The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski


The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski – this book is a punch in the gut

The literary equivalent of Elem Klimov’s ‘Come and See’. A relentless battering of the senses, which starts out reasonably benign, considering the subject matter, and then slowly builds up a series of horrors which hammer the shit out of you. It’s an incredible piece of work, pounding the relentless horror of war into your mind, as though Sven Hassel had become a seven-year-old boy, and brought all his nightmares to the party for you to witness. An incredible book.

Kosinski has been plagued by accusations of plagiarism and falsity throughout his career, but you can discard all that just for the work itself. It if was a collaboration of plagiarised sources then it doesn’t for one moment take away the heart-crushing nightmare of the words between the covers. It will rip the shit out of you.

I originally heard about it from one of those ‘fifty best horror books’ listing clip-bait bollocks you get on websites, and tried for ages to get a copy which didn’t cost an arm and a leg (at the time, Amazon were flogging second hand paperback copies for thirty quid). In the end, I had to pick up a copy from facking New York when I popped over there for a brief holiday, only to find that facking Ffoyls had imported a bastard copy in the meantime. Mind you, they cost the same, so sod it.

Anyway, Painted Bird follows the life and times of a seven-year-old Jewish boy in the middle of the second world war, and then batters all senses into numbness with a tirade of horrors. Interwoven between the genocide and blank sadism are tales of foxes and fowls, fairy stories and folk tales, so the war becomes a nightmare. Regardless of the history, regardless of the plagiarism, regardless of the refutation of autobiography, this is a work which takes you by the gut and batters the living crap out of you. One of those books you will never forget.


Jodorowsky – Nature’s Poetic release

endless poetry

Yes, yes, yes, I know the title was over-verbose, but goddammit, Endless Poetry by Alexandro Jodorowsky is why we fucking create  “Oh, you poncy poet/ painter/ writer/ creator/ comedian/ musician – get a proper job!”  Which is bullshit, because to create rips the heart out of you (unless you’re Jeffrey Archer, in which case you just take the zlotys. pulp out whatever shite comes to mind, and do a runner).

Endless Poetry, a film everyone who creates should see, nails down the reason WHY people create.  WHY art is so important.  WHY we should not curl up into a ball of complacence.  And we all have the capacity to create, and this film puts the size ten boot up the arse of those who waver.

I had so much I wanted to say about this film, but it should speak for itself.  For those who create something out of nothing, watch this film.


I’m Confused!


Michael Bay, yesterday


I’ve officially had enough of Franchises. It‘s all well and good for Michael Bay to terrify the world with the concept of another 14 Transformer films whilst rubbing himself up against a big bit of metal and panting heavily, and I understand why Disney want to swamp the world in a miasma of Star Wars and Marvel films as they obviously need the zlotys to pay off the gas bill, and I can very well see the reason why we need a shit-load of identikit films about angry bald men driving cars

I was going to write a piece about how all the people my age who grew up with Star Wars and won’t let the fucker go should grow up and get a life, and then I realised how wrong I was, merely through the contradiction of my own existence.

I used to know one poor sod who had a shrine to Star Wars in his spare room and was kept at home like a surrogate child by his wife because he refused to procreate, so she’d created some kind of ersatz substitute in him. He’d actually frozen within a specific time zone and refused to mature in any capacity. Those people are sad and really should get a life.

The original condemnation for the arrested development of people my age who cling on to the past was based around the need to coddle oneself in a comfy cloak of nostalgia, before I realised that I was doing the exact same thing myself. Lately I’ve got into the habit of buying novelisations of films from the 70s and 80s just because that’s what I used to read back then. I’ve found myself revisiting old films like Phantasm which had a huge effect on me when I was young, and being swaddled mentally in the cosy feeling of what used to be, and realised that to condemn those who wallow in past glories was to condemn myself, and maybe I should fucking well grow up as well.

Maybe there’s a compromise to be reached, that a recognition of the past is not such a bad thing. Or maybe the need to compromise is another way of refusing to let go of the past, and there should be a point where adults cast their toys to one side and face the world with a more progressive attitude? Or maybe the infantilism which appears to have taken over people I know is a reflection of the modern environment which propagates and nurtures that kind of attitude? Or maybe I’m talking out of my arse.

If we dig deeper into the subject, we then come across a whole range of arguments concerning high and low culture, the rapidity of modern media evolution, social tribes and the need to fit in, and the changing format of content distribution, none of which is funny, not even if I scatter the word ‘bellend’ at random moments through the text. This is turning into a far bigger subject than I’d originally anticipated, and one which more befits an academic study rather than a bloke who writes swears, so I’ll just end by saying “Michael Bay is a big chinned twat” and have done with it.

