Established 2003. Now incorporating The Sudbury Hill Harrow and Wherever End Times

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Electric Acorn

Issue 16 is now online.

"You'll find simply excellent short fiction and poetry by clicking on the link - We include work by fine Irish poets such as Nigel McLoughlin, Fred Johnston, Patricia Anne Moore and Mary Guckian and wonderful stories by Jack Portland, Stephen Moran and others. We also include work by internationally renowned writers such as Moshe Bennaroch, Maria Jacketti, MTC Cronin and Terese Coe." (Nessa O'Mahony, Editor, Electric Acorn)


Monday, September 27, 2004

Saving of comments / new system

I regret to say I'm going to have to get rid of Squawkbox from here and go over to the new Blogger comments system. It's mainly to avoid the Squawkbox renewal price (£14), but it's also advantageous to go with the flow of the new free Blogger system. If commenters want to preserve any of the old comments, I will leave the links for a while so you can copy them. There is also a Squawkbox backup in XML format, which I can save / forward.


Adventures in publishing

Preethi Nair is famous for a publishing coup with her first book. She told us all about it at a reading in Willesden Library Centre last week.

She had been working in the city and writing in spare time on her way to work every day. When she finished the last chapter of Gypsy Masala she couldn't wait to get away from her boring job so she told her boss she was quitting to be a writer. She couldn't tell her family because they were an old-fashioned Indian family who had all sorts of plans for her, so she put on a suit and went out every day as if going to work.

She sent copies of her manuscript out to publishers and as they bounced back or were ignored it dawned on her that she was in trouble. She decided to invest ten thousand pounds and self-publish the book, planning a complete publicity campaign, printing and launch.

She invented a publishing company, Ninefish, and started phoning newspapers as "Pru", a pushy publicist, canvassing interviews for Preethi Nair whose book "they were going to publish." Then she would talk to them in her own voice as Preethi Nair. It worked. Interest was stirred.

Preethi went to a printer and arranged for 3,000 copies to be printed and available as of a certain date. She was able to arrange a TV interview for the week of the launch. Somebody phoned from her hometown to tell her the books had been delivered. So she rushed home from London to a room full of books. When she opened the first one she found (yes, to her horror) that page 179 was blank, completely blank - and it wasn't supposed to be.

The printer said it was his fault but it would take 2 months till he would be able to reprint the books. So she told him to print three thousand copies of page 179 and send them to her right away, and she sat and glued the missing page into every one of the books.

TV interview. Great. All about the book. It was only when the interviewer asked her where viewers could obtain copies of her book that she realised she had completely overlooked the issue of distribution. She had thought that by telling distribution companies her book was available, it would find its way somehow into shops . It doesn't work like that.

You gotta love this writer. She set out to visit every bookshop in London. Every day she went out with a suitcase full of books, saying 'I'm Preethi Nair, will you take a few.' 200 bookshops. It had been over two years since she'd finished writing the book.

One day she went back to a bookshop in Finchley Road to find Gypsy Masala was on the second shelf in a top ten display, above Booker nominees etc. She thought it was some mistake, or because her book was the right size to fit there or something, but no, she had a local hit.

It was about this time that the story of her fake publishing company got out, and it was featured on page three of the London Evening Standard. "Pru" had been shortlisted for the PPC Publicist of the Year Award, but her cover was blown -- it was Preethi all along. The publicity turned a local hit into one that sold 3,000 copies each from about 40 more bookshops, which is a lot of books (as she said.)

There was a contretemps at this point. The fuel protest blockades started here, and trucks couldn't pick up her books from the printers and distribute them. The moment was lost. As she told us, once the story goes cold like that you're old news and nobody wants to know anymore.

Preethi doesn't write every day nine to five or anything like that. Somebody lent her a cottage in the country and she went away to write a new novel. By this time she had an agent who gave her helpful feedback chapter by chapter and encouragement. Preethi completed the novel in six weeks, expressing all the pent-up feelings and stories from the past two and a half years in a fictionalised version of her own publishing adventure, Beyond Indigo.

After a bidding war, the novel was sold to Harper Collins and they gave her a deal. Part of the deal was for her to rework Gypsy Masala and the result was 100 Shades of White. I have a signed copy here. There are echoes in it of Arundhati Roy's novel The God of Small Things. For one thing they both originate from Kerala in Southern India. More good news for the author, the BBC is going to make a mini-series from it.


Poll puts Labour third

Labour are now more unpopular than at any time since Michael Foot was leader. (Skynews)

Sunday, September 26, 2004


You're all so knowledgeable

Did we hear right, that Michael Howard is promising to abolish Death if he gets in? We might consider voting for him, in that case. Or is it just opposition for opposition's sake, because Blair is trying to abolish Life? We don't know which would be better.

Mr & Mrs T. P. Munnelly

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Four years for attempted murder

Headline news from Sky News - Witness the event: "The earliest he can be considered for parole is four years."

What? What sort of "life sentence" is that? This guy stabbed a woman teacher in the stomach, when she was out jogging in the park. She would've died had a doctor not been nearby.

