Surfing the New Literary Wave

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Am mentioned in Sam Jordison’s “Surfing the New Literary Wave”, Guardian Books Blog, 12 February 2007

There may not be many new movements in books, but that’s probably because all the action’s online

Although it’s never entirely enjoyable to be proved wrong, I was still very pleased with the response to a blog I wrote at the end of last year about the lack of literary movements in contemporary literature. My contention might have received a firm rebuff, but following the suggestions in the comments has been most rewarding. They may not signal a new movement exactly, but if our times lack a Generation to rival the Beats, there’s no shortage of energetic underground activity – in cyberspace.

Admittedly there are as many yawning chasms of dull writing as high peaks of excellent prose, but for the past few weeks I’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring this new landscape. So, with the zeal of the newly returned traveller, I thought I’d compose a rough guide to the highlights.

One of the first stopping points has to be the excellent 3:AM Magazine. 3:AM (with apologies for straining my geographical metaphor yet further) more than delivers on its promise to provide a “dip in edgier waters”. If you scroll down the huge home page, you’ll find a healthy selection of interviews and a large array of short stories. I’d recommend Nathan Wilkinson’s Probability Anxiety for one. Elsewhere, 3:AM editor Andrew Gallix’s own work is well worth reading too.

Closely associated with 3:AM is the Offbeat Generation, a loose confederation of writers, who all – at the very least – show considerable promise. Worth investigation are: HP Tinker, Ben Myers, Paul Ewen, Heidi James, Matthew Coleman, and, especially, Tony O’Neill. The latter seems to be the figurehead for this burgeoning scene. He’s a man who has taken the phrase rock’n’roll poet to its furthest edges, as a former member of the infamous Brian Jonestown Massacre sacked for behaviour too wild even for that notorious band. Having finally cleaned up his act he’s written a memoir due out in April and (already touted as the next underground classic) and some quite brilliant, not to mention shocking, short stories.

The even more sweary cousins of the Offbeat Generation are The Brutalists, following whose trail led me into fascinatingly unexpected territory. Sure a lot of the writing was of the “I’m young! I’m in London! I’m drunk! Look at me!” genre, but there was no denying its energy. Clicking through the links on these various myspace pages was also an amusement in itself. I kept seeing a bare-chested man with a gas mask on his face called “T”, for instance.

I’m reliably informed that this is the author Travis Jeppesen, but all I got from visiting his site was horrific black metal from a band called Krieg and the information that T would like to meet “denizens of the next level” and is interested in combat boots and dwarves. Unsettling as that was, it was Mr Trippy (apparently a pseudonym of the always interesting Stewart Home); who finally convinced me I’d journeyed far enough down that particular link chain, thanks to his offer of “avant-garde porn” and “better living through chemistry”

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic resides the daddy of all online magazines, McSweeney’s. It now has as many detractors as loyal readers, but still seems to have the edge on young pretenders, the particularly user-hostile Underground Literary Alliance and the smart n+1 magazine.

The best US site that I visited came thanks to a tip-off from the editor of the (also excellent) Internet Board Poetry Community blog. It’s MiPoesias, a site distinguished by the realisation that the internet offers unparalleled opportunities to let visitorshear as well as read poetry. Their online audio show isn’t exactly a laugh a minute, but it does offer some fantastic readings from authors, as well as some fine interviews. (The best I’ve heard so far is a retrospective interview with the grand old man of American poetry, Donald Hall.)

Finally, in case anyone is feeling overwhelmed by all this enthusiasm, here’s a healthy dose of cynicism about the whole myspace phenomenon from the excellent Scarlett Thomas. For this link – and several others – I have to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Brunner, a poster on my movements blog. Thanks! I do consider myself enlightened – and, as you suggested, chastened. If anyone else would like to point out significant sites that I’ve missed, please go ahead.

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Literature For the MySpace Generation

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Am mentioned in Sam Jordison’s “Literature For the MySpace Generation,” The Guardian, Wednesday 7 February 2007

Sam Jordison discovers how a new wave of publishers and writers are harnessing the power of MySpace and print on demand to bypass their bricks-and-mortar competitors to find new audiences

Journalists have an appalling track record when it comes to predicting revolution in the publishing industry, particularly when related to new technology. It was only at the turn of the millennium, for instance, that we were confidently forecasting that the rising “e-tide” would wash away the old publishing houses. Electronic books were going to make the traditional ink and paper product seem as ludicrously old-fashioned as Moses’s stone tablets. Meanwhile, the free transfer of data on the internet was going to make publishers’ distribution networks entirely redundant and loosen their grasp on copyright so completely that most of their revenue streams would dry up.