The Corner – Election Special – Day Eight – May More Popular Than Breathing

Only one today, but it’s a doozy.  The Metro do their bit to prop up the Tories by publishing the results of an Ipsos MORI poll which suggests Theresa May, despite being a robot from the future sent to kill John Connor, is the most popular leader since the 70s.  This was a poll conducted amongst a staggering 1,004 people, and is obviously representative of all the UK, which is why the polls successfully predicted staying in the EU and another hung parliament the last time these goons went to the hustings.


Does anyone believe the polls any more, after the last bunch of total failures?  Who are these people canvassing?  Are they 1,004 members of the ‘We Love May’ fanclub? The problem with polls is, because the demographic is so narrow, you can never get a good approximation of what public opinion really is, which is why they keep getting it wrong.  You thought they may have learned their lesson by now, but no – they just keep ploughing forwards, unaware that the only people who pay any attention to their crap are newspapers editors trying to fill up the empty spaces in their rags.

The Big Balls Book Club – The Folly and Prudence of Critical Advice


Considered opinion, expressed thoughtfully

 It is an old adage that one should only write for oneself, and yet on the other hand if you spent four years knocking out a book you’d want some bugger to pony up for the goods, which is where the help of friendly critics come in.


Most people at some point seek the advice of their friends or other parties in regard to a piece of work they’ve created.  Even Harlan Ellison has spoken of how he’ll read out his stories to his family and friends to see if he’s got the damn thing right.  Critical judgement when you’re so close to something you’ve created can get stymied at the first turn, which is why it’s always helpful to get the advice of people who aren’t so married to the material.  This can both be a bonus, and a pain in the arse.

First of all, I’ve found the hard way that if anyone asks you for a piece of advice it is always best to take their enthusiasm for your opinion with a pinch of salt, and always best to ask them what they think of it first.  If they claim it’s a masterpiece then don’t bother reading it, as any opinion will be seen as a personal slur.  Many yonks ago I was helping out with a friend’s small production company, initially set up to gather funds for a feature project he wanted to work on.  Because of this the husband of a workmate decided I was a professional, and asked me to read his supernatural slasher script.  It was one of the worst pieces of shit I have ever read (although not quite as bad as A Little Life, which was an appalling travesty).

The warning signs were there.  First of all I was asked to sign a waiver saying I would not divulge the contents of this masterpiece to anyone.  I pointed out the letter wasn’t drawn up by a solicitor and had about as much legal standing as a bag of doughnuts.  Second, the script was printed out on very expensive paper with mock-gold clasps holding it together.  It’s always been my experience that the more lovingly pampered the look of the script, the bigger a pile of crap it is.  Such was the case.

Anyway, not being a total bastard I read the script and listed a string of faults I thought needed fixing (i.e., if it’s set in Hampshire, England, why does everyone talk in American slang, and why does every plot turn happen as a result of Deux Ex Machina (seriously, this thing was full of random earthquakes knocking old books off shelves so they fell open at plot-specific pages)) – fairly basic stuff.  I received an excoriating reply denouncing me as the philistine spawn of Satan who was obviously too much of an evolutionary throwback to recognise the true genius of this masterpiece.  Gloves off, I knocked him back an e-mail calling him a witless, talentless, feckless dunderheaded fool who would never amount to anything.  Turns out I was right.

As an advice-taker things are different.  I operate on the principle that if anyone has taken the time and effort to trawl through my random gibberings then I’m damn well going to listen to what they have to say, no matter how painful it may be.  I recently finished a novel which has taken four years, two false starts, and five drafts to get through (partially through being a lazy sod).  I’ve sent it out to various respected friends for feedback, with the express demand that they should rip the shit out of it if they think it sucks a big, meaty one.

So far people have been relatively kind, with a few pointers backing up my own concerns about the book (i.e. – where are facking chapter headings, you dick!).  Some of the advice I shall pay attention too, and some of the advice I shall ignore, but I shall thank each and every one of those who’ve chosen to read the book for their time and effort in getting back to me with their views, because what Uncle Shithead of the awful script mentioned above has failed to take into consideration is that other people have lives, and have taken time out of those lives to concentrate solely on your work.  There is nothing worse than having your opinion asked, and then having that opinion ignored solely because the ego involved has been punctured.

