Tosh Berman on Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane

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“Stewart Home maybe my favorite London novelist in the 21st Century, and I am saying ‘maybe’ because i haven’t read every novel by him…. yet.  But nevertheless his new novel “Mandy, Charlie, and Mary-Jane” is a superb piece of work.” Read Tosh Berman’s full review here!

Photo above: Tosh Berman and Stewart Home with writers Maxi Kim and Jarett Kobek (who had books in the Semina series of experimental novels Home edited for Book Works and Home also had a book in this series). Tosh Berman’s father Wallace Berman edited the legendary Semina magazine which inspired beat novelist Alex Trocchi’s Sigma publications (and Home’s first novel Pure Mania was published by Polygon in 1989 in their Sigma series inspired by Trocchi – so what goes around comes around). “The Semina Gang – writers drinking coffee and juice” at Alcove Cafe & Bakery on Hillhurst Avenue, Los Angeles, CA on 4 March 2013.

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Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane Arrives In London!

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Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane Arrives In London!

Stewart Home with his new novel Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane in Lincoln’s Inn Fields (the largest public square in London) the day printed copies arrived in the UK from the USA – 30 january 2013. The novel is published on 26 February 2013.

Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane – Why 2005?

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Some of those who’ve seen the proofs for my new novel Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane (published 26 February 2013) have asked me why I used a 2005 setting for the book. The answer is quite simple, it was contemporary as I wrote, I started the book when I was writer-in-residence at York University in May and June of that year, then completed it over the summer of 2005. Therefore the exhibitions and news events I mention were what was going on around me.

The biggest news event of 2005 in the UK was the 7/7 bombings in London. I was back home from York when these took place and experienced at first hand the chaos the attacks caused around London. The 7 July 2005 London bombings (often referred to as 7/7) were a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks in London which targeted civilians using the public transport system during the morning rush hour.

On the morning of Thursday, 7 July 2005, four Islamist home-grown terrorists detonated four bombs, three in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city and, later, a fourth on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. Fifty-two civilians and the four bombers were killed in the attacks, and over 700 more were injured. Homemade organic peroxide–based devices packed into rucksacks caused the explosions. The bombings were followed exactly two weeks later by a further series of attempted attacks.

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The 7/7 bombings were incorporated into the narrative of Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane and sensitivity about the subject in its immediate aftermath was such that when I’d completed the book my treatment of the subject didn’t go down well with UK publishers. They didn’t seem to understand that the narrator is deluded when he wrongly concludes the 7/7 bombings were carried out by pagans and decides to emulate them.  Among my many intentions was a desire to parody the ridiculous 7/7 conspiracy theories that emerged very quickly after the bombings, and to try to get people to see that all terrorists are reactionary scumbags regardless of the ideology they spout (and this applies to Leninist or anarchist terrorists as much as pagans or those who claim they are ‘making the world safe for democracy’).

Since among other things editors were wary of taking on a novel that was narrated by a suicide bomber, Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane didn’t find a publisher in the mid-noughties despite being sent to the usual UK based suspects. My last book Blood Rites of the Bourgeoisie was completed 5 years after Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane and there was no delay in its publication. Blood Rites was also started but not finished when I had a writer-in-residence post, but at Strathclyde University rather than York. Aside from these two anti-novels, none of my other books were written (or rather partly written) as a writer-in-residence.

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I’ll Be Doggone! Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane has a fictional double!

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I got an email last night from Nick Royle after I sent him a PDF of Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane. Until then I hadn’t realised he had a new novel out last week. He also kindly attached at scan of the first page. It contained a description of his narrator sitting in an office at a university and had striking similarities to my opening page. We soon discovered that we’d even written these opening passages at roughly the same time. But there the really close similarities between Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane and Royle’s First Novel (actually his seventh) would seem to end. Both are campus novels but whereas Royle’s narrator goes out dogging to research a new book, mine is a psychopathic nutter who needs to excuse for his murderous sexual excesses. Likewise my narrator Charlie Templeton isn’t interested in dogging because he likes the women he fucks to be unconscious…. and the sickness of his sexual kick requires it is indulged in private! That said we both wrote our books when we were teaching creative writing (I was writer-in-residence at York University but set my novel in Newcastle and London rather than where it was typed out), Royle has a faculty post in Manchester and his novel is set there… So I guess we’re both reflecting the perils and tedium of academic life when we kick off….

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Royle’s narrator needs to travel by car to engage in dogging (public sex in lay-bys and car parks), mine often travels on public transport….

Protest Against The Ongoing Failure To Close All London Police Stations!

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This week the UK media got in a frenzy about the possibility of half London’s police stations closing down. If right-wing journalists were serious about the need to cut crime then they would want all London’s police stations closed down and all London’s cops given their marching orders. But the law and order brigade are all about posturing and never advocate real solutions to the issues they flag up. The police don’t solve crimes they create crimes – they fabricate evidence, take bribes, fit-up innocent people etc. Getting rid of London’s police would clean up the streets and massively reduce crime in the city.