“The Book Club is not hip, but on Monday evening, I felt the bibliophilic glamour of a place, which, despite its age and sometime pokiness, is founded on the fundamentally sound principal that if you have three glasses of wine in a plastic cup and listen to something beautiful or see it, it can change the whole complexion of the world.” On seeing two of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists.
Recommended: Ellah Alfrey on selecting Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists.
During those hours, when schizophrenia speaks through him, my cousin also hears the sounds of Anathema, Dismember, Obituary, Dying Fetus, Napalm Death, Venom, Suicidal Tendencies, Bathory, Overkill, Sodom, Testament, Carcass, Cephalic Carnage, Kreator, Nuclear Assault, Voivod, Judas Priest, Helloween, Possessed, Morbid Angel, Exhumed, Enslaved, Massacre, Lamb of God, White Zombie, Dark Tranquility, Autopsy, Immolation, Extreme Noise Terror, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Darkthrone, Grave, Exodus, Necrophagia, Post Mortem, Decapitated, Sacramentum.
After waking us up to their favorite Brazilian novelists, the editorial board at Granta is turning its gaze to Norway. In the first issue of Norwegian Granta, you’ll find a slew of stories by illustrious contributors (among them Jennifer Egan, Roberto Bolano and Alice Munro) alongside new stories from authors native to the country. At Granta’s website, you can read an interview with the magazine’s online editor, Ted Hodgkinson.
During various periods of my life I have succumbed to the siren call of sleeping pills. It is hard to resist their promise: one tablet, and your night will be purged. Your brain may be in overdrive, its receptors working away, hungrily awaiting more images and information, but like a computer it is forced into another mode. Yet the little white disks with a dent down the middle are no panacea; whenever I take one of these thought guillotines I feel trapped in a grey zone, seesawing between mid and shallow slumber, mind and body dulled but not of their own accord. I sleep, but it is nearly always a vacant, songless sleep, as if I were even more distanced than usual from the apparatus that generates dreams.
Sometime during the summer of 1986 I went with my family to see a circus version of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita in an outdoor theatre in Kreuzberg, West Berlin. My only memory of the production is of Margarita herself on a trapeze, her laughter vampish and defiant, as she sliced the air above us. By then we were nearing the end of the Cold War though at the time no one knew it, and right there in a courtyard, metres away from the Wall, was this exultant and ephemeral expression of the conquest of space.
The conquest of space. The phrase comes up again and again as I sift through dozens of Soviet documents of the period. By 1986 the ardent years of the Space Age were of course over, its most notable vestiges a few space stations orbiting Earth, but the embers still retain a beguiling, and decidedly nostalgic, glow.