Posts Tagged ‘andrez bergen’

The Tobacco-Stained Sky: An Anthology of Post-Apocalyptic Noir has a new editor!

March 26, 2013 3 comments

Tobacco-Stained Sky_COVER

Exciting news – upcoming anthology The Tobacco-Stained Sky: An Anthology of Post-Apocalyptic Noir will now be edited by myself and Andrez Bergen for release in the second half of 2013. The book will be published by Another Sky Press, and publisher Kristopher Young has kindly given me a share of the editorial reins alongside Andrez. The Tobacco-Stained Sky is a themed collection of post-apocalyptic stories set in the universe of Andrez Bergen’s novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain GoatThe new collection  includes a story of my own, “The Dying Rain”, which features the same protagonist, Tyler Bramble, as my recently-published “Blue Swirls” in Tincture Journal. The collection features 16 stories and 8 comics, and now it’s my job to edit these works for publication and put them into a sequence. I’m enormously excited about the task and I can’t wait to get cracking – which I’ll be able to do as early as the upcoming Easter weekend when I’ll be at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre doing the first part of my Emerging Writer-in-Residence gig.

Oh, and I have another exciting piece of writing news that I’ll have to keep under my hat for a week or two yet. This regards Yellowcake Summer, sequel to Yellowcake Springs.

What I read in 2012, and some books to start 2013 with

December 31, 2012 2 comments

Books read in 2012

I managed to hit 70 books read in 2012, which I’m very pleased about. This is the highest number I’ve read in a year since I began documenting my reading fully in 2008. This year I discovered a number of authors I hadn’t read before but whom I took an instant liking to: the crime novels of American Megan Abbott, Australian crime novels by Garry Disher, and the works of American Southern writers William Gay and Daniel Woodrell. I read a few more novels by authors I’d already read before: English author Pat Barker’s non-WWI novels, more from the peerless J M Coetzee, Graham Greene, Johnathan Lethem (whom I’m still undecided on), DBC Pierre (whom I’ve decided I don’t like) and more. Two of my favourite novels of the year though were by writers I hadn’t read much of previously: The City and the City by China Mieville and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. Overall, my tastes seem to run mainly to crime novels and Southern Gothic, and my interest in speculative fiction is on the wane. Here’s the full list.

Abbott, M – The Song is You, Queenpin, Die a Little, Bury Me Deep

Atwood, M – Oryx & Crake

Auster, P – The Brooklyn Follies

Barker, P – Another World, Border Crossing

Bergen, A – Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat

Block, L – Grifter’s Game

Brown, L – Fay, Joe

Brautigan, R – Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar

Broderick/Di Fillipo – Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010

Burroughs, WS – Rub Out the Words: Letters of WSB 1959-74

Byfield, M – Flight

Carter, A – Prime Cut

Coetzee, J M – Foe, Boyhood

Covich, S – When We Remember They Call Us Liars

Chabon, M – The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

Deane, J – The Norseman’s Song

Dick, Philip K – The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike, The Simulacra

Disher, G – Blood Moon, The Dragon Man, Kittyhawk Down

Downham, J – Before I Die

Ellroy, J – The Black Dahlia

Faust, C – Money Shot

Gay, W – The Long Home, Provinces of Night, Twilight, Wittgenstein’s Lolita

Greene, G A Gun for Sale, Stamboul Train, The End of the Affair, Graham Greene: A Life in Letters

Hyde/Wintz – Precious Artifacts: A PKD Bibliography

Krasnostein, A (ed) – 2012

Ishiguro, K – Never Let Me Go

Kurkov, A – The Good Angel of Death

Lethem, J – The Disappointment Artist, Amnesia Moon

Luckhurst, R – The Angle Between Two Walls – J G Ballard

Mieville, C – The City and the City, Embassytown

McCarthy, C – The Crossing

McHugh, M – After the Apocalypse

Mosley, W – Devil in a Blue Dress

Orwell, G – Down and Out in Paris and London 

Pasternak, B – Doctor Zhivago

Pierre, DBC – Ludmilla’s Broken English, Vernon God Little

Palmer, C – PKD: Exhilaration and the Terror of the Postmodern

Priest, C – Boneshaker

Richardson, D – Ultra Soundings

Roth, P – The Plot Against America

Steinbeck, J – The Pearl

Stephenson, N – The Diamond Age

Swofford, A – Jarhead

Warren, K – Through Splintered Walls

Wessely, T (ed) – Epilogue

Weisman, A – The World Without Us (NF)

