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This is Horror are hosting an event on Saturday September 22 to celebrate the launch of their second chapbook Thin Men with Yellow Faces by Gary McMahon and Simon Bestwick. Joining Simon and Gary will be Ramsey Campbell, Conrad Williams and Jasper Bark.
The launch event will be held at MadLab in Manchester from 6:30pm running through to 8:15 pm.Tickets are just £3 and you can purchase them via the This is Horror website. I have mine and if you're in the area then go get yours. Thin Men with Yellow Faces will be available for the special price of £4 in Manchester for one night only and as it's a collaboration between two hugely talented writers you know it's going to kick-ass.
The twentieth century in Europe was an urban century: it was shaped by life in, and the view from, the street.
Women were not liberated in legislatures, claims Leif Jerram, but liberated themselves in factories, homes, nightclubs, and shops. Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini made themselves powerful by making cities ungovernable with riots rampaging through streets, bars occupied one-by-one. New forms of privacy and isolation were not simply a by-product of prosperity, but because people planned new ways of living, new forms of housing in suburbs and estates across the continent. Our proudest cultural achievements lie not in our galleries or state theatres, but in our suburban TV sets, the dance halls, pop music played in garages, and hip hop sung on our estates.
In Streetlife, Leif Jerram presents a totally new history of the twentieth century, with the city at its heart, showing how everything distinctive about the century, from revolution and dictatorship to sexual liberation, was fundamentally shaped by the great urban centres which defined it. Below are three videos in which Leif talks about women’s rights, sexual liberation, and the anonymous history changers.
Leif Jerram was born in Woolwich in south-east London in 1971, and lived there until he went to study history at university. After having lived in San Diego, Bremen, Munich, and Paris, he settled in Manchester to do his PhD – the first industrial city. There he has remained, barring a brief stint as a fellow at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He is currently a lecturer in urban history in the School of Arts at Manchester University, as well as being involved in community politics and activism. He has published widely in the field of cultural and urban history, including most recently Streetlife: How Cities Made Modern Europe. You can read Leif’s previous OUPblog post here.
By Leif Jerram
As we watch riots tear through the centres of British cities, many people have (instinctively and understandably) tried to see something of profound importance in them. For Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, they show why the budget for his police force should not be cut. For those on the left, the riots have been an essay in the perils of vacuous consumerism on the one hand, and shameless abandonment of the poor by the state on the other. And for our Conservative prime minister, it is confirmation that parts of our society are sick and evil.
Last Friday saw us begin a marathon of cross country travelling 'up North' for the funeral of Andy's Nan. Normally we'd have gone by motorbike and it would have taken about two or three hours, but with the UK suffering sub-zero temperatures and my arm being how it is, we booked train tickets from Oxford. So began a hodgepodge journey starting with us setting off the dark, icy early morning, layered up like Michelin men on the bike, leaving the bike with Debs-of-the-bees who lives nearer to the city, catching a bus to Oxford, then a train to Manchester, picked up by car, fed and watered by Andy's nice parents and another car journey to Yorkshire for an overnight stay at a motel. It snowed overnight and Selby Abbey, where the simple service was held, was looking stunning. The sun came out; a nice way to say goodbye to a long life which was finally at rest. Later that day we did the same journey in reverse, but slower. Driving through the vibrant city of Manchester to the station was a surreal experience for both of us. We felt a little like visitors from a secluded community, goggling at the new space-age office blocks, the hordes of shoppers clutching bulging shopping bags (how much *stuff* does a person need???) the crowded eateries, the groups of rowdy night-outers...it was like descending into some kind of urban hell, not improved by the various football fans being police-escorted and later on the train, the distinctly un-charming presence of racist thugs getting tanked up on cheap lager. We decided to stay standing up in the corridor well away from them, until they disembarked. It took over 6 hours to return, ending with a slow, wind chilled half hour ride near midnight, along treacherous roads covered in black ice, both of us frozen by the time we arrived back to a cottage full of sleepy cats. Rarely have I felt so thankful to be home. But this sad, necessary journey was a marker for us; we had decided that Monday was going to be 'N-Day' - a return to Normality. And so it has been. I am finally back in bed, bolstered up and last night had the best night's s
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My friend Christian Stretton (artist, librarian, dad!) went to see author Jonathan Franzen in Manchester last week (3rd October). He reports back:
When Jonathan Franzen appears behind
the lectern at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester,
he stops and stands amidst all the applause with a confused look on his face.
