Foxy-T and Fountain in Faber ebook

If you’re having trouble getting hold of print editions, or you just prefer reading on your chosen device, ebooks of my Faber and Faber novels The Fountain in the Forest (2018) and Foxy-T (2003) are available from all the usual outlets.

Here are the preview links for Kindle readers:

Praise for The Fountain in the Forest:

“It is absolutely terrific . . . it can be enjoyed at the level of a thriller, and yet it does all these other fascinating things, and best of all it’s the first in a trilogy . . . It’s such a good book.” Andy Miller, Backlisted Podcast

Praise for Foxy-T:

“Foxy-T is one of the best London novels you’ll ever get to read” Toby Litt, Herald on Sunday

NB Other ebook retailers are available – but I wanted to test out these new WordPress Block-edit links. If you try them, do please let me know how they work! I’d love to hear how you get on. Thank you ;)

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‘to step beyond oneself’ – Tim Robinson, RIP

I was sad to learn last week of the death of the writer Tim Robinson (1935–2020), who is best known as a critically acclaimed writer of the Irish landscape, in particular for his Connemara Trilogy: Listening to the Wind (2006), The Last Pool of Darkness (2008) and A Little Gaelic Kingdom (2011).

I’d been privileged to see Robinson reading in 1997, at the launch in Hanbury Street just off Brick Lane, London, of his book The View From the Horizon, published by Coracle.

The View From the Horizon was

a first attempt to link the work of the artist Timothy Drever with the writings of his alter ego Tim Robinson.

Background note: As Timothy Drever, Robinson had exhibited to some acclaim in the early 1970s at the Lisson Gallery among others. Before my (gallery-going) time, then, but I find it really interesting that even in 1997 – twenty-five years after ‘Drever’ had quit the London artworld for his ‘particular little crossroads of reality’ in Ireland – it was still ‘Tim Robinson’ that was seen as the alter ego, when by the time of his death last week, Robinson was by far the better-known figure.

Discussing this personal and professional rupture in the book’s introduction, Robinson writes

Whereas I used to be dismayed by the breakage and loss caused by that sudden change in habit and habitat, nowadays it is the unchipped good order in which my little store of imagery accompanied me on the jolting journey from city to island that makes me wonder if it is ever possible to step beyond oneself.

Since that event on Hanbury Street in 1997, The View From the Horizon has been an often-noted presence on my shelf. The spine stands out among other titles, because its dust-wrapper (comprising a single, wrap-around photograph of some Drever constructions from 1972) is so visually distinctive. It made it easy to locate the book again now, so that I could re-read it these 23 years later. And it’s wonderful stuff – look!

Tim Robinson, The View From The Horizon (detail)

Strangely, or perhaps not, I’d already been thinking about Robinson earlier that week. While sorting through some old papers, I’d come across photocopies of a short article of mine for the then Artists’ Newsletter – now AN – from that same year, which mentions Robinson’s reading alongside a number of other books/works by artists including Ian Hamilton Finlay, Gordana Stanišić, and the historian or historical geographer John Field.

I did a quick scan of the article on my phone, and reproduce it here (with apologies for the blurriness of the photocopy).

Tony White, ‘Taking an idea for a walk’, AN, August 1977

Incidentally, it took me a while, but I finally found and bought a copy of John Field’s English Field Names: A Dictionary last year. I can’t quite believe that it took so long, but there you go. And it really is a exceptional piece of work. I’m not sure how I managed without it.

Here’s a little taster – see what I mean?

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Buy Tim Robinson The View From The Horizon on Abebooks

Buy Ian Hamilton Finlay Grains of Salt: fourteen one word poems with linocuts by Jo Hinks

Buy John Field, English Field Names: A Dictionary on Abebooks

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The Fountain in the Forest was a Guardian ‘Book of the Day’ – read Sukhdev Sandhu’s review

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Charlieuncle… Foxtrot Bravo?

Codex paperback of CHARLIEUNCLENORFOLKTANGO

Friends may be interested to know that right now a small number of rare second-hand copies of my novel CHARLIEUNCLENORFOLKTANGO seem to be available via Abebooks. The novel has been out of print since the publisher Codex sadly ceased trading in the early noughties.

ICYMI at the time, here’s what John Williams said in Time Out:

These days, if you want innovation in crime fiction, you’re better off looking closer to home. Tony White’s Charlieunclenorfolktango sure as hell stands out from the norm. Imagine a cross between Clockwork Orange and Irvine Welsh’s Filth, and you’ll be somewhere close. Written in phonetic cockney geezer-speak and narrated by hell’s own copper . . . there’s a berserk comic energy present that bodes well for White’s future.