Of course, since then, almost the exact opposite has happened. Numerous mergers and acquisitions have ensured that the big houses have a tighter grip on the market than ever before, while the internet has actually generated new millions and new markets as blogs and popular websites have been bought up and turned into successful product. And has anyone ever seen an e-book?

Bearing all this in mind — and remembering that it takes a special kind of fool to augur change in the book world anyway — it’s with considerable nervousness that I’m now going to make my own assertion. A shake-up may well be coming — and it’s thanks to the opportunities opened up by new technology and the internet.

Leading the charge is Heidi James, the 33-year-old owner and sole employee of Social Disease, a new kind of publishing company. It does most of its marketing and talent scouting on the internet and relies on new print on demand technology to keep its costs sufficiently low to ensure that, even if it can’t compete with the publishing behemoths, it won’t be crushed by them anytime soon either.

James sums up Social Disease’s raison d’être as: “Zadie Smith is not fucking interesting”, and neither are Monica Ali and the dozens of other writers of similar social comedies that emerged in the wake of White Teeth’s huge success. “All this postmodern irony is just so dull,” James explains. “And I realised that I really hate the homogeneity of the publishing world where it’s next to impossible to get genuinely interesting work published. The big publishing houses would have you believe that there isn’t a market for new and exciting work that takes a few risks and makes a demand on its readers, but that’s bollocks. Absolute bollocks.”

To prove this point she set up her own company, taking its name from the Andy Warhol quote — “I have Social Disease. I have to go out every night. If I stay home one night I start spreading rumours to my dogs” — and promising to bring back the element of risk that James claims has all but disappeared from conventional publishers’ lists.

“I don’t believe that people are stupid,” she declares. “I do believe that readers are out there. I know that people are interested and like to be challenged, it’s just that no one is prepared to challenge them at the moment. And if the product’s not there, how can they buy it?”

The plan of how to do this is beguilingly simple: there isn’t one. James is the only person in the company, so there are no shareholders to answer to. Social Disease’s costs are negligible: a small amount for cover designs and the time investment necessary to edit the books; and because it’s print on demand, there are no setup costs associated with each print run, the writers receive a healthy royalty for each book sold and profits can be ploughed back into design and marketing.

James claims there has been a significant takeup from independent booksellers, including such major players as Foyles. Meanwhile, the books are easily obtainable through Amazon and a growing community on the social networking site MySpace is already clamouring for the kind of writing that Social Disease promotes.

The implications of all this are intoxicating. Next time a John Kennedy Toole — whose suicide has been directly attributed to the fact that no one would print his masterpiece, A Confederacy of Dunces — comes along, their work can not only be published online, but stand a significant chance of finding a home with publishers like Social Disease who would risk nothing by promoting them.

However, if the advantages of this kind of small-scale, DIY publishing are clear, so too are the drawbacks. Print on demand is not yet able to provide the economies of scale of traditional print runs (the unit cost of a print run of one book is the same as for 10,000) and Social Disease is never going to make the kind of profits or pack the same marketing and distribution punch as the big publishing houses.

It’s also worth noting that James’s first novel, Carbon, is to be published by more conventional methods (via Wrecking Ball Press), although she does point out that one of her writers, Paul Ewen, recently declined the overtures of a bigger publisher to sign with Social Disease. More importantly, she says, her aim isn’t to make money and sell a product. It’s to nurture new talent, promote new writing, give writers a platform and at the same time offer the public choices that big publishers can’t or won’t.

Alongside James there now stand a growing number of like-minded readers and writers, exploiting MySpace’s networking and self-promotion opportunities as confidently as their counterparts in the music industry. Away from the prying eyes of the marketing departments and bean counters, the kind of community that publishers would love to create for themselves has been spontaneously growing up.

Most attempts have been doomed to failure because the website just doesn’t offer the same advantages to the printed word as it does to music (after all, it’s far easier to listen to a three-minute song than to read a novel, or even a short story, on the site’s notoriously badly designed blog interface). Nevertheless, these literary MySpace pages, complete with links to samples of their work, attract a large network of online “friends” who share similar tastes and interests.

Chief among these are the Brutalists and the Offbeat Generation, who between them boast hundreds of MySpace contacts (including countercultural figures like punk renaissance man Billy Childish, as well as the usual handful of bizarre tribute pages to dead heroes such as Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs), and whose message boards contain adverts for a bewildering array of literary events and websites offering samples of all manner of new and obscure writers’ work.