The thing with advice is, you don’t have to take it into consideration, but if you’ve asked for that advice then damn well listen to it, because there may be the solution to how a project can be fixed.  And if all you want from a critique is undying love, then don’t bother handing the work out in the first place for an opinion, because if that opinion pisses all over your finely crafted ten-years-in-the-making masterpiece and you throw a hissy fit, then you’re going to be in for a fucking shock if your work hits the public sphere and everyone calls you a dick.

The only real advice I can give to people seeking a critique is listen to it all, discard that which you know is wrong, consider that which you know is right (usually it’s the bit pinpointing the niggling concern at the back of your head which has been telling you what’s wrong with the piece in the first place), and thank everyone for taking the time, because they have made an effort to help.

If, on the other hand, you have a massive ego, then I’m sure whatever you write is a masterpiece, and please fuck off back to whatever rock you crawled out from.

The Corner – Election Special – Day Seven – Apparently There’s An Election On

Day Seven and the papers have given up and gone home, at least where the front covers are concerned.  Where we should have raving, slobbering headlines about Corbyn eating babies and May jiving to the sound of humming electricity as she does back on her homeworld, instead we have the ‘i’ reporting that a poll suggests the TV viewers want Theresa to appear in the TV debates, as though anyone gives a toss anymore.


The Times continues their campaign to convince us that the Tories are only responsible for good in the world by claiming that government borrowing has fallen to its lowest level since the Brown years, probably by stopping any program aimed at helping the poor and needy.


The Torygraph do their bit to remind people that they should hate the EU by stating that the UK faces a bill until 2020, helpfully leaving off the bit about ‘if we want to be part of an EU trade deal until then’ in the headline, probably because The Times are total right wing bastards (just hazarding a guess).


From the tabloids – not a sausage – obsessed as they are with news that there may be new evidence about Madelaine McCann.  Maybe tomorrow will sprout tabloid headlines of frothing madness.  We can but hope.  I also hope Richard Desmond and Paul Dacre fall into a big bucket of shit, but that’s a personal issue.

I have to say, this was one of the most boring ‘The Corner’s’ I have ever had to write, devoid as it is frothing madness (either that, or it being half five on a Wednesday morning after a visit to the boozah yesterday), so come on, tabloid scum, put some effort into your witless idiocy!

Election 2017 – Sing Me the Same Old Song



Tim Farron, yesterday

 Days Five and Six

The election run-up is nearing the end of the first week and already it feels like there is nary an honest voice amongst the blathering crowd.

UKIP have roundly been condemned for spouting a load of anti-Muslim bullshit in their ‘what we stand for’ speech as they hope to latch onto that English-Trump vote by saying the unsayable, which should – by rights – lead to a swift kick in the plums for Paul Nuttell simply for being an irritating right wing shit.  Either that, or for sprouting an unconvincing beard.  Not fussy.

This, we expect.  But when the Libs come out and say that having nukes are great then things have definitely taken a turn for the worse.  The Libs were meant to be the tree huggers friend.  They were meant to have nice smiles and indulge in reasonable policies and say the sort of things the other parties won’t in their scramble for the popular vote.  We already knew Labour were rubbing their scabby knackers up against Trident, but the last thing we expected was the Living Pea-Head Tim Farron, to come out and say how much the nukes gave him a trouser tingle.  He’s tried to sweeten the pill by saying ‘of course, we’d never use it as a first strike option’, as though that’s going to make any difference.  We’ll all be fluffing cinders at the end of the day, no matter what order they were facking well spunked off in, ya great twot!

Mind you, the Libs have a tendency to fuck their promises right up the sphincter – witness their university fees debacle when they had a whiff of the coalition – so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Next week Fallon announces his Brexit plans.

Speaking of which, the Labs have come over (ooer!) all sensible about the EU-exit by saying, even though they’re opposed to it in principle, they would definitely instigate Brexit to keep the migrant-hating working class oiks on their side, except they wouldn’t toe the Tory line and yank the starting cord straight away.  Instead, they would have a nicer, friendlier, cuddlier approach to Brexit – one involving scones, warm fires, and comfy slippers.  The end result would still be the same, mind.  One great shafting, but they would do it with a more understanding look on their faces.

Which brings us nicely to the facking Tories wanking out the same old shit.  In a nutshell, Hammond says the economic welfare of the country is lustrous and comely, and May has warned that voting for the Labs would lead to a Scotsman in every English pub, being all hairy and shouting indecipherable sentences about jobbies in your face.  They figure since it’s worked once before they should have another crack at this old chestnut and hope for the best.

Expect a lot more of the same over the following weeks, with the only bone of contention being how quickly will the Libs start forming a gestapo to take on the flower children amongst their ranks.