Franzen is caught in a moment of time directly between the generous media
coverage of his new book Freedom being
recalled for pulping, and the equally extensive column inches devoted to
snatch which will occur tomorrow night.
This pregnant pause though is not due
to his being at the centre of a media whirlwind. Instead, his confusion is brought
about by the nature of the lectern which he stands behind. In fact, the lectern
is an improvised ‘customer comments’ box and, as such, is much too short for
his tall frame, and has no place on which he can rest his book. He wrestles the
box onto the stage, and then shuffles it around, before looking up and
grinning, as if noticing us for the first time.
If you were aware of Franzen’s work
only through the copious articles and reviews which he garners, it would be
easy to hate him. But to read his books, and to see him speaking confidently,
openly about his writing, is another matter. Seeing him here tonight as a
vulnerable, all too human writer, a gulf appears evident.
There are many questions tonight (from
Dave Haslam) about Franzen’s media presence: he shifts uncomfortably in his
seat when asked about the ‘Great American Novelist’ label, talks about the
‘unreality’ of these promotion tours, and even mentions Oprah. But these are
not his most interesting (or revealing) answers. Only when Haslam gets down to
the writing do we find Franzen exposed. When asked if he reveals his own
political beliefs even when writing in character, his articulate response
explains how he has many differing opinions in his head, each held to be true
at the same time, and the characters that he creates are a way of resolving
Haslam clearly admires Franzen, and so
his line of questioning is unlikely to provoke. Nevertheless, when he asks
about Franzen’s own teenage years, the audience note a small crumble in the
time it takes for Franzen to compose his answer. ‘At the start of the tour, I
said I wasn’t going to talk about the meaning of the title,’ he begins,
tantalisingly. The ‘Freedom’ of the title, he goes on to explain, is more about
his own personal freedom from his past. This book, it seems, was his release; a
way of breaking from his adolescent self. ‘I feel like I was an adolescent
until about two years ago’ he smirks (Franzen is 52 years old).
There is no question, Franzen presents
himself well. By his own admission, he is unafraid of public speaking, so
doesn’t really see the polarity of his writing life, compared to his
promotional life. By the end of the evening, we are all charmed by his answers.
Yet, for all his success, I feel sympathy for a gentle, fragile man with a
talent for constructing a good sentence, caught in the eye of a storm that he
seems incapable of creating himself, and unlikely to enjoy.
As I leave, he shakes my hand. A confident
American handshake with good eye contact. He seems to have enjoyed tonight, for
all its unreality.
NOTE TO SELF: THIS MAN WAS ELECTED TO SERVE HIS CONSTITUENTS?
"It is time that the dyslexia industry was killed off and we recognised that there are well-known methods for teaching everybody to read and write." Graham Stringer MP
Nobody said that politicians had to be smart to get elected. Case in point, a British Labor Member of Parliment who commented in an online column that dyslexia was a myth perpetrated by educators to cover up poor teaching.
I'm sure those who are in education must have been in shock to read this statement.
The politician, one Graham Stringer, described the condition as "cruel fiction" and should be consigned to the "dustbin of history." Furthermore, he says he believes that many children can't read or write because - well - merely the wrong teaching methods are used.
Silly teachers! All those years of university to acquire knowledge and know-how to pass on to young, fertile minds only to hear from a non-teacher that they have been using the wrong methods. It's so...logical! Were that only the case...
Responding to the politician's conclusion, Charity Dyslexia Action said that dyslexia was real to the six million people in the UK who were affected by the condition.
In the column, which appeared in the Manchester Confidential, Stringer opined that millions of pounds were wasted on specialist teaching for what he labeled, a "false" condition. He also wrote that children should instead be taught to read and write by using a system called, synthetic phonics.
And the politico knows this...how?
