Monday, 27 September 2010

The Train Coming At Us Across the Plains

If the revolution doesn’t come down the street with its men in bandanas carrying guns then do it with words. Writers the world over have adopted this approach. The past is never good enough. The world cannot be allowed to stand still. Make it new, said Ezra Pound. “The artist is always beginning. Any work of art which is not a beginning, an invention, a discovery is of little worth.”

Upend what went before, the new is what sings. Never mind the tune.

At Parthian Books, our West Wales base for permanent insurrection, they’ve always had a good eye for this kind of thing. If the revolution doesn’t spin then make it. If the world is content then upset it. If there’s a bastion somewhere then storm it. The latest ruse is their brilliant pitched reinvention of the bright young thing. Four new fictioneers, Wales-based if not yet of entirely Welsh blood, have been packaged and pushed as the rising literary stars. And this year is the one in which they will shoot.

Tyler Keevil, a mid-Wales based Canadian, has Fireball a teenage thriller full of death and car plunges. Wil Gritten, a north Walian who has been round the world twice and is still under twenty-six, contributes Letting Go, a travellers tale that runs from Wales to south America. Susie Wild, habitué of the blogosphere and permanent follower of the Welsh literary event, has The Art of Contraception, short fiction full of the deranged and the fantastic. James Smythe, a Welsh-educated teacher, adds Hereditation, a tale of depravity and philandering in New York.

The set are packaged to perfection and promoted with their own web-wrap of blog, comment and clip ( Is this the literary world actually changing? The books are out now. You decide.

In Cardiff Bay this October the Academi’s Bay Lit literature festival runs episode two of The Shock of the New. This is a celebration of those literary things which deliberately rub against the grain. The new, the left field, the experimental, the strange, the thrillingly shocking, the unexpected and the never before seen. Being new here means being at very least different. Not young, necessarily, but not been round the block too often either.

The 2010 event which runs from the 25th to the 30th is expected to feature workshops with iPad makers Apple, Hannah Silva and Liam Johnson live texting, the curse of celebrity culture, the unknown Tiger Bay, the melding of literature with sound, the Welsh Underground (remember that?) and the Mabinogion rewritten one more time. Watch the web for details.

It’s ironic that at a time when literature in Wales has never been so healthy that the downturn looms. It’s coming like Ashbery’s train, steaming towards us across the plains.

A version of the posting appeared as The Insider in The Western Mail. #164

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