It can either sap your optimism, or it can solidify your pessimism. Neither, of course, are highly recommended. But there are times when you have no choice but to submit yourself to such degradations. Sometimes, it is a necessity. Sometimes, it's for pleasure.
And, in terms of art, it can be both. With exhilarating results for the audience.
Describing himself as a "...poet and filmmaker..." who creates "...literature, film and poetry of a transgressive nature...", Craig Podmore has been releasing books in some shape or form since 2009. Ugly, visceral works that make the reader want to bathe in Clorox afterwards, but that leave a tiny bit of filth in the memory. The only work of his that I was familiar with, prior to Your Misery .. is a collection of poetry called Toilet Mouth. Featuring a photo of Nancy Spungen's corpse lying under a sink, the collection was as grimy and abrasive as the cover.
Taking the form of a stream of conscience monologue, Your Misery ... depicts the inner thoughts and surroundings of a young woman called Mindy Lomas. As you can probably guess from my preamble, she is not in a good place. Here's how she describes herself and her daily activities:
I'm a crime scene without the forensics./ I'm semantics without the theatrics, / it's late at night, cold, wet, my body feels damp from withdrawal, / playing daddy fantasies on cam, / breast reduction spam, / emails from perverts exclaiming how much they want to fuck me...
Not exactly the cuddliest description of one self and their occupation. But this harsh, staccato inner dialogue that the reader is subjected to over 70 pages reflects the narrator's social and mental squalor perfectly before becoming much more explicit as the monologue progresses. Kept at a distance, but close enough to see the carpet beetles pollute the bed, it's a car crash that is inevitable but oddly compelling.
Admittedly, it's a one-note book. But it's one hell of a note. The mix of filth, deprivation and the lack of warmth and salvation equals a brutal read, making it Podmore's best work to date.
Craig Podmore, 2020, Your Misery is for Entertainment Purposes Only. Nihilism Revisited ISBN-13: 979-8656595452.
⏩Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.
the skin is made to crawl with this one Christopher. As I said to you earlier offline it made me go back in and reread the Nancy Spungen case. Dead at 20 - whatever the critics might say there had to be better than that for her. Life can often seem a curse rather than a gift.ReplyDelete
Yes, books like this do a much better service to the reader than the 'Angela's Ashes' style misery lit, which has a tendency to wallow in self pity without ever looking at the consequences of a downward spiral. If you read this book, you could envisage the character as a Nancy Spungen type.Delete
And, for the fellow Quillers, it's strange that we mention Nancy as today, 24 years ago, the Sex Pistols should have been playing Maysfield Leisure Centre in Belfast but it was cancelled due to objections from Belfast City Council.
Belfast’s loss was London’s gain. The Pistols played a quickly arranged show that night In London’s Shep Bush Empire and they were great. The US punk oral history book ‘Please Kill Me’ includes accounts of Nancy Spungen’s (and others) self debasement. The New York side of punk was strange collision of arty snobbishness and grim nihilism.ReplyDelete
PaulJPMN - love your comments on these pieces. So informative. Incidentally, the review was so good it received a grateful comment from the author on Twitter.ReplyDelete
That is true. It was also the show that inspired Alan McGee to take out a full page ad in the music papers saying how great the Pistols were as well as advertising his newest signing, 3 Colours Red, who later said that turned the press against them!
Kathy Acker lived in the Lower East Side alongside the likes of Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags.
Thanks AM. I visit the Pensive Quill most days to read what I can and I appreciate the wide sweep of the articles. I don’t always have something to say but there are articles here which give me plenty to think about and require reading more than once to take it all in. PQ is one place where free speech is genuinely valued which I think is due to you holding the line on the importance of hearing views and being prepared to argue them rather than silence them.ReplyDelete
I remember Alan McGee taking that very expensive ad out. I don’t remember 3 Colours Red though. I had seen the Sex Pistols in Finsbury Park a few weeks earlier and felt I shouldn’t have bothered. Iggy Pop who supported them at that show was even worse. The Pistols did it right at the Empire though despite Johnny Rotten having an instant and understandable strop when someone threw a drink at him just after he walked on stage. The Lower East Side seems to have been the place where all the real degenerates have based themselves. I will now check out Podmore’s work as a result of your review though with the awareness of the Quentin Crisp (another LES resident) quote: ‘To read a novel or see a play was to drink life through a straw - to smoke it through a filter tip …’
that is very generous.
I hope we continue to hold the line and promote diversity even if - as often is the occasion - the views that are the vehicle for that diversity are not something we personally would ever travel along. The right to hear is as important as the right to speak.