A self-obsessed rotter with a heart of coal.
A Satanic Beatnik Exorcist of words that plague.
He has a new book out, We Are Glass by Murder Slim.
Buy it, read it, caress it …
I talked to him.
JM – UV. You’re a writer. Tell me a story. A true one.
UV – Well, there was this guy. He called himself “Ace” – I have no idea why he called himself that, he was about 5ft tall with a clouded over eye and one leg substantially shorter than the other. I frequently saw him limping around town from bar to bar. Always on his own.
This one dark, winter night he came in my local and sat in the corner, his one good eye nervously scanning the room. He finished his pint rather quickly and then lurched out the door, measly scrap of hair on his head flapping in the wind that blustered in.
I noticed he’d left his filthy, stinking blue anorak behind. I’d had a few drinks and ever the entertainer I put it on and to the laughter of my friends I started prancing about the pub in it doing “Ace” impressions.
At that moment two policemen walked in and arrested me. They grabbed me by the arms and took me outside.
I initially thought it was for stealing Ace’s coat or something stupid. But it turns out Ace had been lurking amongst the trees in the park earlier that evening. A woman had been sexually assaulted and the only description they had was that of a man in a dirty blue coat.
Of course, I was quickly absolved of any wrong-doing and Ace was picked up around the corner in another pub. I never saw his grizzled little face again. I think he was sent to a lunatic asylum.
JM – There’s a moral in there somewhere … Nope, lost it.
Reminds me of a guy in my hometown, Jooohnnnnnny he was known as. All cross-eyed and grotty tweed. Used to go up to the probably underage drinkers and ask “Excuse me … would you like to spank my monkey for me, please?”
I never did know if any of the ladies acquiesced to his request.
It’s such a sick world that we either lock up the mad … or give them their own TV shows.
As we are all on CCTV now and Britain is the most surveilled country in the world, don’t you think it’s about time we started performing in front of them there cameras? Give them a real show?
UV – I barely go out the house any more. I stay at home and write to expunge whatever it is within me. Once the demon is exorcised there will only be suicide left. I’m not in love with the world at all and I have always considered suicide to be a valid method of exiting this life.
Look, let me tell you, my life is chaos. I live in chaos and I’ve always lived in chaos. My finances are in chaos, my relationships with women are absolute chaos and my day to day living has no structure to it at all – it is chaos. I spend my nights swilling codeine tablets down with whisky. My experiences in life, and subsequently my outlook, is/are pretty bleak. I just want to shut myself away from the rest of the human race.
If anyone wants light-hearted humour the new book, We Are Glass, is not going to be for them. It’s not going to be for anyone who wants entertainment. If you’re looking for lightweight entertainment then look elsewhere. I’m not a genre writer. I don’t write to entertain. I’m not fun. I am not a particularly nice person either. I am riddled with mental illnesses that make life on a daily basis and interaction with other people a traumatic struggle for me. But what that means is, is that as a writer I am a rare commodity – I’m the golden-goose of the underground literary scene. A gift to a publisher. A fucking cash-cow! And I do it all without compromising my artistic integrity because I am genuinely a fuck-up – and therefore something special.
JM – So, your writing is a means to bring some form of order out of the chaos, to pile it up and light sparks until it’s all burnt out in purging blaze?
UV – It’s raw and visceral writing, fuelled by the physicality of my existence. It’s me that’s burned out. There is no separation between me and the writing. When I get bald and frail I won’t be able to do it any more. I’ll have a short, explosive writing career. And probably a short life. There is no pretence in what I write, it is grounded in my past experiences. I am not at all like many of them on the literary scene. The last thing I want is to be invited to one of their little literary brunches and have to watch that lot flouncing around in their velvet britches and silk scarves, sipping creme de menthes or whatever the fuck it is that bunch of fairies do at those type of gatherings. I’m telling you, these people are all fucking each other up the jacksie. It’s incest. I’m serious; it’s a little buddy-club. And extremely damaging to literature. Me, I stand alone. I stand apart from the Frilly Knickers Brigade.
Though don’t get me wrong; of course there are writers out there that I like. I saw that Heidi James bird in the low-budget vampire flick Razor Blade Smile. I’d have given it her straight up the wazoo. She’s a writer these days. I’ve never read any of her work but I’m sure it’s very good.
JM – We Are Glass. Transparent and fragile, it’s true, but sharp enough to prick a finger or slit a throat or two?
UV – Not of it’s sugar glass. The fake stuff they use in films. That’s all this life is. We are indeed fragile, that’s all we are; sugar glass. I’ve seen the strongest men broken by life. I always liked the lyrics from Jane’s Addiction’s Ocean Size: I was made with a heart of stone / to be broken with one hard blow / but I’ve seen the ocean break on the shore / and come together with no harm done / I wish I could be more like the ocean.
It’s bullshit to say people aren’t reading any more. We’ve been in the middle of a literary revolution the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the invention of the printing press. People are reading, sure enough. Writers need to learn how to make themselves a bit more interesting. Most of them are so boring to hear speak no wonder nobody is inspired to pick up and read their dribblings. Plus, have you seen most of these writers? What a bunch of fucking gargoyles. And their dress sense leaves a lot to be desired as well.
