Illusory Flowers in an Empty Sky

Barry Graham, Scottish Author

Municipal Dreams by John Boughton

The White Book by Han Kang

Snowden's Box by Jessica Bruder and Dale Maharidge

No Longer Human by Dazai Osamu (again)

The Merry Muses of Caledonia by Robert Burns

#monthlyreads #books #barrygrahamauthor

—Barry Graham

graham at fastmail dot fm

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

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Glasgow is buried under snow today. It's exactly four years since I arrived back here, leaving the US after more than 20 years.

Last night, from my 10th-floor window, I watched the snow fall, watched some people build a snowman on the football pitch by my block of flats.

snow falling on night of plague building snowman on housing scheme football pitch

#barrygrahamauthor #glasgow #scotland #haibun #haiku

—Barry Graham

graham at fastmail dot fm

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

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I'm fortunate in that I work at home, so, as the plague worsens and lockdown continues, I don't have to go out, aside from necessary trips to get groceries. While the rules allow us to go outside for exercise, I've stopped doing that, as too many people are acting as though they're desperate to catch, or spread, the plague — not wearing masks, not social distancing, hanging out in groups. Two workers at my local supermarket have died. The walkway by the River Kelvin has been nicknamed The Disease Corridor.

So, instead of going out for walks, I now pace around my tiny flat.

This activity is about as entertaining as it sounds, so I listen to podcasts or music while pacing. Recently I've been getting into Japanese ambient. Here are the albums I find to be the best soundtrack for indoor treks to nowhere:

ddbb ddbb by Noda Yuki My favourite in this genre — sparse, spacious, beautiful.

Music for Nine Post Cards Music for Nine Post Cards by Yoshimura Hiroshi, the late, great pioneer of kankyō ongaku, or environment music.

Kankyō Ongaku Kankyō Ongaku, a fine compilation of compositions by masters of this form, including Yoshimura, Ashikawa Satoshi, Ito Akira and Sugaya Masahiro.

#pandemic #lockdown #covid19 #plaguediary #japaneseambientmusic #kankyōongaku #environmentmusic #nodayuki #yoshimurahiroshi #sugayamasahiro #ashikawasatoshi #barrygrahamauthor

—Barry Graham

graham at fastmail dot fm

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

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ddbb by Noda Yuki

Futha by Heilung

Live Ananda by Krishna Das

The Meth Lab by Method Man

Osaka Ramones by Shonen Knife

Live in London by Zeal and Ardor

Laws of Motion by Karine Polwart

Music for Nine Post Cards by Hiroshi Yoshimura

Generation Doom by Otep

Golden Rule by Muriel Grossmann

Inner World by His Holiness The Dalai Lama

#music #nodayuki #heilung #krishnadas #methodman #shonenknife #zealandardor #hiroshiyoshimura #otep #murielgrossmann #karinepolwart #dalailama #barrygrahamauthor

—Barry Graham

graham at fastmail dot fm

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

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Collected Poems by Norman MacCaig (yet again)

How to Blow Up a Pipeline by Andreas Malm

Long Live the Post Horn! by Vigdis Hjorth

Disobey by Frederic Gros

Into the Woods by Emily Carroll

Venus in the Blind Spot by Junji Ito

#monthlyreads #books #normanmaccaig #andreasmalm #vigdishjorth #fredericgros #emilycarroll #barrygrahamauthor

—Barry Graham

graham at fastmail dot fm

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

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In the summer of 1989, I finished writing my second novel, The Champion's New Clothes. It was a few months before my first, Of Darkness and Light, was published by Bloomsbury. They bought the second one right away, but took almost two years to publish it. Scotland on Sunday called it “entertaining, raw and punkish,” with “scenes of rampant evil.” It soon went out of print, and remained so for more than a decade.

Today, a French translation, Le Champion Nu (The Naked Champion), is published by Tusitala, who also published The Book of Man as Le livre de l'homme, and it has the same translator, Clélia Laventure.

