Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

September 21, 2014

Fung-Wong storm: 200,000 displaced in Philippines

No sooner have you cancelled rain when a story flashes up of a dreadful storm situation, this time the Philippines where 5 people have died and over 200,000 displaced. Fung-Wong is now head to Taiwan according to this BBC report. This is the second storm in two weeks to hit that area.

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September 21, 2014

Weather cancellation

I was just about to welcome back my old friend the rain and announce it was time to start discussing the weather again … when he was given a battering today by 79 degrees worth of Fahrenheit sunlight. Prior to today’s intervention, we had two remarkable grizzly overcast days and I was ready to hat and scarf my way to this weather watching station and declare the season commenced. In any case CANCELLED. Cancelled. There’s nothing to be said about the sunshine that Beckett hasn’t already covered. One never sees any true variety in sunshine, it’s just up there, bright, blue and beautiful. Thus nothing to be said.

The rain however I’ve managed to fill hundreds of posts on since approx 2005 or whatever ancient date this blog hails back to.

Anyway chief weather watcher going back into her box under the table until something to actually report shows up.


Under the table winter reading has begun. I am continuing to read this Alice James biography by Jean Strouse (NYRB Classics) but there’s an awful lot of Henry Sr, (one legged boozer) who I mistook to be Henry Jr (two legged) and had to give Henry James Jr a leg back on twitter. But really why so much Henry, why so many Henrys’? Why didn’t the dad go for Harry or Hamid as a name for Henry James (the scribbler)? If he’d known how melted my head is shifting between him and H jr while all the while ONLY wanting to read about Alice for whom I purchased this biography.

All other actual Jamesians would be yay delighted to find the entire diaspora included but I want to know about Alice and since this book is supposed to be about Alice, hurry up Alice. Climb out of the pond weed and duck tails of these Henrys. It must be said though I very much appreciated the description of Henry Sr’s “vastation”. Have you ever had a vastation? I want to survey random folks at bus stops. The very next time I meet a religiously inclined street preacher or bell ringer I shall ask this question promptly.

Also being read is a book about a Bricoleur, with Bricoleur in the title, which I hope to review if as usual I can persuade “the newspapers” that a book that dissects reading is a valuable one to contemplate critically. The newspapers do not seem to concur with the titles I think could use vital contemplation partly because my appetite for the obscure is, um, long confirmed.

A roasting hot read staring at me here that I’ve been saving for the reading equivalent of a Harvest supper: a book called Postal Culture by Gabriella Romani subtitled “Writing and Reading Letters in Post-Unification Italy” published by the University of Toronto Press. The newspapers already told me negative Nelly on this one. How and ever I feel a postal essay brewing that will hopefully include this book and another from the NYRB Classics.

Here also is one of the most riveting things I read last week.  You may not find this riveting so do not be alarmed if it fails to rivet. In fact it’s so riveting I cannot locate it. It was about Viral Hemorrhagic Fever and the timeline of how it strikes. I will find it and hang it here forthwith. (Postscript: Here it is. It’s a chapter from a textbook with latest info on Ebola provided by The Wellcome Trust). Note the quote below in the key points and how the symptoms are so non-specific they could present as any virus. The chapter goes onto explain the history of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever as a term first coined by Russian physicians in the 1940’s and that it may be caused by 30 different viruses from four taxonomic families. (I have no clue what taxonomic means).

“Viral HF is characterized by a short incubation period (usually 1-2) weeks followed by a rapidly progressive illness usually lasting no longer than 2 weeks. Initial signs and symptoms are usually very nonspecific and include fever, headache and myalgia, followed rapidly by gastrointestinal symptoms and, in some cases, rash and neurologic involvement. ”


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September 12, 2014

Malarky shelfie in Paris

Malarky has different shelf mates this week at Shakespeare & Company bookshop in Paris (merci mille fois mes amis) from last month. Someone who stood in the bookshop on Monday sent me this picture.  How cheering to see the fine company she keeps in this feisty shop that engages so robustly with challenging literature and always has done. May it ever be so.





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September 12, 2014

Farsighted Catherine Barber James, Granny of Henry.

“Henry James the novelist added in his autobiography of the day to the portrait of Catherine Barber James (his granny) — She had a passion for the “fiction of the day” — novels by Mrs Trollope, Mrs Gore, Mrs Marsh, Mrs Hubback, Miss Kavanagh, Miss Aguilar. And she had a habit of disappearing from a room full of grandchildren into a corner with her novel to sit, bent forward at her table, with the book held out at a distance and a candle placed directly between it and her farsighted eyes. ”


Alice James, A Biography by Jean Strouse (NYRB Classics)

From the NYRB Classics website:

“Alice James was a fascinating and exceptional figure in her own right. Tormented throughout her short life by an array of nervous disorders, constrained by social convention and internal conflict from achieving the worldly success she desired, Alice was nonetheless a vivid, witty writer, an acute social observer, and as alert, inquiring, and engaging a person as her two famous brothers.”

