EDITORIAL - Ken Clay
THE DEEP END – Jim Burns
CRITIQUE OF IMPURE POETRY AND CANT– Alexis Lykiard
JOHNSON ADAPTED Alexis Lykiard 20
FOUR HAIKU - Alexis Lykiard
MEANDERING DOWN MEMORY LANE – John Lee
HEMINGWAY – Aubrey Malone
PIT ACCIDENT – Keith Howden
FAUGH’S DELPH – Keith Howden
THREE PERSONS OF INTEREST (4) – David Birstwistle
SECOND HAND LIFE – Kenn Taylor
DONNITHORNE (1) – Andrew Lee Hart
NATIONAL HEALTH – Graham Fulton
OUTCASTS – Mark Ward
THE SATURDAY BET – Tom Kelly
ERYSICHTHON – Paul Murgatroyd
DRAG – Tanner
PARKINSON’S OF SOUTHPORT – Ron Horsefield
MISS AITKEN (2) – Bob Wild
VIC – Ken Champion
BILL BUTLER AND THE UNICORN BOOKSHOP- Jim Burns
Have books had it? Will readers switch to gadgets like tablets, laptops or phones? Or even, becoming lazy illiterates, have stuff read to them as the guzzle Doritos on the couch? Not readers anymore but auditors. I doubt it. If it were, say, Kant or Wittgenstein sitting in a chair opposite you could pipe up on hearing a hard bit “The world is everything that is the case – just what does that mean Ludwig? How could you get a case big enough to hold the whole world. And surely the whole world wouldn’t be in the case since the case itself should be part of it.” Or after hearing the noumenon explained chip in with “Hang on a minute Manny – if we can’t know anything about the noumenon how do we know it even exists?” But no, the voice in your earpiece would be some posh git, probably an actor, parroting the text (for more on these much maligned creatures see p49 ) – or even, with no actual book involved, reading it off one of those prompt screens as on TV.
Surely the actual book itself is safe – but then so were the cuneiform tablets, hieroglyphics and the papyrus scrolls. These enduring manifestations didn’t need electricity or enabling software which changed every year so Jeff Bezos could get richer. But they went chips anyway – swept into history’s dustbin by the simple, universal, cheap and cheerful book. The computer, one grudgingly admits, has contributed to this cheap cheerfulness and made obsolete the arcane skills of the typesetter. Consider the miracle which you now hold in your hand, light, legible, costing less than the price of a pint in the West End. If you were about to be locked down by Boris and banged up for a year you could stick it in your back pocket and wait for the plague to pass.
Then there’s a more endangered ancillary – the bookshop. These are disappearing and their loss is much regretted by old fart technophobes. Yes, the hunt for the rare edition had its charms and these days, thanks to computers again, you can track down missing treasures on Abebooks. There are even back issues of The Crazy Oiks on there. I admit this with some sorrow thinking it a betrayal. But nowt beats a good root in a bookshop. The day can’t be far off when dealers charge you to enter – I’d pay. I recall a shop at the top of Hardman Street Liverpool (now gone) where the owner would let you in but then immediately locked the door.
Jim Burns explores these changes in his opening piece on The Literary Scene In The Great Depression And Today. Further on Kenn Taylor (a displaced scouser) describes somewhere not unlike Bohn’s in Liverpool’s London Road. Ron Horsefield is excited by Parkinson’s of Southport whose vast bound set of West Africa is still on offer long after old Parky has passed on. Finally, to bookend this issue (har har) Jim reminds us of Bill Butler the Brighton hippie owner of the Unicorn Bookshop.
We could go on name-dropping fast disappearing book Meccas or hyperplastic deformities like the Somerset Bookbarn (one million booka all a quid each) or Richard Booth’s Cinema Bookshop at Hay-on-Wye – 200,000 books in a seemingly endless labyrinth like something out of Borges. London, I suppose, is the ultimate destination but even the dedicated bookbibber James Campbell has given up his metropolitan perambulations and his back page column in the TLS. Sic transit gloria libris. Still, we don’t want to become hoarders (some people I know NEVER throw a book away) with piles of shite up to the ceiling and a dead rat or two under the mound.
Ken Clay October 2020
CRITIQUE OF IMPURE POETRY AND CANT
Each slab of self-obsessed chopped-prose has got
Ingratiating gimmicks, gizmos, smartest phones:
That might inform the verse, enlivening it.
That might inform the verse, enlivening it.
Proseurs and nincompoops provoke one’s groans
Portrait of a Man with Red Eyes - L.S. Lowry