The first story of Mayhem & Death (March 2018, 404 Ink) is up in Joyland today:
It was now high morning on a bright day in late March, the kind of day when the earth begins to release scents it has kept pursed all winter long, and it seems as if, finally, the year shows a little fight. Up in one of the red sandstone tenements a woman was plumping the cushions of the window-seat in an otherwise empty room. Frances: A study in sallow blotches against white, puffy, slept-in skin, pale hair knotted at the nape of her neck, a jumper tucked in heavy black folds into a red skirt, under which rumpled winter tights, no shoes. She was at that moment kneeling on the hardwood floor.
Uncharacteristically, this is a full-length short story (though, in keeping with many other of my stories, there is a tea-drinking scene). It follows Frances as she journeys from Glasgow to Mallaig to the isle of Skye and the aforementioned souterrain, carrying a dream-journal written by her daughter, entitled Mayhem & Death. The daughter is a character who reappears in the novella at the end of the collection, but you’ll have to wait until it comes out to learn how her story plays out.
Read the full story here. Tea (or other hot beverage) optional.
Being a big fan of Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky’s polaroids (which you can see some of here) and of instant pictures in general, I’m posting some of my own snaps here, taken in Scotland and in Canada (around Banff and BC) and one in the north of England.
While Tarkovsky is in another world, I still enjoy the process of taking mine, on a camera bought the year I was born. I wish the film was cheaper – £18 for a pack of 8 makes this an expensive hobby, and one I can only indulge in after birthday and Christmas gifts of film. But once I have them, they are there, haunted the way these images always are by a sense of their fragility and uniqueness, though now of course with a scanner they are not quite that –
Today you can read your way across America with me – over on Books for Women, Women’s Books:
NEW YORK CITY: All aboard at Port Authority Bus Terminal. Find your seat and strap in. There are so many choices for the city that loves to read about itself, so I’ve gone for two…
Read more here!
Also you might have missed these two excellent reviews of Flesh of the Peach, in Scots Whay Hae and The Bottle Imp. My heart.
Additionally, some good things are brewing with both On the Edges of Vision, currently out of print after the shuttering of Queen’s Ferry Press, as well as for the nascent second collection (and the novella that goes along with it). Firm news when I have it to share.
The fourth Unsung Letter is now out to subscribers. This week it was written by Andrew Male:
Davidson is attune to the specific emotional poetry of his world; dark afternoons, slow evenings, lucent midnights, and that that eerie border territory between the harvest and the back end of the year, where distances grow deeper and a deceptive autumnal sunlight illuminates banal frosted landscapes with an hallucinatory brightness.
Sign up here!
In other, non-letter news, this year continues. This year, a whirlwind, both in the political sphere (of which I need not tell you) and personally. D and I came back from Christmas in America, strove through January ( which is as everyone knows one of the months we should just spend in hibernation like Moomins) flathunting and dealing with travails and the bitter cold. This past week we went on a long-ago holiday to Athens:
then on the way back I fainted on the plane and later in the queue for border control and had to be pushed through the airport in a wheelchair. I’m fine now – it was food poisoning meeting exhaustion, we think – and after a day in bed, it was moving day. I’m writing this in our new rental flat, in a pale blue-green room that makes me think of the sea. Nothing is particularly well organised at the moment, but outside there is a tiny garden with a bench and a greenhouse. I’m going to put up a bird feeder and sit out with a book when it’s not so raw.
Soon, quite soon, my debut novel Flesh of the Peach comes out. I had word today that my 6 copies are being sent to me today. Ah! There’s a book launch to come and I’ll make an announcement about that very shortly. I’ve to organise contact with several bookshops who might be amenable to my reading there. It all seems so far off from now. In April it will be Spring, even here in Scotland. Not warm really, but there will be flowers out, and more birds, and the world opening up its shutters, wincing and taking deep breaths.
For now though, the work.
D and I are back from the isle of Arran, and while I’m going through my photos and readjusting my lungs to city air, I thought I’d leave this picture as placeholder. It was taken along the North-western coast of the island near the village of Lochranza, in a tiny landmark called Fairy Dell – not much more than a cut in the side of the hills, with bare rock and mossy sides, and a lush ‘valley’ posyed with primroses. I didn’t notice until I uploaded the photo that there was a tiny tiny rainbow over the burn, just there in the lower centre of the picture. We decided that someone should come back with kitsch toadstools and carved trolls, but obviously nature decided just to go right ahead all on its own. Fabulous.
Here are the shots I took while D and I were in Amsterdam – two stopovers, first on the day we went out, and the second, on his birthday on the way back. These were taken on my Centon K100 on some 400 Fujifilm. Amsterdam is a ridiculously photogenic city, and one I feel very at ease in. I’d very much like to spend more time there.
Bulbs, bookshops, squats, and crooked buildings. Sunshine too, for D’s birthday.
I’m still a bit ill today, so not much analysis from me. I’m off to eat a sweet potato and start Robert Alan Jamieson’s Da Happie Laand, which my local library kindly handed over in exchange for some long-overdue fines (some of which were forgiven too). Be kind to your libraries, friends. They give you free books, even if you’re a numpty sometimes.