Martin John has landed in Holyhead and Dublin + That ankle + Bernhard’s lungs
Three matters upon which to rapidly tap here.
1) This is the finest deployment of a narrative ankle I’ve ever read. No surprise it’s Eileen Myles ankle in her first person piece “On the Excruciating Pain of Waiting for Love.”
“My natural state was so out of control that it had to be medicated almost to death and since I didn’t want to die I had nothing but this, running and sex. I would twist my ankle again and again.”
This ankle captures something so precisely. It captures how the brain does its own thing and how the body attempts to speak back to it or how we push the body to do so. It captures how a person might try to say, no fuck you brain you will not sink me because I am running away from you or is it toward you? Anyway it’s marvellous how that twisted ankle and running and rerunning on it manages to speak to and of humanity and how it is that humanity never entirely recovers from its own ankles.
2) MARTIN JOHN has arrived in Dublin via Holyhead.
John Self very thoughtfully reviewed Martin John in The Guardian. I appreciated his point about trolls and more besides.
The Sunday Telegraph had things to say about him too: Including cinq étoiles.
There’s very little that silences me but Eileen Battersby’s review of Martin John in The Irish Times has managed it. I am quite stunned by this review. My constant refrain inside my rust-inclined brain is that I just need smart readers. I don’t need big prize cheques, just smart, curious readers who engage with literature. I also need time to read and write. Time will come if the smart readers come and buy my books. The exciting thing about this review * is it might bring some readers. It might bring readers because … well read it and decide.
(* I realize the role of a critical review is to be an engaging piece of writing in its own right. Its role is not a sales pitch. That’s catalogue and back cover copy. But writers are equally nothing without readers and readers find writers sometimes through reading criticism. I certainly do)
3) To celebrate these reviews I am now going to read Thomas Bernhard’s Wittgenstein’s Nephew. I only recently discovered Bernhard when my friend visual artist/writer Marina Roy (Sign after the X) told me about him and gave me a copy of Extinction. Wittgenstein’s Nephew has to be the greatest literary vehicle ever for a set of lungs. A pulmonary classic!
Bernhard is so funny and grimly particular about the happiness in unhappiness and in this book, the disregarded literary potential in the thoracic. I read some lines in this novel, and even at this early stage of our reading relationship, think ONLY Bernhard could have written this.
“Like Paul, I woke up in a hospital bed on the Wilhelminenberg, almost totally destroyed through overrating myself and the world”
“..or at any rate I would certainly not be the person I am today, so mad and so unhappy, yet at the same time happy”