FAO: Lunatics


A reasonable request from Alexander Waugh:

To the Editors:

Adam Kirsch’s high-minded and misleading review of my book, The House of Wittgenstein: A Family at War [NYR, June 11], has caused at least one terrorist lunatic to write to me in a threatening manner. I quite understand that reviewers cannot be expected to tailor all their work to the sensibilities of lunatics, but if there happen to be others among your readers who have also interpreted from Mr. Kirsch’s remarks that I am a “Jew-hating British intellectual piece of dog shit” I would advise them, before putting pen to paper, or threatening to “knock me on my ass,” that they read the book itself, which clearly expresses my huge admiration for the Wittgenstein family and acts as a corrective to most of Mr. Kirsch’s somber pensées.

Alexander Waugh
Taunton, England

Granta, Burnside, Gregerson


Somehow, without quite meaning to, I have been leaving my room. Last night I went to a poetry reading by John Burnside and Linda Gregerson, both of whom, despite my misgivings about readings, spoke (and read) very well. Many of her poems had that longed-for (though not predictable) shift in tone or subject that, when it works, is like the shift from cold to warm when stood beneath a shower. Her most recent collection is Magnetic North.


I only know Burnside’s work through his considerable reputation, as both a novelist and poet. The poems he read (including a long narrative poem about hunting a deer that made me recall, in a pleasurable fashion, Faulkner’s story ‘The Bear’) were mostly from his forthcoming collection, The Hunt in the Forest. In all of them the language seemed vital, rooted in landscape and its traditions (not least those of how we represent and imagine it).


Were this not enough, I also attended the launch of the Edinburgh International Book Festival this morning, held amidst the grandiosity of the Signet Library.


Champagne was consumed. Some items were received. One of which was the new Granta (106), which continues to improve under the editorship of John Freeman (by which I mean that it features more interesting writers, as well as being willing to print work like Chris Ware’s (you will want to zoom in on this:


Issue 107 also promises to be good, with pieces by Kenzaburo Oe and (gasp) William T. Vollmann.

Now it is the afternoon; the fizz has consented to fade. It was very nice to go out. Shall try it again next year.

This Will Explain Everything (call for submissions)


This Will Explain Everything

An open call to comic artists and illustrators.

The Edinburgh-based Forest Publishing is putting together a graphic novel anthology and we are looking for work from artists who combine words and images in various ways.

This anthology is an imaginary encyclopedia: a compendium of knowledge that is true, half-true, false, absurd or very confusing. A reader will come away from this book intrigued, amazed, mystified, puzzled, perplexed, bewildered, bemused and befuddled but not necessarily informed.

Your entry should explain something. It can be a piece of disinformation, speculation or thorough nonsense. It could be about how a tractor works, what heart burn really is, an explanation of long-distance running or zen. Facts are fine but, for this project, they are not the ultimate point. We’re looking for unique points of view on a wide-range of objects and ideas.

When submitting: do consider the different forms of informative imagery you could play around with: diagrams, maps, tables, technical illustrations, instruction manuals etc.

Technical specs:

You can submit multipage strips, spreads or single-page images in colour or black and white. The format of the book will be 245mm x 168mm (portrait) with a bleed of 3mm. past the edge of the page on all sides. If your image reaches the edges of the page, don’t put anything important in the bleed zone where it will get chopped off. If you intend to do a spread, please keep important things away from the centre of the image as there will be a deep gutter. (These specs aside, if you already have finished work in a different format, we might be able to fit it in anyway.)

Submissions should be emailed as low resolution jpegs (make sure that any text is readable, though) to thiswillexplain@gmail.com. Write ‘Submission’ in the subject line. Alternatively, you can send us a good quality photocopy by regular mail. The address is: Magda Boreysza at Forest Publishing, 3 Bristo Place, Edinburgh EH1 1EY, United Kingdom. If your piece is selected we will ask you to send a high quality image file.

About Forest Publishing
Forest Publishing is a branch of the Forest, a non-profit art collective and vital part of Edinburgh’s cultural life. Since August 2000 we have hosted thousands of free events and nourished scores of local artists and bands including luminaries such as St. Jude’s Infirmary and Aberfeldy. We have put out records, thrown street parties, hosted more than a hundred exhibitions, built a darkroom, offered workshops on everything from Arabic to crocheting, grown a garden, given out thousands of pounds in grants, built a practice studio, started a swap library and a free shop, made friends, battled the bureaucracy, hired out free bikes and much more. In the summer of 2008 we launched the massively successful Forest Fringe as part of the Edinburgh Festival. Thousands of people have participated, volunteered, created and enjoyed the Forest as an alternative to the grim entertainment prospects and corporate art and culture scene elsewhere in the city. The Forest excites and inspires people.

In 2004 we launched a small publishing wing which we have quietly been expanding. Our publications have showcased fine writing, music, commentary and art. The most recent of these, Stolen Stories, was an anthology of rip-offs, published last year to critical acclaim, with support from the Scottish Arts Council.

At the risk of being thought helpful…




Here’s a handy list of publications to send stories to (thank you Bookfox)  most of them in the US. Those who only accept postal submissions will want a SAE for a reply- which means finding US stamps (94c), messing around with International Reply Coupons (expensive and a hassle for all concerned) or contacting the editor directly and pleading that you are resident in the UK where the postal system is run by jackals and bears. The latter can actually work.

The list is by no means exhaustive, and I would question the inclusion of Epoch in the ‘Highly Competitive’ Section, as it’s just starting out and has a somewhat fresh-faced look (so says the old man of the sea). Otherwise it’s a good place to start, and will be invaluable in helping you to decide how bad you should feel about a given rejection.

http://www.thejohnfox.com/bookfox/ranking-of-literary-journ.html (you’ll have to paste this one in- it resists becoming a link).

The stone-throwing chimp


“Santino the chimp would calmly collect stones and fashion discs made out of concrete even when the zoo was closed, to throw at visitors when they returned.”

Unfortunately, this is not the opening line of a story I wrote. The facts of the matter can be found here.

It’s not the throwing itself that’s exciting, but the planned and actual manufacture of weapons. If I was a monkey in a cage, who was constantly being stared at and commented on  (not as big an imaginative leap as you might think, given that I lived for two years in China, where I was the only foreigner in a city of almost a million) that is precisely what I would do. Though certainly not what I did.

In other news: Monkey kills cruel owner with coconut thrown from tree.

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