Trailer, swifts


‘Fantastic . . . A cross between Derek Raymond and Raymond Queneau . . . It can be enjoyed at the level of a thriller, and yet it does all these other fascinating things . . . It’s such a good book.’ Andy Miller BACKLISTED PODCAST

‘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

22–30 June 2019 was Swift Awareness Week in the UK. Swifts are migratory birds that return to the UK – as to other European countries – each summer, but their numbers are in dramatic decline.

In 2018, Britain & Ireland were the first countries in the world to dedicate a national week in support of Swifts . . . These events aim to raise awareness of Swifts and bring a focus to their plight, and of course provide information about how to help them. The Swift is one of the few endangered species that individuals really can help in their own property and there are many groups across the country working hard to try to halt their dramatic decline of 50% in just 20 years.

You can also enter your own UK swift sightings as part of the RSPB’s Swift Survey.

Swifts are a recurring motif in my latest novel The Fountain in the Forest, and I somehow feel a personal attachment to these birds whenever I encounter them, whether in the UK or around the Mediterranean, in places such as the city of Split, Croatia, where thousands of them nest in the ancient stone walls of Diocletian’s Palace.

In advance of the first publication of The Fountain in the Forest in 2018, we made a short trailer that was shot on Super8 in the South of France, one of the settings used in the novel.

I remembered that while making the trailer, I’d accidentally recorded swifts swooping close overhead in Place du Frêne at the gates of the historic walled town of Vence on the Côte d’Azur in the South of France. This digital video and audio wasn’t used in the original trailer, so I’m using it now for this short paperback trailer, published to mark Swift Awareness Week 2019.

Shot on location in Place du Frêne and Avenue Colonel Meyere, 06140 Vence, Côte d’Azur, France, 17 July 2017. Video, iPhone 4S; additional audio, Edirol R-09.


Take part in the RSPB Swift Survey by entering your own sightings

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At the Bookartbookshop’s Bloomsday celebration

© Patrick Walsh, 2019

It was a pleasure and a privilege to read the ‘Willingdone Museyroom’ from Finnegans Wake at London’s wonderful Bookartbookshop’s Bloomsday celebration yesterday. And to see the great Marcia Farquhar’s generous, intimate and mesmerising reading of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from Ulysses; you could have heard a pin drop.

I was proud to wear my old Royal Mail tie for the occasion, partly because I introduced my own reading by talking about reading Finnegans Wake – my now very battered copy of Faber’s 50th anniversary paperback edition of 1989 – when I was working as a postman in Camden Town in the early 1990s, and partly in honour of the postman who appears on p.488 of the novel:

— Oyessoyess! I never dramped of prebeing a postman

Thank you to Alastair (at my left elbow there) and Tanya for their warm hospitality, and to the friends old and new who travelled from as far afield as Brighton, Birmingham and, er, Bloomsbury – including my literary agent Patrick Walsh who took this photo. Thank you, Patrick ;)


The Bookartbookshop website

Peter Chrisp’s ‘This way to the Museyroom!’ gives some really fascinating background on Joyce, Waterloo, and the writing of this section of Finnegans Wake – well worth a read

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Making Things Up – right in the thick of it

Photo © Chris Dorley-Brown, 2018

Mathew Clayton is a writer, publisher and happening-maker, a folk aficionado of the margins and the mainstream, who has started a new series of interviews, talking to (he says),

people running interesting creative projects that i hope will give inspiration to people thinking of starting something themselves.

Such a great idea, so I am delighted to have been first in line for a chat, which covers Piece of Paper Press, art school, The Fountain in the Forest, collaborations with Blast Theory and the Science Museum, Resonance FM, and my unique view of the Poll Tax Riots of 1990, from the podium beneath the Neo-Classical portico of the National Gallery…

So there I was, watching the Poll Tax Riot from this ornate gazebo, with the public square and this historic struggle on one side, and the gallery on the other: a unique vantage point, right in the thick of it.


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Bloomsday readings by Marcia Farquhar and Tony White

I shall be reading at the wonderful Bookartbookshop as part of their Bloomsday celebration this year, and I’m especially delighted to be doing so alongside Marcia Farquhar. I was privileged to see Marcia performing Molly Bloom’s monologue a couple of years ago, and it was really something.

Not to be missed.

Here’s the announcement:

Please join us for Bloomsday readings by Marcia Farquhar and Tony White
Sunday 16th June, 2019
2.00 – 5.30pm

The legendary Marcia Farquhar will be reading Molly Bloom’s monologue from James Joyce’s ULYSSES & we will drink a glass or two of the cheapest Bourgogne wine.

London author Tony White will give his ‘bravura’ reading of ‘The Willingdone Museyroom’ from Finnegans Wake – plus his Portrait of the Author as a Young Postman: on reading Joyce in the Camden Town of the early 1990s – as presented at the recent Finneganight celebrations on 4 May, marking the 80th anniversary of its first publication by Faber and Faber in 1939.

