scarecrow editorial

Saturday, January 14, 2006


7: Shindig

A charming evening was had by all on a bitterly cold late December evening at the joint 3am Magazine/scarecrow Xmas Shindig in the hallowed Aquarium Gallery in Bloomsbury. Reading at this event were underground literary/art malcontent and all-round wind-up merchant Stewart Home, debut novelist Tom McCarthy [his extraordinary Remainder being 3am's book of the year], publisher extraordinaire [Attack! Books and imprint Neo-Attack! Books] and 3am co-chief editor Randolph Carter and myself, Lee Rourke, editor-in-chief here at scarecrow.

Not a scene as such but a gathering of like-minded souls who all eschew the current trend in publishing; this was a room packed with those who have turned their backs on the conglomerates, and ignore those vainglorious money-men who are hell-bent on sales, sales, sales, marketing and profile; those same birdbrains responsible for the horrid 3 for 2 dross in every high-street bookstore [Don't forget your coffee!], those grand panjandrums who are responsible for everything that is wrong with contemporary fiction in this country. This, quite frankly, is a new way. A reactionary crowd of literary dissidents who just want to hear a new voice, those who have evolved on their own terms and have never bowed down to the conglomerates' demands. This new way, of course, is largely due to the hard work of 3am Magazine [Buzzwords' editors Andrew Gallix and Andrew Stevens immediately spring to mind] who have, over the last 5 years, banged the drum for the marginalised and have unearthed, in the process, some of the most exciting writers of our generation [take Tony O‘Neill for instance]. Together, with the help of new publishers such as Metronome Press, an alternative route is being forged - and it's fast burgeoning into a brobdingnagian backlash, a reactionary leviathan with a sting in its tail. And it's not just happening here in London, it's happening everywhere. Long live the dissenters we say!

First to take the floor was myself [reading alongside Jamie Ried's original "Fuck Forever" artwork upon the wall]; after a genial introduction from Randolph carter, who hosted the event, I read The Roof - a short story taken from a collection called Everyday. I wanted to dedicate The Roof to ergophobics everywhere but in my nervous excitement I forgot. Ah, well.

Next up was Randolph Carter himself, reading from an asortment from his own imprint Neo-Attack! Books. Such titles as GM Mutant Baby Plague, Go Fanny Go, 8 Billion Vinnie Jones's and Dirty Manga Bastards were hard to ignore and Randolph didn't hold back in his reading, bringing more than a wry smile to the chops of those present. Randolph was also proud to announce the forthcoming publication of the 3am Anthology - a collection of 3am Magazine fiction and essays.

After a short interval Stewart Home recited from two of his previous novels: 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess and Down and Out in Shoreditch and Hoxton. Adding that he would not be reciting from his current novel Tainted Love until he had completed his "Arts Council funded course in ventriloquism." Those in attendance were treated to a machine-gun delivery as he rattled off two key chapters from memory. Most wanted something from his most recent novel, but I guess we'll just have to wait for him to complete his course for that eventuality. Nonetheless this was vintage stuff from Stewart - and besides, he wouldn't want it to be a comfortable reading/listening experience for any of us.

As with everything Stewart Home is responsible for we have to take it on his terms. Like it or not, and whatever people think about this prolific writer, we just could not escape the fact that we were in the presence of a considerable influence: the shadowy figure behind much of what has happened in the literary and art worlds of subterranean London the last 15 years or so. Fact.

Finally, we were treated to a, very much anticipated, reading by Tom McCarthy from his astonishing debut: Remainder. Hot off the back of favourable reviews in the TLS and Independent this is the book everyone is talking about - a literary tour-de-force that isn't afraid to say so. It is a book that demands to be read and re-read over and over again [read my reviews over at RSB and 3am]. Tom read well, fuelling his words with the attention to detail such a book deserves. And even though the alcohol was in full flow all night [and most of us had tired feet] the room remained silent throughout Tom's reading [it even felt like the traffic had stopped outside, including the ubiquitous police sirens], each of us hanging on to his every word. It was a speacial moment and if you ever get to see Tom McCarthy reading from this remarkable novel count yourselves lucky - we all did.

So, personally, I would like to thank every last one of you who braved the cold on this special evening. Thanks for making these things happen. Thanks also to Stewart Home, Tom McCarthy and 3am Magazine. And let's hope to see you all at the next 3am/scarecrow shindig!

Lee Rourke © 2006.

Photos in order: 1: Tom McCarthy. 2: Lee Rourke. 3: Randolph Carter. 4: Stewart Home.

More photos from this [and other 3am magazine events] can be found HERE.


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