Exiles Guest Blog: Alienation by Richard Godwin

exiles artizanThe road is a pretty malleable image. My story is about exile that is both imposed and the result of trying not to be a prisoner of alienation. Don is a criminal with a poetic vision. He belongs in a Jean Genet novel, a man with a massive rose beating in his troubled heart. The narrator, Mike, is hitchhiking, riding the road, being picked up by strangers. Watching the shadows on the walls of the homes and being outside, being alien, being something else. We categorise, we belong to groups, to clubs, we are inside, and outside are all the exiles. To blur the lines, to define yourself.

My story is about a drifter who encounters a criminalised visionary who makes him see something about himself, something that was missing. It’s about a guy who hitches a ride from a stranger who is more familiar to him than anyone and who leaves him tasting stale beer. Falling through the hourglass.

Alienation pervades modern existence. We live in an age of massive information that disseminates just about everything and because of its overload creates complex patterns of data that overwhelm the senses. On the road searching, hunting for a path that has meaning. Through the dissemination of facts the black out.

And inasmuch as Falling Through The Hourglass is about two men searching for a way out or a way through, it is about society today. It is about lies and the need for what Ibsen called the life lie to sustain us. It is about certainty and how you survive its absence. It is about Art and identity. And it is about all the roads that remove you from yourself. And the ones that lead you back there.

 Bio: Richard Godwin is the author of critically acclaimed novels Apostle Rising, Mr. Glamour,  One Lost Summer, Noir City and Confessions Of A Hit Man. He is also a published poet and a produced playwright. His stories have been published in over 34 anthologies, among them his anthology of stories, Piquant: Tales Of The Mustard Man. Godwin was born in London and obtained a BA and MA in English and American Literature from King’s College London, where he also lectured. You can find out more about him at his website www.richardgodwin.net , where you can also read his Chin Wags At The Slaughterhouse, his highly popular and unusual interviews with other authors.

Exiles: An Outsider Anthology is OUT NOW.

Short, Sharp Interview: Allan Miles

PDB: Can you pitch 18 DAYS  in 25 words or less?

A dark journey into one man’s mind as he struggles to cope with a horrific tragedy in his personal life. Not for the faint-hearted.

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

I enjoyed the latest Irvine Welsh book, Skagboys. It’s his best since Filth in my opinion. Also Gary Neville’s autobiography is well worth a read.

The last film I saw that I really enjoyed was a John Huston one called Wise Blood. It was made in 1978 though so it isn’t really recent. I’ve been watching an Italian drama called Romanzo Criminale. The first series was on Sky Arts last year and the wife and I enjoyed it so much that I trawled the four corners of the internet looking for series 2 on DVD. I eventually bought it off Amazon Italia for an obscene amount of money and about three weeks after we finished it they put it on Sky Arts as well! It was worth it though, I think it’s the best TV show I’ve ever seen. Better than The Sopranos, miles better than The Wire (bafflingly overrated) and it just about shades Twin Peaks. If you’ve not heard of it, find it. Its brilliant.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

It is essential that a writer is an objective reader. I absolutely loathed the analysis of other people’s work when I was doing A-Levels, etc. If you immerse yourself in a story without trying to consciously work out why it’s good you will sub-consciously pick up much more than if you sit and pick it to bits. It must be a really empty experience to read like that.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

I’ve written a couple of scripts but I’ll need to improve my writing of dialogue before I really have a go. It does interest me though. 18 Days could easily be made into a film. If I had the time, resources and know-how I’d make it myself. Any budding directors who want a project, you can have the film rights if you pay my gas bill for a couple of months.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

Well this is my first book and I have to say I hardly put any research in at all. It’s all about mood and atmosphere. Some of the more disturbing bits are wildly exaggerated versions of stories I’ve heard or experiences I’ve had, and the settings are places I already know.

PDB How useful or important are social media for you as a writer? 

I’m still learning but I wouldn’t have got to correspond with a fraction of the people I have if it wasn’t for Facebook and Twitter. 

PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2012?

I’m going to become a complete publicity whore in order to sell 18 Days!

Bio: Allan  Miles is from Hull. You can find him Twittering here.

Recommended Read: The Fall by Albert Camus

I have no friends, I only have accomplices now. On the other hand, my accomplices are more numerous than my friends: they are the human race.’

Jean-Baptiste Clamence, a former big shot Parisian lawyer, and self-proclaimed ‘judge-penitent’, sits in Mexico City, a smoky, pokey bar in the murky depths of Amsterdam’s red-light district. And he tells a fellow Frenchman about the time when, given the chance to save a young woman’s life, he did nothing. And his subsequent fall from grace.

Camus’ The Fall is a stylishly written series of monologues about the desensitising nature of modern life, guilt, ‘the fundamental duplicity of the human being’, responsibility and more. And it’s a right riveting read, it really is. The intimacy of Clamence’s barfly confession drags you along as we hear how, like a true noir protagonist, his life spirals further down from Parisian high life to Amsterdam’s fog and neon soaked underbelly.

The Fall was Camus last work of fiction, published in 1956, four years before he died. At 146 pages is a short, bitter and hard-hitting espresso that will give more than a few jolts during a sleepless night.

Bang, fucking bang The mighty Fall!

(This post first appeared at Loitering With Intent as part of the Criminal Classics season)

Recommended Read: Ritual In The Dark by Colin Wilson

“Not since Dickens has a British fiction-writer dealt with murder in a book of such size and seriousness” – SUNDAY EXPRESS

Colin Wilson’s Ritual In The Dark is a cracking read and certainly a very British book. I first got ‘into Colin Wilson– as I did with many writers, artists and filmmakers via music. In my later teens, one of my favourite bands was The Fall. The Fall‘s lead singer, okay dictator, was , and remarkably still is, Mark E Smith.

Like me, Mark E Smith was an over-read, working class, Northern lad who had left school at sixteen, blessed and cursed with an over ripe imagination.

The Fall, of course, were named after Alber Camus‘ best book but their previous name was The Outsiders, after another Camus book. But there was another The Outsider, I discovered after reading a MES interview. And one that wasn’t written by some namby-pamby Continental intellectual but by another ‘ over-read, working class, Northern lad who had left school at sixteen, blessed and cursed with an over ripe imagination.’ (Okay, Leicester isn’t really THE NORTH but you get my drift…)

And so I started to immerse myself deeply in the weird and frightening world of Colin Wilson. Of course, I avoided The Outsider for a long time – philosophy, the great waste of the tax payers’ money- but I’d heard that he wrote dark crime stories,  including one, The Killer, which is partly set in my home town of Hartlepool. Hartlepool library, in fact, had lots of his books and you could usually find them in charity shops, which is where I found Ritual In The Dark.

So, ‘Ritual’ is that now over egged pudding, a serial killer story. A ‘modern day’ Jack The Ripper tale which would be called a period piece now. It’s a kind of British Crime and Punishment which takes place in a sexually and socially repressed 1950’s Britain and a vividly drawn Soho. Written in 1949 but published in 1960 it is distinctly pre- The Beatles (pre rebellious youth) and post WW2. It is also a distinctly British exploration of existential extremes featuring a murderer who kills as a creative act, a positive rebellion against the supposed unimportance of his existence.

Ritual In The Dark -Post war angst in a world where ‘we’ve never had it so good’ simply isn’t good enough.