“White stormed his way through a bravura performance of ‘The Willingdone Museyroom’ during which we all became temporary exhibits . . . prefaced by a brilliant off-the-cuff account of his early encounters with the Wake.” David Collard

Marcia Farquhar is an artist working in performance, photography, painting and object-making. Her site-specific works have been staged and exhibited internationally in museums and galleries, as well as in lecture theatres, kitchen showrooms, hotels, pubs, parks and leisure centres.

Tony White’s latest novel is the Oulipo-inspired thriller The Fountain in the Forest (Faber and Faber, 2018). In 1994 he founded the artists’ book series Piece of Paper Press, and has since published titles by writers and artists including Michael Moorcock, Liliane Lijn, Alison Turnbull, Courttia Newland, Tim Etchells, Joanna Walsh, and many more.

Do come and join us!


Bloomsday readings by Marcia Farquhar and Tony White, Sunday 16 June 2019, Bookartbookshop, 17 Pitfield Street, Hoxton, London, N1 6HB. 2:00pm–5:30pm (readings start 2:45pm)

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Another Fool reviewed

Thank you to Jonathan Bousfield for including Another Fool in the Balkans in his round up of literary Istria for Time Out Croatia. I’m really chuffed to be included, not least because Istria is one of my favourite places in the world. Here’s what he says:

Another Fool in the Balkans (2006), one of those perceptive and offbeat books that offer something of an antidote to the straw-hatted, Zorba-ate-my-donkey narratives that blight English-language travel writing elsewhere. It devotes a good ninety pages to Istria and stands up very well as an informed and sympathetic travel companion. When it comes to Pula, White is intrigued by the James Joyce connections but doesn’t allow them to lead him astray, embarking instead on an unorthodox agenda of his own. He goes off in search of Pula’s historic cinemas, tracks down Seventies’ movie star Igor Galo, and props up the bar at the cult café of local boxing legend Mate Parlov. Each of these quests reveals aspects of the city that other books rarely reach.

Well the Olympian Mate Parlov is no longer holding court in his bar in the cente of Pula. He sadly died – far too young – in 2008. But reading this makes me want to visit Pula again, right now . . .

Bousfield’s guide to literary Istria is a fascinating piece, and well worth a read. He takes in Thomas Mann and James Joyce, and he also recommends an Italian novel that is new to me, but which I now can’t wait to read: Materada by Fulvio Tomizza.

Another Fool in the Balkans is out of print, but a small number of copies are available to buy on Abebooks.


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In conversation at Brunel University London

Tony White talking about The Fountain in the Forest with Nick Hubble for the Brunel Writers Series, Brunel University London. Photo: © Bernardine Evaristo, 2019

Thank you to novelist and Professor of creative writing Benardine Evaristo for inviting me to talk about my latest novel The Fountain in the Forest as part of the wonderful Brunel Writers Series 2019 at Brunel University London back at the beginning of the year, and for taking a few photos of the event. Bernardine is a great force for good and for writing, and her latest novel Girl, Woman, Other was published by Hamish Hamilton last week, and is getting rave reviews all round.

At Brunel I was in conversation with Nick Hubble (L), whose latest book The Proletarian Answer to the Modernist Question is now out in paperback from Edinburgh University Press. On the screen behind us is a detail of Guardian ‘Quick Crossword’ No. 4,652 from 7 March 1985, one of twenty-six crosswords from the 90-day period between the end of the Miners’ Strike and the Battle of the Beanfield on 1 June the same year, which provide the ‘mandated vocabulary’ that I used to write the novel. Find out more about The Fountain in the Forest’s use of an Oulipo-inspired ‘mandated vocabulary’ in Sukhdev Sandhu’s Guardian review of the novel here, or in this interview with Kevin Gopal of the Big Issue.


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Forthcoming events, and a note about bookings

Events archive: 2012–2017

Library promotion

May 2019 is National Crime Reading Month, and I love this imaginative crime fiction promotion that I spotted in Whitechapel Idea Store a couple of weeks ago.

Actually, I love Whitechapel. As some friends will know, I lived in the area for quite a while, and my novel Foxy-T is set there, just a few minute’s walk away on Cannon Street Road.

(ICYM You can read reviews of Foxy-T, or hear me talking about the novel on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.)

In 2013, the Whitechapel Idea Store held an event on the 10th anniversary of the publication of Foxy-T as part of a Cockney Heritage Festival, which was a great thrill. And not least because local libraries had been supportive of the novel when it first came out. (At that time there were not as many bookshops in the East End of London as, thankfully, there are now.)

This time I was visiting because the Idea Store hosted the launch of Spread The Word’s London short story prize anthology. Emerging writers of all ages reading great work to a supportive audience? What’s not to like?

While I was there I was also delighted to learn that the library had The Fountain in the Forest in stock. As seen here – in the Crime section FYI.


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