If I could write what people wanted I’d do so. Yeah, I’d write some facile shit about wizards and goblins and go and buy myself an Aston Martin. But I can’t write that crap. I can only express aspects of my own life. I haven’t got a message for the world. I don’t profess that anything I write is absolute truth. My characters are just broken people drifting in the same world as me. It’s just one person’s experience of the world – which is a truth no more or less than any other truth. But I don’t speak the language of all mankind. I’m not in touch with the trees. I don’t go swimming with dolphins either. I couldn’t give a shit.
JM – Where do you see this revolution going? Are the behemoths of the publishing industry just going to hoover it all up and spit it all out?
Or do you see the industry fragmenting and floundering around with new models like the music industry did?
Or something else?
And seeing as every fucker is a poet these days and people are stuck in their unimaginative boxes, what will be the mechanism from separating the wheat from the chaff?
UV – It’s like Gil Scott Heron said: the revolution will not be televised. We are in the middle of a technological revolution. The invention of the printing press sometime in the fourteen hundreds brought literature and information to the masses for the first time. The internet has gone one step further and put the writing itself into the hands of the masses. But the minds of the populace have been destroyed by consumerism. The revolution will not be televised because they’ll just go back to sucking on their Coca-Cola and McDonalds. I think mass consumerism is succeeding where religions and political ideologies have failed. Homogeny is probably part of the evolution of the human race. It is becoming normal to buy one’s identity off the peg and soon everything will be one, bland amorphous mass.
No writer worth their salt needs a teacher or a creative writing group. You need the tenacity to find your own voice, overcoming decades of rejection. You just keep giving it them until they listen. Those who claim to “teach” creative writing should be shot. And those that seek the tutelage of said “teachers” should be dropped in a vat of acid. I’d break their fingers with a hammer so they can’t type any more of their shit. That is how I’d sort the wheat from the chaff – with an iron hand.
A lot of the writers on the scene are into fitness. They’re going jogging. Flouncing around trendy Bistros drinking fruit juice. Meanwhile, some skag-addled tramp somewhere is writing something better than they ever have. Because they see themselves as celebrities of some sort they never write anything of note. It’s mediocre. They’re a clan of pretentious ponces. But I don’t need to indicate individuals by name – those who have risen to prominence illegitimately know it in their hearts, and secretly they feel shame. These are the fuckers I refer to as the Frilly Knickers Brigade.
JM – Has this not always been the way of things since time immemorial? Hubert Selby Jr, even though he wrote some of the sharpest writing, spent most of life doing menial jobs and only got truly recognised when he was more or less on his deathbed. Because of a film.
People feel happy being told dull stories by those with a background of money. It’s the belief in the superiority of a specific form of education. It’s the same trust in authority that leads people to only believe what “experts” tell them. Even if those “experts” are funded by certain interest groups to reinforce a point of view.
UV – Oh Christ on the crapper, yes. Everybody is so full of shit.
Alan Bennett says the London Review of Books is the most radical magazine we have. What an ignoramus.
Fuck the Guardian and the TLS, wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire. Who cares what any of those silly sausages think? I know what they are. And what they are is a bunch of airy-fairy faries.
Myself, I do not believe in the construction of stories. I believe in deconstruction. If I did have a purpose I’d say it was to destroy all literary pretensions and conventions. Thank fuck I’m not part of that little chummy-chum scene, all licking each other’s genitals. Murder Slim Press are a brave publisher, they’ve been great to work with and We Are Glass puts me out there as a man amongst fleas. Sure as shit, the Frilly Knickers Brigade will try and ignore it, they’ll try to pretend it isn’t there. But thanks to Murder Slim it is there.
JM – So, here’s the 6 million dollar question …
Why do you feel the urge to get your work published?
To be a gadfly in the frilly knickers, the perennial thorn in side?
Surely not to be … accepted?
UV – I’m not a normally aspirated human being. They sent me to the school psychiatrist first. Then later they stuck me under one of those scanners, you know, those things that scan your head. They found abnormal readings in my brain. The doctors said they were fucked if they knew what was up with me. But eventually through various examinations they came to the conclusion I am borderline schizo or something. Or psycho. Yeah, it might have been psycho. A bit of both, I think they said. You see, I don’t interact well. I observe things. But I really have always been on the outside looking in, unable to break through the barrier that separates me from other people. I think this sense of isolation forms the foundations of my work.
I’d like to think I am writing something of cultural relevance though. I wouldn’t say to be accepted, no. But I do have a desire to communicate.
As you well know, I’ve been around the underground lit scene for over twenty years. I’ve been called existentialist, nihilist, even an impressionist with comparisons to Giuseppe Ungaretti. Others have compared me to Kerouac and Bukowski. But those writers were of a certain time, their own time. I am a writer for this age. I don’t accept the comparisons as at all accurate. I’ve been called a lot of things. But I am none of that. I am a pariah. They will read into my work whatever they wish. I’ve stopped worrying about what the current literary in-crowds think. Their own work lacks substance so these little groups of friends club together and present themselves as some kind of literary movement. It’s a false construct and the only movement they’re making is a collective bowel movement, producing a heap of shit. And I’m not just some mouthy bastard from Birmingham, what I’m saying here is the truth. So I certainly have no desire to be accepted by that bunch of fairies. But accepted by someone somewhere, yes. In the final analysis, everyone is alone.
U.V. Ray lives at http://www.uvray.moonfruit.com
Jason Michel is Editor at Pulp Metal Magazine every 6 months (except on Thursdays. He fucking hates Thursdays).