The third talk of the BookBlast® 10×10 tour, a nationwide celebration of independent publishing, features Ra Page, founder and CEO of Comma Press, based in Manchester. Their “Reading the City” series of collected writings takes the literary adventurer down diverse explorations off the beaten track at home (such as The Book of Liverpool, The Book of Leeds) and abroad (such as The Book of Gaza, The Book of Havana, The Book of Riga, The Book of Tblisi).
On Thurs 20 Sept @WstonesLeeds Ra Page will be leading a discussion on gentrification, urban writing and short stories more generally with Ian Duhig, contributor to The Book of Leeds, and C.D. Rose, who is one of the contributors to the latest collection, The Book of Birmingham, due out on 27 September @WstonesLeeds
Book extract: The Book of Leeds. Meet the author in person on Thurs 20 Sept. @ianduhig
“One. Without thinking of. One, two three, four – instead he was thinking. Who’d put a bus stop outside a cemetery? It just gives the drivers a standing excuse for stupid jokes when they don’t arrive on time: “Late am I? Most are round here.” I’m late, I’m late for a very important date.
“One, two, three, four – St. Matthew’s Cemetery, named for the evangelist whose symbols include a human face. Facing the truth of the Word. What is the truth? Beauty? In a pig’s beholding eye. At school once, his class had been given pigs’ eyes to dissect. The wobbling white bulb felt all slobbery when he tried to get hold of it , and he kept thinking of the eye inside as like a little camera, full of images from its life. Pink teats, steel pens, concrete. A n d there really was a film, a sticky membrane like very thin bubblegum clinging to the eye. He held his breath and sawed at it with the scalpel he had been given which, paradoxically for safety reasons (to prevent pupils attempting -ectomies on each other) was kept too blunt to cut butter. Finally, leaning with all his weight behind the blade, the eye had bulged underneath it on either side – like monstrous buttocks until there was a rising squeak, then an explosion of that clear jelly like you get around the meat of a pork pie, and he lost his lunch all over Cronin. That was the day he had become a vegetarian.
“If he’d lost face among his friends then, it was what happened to the rest of it in the years that followed that really cost him company. His family face included an inherited inflammatory condition, light-sensitive, matrilinear, skipping generations like the gift of poetry, his mother had told him: it was in his Irish blood. “I am the family face; flesh perishes, I live on,” wrote Hardy in a poem which had always haunted him (his mind had become a patchwork of quotations from other poets, many of which he passed off as his own) . But now, he wasn’t so much haunted as possessed: without notice, the gift of the family face could bubble-wrap his own with h red welts and clear flat blisters like the screens on the wall outside the BBC Studios in town . What’s up Doc?”
The Book of Birmingham | Edited by Kavita Bhanot | Published 27 Sept. 2018
Featuring Balvinder Banga, Alan Beard, Jendella Benson, Kit de Waal, Sharon Duggal, Malachi McIntosh, Bobby Nayyar, Sibyl Ruth, @cdrose_writer
Birmingham is a writer’s city with a long tradition of distinctive literary subcultures. Long-established novelists such as David Lodge and Jim Crace have spent most of their writing lives there, and the city continues to support and inspire a new generation of voices.
Bringing together fiction from some of the city’s most talented writers, The Book of Birmingham showcases and celebrates original and unusual writing, in all its forms.Dan Micklethwaite is an award-winning short story author and novelist who does most of his writing in a shed in West Yorkshire. His debut novel was shortlisted for The Guardian’s “Not the Booker Prize” in 2016.
Sven Kuzmins & Dace Rukšāne will be discussing The Book of Riga with Ra Page at the Manchester Literary Festival on 15 October.