The Offbeat Generation is not, as its spokesman Andrew Gallix (the editor-in-chief of the long-running online literary magazine 3:AM) points out, strictly speaking “a generation” (since its writers range in age from 18-40), rather it is a bunch of people “united” because they “feel alienated by a publishing world dominated by marketing”.

The Brutalists, meanwhile, is a cheerfully sweary conglomerate of writers who also claim to be “united by our disgust with mainstream publishing world that consistently rejects us.” As they explain in their online manifesto, Brutalism “means writing that shows no quarter. Writing that rages and burns across the page — writing that doesn’t worry about causing offence, breaking taboos, cutting to the heart of it. Writing that may shock and shake the reader into submission rather than gently caress them. We’re not anti-intellectual or anti-literary but we are anti-apathy and we exist in a highly agitated state.” Pleasingly, they also note: “When they call Pete Doherty a poet — arguably a near contemporary in terms of age/background/interests/location — we can’t help but laugh.”

Both groups have a growing MySpace presence, are widely read on the net and — crucially — both are using that impetus to publish their own anthologies and launch their writers through independent publishers (including, naturally, Social Disease).

At the moment, much of the material you’ll find if you trawl through the links on their MySpace pages are reminiscent of the kind of mini-zine literature that used to be sold in places like the ICA and Tate Modern shop, demonstrating an overpowering influence of Huysmans and Bukowski and labouring under the belief that getting drunk is some kind of artistic statement.

However, as Heidi James points out, web publishing has the distinct advantage in that it’s free. And, whereas in the old days you had to spend your £5 before discovering that you didn’t like the writing in the mini-zines, with the net the worst that can happen is that you’ll hurt your eyes. “There’s also every chance that you’ll be find something you like, you can put it in your favourites to watch how the writer develops and follow the links he or she provides to more like-minded authors. That’s the beauty of it.”

What’s more, while there is a lot of chaff, there’s definitely also some wheat to be found, particularly around both the Brutalists and Offbeat Generation. Even the best writing could arguably benefit from the nurturing attention of a stern editor, but there’s no denying the abundant energy, passion and pleasingly warped imagination of writers such as Matthew Coleman, Ben Myers, HP Tinker, Tony O’Neill and Andrew Gallix — not to mention Heidi James herself. There’s every hope that soon one of them might produce something rather special — and that, if they continue to expand their influence as rapidly as they have been doing in recent months, mainstream publishers will have to sit up and take serious notice.

All the Latest

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Here’s all the news since I started the Andrew Gallix site in February 2007:

22 October 2007
Lee Rourke: “My collection of short stories would not be the book it ostensibly is without the editorial guidance and expertise of Andrew Gallix who painstakingly edited the manuscript”.

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October 2007
I’m quoted in an article (“Tell It Like It Is: The Offbeats” by Sarah Fakray) in the November issue of Dazed & Confused:

“…3:AM Magazine‘s Andrew Gallix has just finished putting together an anthology of key Offbeat writers’ short stories. ‘The movement is about to go overground,’ he explains. ‘The literary equivalent of the 1976 punk festival at the 100 Club.'”

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September 2007
Am mentioned by Lee Rourke in an interview with Susan Tomaselli published in dogmatika:

“I sent Heidi the manuscript for Everyday some time ago now. I didn’t think she’d like it at first. But she did. She passed it straight away to Andrew Gallix to edit and write the introduction. …The ‘Offbeat Generation’ tag was invented by Andrew Gallix, Editor-in-Chief at 3:AM Magazine and author of many surreal, tightly composed short stories. …Like many of the writers who have been labelled, or label themselves ‘Offbeat’, such as: Tom McCarthy, Stewart Home, Andrew Gallix, Travis Jeppesen, Heidi James, Matthew Coleman and Tony O’Neill et al., I very much stand alone.”

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25 September 2007
“Living Poetry” appeared in the Guardian Books Blog.

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21 September 2007
A picture of mine appears in Schmap New Orleans.

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15 September 2007
My interview with George Berger is published in 3:AM Magazine.
The Little Black Book: Books (Cassell Illustrated), to which I have contributed, is also published today.

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September 2007
I am interviewed in the first issue of The Great Small Fishes (September-November 2007).

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7 August 2007
Tom Bradley publishes an article about my fiction, entitled “Surplus Will”, in nthposition.