More about this book here

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September 9, 2014

Cooking calamity #754(a)

He said he was Indian. It said it was his mother’s recipe. It said it would take 15 mins. It involved 2 cans of chick peas and some other goodies and this famously disastrous cook writing to you.

All I can say is you want to place your left hand on your heart right now and ask all the forces of God and nature to ensure I never open an Indian takeaway in this lifetime nor invite you over to my table to sample my Indian cookery.

I am sure it is an excellent recipe and he is an excellent cook and his mother even better.  I think maybe the ginger blew it. I got my numbers confused and perhaps added a few too many tablespoons of ginger spice.. Then to temper the ginger that turned my mouth to major discomfort above the neckline I added sugar, more sugar, ketchup and finally I saluted the recipe with milk. He, the anon, cookery recipe provider online did not suggest those last four steps. I’d like to apologize to his mother for destroying her recipe with such fervor.



#we hope.

Post script Sept 9, 2014. I think he meant teaspoons rather than tablespoons of garam masala. Nothing improved about that mound in the pan overnight which suggests the word leftovers can provoke varied emotions other than relief. 

754(b) was the chia pudding that was not disgusting but certainly dusty and a tad meh meh meh. (think lamb noises)

Postscript. Chia pudding was vastly improved by dumping half a bottle of shop bought chocolate syrup sauce into it, which defeats the purpose of eating chia pudding, but your taste buds do not lie is the savage truth of the matter. Taste buds are not polite alas. 

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September 1, 2014

#38, nearly John Lennon’s #39

photo (2)

#38. The best number in any airport bookshop for a challenging literary work. WH Smith in England. Thank you kind readers for engaging with my work so heartily.

Malarky Shakespeare & Company

Malarky in Paris at Shakespeare & Company. Our Woman on the shelf between the lads.


In Baile Atha Cliath/ Dublin at Dubray Books Grafton Street at beside Mr Eggers. I love Dubray Books it’s a great shop.

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September 1, 2014


I have been learning the concertina. I have been practising the concertina. Excessively. I now have a terrific pain in my left shoulder from playing my concertina which is like trying to play a steam engine. I need a much better concertina than this one. In the meantime I am available for weddings and funerals if you wish to be married or die to the strains of the same 8 notes being played again and again and again.

Currently the biggest employment for the concertina is rousing my inert teenager out of bed each morning. (eg middle of the afternoon as it’s summer and he keeps nightclub bouncer hours). There is nothing like the face on him when the concertina starts bellowing at the foot of his bed. It would take a giraffe video to match it.

The other role of my concertina is to create employment for physiotherapists who will have to repair the damage from my eight note interludes so I can continue to earn an actual living doing what I do. The act of typing endless for which somewhere, some excitable researcher is working with a 3D printer to create new shoulders for underpaid freelancers and overwhelmed rugby players.


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September 1, 2014

Podcast accomplishment

Lookie here, excellent news! Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter have started a podcast called A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment. I’m calling it the Spokane podcast because it will put Spokane on the map for those like me who have never been to Spokane and must just invent it. It’s very funny and lively and features fine people like the woman in episode two fresh from back surgery number trois with a gunky spine.

In episode one the depressed baby Cheston is a raver! There are pomes by the two dudes in Episode Two. And Polly, I think it is, takes the spine where yours we hope has never been and will never need to go. She is officially my favourite back patient ever. Polly for Prez. Back surgery will be covered on medical under Polly. Vote Polly!

All of which adds up to remind literature what it can learn from the video gamers who podcast 24 x 7 and manage to weigh in on what’s in Auntie Mildred’s freezer as they are trampling through whatever game they are playing. Also in a nice circle many gamers will probably eventually need back surgery so will appreciate Polly too.  See it’s a religious experience podcasting.

Episode one here

Episode two here

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September 1, 2014

Postage surge

I was flabbergasted to learn that it is now $2.50 to send a basic letter outside North America.

At this rate it is only Kanye West who can afford to send xmas cards to his granny and postage is possibly more affordable where he lives.

This surge in cost can only mean that the postman now knocks on the door and offers a cup of tea to your granny along with the under 30g letter or postcard he’s delivering. Or perhaps he mows the lawn. Or perhaps he also builds your granny a house with each letter delivered.

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August 28, 2014

Yes please!

