Nina Allan’s 2018 crime fiction round-up

I’m delighted to discover that The Fountain in the Forest features in novelist and critic Nina Allan’s 2018 Reading Round-up: Part 1. Here’s what she has to say:

The most satisfying books in crime as in any area of literature tend to be those that do not fit easily into any category, that confound expectations. Tony White’s The Fountain in the Forest contains some of the best police procedural writing I have encountered – gritty, dense with detail, obsessively forensic – and on the level of a detective story it is entirely satisfying. That it also works as an experimental novel of the OULIPO school, and as a work of political and social commentary gives it a denseness and what I can only call composure that few novels in any genre can hope to emulate.

Nina Allan also links to a fascinating ‘reading challenge’, thrown down last January by the Bute Noir crime fiction festival.

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Personal Anthologies

The writer Jonathan Gibbs has a great short story project called A Personal Anthology. Every week for the past year or so he has invited a writer to assemble a fantasy anthology of twelve short stories – the selection criteria is up to that week’s contributor – which is distributed first to a list of subscribers via email newsletter, and then added, story by story – plus commentary – to a searchable site. It’s a really interesting and generous project. Gibbs writes about the genesis of A Personal Anthology here.

This week it was my turn, and I pulled together a dozen stories from Kafka to Courttia Newland via Joolz, Victor Headley and Myles na gCopaleen, comprising some formative early reads, three stories that I’ve been privileged to publish at different times, and others. Since I’d joined the project late, I felt that previous guest editors had done a lot of the heavy lifting and covered lots of bases, thus I didn’t need to include Borges, for example, because others have already done so. I wanted my own personal anthology to reflect just some of the different ways that short stories are used: in live literature, in teaching, and as units of informal exchange by writers. It’s a bit rough and ready. I ran out of time, and as I sent it off I was kicking myself for various omissions, too much flim and not enough flam, etc. But it is what it is, and you can read my contribution, and those of all the other guest editors in the letter archive. The searchable version is here https://apersonalanthology.com/

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Read Tony’s Personal Anthology here

Subscribe to future letters from A Personal Anthology here

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Four new books from Piece of Paper Press

Joolz Denby, DANDELION — POPP.034
M John Harrison, REAL DREAMS — POPP.035
Courttia Newland, THAT SMALL DEATH — POPP.036
Selina Thompson, 12 RACE CARD ANSWERS — POPP.037

Specially commissioned and first published in October 2018 as part of STRONG LANGUAGE curated by Tim Etchells, Piece of Paper Press is delighted to present four new artists’ books by Joolz Denby, M John Harrison, Courttia Newland, and Selina Thompson, each in a special edition of 100 numbered copies from a strictly limited print run of 500 copies of each title.

STRONG LANGUAGE was three days of readings, performances, projections, installations and discussions curated by the artist, writer and performance maker Tim Etchells of Sheffield’s Forced Entertainment, which took place at the newly re-opened Site Gallery, Sheffield from 11–14 October 2018, as part of the city’s Off The Shelf Festival of Words 2018.

From ‘Dandelion’ (detail). © Joolz Denby, 2018

Highlighting radical writing and independent publishing in the UK, STRONG LANGUAGE centred on Tony White’s Piece of Paper Press, and included the first ever comprehensive display of all titles produced since the project’s inception in 1994, plus selected artworks and ephemera from the Piece of Paper Press archive.

The new titles by Denby, Harrison, Newland, and Thompson were distributed free at a number of live events and discussions during the STRONG LANGUAGE weekend in October 2018. Series design and typesetting of the STRONG LANGUAGE titles for Piece of Paper Press is by the artist Vlatka Horvat.

STRONG LANGUAGE took place at Site Gallery, Sheffield, 12–14 October 2018, curated by Tim Etchells, in association with Off The Shelf Festival of Words. STRONG LANGUAGE was part of Cultural Destinations 2, a project of Sheffield Culture Consortium, funded by Arts Council England.

DOWNLOAD THE PRESS RELEASE HERE

Piece of Paper Press: artworks and ephemera 1994–2017, Site Gallery, Sheffield. October 2018. (Photo: Chris Saunders)

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On show: Piece of Paper Press archive 1994–2017

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Between Dennis Wheatley and Kenneth Williams

I was thrilled to learn that The Fountain in the Forest is cited by George Shaw in the bibliography of the catalogue for his current US exhibition, A Corner of a Foreign Field, a major retrospective at the Yale Center for British Art in Newhaven, Connecticut, which runs until 30 December. The exhibition then comes to the Holburne Museum in Bath, UK, where it will be on view from 8 February to 6 May 2019.

Here’s the blurb for the exhibition:

Turner Prize nominee George Shaw (born 1966) is one of Britain’s leading contemporary painters. His work has long attracted critical scrutiny and acclaim, and has been on view in high-profile solo exhibitions in the United Kingdom. Organized in collaboration with the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London, George Shaw: A Corner of a Foreign Field is the artist’s first solo show in the United States.

Spanning three decades of Shaw’s prolific artistic practice, the exhibition features nearly seventy paintings, more than sixty drawings, numerous prints, and a range of sketchbook and notebook materials, as well as several new works. Shaw is celebrated for his paintings depicting the postwar Tile Hill council estate, where he spent his childhood. His work focuses relentlessly, even obsessively, on the Midlands—the region of England anchored by the cities of Birmingham, Derby, and Coventry.