"To label children as dyslexic because they're confused by poor teaching methods is wicked. If dyslexia really existed then countries as diverse as Nicaragua and South Korea would not have been able to achieve literacy rates of nearly 100%. There can be no rational reason why this 'brain disorder' is of epidemic proportions in Britain but does not appear in South Korea or Nicaragua."
Financial considerations appear to be a factor in his statements. He wrote that "currently, 35,500 students receive disability allowances for dyslexia at an annual cost of £78.4m."
Furthermore, certified dyslexics get longer in exams.
Makes sense to me. If you have trouble reading/understanding the question, it takes longer to write an answer!
Yesterday is all a bit of a blur. This is, I suspect, mostly because I set my alarm for an hour too early this morning and didn't notice until I went out into the hotel lobby to stumble out into the day and realised that it was only a quarter to eight, not a quarter to nine, which meant I'd had about four hours sleep, not about five. I hope I can sleep on a plane or in a car between here and Manchester tonight.
Lovely interviews, lovely event, lovely signing (except possibly for the young lady who fainted in the signing line, and even she popped up at the end to let me know she was feeling better), and lovely incredibly late night dinner afterwards.
Stopped there and stumbled off into the day. Went to The Main Street Trading Company in St Boswells, Scottish Borders, and talked to about forty ten year olds, and did a very small signing. The shop -- a sort of dream bookshop and small town cafe -- is quite beautiful, and it was a wonderful break in between all the giant events to just chat to some children, answer questions, and, later, have a bowl of butternut squash soup. (I also suspect the shop of being peculiarly magic: you might claim that it's coincidence that Nick Sweeting from Improbable Theatre Company was in the shop visiting his parents when I was signing, and that I had almost popped in to see him on Monday in London but ran out of time, but it's a magnificently unlikely coincidence.)
I slept in the car back to Edinburgh, slept on the plane to Manchester.
Manchester was great. I got to be the first author up on that stage to have an opening band -- two of them, in fact, as Paul & Storm and Jonathan Coulton played a very short concert -- one song each -- for the people there. And I finished signing some hours later, and walked to the Jonathan Coulton gig in time for the final encore, "Creepy Doll" where I recited the second voice, overacted as requested, and played tambourine.
What is it with the tambourine thing anyway? I manage to spend an entire life, joyfully tambourineless, and now I have played it on stage in front of people twice in a month. Do I look like someone who would be happier holding a tambourine?
Lots of tour and signing questions starting to come in. But first...
Hi Neil, Hopefully this email comes after you're dug out of the deluge of other mails. I was recently in Minneapolis and sorry to see that Dreamhaven is downsizing/moving/firing all their employees. If you know yet, what does this mean for them running your commercial site? I terribly liked being able to visit and pickup signed copies or buy something and leave it for when you were next in town. Thanks, Kyle
I don't honestly know. I haven't spoken to Greg Ketter about what he'll be doing with Neilgaiman.net in the new, one-man Dreamhaven. I'll certainly still sign stuff when I stop by, but I'm not entirely clear what he'll be stocking at this point. If it looks like neilgaiman.net isn't going to work through DreamHaven in the future, then I'll have to figure something else out. Either way. I'll keep everyone informed through the blog as soon as I know what's happening.
Dear Neil, I was just wondering if you ever found out what was going on as regards a signing on the Manchester stop of your tour? You mentioned it might be somewhere other than the talk? I was just wondering as I hadn't seen it mentioned on Manchester's website. Anyway, look forward to hearing (and possibly meeting, if there is a signing) you in Manchester! All the best, James
The tragedy of that evening is that Paul & Storm and Jonathan Coulton will also be playing at Manchester University that night -- their doors open at 7:30. I suspect that with military precision and planning it might be possible for someone to see me talk and read and then get off and catch most of P&S and all of Mr Coulton, given that we're both at the University, and, if I've read the web site maps right, doing our stuff within about 500 feet of each other.)
hi neil! My girlfriend and i are going to your talk/reading/q and a in Edinburgh and it says you will sign copies of The Graveyard Book i presume this means they will be available there? also would it be totally inappropriate to ask you to sign anything else? i realise there will be a lot of hopefuls there and i wouldn't want to delay anything. Thanks!