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August 2007
“Join the Slow Writing Movement” published in Shrug Magazine (August 2007)

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July 2007
A picture I took of Four Queens Hotel Casino appears in the third edition of Schmap Las Vegas.

2 July 2007
“Slow-Cooked Books: The Virtues of Writing Slowly” posted on the Guardian Books Blog.

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May 2007
“Half-Hearted Confessions of a Gelignite Dolly-Bird” published in issue 3 of BLATT.

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2 May 2007
A segment of RTE’s arts show The View was devoted today to Tom McCarthy’s Remainder. The author read from his novel which was then discussed by the members of a panel. The discussion began with Bisi Adigun quoting from my review of the book for 3:AM (which featured on the jacket of the hardback American edition): “I would start by quoting what 3:AM Magazine says. It says, it is ‘a masterpiece waiting to happen — again and again and again.'”

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2 May 2007
“Dark Young Things” (published under the title “Rebel With a Literary Cause”) was posted on the Guardian Books Blog.

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3 March 2007
“Forty Tiddly Winks” published in issue 45 of Scarecrow.

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12 February 2007
Am mentioned in Sam Jordison’s “Surfing the New Literary Wave”, Guardian Books Blog, 12 February 2007

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7 February 2007
Sam Jordison has published an article about the Offbeat Generation in The Guardian in which I am mentioned:

Sam Jordison, “Literature For the MySpace Generation,” The Guardian, Wednesday 7 February 2007

Mr Writer

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I am interviewed by Kelly Buckley in the first issue of The Great Small Fishes (September-November 2007):

MR WRITER

Andrew Gallix is The Editor-in-Chief at the critically acclaimed literary magazine, 3:AM. Not only has he been hailed as a man who has championed underground writing for years, but his own delicious oeuvre, published via the internet or small press, is well worth checking out. His style has been described as if ‘he invented Warhol on Monday, punk rock on Tuesday and then took the rest of the week off after declaring the project a sodding mess’ by renowned author Jim Ruland. Among other literary-related side-projects of Andrew’s, the 42-year-old is also part of a music band called The Ungodly Hours, the members of which are all writers. Oh, and if that isn’t bohemian enough for you, Andrew is half-English and half-French and lives in Paris.

Q: How do you think your passion for literature began?
A: Sadness and madness is the short answer. I don’t want to turn this into a sob story, but I had a very unhappy childhood during which make-believe was my only refuge. I used to invent characters I literally lived with: not only did I draw their pictures and write stories about them, but — more worryingly perhaps — I would talk to them all the time in my head. Don’t get me wrong, I never thought for one minute that these characters were real, but their ‘presence’ was such a source of comfort that I came to view interaction with other human beings — especially of my age — as a distraction from my mind games. For instance, I would hold silent conversations with my imaginary friends at the same time as I was talking to real people. The result is that I perceived reality through the idealistic prism of fiction and, like Emma Bovary, found it sorely lacking. Tom McCarthy, the author of Remainder, was telling me about trauma victims’ feeling of unreality and compulsion to re-enact the traumatic experience — the only one that seems real to them. My relationship with books and writing is linked to something very similar. Anyway, those who knew me as a kid always say that I was always either reading or writing. Both activities went hand-in-hand: if I read a book I liked, I started trying to write something similar. Nothing much has changed.

Q: Who have been your main influences throughout life, personally, professionally, creatively etc?
A: I could quote many writers who have meant so much to me over the years, but if I had to single out one defining influence, I’d have to say: punk. The punk movement was my Dada, my Surrealism, my May 1968… Nothing comes close to the adrenaline rush of those days. The fact that I was a kid at the time also meant that I experienced the whole thing at one remove, so it remained untainted by the necessary disappointments of reality. Trying to recapture that excitement is one of my main goals as a writer.

Q: What made you start 3:AM Magazine?
A: The site already existed. It had been launched by an enterprising young American called Kent Wilson. I sent him one of my short stories, he published it, we exchanged ideas on how to transform 3:AM into a proper webzine and he immediately offered me the position of editor-in-chief. Why did I accept his offer? Because webzines were a new phenomenon and everything was yet to be invented. Because I had this clear vision of a magazine which would put cutting-edge fiction into a wider cultural context through literary news (“Buzzwords” was arguably the world’s very first literary blog), or music coverage (many of the authors we liked had been influenced by punk, indie or rave music). The last reason, which I wasn’t fully conscious of at the time, is that 3:AM would provide the perfect excuse not to focus on what was most important to me: my own writing!