I’ll take a dose of this new

Magnetic brain stimulation treatment shown to boost memory

“Memory can be boosted by using a magnetic field to stimulate part of the brain, a study has shown. The effect lasts at least 24 hours after the stimulation is given, improving the ability of volunteers to remember words linked to photos of faces.”



Also this is very exciting to discover Ann Quin’s work existed (I’d never heard of her) and that it’s back in print.

“Ann Quin’s contemporary, the British writer Christine Brooke-Rose, declared in her wittily furious essay “Illiterations” that to be an experimental author was one thing, but to be British, and not only British, but a woman, and not only a woman, but working class, was quite another. Quin was all four, and so she went into self-imposed exile. For nearly a decade she was a “gonzo” novelist, creating her own biographical picaresque of writing, journeying, and free-loving across Europe and America, and living hand-to-mouth by the grace and favor of her publisher’s advances, Arts Council grants, and university fellowships—until, having wandered too far across the terra incognita of map and mind, she reluctantly returned. Quin suffered frequent and extirpative bouts of mental illness and died young, at thirty-seven and by her own hand. She drowned off the coast of Brighton, the south coast seaside resort which provides the setting of Berg and where she lived intermittently throughout her life, in the summer of 1973.” (Jennifer Hodgson) Read more including some of Quin’s work here

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August 22, 2014


“I’ve told off six men, there, to go” he said, jerking his head at the loungers in the hall.

One of them spoke back at him, a fellow with only two walrus teeth above and below in his gums.

From The Patriot, Sean O’Faolain.

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August 22, 2014

I and I

Fascinating documentary photography project featured on the NY Times blog here 

“Their encounter led to an exploration of drag queen culture in China, which, despite its history of theatrical cross-dressing, is not particularly known for open views on sexuality. Nearly a decade later, Ms. Kikuchi says that her project, “I and I,” is more than the story of people confronting their sexuality. It’s about people confronting themselves.”


“It’s not really about gender issues,” Ms. Kikuchi said. “It’s just about how, as human beings, they try to find their space and how they live.”

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August 20, 2014

Thunderstorm — Oregon edition: Portland on socks

I have been very buried reading and writing and more recently learning to play the concertina at a camp in Oregon with Noel Hill where I witnessed Thunderstorm the Oregon edition. I was in a wine growing region (is there anything other than wine growing regions?). There were many trucks carrying bales of hay. There were several number plates which included the word GOD and there was a thunderstorm. I’d also like to send a special word out to that moron at 11pm who was doing line dancing type moves with his car on a road with no streetlights and out onto which, I was trying to make a right turn. I think the driver has an unrealized calling to turn upside down in jets that puff out red smoke and make patterns and should release himself from the banality of driving and head straight to a jetpack.

It was rather a bowel groaning type of thunderstorm in the Oregon edition. Just belly busting cracking noises, no lightning. I took a video of it but in the many wonders of technology it has not endured. There was a man clipping a hedge during the storm. He adeptly continued to clip it but stood under a roof awning and clipped it in between the bellows over his head.


Portland is so full of food that I was astonished to see an advert on the window of an innocuous looking cafe that touted a hot dog eating competition. A food eating competition seems redundant in Portland because basically all day and night it is already a food competition because there’s so much good food to choose from and there’s even caravans (food carts) to eat it outside of. And as you digest it you can read a book from the best bookshop in Portland, which is a shop in a house on Hawthorne street and either called Apology or Anthology. I found some very nifty books in it.

Another pointless thing to advertise in Portland would be a sock wearing competition because that’s also well under way. There are such an array of socks on people’s feet despite the astonishing heat. My favourite foot with a sock on it sat beside me in a cafe. The man had one of his trousers rolled up to the knee and extending from it was a luminous multicoloured stripy knee high sock. His other leg had the trouser down to the ankle. There’s nothing like a sock dichotomy. It also celebrates the possibility that he’d lost the other sock but wasn’t giving up on the orphan on account of it.






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July 16, 2014


2014-01-16 19.05.27


Phone behind bars. Aldi in Ballina (I think)


“Ickle” pencils. My kitchen table.


Stairway to what? Heaven? Vancouver, 2014


River of rain in 5 mins. Vancouver, 2014


Signage in Cork. What was and what will be?

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July 15, 2014


2012-11-29 10.56.162012-11-29 10.55.50

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July 6, 2014

MERS: Calling for rapid development of a safe and effective MERS vaccine

“To date, however, the interest and enthusiasm of the global public health community in both MERS and a MERS vaccine could be described as ambivalent. “

The geographic spread and rapid increase in the cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) caused by a novel coronavirus (MERS-CoV) during the past two months have raised concern about its pandemic potential. Here we call for the rapid development of an effective and safe MERS vaccine to control the spread of MERS-CoV.