The catalogue was launched with a party upstairs at the Blue Posts pub on Berwick Street in Soho, London, on Thursday 15 October.

Publication info:

George Shaw: A Corner of a Foreign Field

Edited by Mark Hallett.

With contributions by Thomas Crow, Catherine Lampert, David Alan Mellor, and Eugenie Shinkle. Published by the Yale Center for British Art; the Holburne Museum, Bath; and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London; in association with Yale University Press.

360 pages, 10 3/4 x 10 inches, 384 color illustrations, hardcover, ISBN: 9780300236644

Purchase through Yale University Press.

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Literary page-turners, Stroud Book Festival

Kirsty Gunn and Tony White
Literary Page Turners
18:30 – 19:30: Friday 9th November
Lansdown Hall, Stroud
Tickets £8: Available here

I am really looking forward to reading from and discussing The Fountain in the Forest in an event branded ‘Literary Page-turners’ at Stroud Book Festival, alongside the brilliant Kirsty Gunn who’ll be talking about her new novel Caroline’s Bikini. We’re joined by chair Louisa Joyner, editorial director of Faber and Faber. Louisa’s authors at Faber include Anna Burns, winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize with her novel Milkman.

Kirsty is a great performer and speaker – as any friends will know who came along to our Under the Paving Stones event with Eley Williams, Joanna Walsh and Richard Milward for Faber Social back in February.

Here’s the blurb:

Can contemporary literary fiction also be page-turning stuff? Of course it can, say acclaimed novelists Kirsty Gunn and Tony White, both published by literary publisher of pedigree, Faber & Faber.

Kirsty’s latest novel is “Caroline’s Bikini” in which her narrator, Emily Stuart, charts her friend Evan Gordonstone’s passion for Caroline Beresford, a glamorous housewife, hostess and landlady. It’s a swirling cocktail of infatuation, obsession and the art of making stories.

Tony is the author of “The Fountain in the Forest”, an immensely stylish and ingenious crime novel which unfolds after a brutally murdered man is found hanging in a Covent Garden Theatre, shifting between Holborn Police station, an abandoned village in rural 1980s France and Stonehenge’s Battle of the Beanfield.

They join us in conversation with Faber Editorial Director, Louisa Joyner to talk about they make their fiction both beautifully crafted and totally gripping.

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Strong Language – photos

Photo: Chris Saunders

It was a great pleasure to be in Tim Etchells’ Strong Language programme – part of the Off The Shelf Festival of Words – at the newly reopened Site Gallery, Sheffield in October. As well as exhibiting the Piece of Paper Press archive, I felt very privileged to share a platform with some brilliant and truly inspirational artists, writers and publishers: Joolz Denby, M John Harrison, Vlatka Horvat, Courttia Newland, Janette Parris, publishers Stefan Tobler of & Other Stories, Victoria Brown of Dostoyevsky Wannabe, Brian Lewis of Longbarrow Press, and chairs Penny McCarthy and Leigh Wilson – as well as Tim himself of course.

I’ve been a fan of Joolz’s poetry and performances since first encountering the spoken word records – such as ‘War of Attrition’ – that she made with Jah Wobble in the 1980s, which remain an influence and an inspiration today, a benchmark for my own collaborations with musicians, so it was a real honour to be on the same bill as Joolz, and to hear some completely new work. Taking the stage, Joolz joked that she’d put together the most depressing set of her life for us, but in truth it was as righteous, precise and poignant as ever, acute and life-affirming stuff.

In fact it was an inspiring weekend all round. Luckily, Sheffield photographer Chris Saunders came along on the Saturday and took some brilliant photos of the proceedings.

Joolz Denby (Photo: Chris Saunders)

Joolz Denby (Photo: Chris Saunders)

M John Harrison (Photo: Chris Saunders)

M John Harrison (Photo: Chris Saunders)

Tony White (Photo: Chris Saunders)

L–R: Penny McCarthy, Janette Parris, Tony White (Photo: Chris Saunders)

Tony White (Photo: Chris Saunders)

L–R: Tim Etchells, Janette Parris, Tony White (Photo: Chris Saunders)

Janette Parris (Photo: Chris Saunders)

L–R: Leigh Wilson, Victoria Brown of Dostoyevsky Wannabe, Stefan Tobler of & Other Stories, Brian Lewis of Longbarrow Press (Photo: Chris Saunders)

Brian Lewis (Photo: Chris Saunders)

Stefan Tobler (Photo: Chris Saunders)

Victoria Brown (Photo: Chris Saunders)

Courttia Newland – speaker at Strong Language Live #1 (Photo: Chris Saunders)

L–R: Victoria Brown and Richard Brammer of Dostoyevsky Wannabe (Photo: Chris Saunders)

L–R: Strong Language curator Tim Etchells, Vlatka Horvat – commissioned artist and speaker at Strong Language Live #1 (Photo: Chris Saunders)

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New paperbacks for 3 Jan 2019

It’s very exciting to see the new B-format paperbacks of The Fountain in the Forest, which are just back from the printers in advance of the publication date of 3 January 2019.

The larger format first edition trade paperbacks in their distinctive neon green livery (Pantone 802c) are still available to buy in the meantime of course ;)

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