|Dimensions||200 × 130 × 8 mm|
Homunculus is billed as a collection of sixteen “fairy tales for adults” with something for every reader. The author has largely retained the classical fairy-tale structure with its elements of surprise and the constant intertwining of the real and unreal, but he transcends the sugar-sweet endings we are familiar with. Prokopiev presents us with a wide range of more “mature” themes too – the erotic, the tragic, feelings of alienation. Some of the stories are related to internationally known fairy tales such as “Tom Thumb”, where the main character struggles with an oedipal bond with his mother, or “The Huntsman”, told from the perspective of the hunter sent out to kill Snow White. Others go back to Macedonian folk roots or have been freely composed by Prokopiev himself.
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The thread connecting the tales in ‘Corksucker‘ is the years Fante spent as a cab driver and self loathing alcoholic in the pitiless sunshine of Los Angles. All of the anger and rage of the novels are here, yet the format of the short story allows him to shift focus away from Fante as anti-hero and focus on the bizarre and damaged characters who come in and out of his orbit: the sad, petty, spiteful alcoholic doorman known as Wifebeater Bob, the beautiful, grief-crazed, tragic Mrs. Randolph and most memorably the smacked-out, fast talking, amoral Libby who along with his girlfriend Niggabitch and their insatiable pet boa constrictor form the nucleus of one of the collections stand out stories – the outrageous, ghoulish black comedy ‘Princess.’
London, early-1970s. In a city plagued by football violence, Republican bombings, blackouts and virulent racism, a new urban myth is taking hold. Among the broken down estates, crumbling squats and failed projects of a dying metropolis, whispered sightings of a malevolent figure nicknamed the Judderman are spreading. A manifestation of the sick psyche of a city, or something else?
t’s a quiet house, sheltered, standing in a mass of tangled old trees called the Holtwood. Raymond watches it. He’s been watching it, through a gap in the fence at the bottom of the garden, for weeks. Thinking about the elderly owners, Mr and Mrs Latch, who took him in one night when he was a frightened boy caught up in an emergency. Mr Latch showed him something that was kept in a wardrobe in the spare room. He can’t remember what it was. He only knows how sick it made him feel. Raymond watches Holt House. He has to remember what he saw. He has to get inside.
How do we even begin to narrate the history of the world? Where do we start, and where do we end? Fireflies is Luis Sagasti’s bold and original attempt to answer these questions. Taking an eclectic array of influences and personalities from modern history, he teases out events that at first glance seem random and insignificant and proceeds to weave them together masterfully, entertaining as he enlightens. Joseph Beuys, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Stanley Kubrick, Neil Armstrong, Wittgenstein, Glenn Miller and the Beatles; poets and authors, priests, astronauts and Russian sailors all make an appearance, and Sagasti finds common threads to bind their stories together.
The fireflies themselves perhaps provide the key to understanding this book. They become a metaphor for the resistance of certain luminous moments, certain twinkling fragments of history, to the passing of time. They remind us that events do not always disappear neatly into the darkness, but rather remain, floating in the air, lighting up the night sky for years to come. Sagasti shows us that the present moment, like this novel, is a tapestry woven of a multiplicity of times.
Using his unique, poetic and keenly observant style, Sagasti turns the accidents of history into a single, lyrical constellation, and for the reader it’s an extraordinary sight.
Verse Matters harnesses the power of everyday stories, highlighting the strength and inspiration that comes from speaking out proudly in unsettled times. This anthology of poems and prose, edited by award-winning Sheffield-based writers Helen Mort and Rachel Bower, brings a diverse range of voices to the fore, from celebrated contemporary poets like Malika Booker, Liz Berry and Hollie McNish to first-time published writers from home and abroad. What brings them together is the extraordinary, ordinary tales they tell each other, and their determination to be heard.