbel were going to be. We are all going to miss you very much, but we’ll never ever forget you.