Woodrell, D – Winter’s Bone, Under the Bright Lights, Tomato Red, Give Us a Kiss, The Death of Sweet Mister

Books to read in 2013

I buy books a lot faster than I read them and thus I seem only to read about half of the books I buy. So I should slow down on the book buying, right? Riiiight 😉 Here’s my ‘immediate to-read’ list of 14, to be distinguished from my extended to-read list of 200+

Barker, P – Double Vision, Toby’s Room

I like Pat Barker quite a lot and I’ve managed to read at least half of her novels now. I complained a little to myself that she wrote too many books about WWI, but then in actual fact I prefer her WWI stuff to the contemporary novels of hers I read in 2012. Thus I’m looking forward to reading her latest novel, Toby’s Room, more than the older Double Vision.

Brown, H – Red Queen, After the Darkness

Russell of Reflexiones Finales put the thought of Australian writer Honey Brown into my head, and I’ve finally gotten around to picking up two of her novels today. I’ve made a brief start on Red Queen this afternoon and I like it plenty so far.

Coetzee, J M – Master of Petersburg

I’m not in a huge hurry to finish ploughing my way through the 7-8 Coetzee novels I’m yet to read, but I’ll get there eventually. I suspect I’ll pick up a couple more throughout the year.

Bergen, A – One Hundred Years of Vicissitude

Andrez Bergen’s second novel is on my immediate list courtesy of his excellent Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat. And he’s nearly finished a third novel. And a fourth, I think…

Disher, G – Wyatt

I’ve read a few Challis & Destry mysteries, but this will be the first I’ve seen of the Wyatt series.

Kempshall, P (ed) – Tales from the Second Storey

I picked this up at the KSP Minicon a few months ago and it has a very impressive Table of Contents…

Kerouac/Ginsberg – Letters

I love William Burroughs – his writing and his life – so much that I’m prepared to branch out into reading the letters of his friends now 🙂

Laidler, J – Pulling Down the Stars

I’ve almost finishing reading this one by the author of The Taste of Apple. Expect a review very soon.

McCullers, C – The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Been meaning to read this for a long time, but my mum says it’s awesome so I’ll read it.

Penzler, (ed) – The Lineup

A collection of interviews with famous crime writers on how they came up with their protagonists.

Temple, P – Truth

I hear it’s good.

Xinran – China Witness

Another non-fiction book by the author of The Good Women of China.

The Next Big Thing?

December 5, 2012 4 comments

I’ve been asked by several writers (specifically Martin Livings, Lee Battersby and Andrez Bergen) to participate in the ‘Next Big Thing’ Q&A. It’s my turn to post my responses, and I hereby decree that the writers who will follow me next week are Katie Stewart, Anthony Panegyres and Eliza-Jane Henry-Jones.

So here are my responses…

1) What is the working title of your next book?

Yellowcake Summer. This is the sequel to Yellowcake Springs. Don’t worry, there won’t be a Yellowcake Autumn or Winter. Duologies are so uncool that I’ve decided to produce one just to be un-hip.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well, I wrote Yellowcake Springs and really it was supposed to be done there, but the characters in that book stubbornly refused to leave me alone, hence the need to detail their further adventures.
3) What genre does your book fall under?