While Christopher Tayler reviewing CHARLIEUNCLE… in the London Review of Books alongside Canteen Culture by Ike Eze-anyika and Filth by Irvine Welsh, absolutely hated it, calling it

Bizarre, depressing and unreadable…

And that’s one of the nicer things he had to say. Well, you can’t win ’em all. (Although, incidentally, I learned a really important lesson from Tayler’s LRB review, which I will tell you now: it is never – but never – a good idea to reply to a bad review.)

There are more reviews of CHARLIEUNCLENORFOLKTANGO on my press page (you’ll need to scroll down a bit).

But while reviews are important – and sometimes life-changing – they aren’t everything. There are other kinds of critical feedback, too. Some of which have a very slow burn indeed. Because books do have a long life; even obscure experimental novels like CHARLIEUNCLENORFOLKTANGO, published on the margins in tiny print runs by long defunct small presses. Once a book is out there in the world it has a life of its own – independent of both author and critic – and is reanimated whenever someone picks it up, or remembers something they once-read.

Which reminds me that I meant to say, one of my favourite art exhibitions of recent months was PERIOD by Fiona Banner AKA the Vanity Press at Frith Street Gallery, London which ran from 21 November 2019 to 24 January 2020. Here’s a photo from the Frith Street Gallery site.

PERIOD, Fiona Banner AKA the Vanity Press, Frith Street Gallery, London, 2019

It was a fantastic show, and I felt especially drawn to the large hanging scroll of marine rubber on the right of this photograph. Entitled ‘Tongue’, this is a book-ish text work that remixes the genres and jargon of the colophon page and the gallery wall text.

I love Fiona Banner’s work, especially her ‘publications’ – in the loosest sense of the word – and the relationships and antagonisms with traditional publishing that they contain and inscribe.

‘Tongue’ even has its own ISBN number, which is written out in full like so:

India Sierra Bravo November Nine Seven Eight dash One dash Nine Zero Seven Six Three One dash Eight Zero dash One

Here’s a close-up that I took on the night of the exhibition’s opening.

Fiona Banner AKA the Vanity Press, ‘Tongue’ (detail)

Intrigued, I asked Fiona if ‘Tongue’ was a colophon for the whole show (as it were) or a self-contained, stand-alone publication.

It’s the latter, she confirmed: a one-off publication in its own right. ‘The legal deposit people hate me!’

But then, apropos of nothing, Fiona told me that her use of the phonetic alphabet to depict the ISBN was (in her words), ‘inspired by that old book of yours.’

Wow.

‘Can I quote you on that?’ I asked.

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Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press

Buy CHARLIEUNCLENORFOLKTANGO via Abebooks

Background to CHARLIEUNCLENORFOLKTANGO here…

More about CHARLIEUNCLENORFOLKTANGO here…

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Tuna

Right now you can read The Fountain in the Forest in synch with the French Republican Calendar, which features in the novel. Conversion between the Republican and Gregorian Calendars is imprecise, but by common reckoning today’s date Saturday 14 March 2020 converts to Quintidi 25 Ventôse CCXXVIII in the Revolutionary Calendar. Factoring in Fabre d’Eglantine’s system of everyday rural imagery, 25 Ventôse 228 and Chapter 13 of the novel are dedicated to tuna.

What better way to celebrate than with Michel Roux Jr’s recipe for Tuna Tartare from BBC Good Food.

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Daisy

Right now and for the next eighteen days, you can read The Fountain in the Forest in synch with the actual French Republican Calendar, which features in the novel. Conversion between the Republican and Gregorian Calendars is imprecise, but by common reckoning today’s date Friday 13 March 2020 converts to Quartidi 24 Ventôse 228 in the Revolutionary Calendar. Factoring in Fabre d’Eglantine’s system of everyday rural imagery, 24 Ventôse 228 and Chapter 12 of the novel are dedicated to the daisy.

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Buy The Fountain in the Forest from the Waterstones site, to ‘click and collect’ from your local branch

Scurvy grass

Photo: Franz Xaver. CC BY-SA 3.0

Right now and for the next nineteen days, you can read The Fountain in the Forest in synch with the actual French Republican Calendar, which features in the novel. Conversion between the Republican and Gregorian Calendars is imprecise, but by common reckoning today’s date Thursday 12 March 2020 converts to Tridi 23 Ventôse 228 in the Revolutionary Calendar. Factoring in Fabre d’Eglantine’s system of everyday rural imagery, 23 Ventôse 228 and Chapter 11 of the novel are dedicated to scurvy grass or Cochlearia, an edible coastal plant that is rich in vitamin c, and with a strong peppery taste similar to horseradish and watercress to which it is related.

Here are some tips on how to find and use scurvy grass from Bernard Lundie on BBC Scotland…

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Buy The Fountain in the Forest from the Waterstones site, to ‘click and collect’ from your local branch