EDITORIAL - Ken Clay
EMILIA – Pavol Janik
THE STUFF THAT KILLS GERMS DEAD –Keith Howden
PARIS-AMSTERDAM UNDERGROUND – Jim Burns
MOTHER – Ivan de Nemethy
EIGHT OIKUS ON QUACKERY – David Birtwistle
FACEWORK – Tom Kilcourse
CLASS AND BOOKISHNESS – Rhian E Jones
PALE HADES - Tanner
ACHILLES’ HEEL – Tom Kilcourse
INLAND BEACH HUT (VIII) David Birtwistle
DANNY AND BENNY (3) – Bob Wild
AT O’DONNELL’S – John Lee
OIKU: FATHER TED RATHER DEAD – P.J. Fell
THE RHETORICS OF CONSTIPATION – Keith Howden
There’s something of a European air about this issue. We continue with the fascinating autobiog of the Hungarian Ivan de Nemethy and precede his episode with a story by the Secretary General of the Slovakian Writers Society, Pavol Janik. This is followed by Jim Burns’ review of Paris-Amsterdam Underground. Stretching a point we might remind readers that Tom Kilcourse lived in France for 17 years (but is now back in the UK) and that John Lee, formerly of Manchester, now lives in France and Spain, on which he reports in his story At O’Donnell’s. Tanner too has emigrated from the extra-territorial region of Liverpool, about which he continues to write, like James Joyce in Paris, with a kind of nostalgie de la boue, to… Swindon?! Bob Wild has Irish antecedents and this allows him a character assassination of an innocent Irish dog- loving transvestite – just as Samuel L. Jackson can freely use the word “nigger” and Woody Allen take the piss out of Jews. A squib by PJ Fell celebrates another example of Irish masochism (Father Ted). Locals Keith Howden and Dave Birtwistle have a crack at the English scene, in case you were feeling deracinated.
On more metaphysical matters we recycle Rhian E Jones great rant on the oik cultural straitjacket and how to get out of it - by reading. Read loads. Read your bleeding head off. Read till your eyes drop out. I couldn’t agree more and regard this as a healthy corrective to celeb hungry oiks who might be tempted to sign up for a creative writing course. I must thank Fred Whitehead of Kansas for digging this up. He has an astonishing radar for such things.
Apropos of creative writing I recycle a snippet I found myself. It’s hardly obscure. Indeed Ian Jack’s piece in the Guardian of March 8th was followed the week after by trumpetings from wounded profs in the subject – eg Jeanette Winterson, Blake Morrison, Toby Litt et al. Here’s the original torpedo:
Hanif Kureishi thinks creative writing courses are a waste of time, which is a dangerous thing to say given that he makes his living (not, all of it, but probably; more of it than he does from his novels) as a professor of creative writing at Kingston University. Telling a story well took a rare skill, he told an audience at the Bath literary festival last weekend. He estimated that perhaps 0.1% of his students had it. Could it be taught? Kureishi didn't think so. Would he pay money to take an MA in creative writing himself? "No... that would be madness."
We should feel sorry for all concerned: for a university that may consequently face a sharp drop in fee income; for Kureishi's students, who have paid £5,800 each (£12,700 for non-EU citizens) for their professor's useless course; and not least for Kureishi himself, biting the hand that fed him out of a rage confined as an occupation to those who had private incomes or the patronage of philanthropists and academies.
What tempts students towards such an unfeasible career? A clue lies on Kingston University's website: "A Kingston University creative writing MA graduate has been snapped up in a six-figure deal by one of the world's biggest publishers after her self-published books topped the Kindle download rankings, selling tens of thousands of copies." In other words, like winning the national lottery, it could happen to you.
Well, there you have it. Save your money – just read, write and subscribe to the Oik.
Ken Clay April 2014