Monday, April 14, 2008

Music & F(r)iction

I'm always keen on finding the occasional confluences of literature and music; but the latest gives particular pleasure. A few years on from "Manchester, England" and the City Life Book of Manchester Stories, and over a decade since "Disco Biscuits", Manchester's demi monde is probably overdue a literary overskating, and who better to do it than Joe Stretch, who when he's not been writing "Friction", his well received debut, is playing with the band Performance. They appropriated the early eighties electronica that has since - through everyone from Dfa records to New Young Pony Club - become a de rigeur of cool; but typically, perhaps because they always delved in the deeper, more blood-soaked end of the pool, they've remained on the edge of both Manchester (and pop's) vision. All the better then that Stretch has moved into a more (or less?) respectable career. I've never really met him or the band, though used to read poetry at the same venues/same nights as they were around, but a few years ago, they were asking for stories written about their songs, and I wrote a short piece called "Architecture and police", which was, for a while, on their website. I look forward to reading his fictional debut.

If being in a band qualifies you to write about the city life, then being a (youngish) (male) writer seems to make you wish you were in a band. Simon Armitage has been all around the papers with "Gig", a prose memoir both about performing, and about not being in a band - whilst Toby Litt has collected his music stories together in a new book , "I play the drums in a band called okay"- so there's two books by writers who weren't in bands, and one by someone who was. Featured in that long ago City Life book was Mark E. Smith of the Fall of course, and his own long-awaited autobiography is out shortly, with an extract in today's Guardian. Following in the footsteps of that other hard-to-figure punk-poet Dylan; one's tempted to think that literature and music might mix after all. It just depends which side of the album you want to play first.


Ulises Lima said...

Another new writer who blends the worlds of music and fiction is Rob Chapman, whose new novel Dusk Music is just out. I saw him reading in Liverpool (alongside Willy Vlautin) and was impressed. He was in a band but now writes. I'm about a third of the way through the novel; it's good - moving from the sixties to the present following the misfortunes of a guitarist who plays alongside Hendrix then falls out of step with fame. At least that's what's happened so far. You might want to have a look.

Adrian Slatcher said...

Thanks for the recommendation.