Christopher Owens 🔖 The 21st century has turned out to be a time where progression and regression march hand in hand.


That initial euphoria experienced on January 1st, 2000, has long subsided in favour of a disaffected, paranoid outlook on modern life where former visions of the future have been downsized to build a world that doesn't know what it's after, but wants to be seen doing good in the process.

In that time, we've seen the fabric that holds society together rip and, all of a sudden, notions that we once held have been disabused and our trust in our fellow human is at an all-time low. Will we ever recover? Who knows?

However, we can always find solace in the fact that the chaos has inspired our creative types to push themselves further to capture this broken society.

Creative types like Zak Ferguson.

Based in Brighton, Ferguson described himself in simple terms: 

I write. I confound. I exhume. I savour. I loathe. I confuse. I gorge. I muse. I love. I obsess. I struggle. I write. I read. I watch. I write. I write. I write. I write ... Therapy is not the process, its what’s laid out on the page.

And that is certainly the case with Soft Tissues.

Subtitled ‘An experiment’, it traces the steady decline of a world raved by pandemics, ailing establishments and nihilistic participants, hardened by a world where new-born babies are dumped on the motorway and cleared by a government approved motorway disposal unit. Told through a stream of conscience narrative, the ever-flowing imagery is harsh and unforgiving:

Big Brother came slow – on their vengeful trail – every action, stabbing, punch, threat, headbutt, attack – is a tale. Too late. He said she said – as the gut lays flat out and dying. A tramp sees his gaping wound as an opportunity to get a wet- red rash kick. Leaves no trail nor trace of his wound raping. Most, a sad, long, morose, drug related, woeful, tale…Tales told through indoctrination – birthed by street culture and knife crime. A story they cannot write, nor sadly speak.

Notice how the societal use of violence becomes so ingrained in the collective mindset that it has such bleak outcomes for the individual (who uses it as a form of sexual gratification) and for the community (where it becomes an unspoken tradition handed down from generation to generation in order to solve disputes).

As the book progresses, we begin to see a new form of sexuality emerge. One that has thoroughly deconstructed the notion of love itself, reducing sex to a dismal, sordid act that does not revel in pleasure but rather in its own sordidness, leaving a question mark over what happens to humanity down the line.

Running in under 90 pages, this exploration of modern society would, in lesser capable hands, be a taxing read. However, Ferguson is adept at keeping the reader intrigued through his harsh, clipped style of writing, his sense of flow and cohesion as well as incorporating his own photography into the book. The end result is not unlike The Waste Land: a depiction of broken symbols and a broken society nearing collapse. It’s never mournful, nor is it giddy at the prospect, which might unnerve some.

One to hand to people when they want to understand how societal breakdown manifests itself in literature.

Zak Ferguson, 2021, Soft Tissues. Sweat Drenched Press. ISBN-13: 979-8724072199

⏩ 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. 

Soft Tissues

Christopher Owens 🔖 The 21st century has turned out to be a time where progression and regression march hand in hand.


That initial euphoria experienced on January 1st, 2000, has long subsided in favour of a disaffected, paranoid outlook on modern life where former visions of the future have been downsized to build a world that doesn't know what it's after, but wants to be seen doing good in the process.

In that time, we've seen the fabric that holds society together rip and, all of a sudden, notions that we once held have been disabused and our trust in our fellow human is at an all-time low. Will we ever recover? Who knows?

However, we can always find solace in the fact that the chaos has inspired our creative types to push themselves further to capture this broken society.

Creative types like Zak Ferguson.

Based in Brighton, Ferguson described himself in simple terms: 

I write. I confound. I exhume. I savour. I loathe. I confuse. I gorge. I muse. I love. I obsess. I struggle. I write. I read. I watch. I write. I write. I write. I write ... Therapy is not the process, its what’s laid out on the page.

And that is certainly the case with Soft Tissues.

Subtitled ‘An experiment’, it traces the steady decline of a world raved by pandemics, ailing establishments and nihilistic participants, hardened by a world where new-born babies are dumped on the motorway and cleared by a government approved motorway disposal unit. Told through a stream of conscience narrative, the ever-flowing imagery is harsh and unforgiving:

Big Brother came slow – on their vengeful trail – every action, stabbing, punch, threat, headbutt, attack – is a tale. Too late. He said she said – as the gut lays flat out and dying. A tramp sees his gaping wound as an opportunity to get a wet- red rash kick. Leaves no trail nor trace of his wound raping. Most, a sad, long, morose, drug related, woeful, tale…Tales told through indoctrination – birthed by street culture and knife crime. A story they cannot write, nor sadly speak.

Notice how the societal use of violence becomes so ingrained in the collective mindset that it has such bleak outcomes for the individual (who uses it as a form of sexual gratification) and for the community (where it becomes an unspoken tradition handed down from generation to generation in order to solve disputes).

As the book progresses, we begin to see a new form of sexuality emerge. One that has thoroughly deconstructed the notion of love itself, reducing sex to a dismal, sordid act that does not revel in pleasure but rather in its own sordidness, leaving a question mark over what happens to humanity down the line.

Running in under 90 pages, this exploration of modern society would, in lesser capable hands, be a taxing read. However, Ferguson is adept at keeping the reader intrigued through his harsh, clipped style of writing, his sense of flow and cohesion as well as incorporating his own photography into the book. The end result is not unlike The Waste Land: a depiction of broken symbols and a broken society nearing collapse. It’s never mournful, nor is it giddy at the prospect, which might unnerve some.

One to hand to people when they want to understand how societal breakdown manifests itself in literature.

Zak Ferguson, 2021, Soft Tissues. Sweat Drenched Press. ISBN-13: 979-8724072199

⏩ 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. 

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