Q: What drives you to continue with it and your other projects every day?
A: The main reason why I’ve never been able to pack it in is that we’ve been so damn successful. Lots of other similar webzines have appeared in our wake, but I still think there is something pretty unique about what we’re doing. 3:AM is also a collective endeavor whereas writing is a very solitary exercise. That collective element restores a little sanity in my life.

Q: Did you imagine 3:AM would take off in the way that it has? Did you have a goal in mind at the beginning or has it been a purely organic process?
A: I had a clear vision of a post-punk literary magazine, but I had no idea we would become so influential. The internet was still largely uncharted territory back in 2000. There were already many websites publishing poetry and fiction, but no online literary magazines as such. We pretty much created the template, not only with our blog, but also by embracing the digital age. Most of our contemporaries were secretly hoping to graduate from the Net to traditional paper organs. We didn’t, which is why we soon abandoned the monthly issue format and went ‘live’ with constant updates. Similarly, we were the first truly international webzine with editors located all over the world collaborating on a daily basis although none of us (at the time) had ever met.

Q: You have quite a team working with you now at 3:AM now. How did the team grow?
A: At first, it was just me, then people gradually started getting in touch. Whenever I received really interesting submissions I tried to bring the authors on board. Today, we have a pretty large team but most of the work is still done by two or three people.

Q: Please tell us about the 3:AM book, The Edgier Waters, how it came about, how it was funded, etc?
A: We’d been toying with the idea of an anthology for a while and 3:AM‘s fifth anniversary seemed the perfect opportunity. The main problem is that most anthologies don’t sell, so publishers were very reluctant, which is why I came to the conclusion that we were wasting our time. Andrew Stevens then met James Bridle who worked for a new cutting-edge publisher called Snowbooks and it turned out that they were willing to publish it. There were no funding issues as the book was released by a proper publisher. Had we not found Snowbooks, we may have gone down the self-publishing route.

Q: Please tell us how you make a living — do any of your independent projects make you money?
A: I have been teaching at the Sorbonne University in Paris for quite a while now. The day job funds all my other projects, none of which have ever made any money (apart from journalism). I’d love to be able to write full-time. Then again, having a day job means that I don’t have to make any compromises in my writing. Paradoxically, many ‘alternative’ writers spend their time trying to make money precisely because they have shunned a steady day job, although there is little demand for what they produce.

Q: Can you tell us more about The Ungodly Hours and what exactly your involvement is.
A: I’ve always liked writers in bands, so we decided to create a band composed solely of writers as a kind of art project. Vim Cortez, who edits Paris Bitter Hearts Pit, writes most of the music. Matthew Coleman, with whom I’m editing the forthcoming Offbeat Generation anthology, is the singer. I play bass, drums and manage the band. Film should be a big part of this project (Matthew is also a film director), but we haven’t got round to that yet.

Q: Would you like to get a big publishing deal?
A: I’d love to.

Q: What can we expect next from Andrew Gallix?
A: Well, there’s the Offbeat Generation anthology I’m co-editing, which will be published by Social Disease towards the end of the year. I have a couple of short stories in forthcoming anthologies. I’m also working on a series of interviews for 3:AM, as well as a non-fiction piece. The next big step will be the novel.

Surplus Will: Tom Bradley on Gallix

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The mighty Tom Bradley has published an article about my fiction in nthposition:

Tom Bradley, “Surplus Will,” nthposition 7 August 2007

“A myriadminded man, Mr Best reminded. Coleridge called him a myriadminded man… His unremitting intellect is the hornmad Iago…”
— James Joyce, Ulysses

Almost nobody has ever adequately evoked that gorgeous monster-hardon called Paris. But Andrew Gallix has nailed it to the wall like a luminiferous aether of opium jelly. I reckon he can do it because his language is lush and orgiastic as the topic it encompasses. Well up to the task, with plenty left over.

One is left hankering for more, for a whole book of this Gelignite Dolly-Bird. She calls for an unzipping and delectating till consciousness succumbs, spilling out into a larger frame: effusion, sheer tsunamic detail of sense and satire, where one gets to fuck and mock multiple celebrities, ankle deep in menses and jizz, all over million-franc Persian rugs.

Gallix’s heroine has only just awakened from a drunken swoon when she sees a silver-greasepainted faun tiptoeing among the piles of her fellow fucked out orgiasts. He has awakened her with his “muffled squishy sound as of manifold foreskins peeled back in unison”, as he despoils the flopped bodies, the semi-comatose pataphysicians, post-structuralists and “pointilllist ponces in pointy shoes.”