For the UK this time, the rules are going to be pretty much as laid out in http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2005/05/so-youre-going-to-signing.asp. (The only modification is sometimes I reserve the right to not pose for photographs, now that everyone has an image-capturing device or two on them. You can take any photos you like of me scribbling, you can take photos of you next to me, if you're lucky I'll try and look up when it's time for the flash to go off, but while it doesn't add a long time to each signing, if you multiply it by hundreds of people, it can add a few hours to the signing line. But I'll cheerfully sign, mostly because it's only in London that I ever have to worry about more than 300 people showing up.
For the US tour (NOT the National Book Festival, but everything from New York to St Paul, and I'll repost it all here in easily copyable form as soon as I get all the data) the plan is to make them more of An Evening With Neil Gaiman than a signing, mostly because the numbers at the signings had just got too big to cope with easily, often 700 -1200 people, and it's no fun for anyone when I finish signing every night at one or two in the morning. So each stop will get a complete chapter/story from The Graveyard Book (except for LA and Boulder, who will split Chapter 7), and a long Q&A and talk, and we'll do something more like the event two years ago at Cody's (captured forever by Fora TV). Signed books will be available, but I'll have signed them and doodled in them that afternoon...
Screenwriter Kay Mellor explores the legacy of Shelagh Delaney's play A Taste of Honey, fifty years after it first shocked and enthralled audiences. The play brought social taboos and working-class reality to the London stage as never before. Interviews with the original cast and archive material shed new light on the play's importance for the evolution of British theatre.
Fans of The Smiths and Northerners (Delaney was born in Broughton, Salford, Lancs.) of a certain age and hue will understand my nostalgia for this slice of sociology (which was one of the first things I ever saw in the theatre).
And now for some local news! Manchester Libraries now has its own literature blog. The Manchester Lit List is "dedicated to literature news and events in Manchester Libraries and partnering organisations. If you're looking for any information on readings by poets and novelists in Manchester, or if you would like to find out more about local and famous writers, then take a look."
Short notice I know, but this evening at 6pm, in Lecture Theatre 6 of the Geoffrey Manton Building, at MMU, there is going to be an Alice Oswald reading.
Alice is the author of Woods etc. and Dart. She is a past recipient of the Forward Poetry Prize and The Eric Gregory Award, and has been short-listed for the T.S. Elliot Prize. She was named one of the Poetry Book Society's Next Generation poets in 2004. This event is hosted by the Writing School, is open to the public, and is free of charge to students and staff of MMU, £5 (£3 concessions) to the rest of us.
A 30th birthday celebration of Manchester-based poetry publisher Carcanet Press (The Sunday Times Millennium Small Publisher of the Year in 2000) and its Editorial and Managing Director, the poet and critic Professor Michael Schmidt FRSL OBE, will take place at 7.30pm tonight at The Grand Gallery, The National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, New York. Hosted by the Poetry Society of America, the event will feature an incredible programme of readings by John Ashbery, Eavan Boland, Mark Doty, Marilyn Hacker, Stanley Moss, Kei Miller, Paul Muldoon, Maureen O'Hara, Marie Ponsot, John Peck, Susan Wheeler and David Yezzi. Admission is $10 / $7 for PSA members and students. Visit poetrysociety.org to book tickets.
A note from the good folk at the Manchester-based literary magazine Transmission:
That’s right folks, the new Transmission Weblog is here! It has taken the place of our previous news page and with it we will be keeping you up to date with the goings on at Transmission HQ, as well as reporting on the wider literary world.
As we gingerly dip our toes in the cyber waters of the 21st Century, visit our blog and let us know what you would like to see develop there and on the rest of the site.
Announcement: "Due to adverse weather conditions, the Geoffrey Manton Building is being evacuated on orders from the Vice Chancellor and will be closed from 4.30pm today. Please note that, as a result of this, tonight's reading event (Matthew Welton and Linda Chase) is cancelled. Apologies for any inconvenience caused."
We're battening down the hatches here in grey old Stockport, awaitin' the storm to arrive with some trepidation. Trepidation, and tea!