Here’s an interesting article from the Guardian about the wacky world of on-line self-publishing: Looking for a great self-published book? Here’s where to find it. It’s also worth reading some of the replies to the post.

What it reveals is that there is a huge new community of writers being revealed to the world that’s now possible by virtue of the relative ease by which authors can publish,publicise and sell their fiction.

Of course I could say that I already knew all this. After all, I’m one of those who publish e-books and stuff on the internet, but the truth is that in the time that I’ve been doing it the landscape has evolved constantly and new outlets have appeared and those that I originally knew about have changed.

I also find it all rather intimidating.

I’m sure I’m supposed to say that I welcome a challenge, but I can’t help wondering how much of an uphill climb I would have to go through to get reviewed on Indie e-book Review or just how much I would have to do to be acceptable at Sabotage Reviews or Fictionaut. I also wonder how much of the stuff I’ve written could even be considered.

So, the truth is that I’m rather intimidated by it all, though I guess if it was easy, would it even be worth reading the stuff that’s published? Part of my worry is the simple one that ever since I discovered the market existed, I’ve mostly written fiction with a quite high sex content. And the fiction I’ve written that could be viewed as being something other than sex fiction tends to stray into genres like science fiction or satire which don’t seem to resemble much the kind of stuff that is published as Alt-Lit (for instance).

And there’s also a part of me that isn’t sure that I want all the hassle involved in getting accepted in all these other aspects of the on-line publishing world given that it’s already such a hassle writing stuff in the first place. And it’s fairly obvious that except for a very small minority the material rewards of writing are still tiny and elusive.

So, what’s “alt-lit”? My own vision of it is something that subtly (and perhaps not so subtly) subverts the mainstream of literature in ways that are a little bit disturbing, rather like this picture from Waldemar Kazak:


Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood



Jimmy Savile

I’ve been meaning to add my own comments to the general controversy surrounding Jimmy Savile and the culture of paedophilia that was rampant within the BBC and elsewhere in the British establishment until relatively recently. To be honest there probably isn’t much that I can add that hasn’t already been said, though I can at least say smugly that I’ve never much liked Jimmy Savile, Gary Glitter or any of those other creepy individuals from that time. The fact they made a living from Pop music but had no real interest in it beyond using it as a vehicle for fame and fortune was already crime enough before it became clear that their real crimes were of quite a different order.

However, the definitive article about the paedophile culture that this all relates to is the one I found in the London Review of Books by Andrew O’Hagan: Light Entertainment. It is unhysterical, thoughtful and the best article I’ve yet read on the whole sorry mess.

The question obviously arises about how paedophilia and on-line sex fiction co-exists. You only have to browse through ASSTR and a few other places to discover that fiction featuring sex between children and adults is fairly common on the internet. It comes in a number of flavours. There are stories that feature the apparent loving relationship between consenting children and adults. There are other stories that are quite clearly not loving at all and stray into various areas of sexual abuse, some of which are at least as unpleasant as the fiction of the Marquis de Sade. Some of this fiction isn’t at all badly written and some is supposedly (and possibly in actual fact) based on real life experiences. Most of it, however, is wish-fulfilment fantasy and execrable in both execution and content.

However, I still don’t believe that the deserved condemnation of criminal sexual behaviour should therefore lead to yet another spasm of censoriousness against such fiction on the internet. But my uncritical liberal attitude has been tested on many occasions, but never so much as when reading novels by the aforementioned aristocrat and revolutionary politicians such as Juliette and the 120 Days of Sodom.

I shan’t attach a picture of a naked child (although it wouldn’t take long to find one on the internet) or even a picture by Balthus, but instead a picture of a Chimpanzee with a gun by Matt Cioffi:


Gangsta Chimp

Gangsta Chimp


I guess I’ve never felt such a sense of relief after an American Presidential Election as I did after this one. Although the one four years ago came fairly close.

At least last time Americans were always going to vote in a President that was dramatically better than the one before (even a bucket of cold shit would have done a better job than President Dick Cheney and his simian sidekick). McCain, despite being a conservative and an American one at that, was immeasurably more palatable than his predecessor and more so than Mitt Romney who has already done sterling service at the head of a wealthy financial company to shift economic activity away from America and towards its competitors in low-wage economies in Asia.

Although, like many, I think Obama’s period of presidency has been a bit disappointing, it couldn’t possibly have been worse than that of a Mitt Romney whose puppet-masters, not to mention the baying hounds of his more visceral Tea Party supporters, will stop at nothing to drag America, and in its slipstream the rest of the world, ever closer to destruction and chaos while only the very wealthy benefit (if only for a while).

So I’m relieved however much I held the fantasy that perhaps the earlier rather than the eventual demise of the Western World might actually be to the long-term benefit of humanity and the planet on which we are mostly just perceived as a kind of blight.

And here’s a picture by Jo Schwab that has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of this blog:

Ana - Jo Schwab

Ana – Jo Schwab

The Mercury Awards

So we’ve just had the Mercury Prize Awards and my favourites, the Roller Trio, didn’t win and firm favourites, Alt-J, were the lucky recipients.

The truth is that the Roller Trio stood no more chance of winning than common-sense has in the American Republican Party, but from what little I’ve heard Alt-J are worthy winners. In fact, in some ways they and the Roller Trio have similarities, not so much in terms of the final product but of the attitude towards music-making that is focused on an individual vision and not so much on potential record sales.

Why do I like the Roller Trio?

Well, I can’t say they’re actually my favourite band or that their music is my most favourite ever, but I would say that at the moment they are the most exciting band I’ve heard for a long time. Ever since I heard their live show on the Radio (Jazz on 3) I’ve been hooked.

There is a context to their music. It is part and parcel of a growing young European Jazz scene (predominantly but not exclusively British) that somehow injects the energy of punk into the improvisational discipline of contemporary jazz. And these musicians weren’t even born when punk existed as a major form of music. They belong to a landscape that includes TrioVD, Troyka, Led Bib and the World Service Project. It’s a scene that has learnt from the visceral energy of the best of rock music without the pomposity and derivativeness that’s bedevilled the music for the last 30 years. It’s also learnt from bands such as Bad Plus and the Esbjorn Svenssen Trio that are similarly informed by rock music.

So, in tribute to getting this far, here’s a picture of the Roller Trio taken from the British entertainment site Digital Spy:

The Roller Trio