Such a silver faun must soon transmogrify into an incubus outright, and so he does. He coalesces into Beauty itself, personified with a dick attached, and he despoils Gallix’s heroine, to the accompaniment of this mentholated whisper: “You can only take so much Beauty…” And that’s how much Beauty he gives us. The depravity of Gallix’s Paris is transfigured by paragraphs of sheer transcendent Beauty, given out with virtuosic offhandedness, as we ascend into Gallix’s galaxy: “…Fanny’s angelic features were bathed in gold, her halo melting like fondue cheese, and sparkling fruit carved in dewdrops dangled lasciviously from chandeliers like overripe testes.”

This Beauty, this silver faun, is a slender version of that other incubus whom we once saw tiptoeing and despoiling the flopped bodies at Shrewsbury, on the plain between Prince Hal’s camp and the rebels’. That far fatter faun, metallic with chain mail rather than silver greasepaint, was bent over a supine figure, too, like Gallix’s, and likewise whispered in its ear. But he didn’t say, “You can only take so much beauty.” Rather, he huffed, “if thou embowel me to-day, I’ll give you leave to powder me and eat me too tomorrow… with a new wound in your thigh, come you along with me.”

Falstaff’s embowelling cannibal woundings go direct and deep as Gallix’s Beauty, right down to our connective tissue. The former’s stomping ground was a blood-rank battlefield, while the latter’s is a rut-reeking Parisian parlour. But the deeper parallels hold true, those beauteous similarities obtain. As it is in Henry IV Part I, so it is in “Half-Hearted Confessions of a Gelignite Dolly-Bird”: every phrase of Gallix, every juxtaposition of words, is considered and balanced, faithful to the Shakespearean ideal.

And, like Will, he waxes hilarious, at will. An almost random selection of one liners from “Forty Tiddly Winks” will demonstrate:
“God knows how much of his mortal coil ended up in the hoover on a weekly basis.”
“One of them could actually recall being buggered by Bulgakov, and a bloody good shag it was too…”
“…as if he had spent the night snogging a siren in the snot-green sea.” (Not only the Bard, but Joyce is all through this, thoroughly assimilated and metabolized.)

In “Forty Tiddly Winks”, Gallix obliges so-called Judeo-Christian civilization with a hilariously despairing revision of the first several chapters of Genesis. His could be one of those great revisionist insights that penetrate and suffuse the collective awareness and spur new epochs: “The genocide of humanity itself.”

For Gallix, Adam has been replaced by Tim(e), the Miltonic lecturer who lives opposite Cerberus and is perpetually pursued by his own (Time’s) winged chariot. I can see why “Tim is out of joints”, and why he’s in such deep trouble with “them”: it’s because he has found out the most hideous secret of all: Eve and her hung hubby never ate of the tree in the first place, and were never as gods. Tim has Holocausted us all into a hole, Jew and gentile alike. Tim has run out.

The kiddy classroom in “Forty Tiddly Winks,” like the sixth chapter of Genesis, is peopled by critters procreatively bizarre enough to be identified with the Nephilim. Those tots prematurely pubesce, “ovulating wildly” as they gaze up at the forbidden fruit that oozes “angel-come,” in a paragraph that, beyond its other-dimensional strangeness, is physically delicious, like so many other Gallixian structures.

Miss Ramsay, the kiddies’ teacher, is terrible and unparaphrasable. She is the trans-sexed YHWH, jealous, apple-forbidding, seeing that “it was good.” She skips ahead a few pages to peek at the end of the Good Book, and finds herself suddenly in the middle of Saint John’s rant. Seeing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse “beyond the pale, skimming candy-floss clouds on foot-propelled micro-scooters,” Miss Ramsay is turned into a serpent coiffed medusa — one of many magical metamorphoses in this strange Gallixy.

Those micro-scooters go beyond art and beyond criticism, and scoot into realms we can only speculate about. We can only tentatively hazard that something seems to be undulating, or breathing behind these stories, as in the Hindus’ Unthinkable That — unadulterated strangeness.

This is my favorite kind of writing, all the more pleasurable for its rarity (almost nobody has the chops to do it): exploding with allusions to the big, the timeless, the Biblical, the Shakespearean, the Miltonic, the Joycean, claiming its own niche among those gorgeous monster hardons through sheer dint of artistic and intellectual doughtiness, and at the same time dancing light as a mote of hashish ash.

Nietzsche distinguished between artists who wring their works from a deficit of vitality, and those who blast forth from sheer surplus will. Andrew Gallix is clearly to be counted among the latter.