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July 5, 2014


There have been a number of curious weather events this week. Hurricane Arthur made landfall and another storm was reported to me from France. I have been unable to devote my usual level of attention to the bursting winds because I am busy busting out sentences. Here we had a brief rain event which was an absolute affront. She sprang on us! I talked with another woman beside me on the pavement as the rain destroyed us and we agreed it was Top of the Pops affront. Where did it come from?


The other theme this past week has been the body. I read a science paper on the eye blinking patterns of unmedicated schizophrenics which left me pondering the voluntary and involuntary notions of movement in the body and the role of the brain therein and what it can provoke. I can’t find the paper. But it came to mind again this morning at a storytelling workshop organized by the Indian Summer Festival where Sharada Eswar demonstrated and taught us how consonant sounds create Konnakol — a music based on vocal percussive sounds and rhythm. Russell Wallace demonstrated First Nations story telling through the physical body (dance) and music. The consonants particularly fascinated me how the tiniest adjustment in a sound and an increase and decrease in its rhythm could change so much meaning and intention. The same can be shown in relation to the brain and the body. I continue to find pondering the physicality of language rewarding. 




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July 5, 2014

Global collaborations

I appreciated this global seisun collaboration. What are the prospects for this same approach to be applied to literature? The remix? The one word submitted poem?

I was at a trad session this week and sat between the button accordion and concertina. The fiddle was opposite. It was curious to be in immediate proximity to the sounds beside me and hear the response or interplay across the table. I heard long concertina notes that I never noticed in pieces when listening to them as a whole complete recording. Also, it was great hearing the players start a tune one knew and the others didn’t and hear them figure out their parts. As my pal said “sometimes you don’t know a tune & yet you know a tune.”

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June 26, 2014

Thunder and concertina

We had thunderstorms. Perhaps it was a week ago. I have been very consumed finishing up a novel, hence a lack of diligent reports.  They were very loud. The loudest thunderstorms I recall since living here. One of them happened in the middle of the night, so since it woke me up, I kept it company until morning came. At one point there was a very loud bang, twice. Since I have read Sherlock Holmes I knew precisely what to do and tuned into the scanner messages from the Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service.

A transformer had blown or been hit by lightning and blown and maybe caught fire very close by. There were mixed reports as to whether it was on fire. The Fire Service were not too excited about it. Power was out in some houses near the transformer.

Since the rumbly thundery business there was a deluge of rain and now there is sunshine without hesitation. Confident, plain old sunshine. Good consistent blue sky.

The other news which should be greeted by a thunder-clap and perhaps a set of earplugs is the concertina is here. She’s very happy. I am very happy. I was even happy despite the matter of playing her upside down for the first hour. We have come to terms with which way up she’s to be played and I can play four notes of O When the Saints … they aren’t going marching in yet because the latter notes are missing from the tutorial. My Saints are thinking about marching in, they are weighing up whether there’s anything to march in for. More importantly and triumphantly than the Saints entering whatever it is they enter I can play a polka. Maggie in the Woods which I am calling Baggy in the Woods because I haven’t yet absolutely confirmed I am playing the correct notes.

I am likely to be stupendously terrible at playing this instrument but that matters very little because I like the smell of it and because one of my favourite people in the world, Ita, is a concertina player.


I am thinking of the people in Iraq, who having suffered so much distress, mayhem and invasion, certainly do not need this ridiculous and further distressing encore. We aren’t hearing anything more about the girls who were abducted in Nigeria, except that possibly another 60 may have been kidnapped. Nor the plane that left the sky. There’s always another agony-in-waiting. A queue of further agony. What does this mean for those who remain with the agony that, for them,  has not actually passed? Agony in stasis. Agon-static. Agony that’s exists but is no longer trending on Twitter. That’s when we have to wonder of the value of our so-called collective power or collective outrage or the power of collective outrage. Is it ultimately any use? How do we make it mean something practical?


On the theme of remembering and response: My friend Juliane Okot Bitek is creating a 100 day poetic response to Wangechi Mutu’s quiet visual homage to the 1994 Rwanda Genocide on social media (#Kwibuka20#100 Days 21-30):  The visuals can be seen here


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June 11, 2014

In between

Weather wise I have just read that we are “in between systems” therefore, if today, you are feeling a tad “in between systems” this explains it. We need to create an in between systems cup of tea and a biscuit blend I think.

A friend just bought me a very tasty Kushmi tea treat from Paris. It’s smells lemony and is an Earl Grey. Thank you Patsy!

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