Huw Nesbitt Talks To Stewart Home About Proletarian Post-Modernism & Other Things!

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Stewart Home is a novelist, poet and artist from South London. Since 1988 he has published 32 works of fiction and non-fiction, covering subjects as varied as 20th century Marxism, skinhead culture, continental philosophy and the meaning of sex and death under capitalism.

Existing at the fringes of the mainstream literary world, his novels read like a collision of Jonathan Swift, William Burroughs and Jean-Luc Godard. In 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess (2002), a suicidal man moves to Aberdeen and investigates a conspiracy theory claiming that Princess Diana’s corpse was dragged around Scottish stone circles until it fell apart; in Down & Out in Shoreditch Hoxton, prostitutes make startling pyscho-geographical discoveries; and in his most recent, Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane (2013), he subverts the campus-genre novel and populates it with zombies.

His long writing career hasn’t earned him a place in the literary establishment, but it’s unlikely that he cares. After the publisher of Down & Out went bust, Stewart went on tour, shredding copies and giving readings of the book, one of which is on a new spoken word record, Proletarian Postmodernism. He’s also known as an artist, winning the prestigious Paul Hamlyn Award for visual art last year.

I gave him a call to speak to him about his career and the world.” Read the full piece here!

Above: Stewart Home attempts to get inside his laptop. Photo by Stewart Home’s laptop.

Bill Breedlove On Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane

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Before: Having never read any of Mr. Home’s work before, I was an almost perfect audience for this book—I had no expectations at all, and after laughing out loud at the first couple of paragraphs, I was hooked. To that end, I feel like this should be registered as: N/A /10

During: If one is not easily offended, and not a slave to traditional narrative, this is one of the most consistently funny and enjoyable reading experiences one will find anywhere:  9/10

After: As engaging and fun as it was to read, upon later reflection, a feeling like consuming an entire cake—feeling slightly sick but steadfastly saying “I regret nothing!”—ensued.  More accurately, perhaps, would be “a filth hangover.”  8/10

Read more here!

Above: Stewart Home performance at Building F in London’s Stoke Newington on 23 November 2013.

Hestia Peppe More On Herself Than Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane…

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Hestia Peppe makes a lot of assumptions and misses a lot of humour while failing to review Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane by Stewart Home. She concludes: “People who love what they do (I swear, this isn’t about authenticity, it’s about motive) don’t care about being cult, they want everyone to love what they love, they are desperate to explain it. Preaching to a choir of apparent like minds, while potentially also quietly mocking them for enjoying your work and deriding in advance anyone who doesn’t is a ridiculous way to make art but more importantly seems like a half-arsed way of going about trying to destroy the novel-as-we-know-it. If you don’t want to blow everyone’s minds then you aren’t aiming near high enough…” Home isn’t mocking all of those who like what he does- although obviously he’s puzzled when some (not all) think he’s an anarchist when he’s not and he might mock those people but not everyone who likes what he does… He doesn’t expect everyone to like what he does, and said in interviews 20 years ago he thinks there will always be a divided audience of those that like and those that don’t like not just his books but any book or movie or piece of music… And if people don’t love what you do so what? It’s you utopian to think everyone will, it’s the kind of position you would expect from an anarchist. Read what is not a review but a typical bourgeois opinion piece here.

Edward S. Robinson on Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane!

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“The simplicity of the prose in Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane belies the book’s theoretical complexity and the multi-layered functions. It was, of course, ever thus in Home’s work. While he has often taken an idea and run it into the ground over the course of a novel,  Mandy, Charlie and Mary Jane proves that Home is, if anything, growing more ambitious and more sharp in his  dismantlement of contemporary culture, and stands as a veritable explosion of ideas. As contemporary fiction continues to slide evermore into formulaic banality, Home’s writing seems more essential than ever.”

Read the full review from Paraphilia Magazine here!

Above: Stewart Home on Ocean Parkway in Bolinas, California – 27 February 2013. Home is standing near the former site of 226 Ocean Parkway where his mother Julia Callan-Tompson lived in 1976/1977. The house appears to have been one of a number of ocean side properties in the hippie colony that have fallen into the sea over the past 30 years. Photo by Rebekah Weikel.

Michael Roth On Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane

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Michael Roth says “Stewart Home’s latest novel, Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane, is a brilliant satire on academia that begins simple enough then slowly devolves into a blood bath…” Read the full review here!

And Michael Roth has also interviewed Stewart Home about his new book – you can read that here!

As Michael lives in Canada there aren’t any pictures of him with Stewart Home on Home’s recent trip to California (they didn’t meet during Home’s sojourn) we’ve used something else. In the picture above you can see Home on the right with V. Vale of RE/Search and Blue Cheer fame opposite him on the left in the middle, and Marian Wallace beside Vale. Next to Home is Rebekah Weikel of Penny-Ante Editions (who published Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane). Hidden behind Vale is Jarett Kobek (both a Penny-Ante author and featured writer in the Semina series of experimental fiction Home edited for Book Works). Home is turned towards and speaking to writer Cassandra Troyan but she’s out of camera shot! The photo was taken in San Francisco on 28 February 2013 just prior to Home and Kobek doing a reading that also featured John Tottenham (who didn’t want to attend the meal before it).

Guardian Review Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane

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“Has a notorious situationist provocateur really written a campus novel? Only at first glance!” Read Nicholas Lezard’s full review here!

Image above of Stewart Home and his ‘brother’ Dire McCain (Home claims to be Dire’s sister) at Human Resources Gallery in Los Angeles on 3 March 2013. Photo © Richard A. Meade 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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Everyday Is Casual Sex Day With Charlie Templeton!

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The narrator of my new novel Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane (published 26 February) doesn’t believe in restricting casual sex to one day a week, he believes we should be polymorphously perverse 24-7 and all year long! Check it out for yourself once the book is published next month!

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….