He stabbed another youth in the chest, and they failed to even convict him on that of wounding with intent to cause GBH.

A quick search on Google UK, shows you can get four years for music piracy or possession of cannabis resin, for example.

Camera fade-in...

Life and War with Mikey 'Fatboy' Delgado


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Buddhist wisdom

Thich Nhat Hanh, from The Shambala Sun*:

My right hand has written all the poems that I have composed. My left hand has not written a single poem. But my right hand does not think, 'Left Hand, you are good for nothing.' My right hand does not have a superiority complex. That is why it is very happy. My left hand does not have any complex at all. In my two hands there is the kind of wisdom called the wisdom of nondiscrimination.

One day I was hammering a nail and my right hand was not very accurate and instead of pounding on the nail it pounded on my finger. It put the hammer down and took care of the left hand in a very tender way, as if it were taking care of itself. It did not say, "Left Hand, you have to remember that I have taken good care of you and you have to pay me back in the future." There was no such thinking. And my left hand did not say, "Right Hand, you have done me a lot of harm—give me that hammer, I want justice." My two hands know that they are members of one body; they are in each other.

*Via DeadDrunkDublin



The latest WriteThis, along with some interesting new writing, has this interview with Jonathan Safran Foer by Timothy Schaffrick. Other contributors to one of the biggest ever issues of this punkish magazine: Wayne Bowman, Craig Kirchner, Aryan Kaganof, Yvonne Chism-Peace, Josh Davis, Kabuki Concarne, Darnell Thomas, Michael Internicola and Dan Schneider.


Saturday, September 11, 2004

A previously unpublished short story by Truman Capote

In a letter dated May 15, 1950, Capote, who was 25 and had already published his first novel, ''Other Voices, Other Rooms,'' wrote that he had just finished a new story -- The Bargain.'' The story disappeared from view, however, and was apparently lost. It was discovered earlier this year in the archives of the New York Public Library, where it had been filed along with the rest of the personal papers found after his death in 1984. It appears here for the first time -- as far as anyone knows, the last unpublished story by Truman Capote. ( Here it is: The Bargain


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Ah the hell with it

I've listened to all your appeal and made a decision. I have me pride. Muzzy 'Poorboy' Pirbhai tried to gazunder me down to 50p, so I told him to stuff it. Right you lot, teabreak over - back on your heads! Get them bogies rolling, as they say.

Ol' red eyes is back.

Red Woodward

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Google: Japanese women for sale on eBay

I was searching for a poetry site to repair a dead link on my website. The site was called "Japanese Women Poets". When I searched for it on Google, I got the following, listed alongside the results:

Discount Japanese Women
New & used selection. Japanese Women for sale.

Women For Sale
Low Priced Women. Big Selection!

Japanese Women Need Love
We want Nice guy to Love and go for date together.

Here, try it for yourself and let me know if they're any good.*

*Well they've gone and fixed it, but not before I got this screenshot.


Monday, September 06, 2004

Charleston, Charleston made in, uh, East Sussex

I'm off to the Small Wonder short story festival at Charleston (a stately home near Firle, in East Sussex) this weekend to hear William Trevor and a few others. Tickets are still available for all events at the time of writing.


Sunday, September 05, 2004


I've turned on the sitefeed setting, to let people with newsreader programs pick up the first couple of lines of posts here and links to read the rest. It's Atom-compatible, whatever that is. The link is down the sidebar there somewhere and this is it here too: sitefeed. Anyone know what the best newsreader program to get is?


It's big and it's good

Big Bridge


It's been fun

Goodnight Willesden

I'm sorry for the reporters and photographers who have stuck their arses out to make this newspaper what it is. We'll never see their likes again. The dear knows we've been through thin together. It is with a middle to light-heavy weight heart that I have finally accepted Muzzy Pirbhai's offer to incorporate the Herald into the Brent Cross Bugle. For a nominal price of £1, Muzzy will take over our debts, and turn Herald House into a community pigeon loft.


E. R. Woodward

Friday, September 03, 2004


Is Bush anally fixated?

I was trying to figure out what all that weird grimacing was about during George Bush's address to the Republican convention, or where I'd seen it before. Then it struck me. Those were the facial expressions of a tot learning to use a potty. When he was trying to read a paragraph from the autocue he was straining over it. The corners of the mouth would go down. He looked like he might be about to cry. Then when he got to the end of a paragraph he would sway back and crack an infantile smile that said "What a good boy I am." He is small-minded and infantile, and the crowd he was addressing looked like a load of dumbells too.

Prof. Kronk

*Correspondents' views do not necessarily coincide with the opinions of the Marketing Dept. Ed.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

"If the eye be sound the fish is sweet"

SoundEye has an interesting collaborative poetry writing project called "Offsets". People post poems linked to other poems and a tree grows of linked poems, sprouting other poems, which sprout others and so on ad infinitem.


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Star Letter*

Greg Dyke to stand against Blair?

How many would vote for Greg Dyke against Tony Blair if the other parties gave him a clear run as an Independent, like Martin Bell?

Mrs A. Dock

*A fiver goes to the writer of this week's star letter. Ed.