It's a strange and happy feeling to see a book I finished at age 23 published in another language and country 32 years later.

#barrygrahamauthor #books #booksinfrenchtranslation #lechampionnu #thechampionsnewclothes #thebookofman #lelivredelhomme #ofdarknessandlight #scottishfiction #scottishbooks

—Barry Graham

graham at fastmail dot fm

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

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“A principal rule for writers, and especially those who want to describe their own sensations, is not to believe that their doing so indicates they possess a special disposition of nature in this respect. Others can perhaps do it just as well as you can. Only they do not make a business of it, because it seems to them silly to publicise such things.”

—Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

#writing #books #vanity #barrygrahamauthor

—Barry Graham

graham at fastmail dot fm

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

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Black Body by Bart Lessard

Earthlings by Murata Sayaka

Pine by Francine Toon

The Care Manifesto by The Care Collective

Shot by Gerard Brennan

Breasts and Eggs by Kawakami Mieko

Revolting Prostitutes by Juno Mack and Molly Smith

A Spell in the Wild by Alice Tarbuck

Girls Against God by Jenny Hval

There Is No Outside edited by Jessie Kindig, Mark Krotov, and Marco Roth

Mutual Aid by Dean Spade

Feminist City by Leslie Kern

The Southland by Johnny Shaw

Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald

#books #fiction #politics #righttothecity #crimefiction #horrorfiction #barrygrahamauthor

—Barry Graham

graham at fastmail dot fm

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

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Glasgow Live reports a new breed of rat, resistant to pest-control, is making its presence known.

This reminds me of the Glasgow bin-men's strike in 1975, when the “super rats” ran wild. I fictionalised it in my novel The Book of Man:

The middens were infested with rats. They’d appeared in force during the months when the Cleansing Department went on strike and rubbish filled the back courts in stinking piles. When the strike was over and the rubbish was gone, the rats were still with us. They got so big that the tabloids began printing stories about “super-rats.” For once they weren’t exaggerating. They were true, the stories about huge hungry rats attacking babies in their cots, and fighting back like angry cats when hysterical mothers tried to drive them away. Nobody wanted to believe the Victorian horror stories under the banner headlines. But, in 1970s Glasgow, they were true.

Some might say that Robert just evened things up a little, scored a few points for the two-leggers. Others would say the rats were in as bad a situation as we were and so you couldn’t really blame them.

Robert had a hamster-cage. It had housed a hamster at one time, and I don’t even want to speculate about what happened to it. But with the hamster gone, the cage wasn’t redundant.

He’d put a bit of rancid meat in the cage and leave it by the midden, with its door left open. He’d stand a distance away, but still close enough to see, and wait. It wouldn’t be long until there was a rat in the cage, groping and gnawing at the bait. Robert would rush over and kick the cage door shut.

He didn’t catch the biggest ones, the super-rats, because they couldn’t get through the small door. But the ones he caught had plenty to offer him by way of amusement.

In the afternoons, he had the two-room flat he lived in with his parents to himself. His father worked for the Cleansing (I swear it) and his mother had a part-time job in the local off-licence.

Robert would take the cage with the rat up to the flat. If the rat was lucky, it might get to finish eating the bait before Robert had boiled a pot of water big enough to fill the sink.

He’d pour the boiling water into the sink until it was nearly overflowing. Then he’d plunge the cage into the water and boil the rat alive.

Peter and I stood one afternoon in Robert’s grimy kitchen and watched a rat swell to nearly twice its size, saw its eyes strain to explode from its head, saw a red- brown substance — maybe its tongue — come out of its mouth as it rolled around under the steaming water.

You could smell it on the steam. Even after we’d left the flat and were walking along the road in the sunlight, I only had to take a deep breath and I’d smell it again. The smell of boiled rat.

#glasgowratinfestation #glasgowinthe1970s #superrats #maryhill #glasgow #scottishbooks #scottishfiction #thebookofman #barrygrahamauthor

—Barry Graham

graham at fastmail dot fm

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

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