Illusory Flowers in an Empty Sky

fiction

Nonfiction is defined by what it is not, rather than what it is. Fiction is not called “nonfact.” Is this because we regard fiction as the essence, or ideal, of literature? Does it resonate more with us because we innately understand it as more “real” than “true stories”?

#books #stories #nonfiction #fiction #literature

—Barry Graham

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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

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Authors are, with few exceptions, worthless scum. But, knowing that, even I was flaggergasted recently when I picked up a collection of stories by Chekhov, with an introduction by Richard Ford, and found the book had a biography of Ford... but not of Chekhov.

One of the few exceptions to the rule of authorial narcissism is the Icelandic novelist and poet Sjon, who, as editor of the Nordic writing anthology Dark Blue Winter Overcoat, didn't include any of his own work.

#chekhov #richardford #narcissism #authors #writers #sjon #books #fiction #barrygrahamauthor

—Barry Graham

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The latest book from my publisher, Dockyard Press, is Black Body and Other Stories by Bart Lessard.

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I first read this novel two years ago, and thought it one of the best I'd read in the last decade. Last year, I went to Reykjavik, where it's set, to get married, and it turned out to be my favourite city I've ever visited. That love of Iceland, and the awfulness of COVID-19, made me decide to reread it recently, and I liked it even better the second time.

It's set in 1918, during the Spanish flu pandemic. The protagonist is an orphaned teenage boy who lives with an elderly relative, sells sex to local men and visiting sailors, and has two obsessions: cinema, and a local girl. Then the virus arrives and spreads through the cinema crowds.

This is a short novel that tells a huge story of loneliness, class, secrets, love and friendship. It's grim and beautiful, and a book for the present time.

#sjon #barrygrahamauthor #books #fiction #bookreview #reykjavik #iceland #pandemic #covid19 #spanishflu1918

—Barry Graham

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Holding Back the Dawn is a short film from 2001, from a script by me based on a short story in my 1992 collection Get Out As Early As You Can. Shot in Phoenix, Arizona, it was directed by MV Moorhead, who also plays Tom. It depicts the last night of a relationship, and the game of psychological cat-and-mouse between Tom and Kate, who plans to leave him in the morning.

#shortfilm #indiefilm #fiction #barrygrahamauthor #mvmoorhead #heartbreak #relationships #emotionalabuse

—Barry Graham

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The Guardian asks: “Are novelists obliged to tell the story of their private life?”

​“Write what you know” is a maxim preached to aspiring writers.

I get emails from single fathers who tell me The Book of Man captured their experience. I have no children. I get emails from people who’ve been hospitalised for depression saying the same thing about the same book. I have never been depressed, and when I wrote that book I had never been hospitalised.

I have also never been a young Dutch woman, nor a Mexican-American drug-dealer and murderer, nor a murderous paedophile, nor a female ex-cop from an upper-class background, nor a former U.S. soldier turned handyman, nor a lounge musician who commits armed robberies.

War veterans have said that the book that best represented their experience was The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, who never saw combat.

Bram Stoker wasn’t a vampire. Stephen King doesn’t hang out in drains, wearing a clown suit and luring children to their doom. ​ Experience is a poor substitute for imagination and empathy.

#writing #books #fiction #ownvoices #barrygrahamauthor

—Barry Graham

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My short story The Temp Typist's Tale is published on Dockyard Press's Harbourmaster's Loug. It's a story of sexism, class struggle and different realms of power.

#fiction #noir #crimefiction #sexism #sexualharassment #murder #barrygrahamauthor

—Barry Graham

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