It’s dystopian science fiction or speculative fiction. Think 1984 or Martian Time-Slip.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Yellowcake Summer is a dark, dystopian tale of a nightmare vision of Western Australia’s future.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Well, neither. The first book is published by Interactive Publications and hopefully the second will be too. I don’t have an agent though.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

It’s only half done and I aim to have it completed in the upcoming summer break of Dec ’12/Jan /’13. I can write a novel in two summers normally, which involves about twelve weeks of actual writing.
8)8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Philip K. Dick’s Martian Time-Slip is probably the major point of comparison, I think.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always had a morbid fascination with nuclear war, so there’s that. A novel called Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells really inspired me to write this kind of thing, but there are other books of similar quality too.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It may not be the only novel set in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia, but I bet that it (and its prequel) are the only post-apocalyptic novels set in this area!

Book Review – Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez Bergen

May 29, 2011 1 comment

Andrez Bergen’s novel, Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, was released by Another Sky Press a month or two ago. Billed as “Blade Runner with a touch of Sam Spade”, the novel fuses the tropes of the science fiction and detective genres (hardly a new idea in itself) and ends up being something genuinely different from either. And that’s always a good thing. Partly this is because of the post-apocalyptic Melbourne setting, where it never seems to stop raining, but mostly it is due to Bergen’s extensive (and I mean extensive) film references in the novel.

Our P.I.’s name is Floyd and he’s an unhappy sort. He has a sick wife named Veronica who is hospitalised and may soon die. He has a job seeking out deviants, and for this he has ‘The Guide to Deviant Apprehension & Containment’, with its mantra of ‘Seek, Locate, Apprehend, Contain, Terminate [if necessary].’ Basically he’s a bounty hunter, and he’s none too happy about it, hence the copious amounts of alcohol that spill from Floyd’s pores and from these pages. Sometimes he is forced to undergo ‘The Test’, a virtual reality plane where he is subjected to various questions and challenges set by his nefarious employers. Floyd hates his job but he has to continue doing it to pay for Veronica’s ‘Hospitalization.’

This setup seems pretty standard. What is less standard about Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat are those copious film references I mentioned earlier. To give you an example of what I mean, these are the films referenced in the first chapter: The Third Man, Spellbound and The Illustrated Man. Add to this the references to Caberet Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle and you have a post-modern melange that is the most intriguing of novels.

Into this heady mix is thrown a generous dose of the Japanese culture that Bergen himself must know so much about, given that he has lived in Japan for many years. So we have a fossil of an old lady wearing a kimono appearing during ‘The Test’, discussion of the meaning of Japanese words, and more film references, such as to Seven Samurai. This works well in combination with the run-down detective situation, of course recalling the aforementioned Blade Runner.  Bergen writes assertively about Japanese culture and it works well enough on a gaijin like me.

Early on we are introduced to the seductive Laurel, who ends up taking the place of the sickly Veronica in Floyd’s life, but not his heart. Floyd’s apartment, apartment 1001, is about as shambolic as the contents of his mind. The only alcohol remaining untouched is a bottle of Siamese vodka, and the only companionship emanates from the actors in films like The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon that constantly play on the TV. Like Chandler’s Marlowe, Floyd is very much alone in the world.

Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is a novel that manages to be hardboiled and playful at the same time. What might otherwise be unremittingly bleak fare is lightened significantly by Floyd’s filmic imagination and his wisecracking wordplay. With little to sustain him (his diet seems to consist mainly of vodka, salt and vinegar chips, chocolate almonds and cigarettes), Floyd must struggle against both inner and outer demons. Alcohol seems to be the root of his problems, and he seems to get sozzled and beaten, not necessarily in that order, all too frequently. It’s an enjoyable read and one that I can heartily recommend to lovers of Melbourne, the detective genre, old movies, Japanese culture, or preferably all of the above. Rather impressively, the novel even contains an ‘Encyclopedia Tobacciana’, explaining many of the cultural references dotting these pages. There’s even a Glossary and a list of recommended films.

A word on this novel’s publisher, Another Sky Press. Based in Portland, Oregon, Another Sky has adopted a fairly radical publishing platform. Not only can you download their books for free, but if you want a physical copy you only pay how much you think the book deserves, plus a (miniscule) base price which would barely cover the cost of printing. You can read up on Another Sky’s philosophy here. I wholeheartedly approve of these policies and so should you. We need to support small companies such as this one to ensure that off-the-wall titles like Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat reach the audience they deserve.