Savage omgangsvormen

October 20, 2008

top floor flat by robert warrington

the rape by vanja kovacic


The Rape by Vanja Kovacic

October 20, 2008

The night is dark, full of the supernatural.  You sit next to me but are not here; lost in thought I would rather be anywhere but here, anywhere.  You speak, but I do not hear you because I don’t have the power to read people’s minds.  In the freak show we call our lives anything is possible.  We allow for much less. 


“Show me what you like!” said he who was starting to look less and less like a human by the minute.


“Let’s not do this right now…” was the response.


“No, let’s.  You’re ruining the moment.”


“Good.  It wasn’t my moment, I’ll tell you that much.” 


Instead, let’s talk about respect.  It comes in many forms, shapes and sizes, usually instilled by the outside.  You respect your parents, your teachers, your grandmother, and the elderly in general, but above all you should respect the people who love you … are attached to you. If they say no, it is no, no argument, no debate and no force.   But you and me are beyond respecting each other.  I just wanted to talk about the way things should be for a change. 


“What is the matter with you today?” asked he who no longer looked familiar as a member of the same species.


“Nothing.” Came the reply, burdened by lack of interest and fear.


“If it’s that thing that’s bothering you I promise it won’t happen again.”


Somehow, that doesn’t change much. “I’m going for a walk.”



Fast creaking of bed springs from the top floor flat.
Then her voice: “Not so hard!”
Then confusing sounds.
Then no sounds.
Then more creaking sounds, just as fast.
Then a series of brief, strangled cries.
Then her joyless groans.
Then her groans becoming tearful, angry sounds.
Then: “Get off me!”
Then her shouting four letter words.
Then words drowned by sobs.
Then her crying so hard it sounds as if her throat is ripping.
Then him shouting “Shut up, shut up!”
Then more noise.
Then him going to the bathroom and coming back
– doing this twice, each time slamming the door of their flat.
Then light under my door from the hall light coming on.
Then him running downstairs.
Then the sound of the front door of the house being opened.
Then the sound of him stepping outside but not walking away.  
Then the sound of the front door closing and him going back up the stairs.
Then the door of the top floor flat being opened.
Then her voice (now loud, distorted by crying): “You hurt me!”
Then him shouting an obscenity.
Then the door of the top floor flat being slammed.
Then everything muffled but her still crying.
Then the crying fading.
Then the hall light automatically going off.
Then night.
Then nothing.

Where are the rebels?

Savage Omnibus #1

July 8, 2008

respect by zack wilson

death of miss america by sean mcgahey

georgetown tammy by sean mcgahey

last generation of pig swilling gin drinking amoebas by sean mcgahey

black room by suzy devere

metamorphised word spam by karen welsh

remember me to myself by melissa mann

november song by tony o’neill


May 16, 2008

No writer was involved in the making of this story.  Think of it as just words and imagination coming together.  Think of this as writing taking a stand against writers and their egos.  Who gives a shit who wrote it; it shouldn’t matter.  This is Tim’s story, not the writer’s.  Just this once, let the story, whether you rate it or not, speak for itself.  Let it be just about the writing.  Long live writing.


I’m now a small white space like a square of light or a blank sheet.  On my skin I can feel the weight of the whiteness.  It’s cool and smooth and soothing like a balm.  I’m waiting in here to be the me that doesn’t know what all the fuss was about.  Not the me that is distorted like I’m seeing myself through double-glazing; me and a shadow me just to one side.  The shadow me is always ten years older, uglier, more out of shape; a shadow made of the smoke from a part of me that’s on fire.


I draw my knees up inside the sleeping bag and wedge the torch between them.  The light bounces off the lid and onto my head, warming my bald patch like a wool cap.  In the mirror I’m holding, the wall behind me, its surface like packed ice, crisp white and crusty.  I press the glass to my chest, not daring to look at myself, not yet; it’s too soon.  Instead I stare at the torchlight till my eyes grow heavy, till I’m not sure if I’m asleep or awake or neither of these.  I want to sleep, crave it but the Seroxat won’t let me.  It teases me with the idea of sleep, my lashes batting at it but the drug pulls it away before I can take hold of it.  Gone, like it was never there, like sleep is a thing that doesn’t exist.  I’m afraid I will never sleep again but then I’m afraid of most things these days.  I’m afraid because in my mind everything really does happen; I really have lost my job, my wife really is divorcing me, I really am suffocating to death in here.  I live in a world where loss is an inevitability, where inanimate objects move of their own free will.  I reach up, fumbling for the gap between the lid and the rim and the piece of wood holding them apart.


This morning waiting for my train at Hemel station I saw a youth wearing a t-shirt.  It said ‘If you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much space’ and suddenly it was like I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t catch my breath.  I had to come home.  That’s why I’m in here, in this place that feels safe; this place that feels like it’s filled with forever.  I stretch my legs out and press my feet against the end wall, my elbows against the sides and infinity, it pushes back.  In here, tomorrow feels possible, I feel possible.  I rub my eye and feel the suggestion of sleep loosen beneath my finger, a tiny nugget of something prized.  Its sand-coloured solidity is reassuring somehow.  I reach for the plastic container in my shirt pocket and drop it in with all the others.  I have it in mind to make an egg timer with them, which made my wife laugh.  It’s been a long time since I heard Laura laugh; she used to laugh all the time before we married, before the children. 


I rest my head against the back wall and close my eyes.  I’m coming back to myself, I can feel it, smell it – hair: greasy, body: sweating.  The sense of being inside myself is returning.  If a hair moves on my body I will know it.  Yes, I’m remembering how to be me again, bringing myself back into line.


“Tim?  Tim, are you in there?”


Tim.  Yes, I am Tim.  That feels like a name that belongs to me.  I look at my watch.  9 o’clock.  I’ve been in here for twelve hours, twelve hours made up of endless minutes.  I unzip the sleeping bag like I’m removing a layer of myself and manoeuvre onto all fours.  My back and shoulders press against the lid.  I move to stand.  The lid lifts, ratcheting open like it’s inside my spine.  Eventually I’m upright, bathed in the light from the torch at my feet.


“There you are,” Laura says.  Her tired face thinks about smiling.  She holds out her hand to me.  I swallow, seeing the bitten fingernails, the redness beneath her wedding ring.  It’s cold in the garage, dark but for the torch and the light coming from the back door behind her.  The children are standing in the doorway dressed in their pyjamas.  Will is sucking his sleeve, half-hiding behind his sister.  Amy is clutching her stuffed monkey, one bare foot resting on top of the other. 


“Come on, let’s get you inside,” says Laura, taking hold of my arm.  Through my shirt and fleece I can feel the detail of her fingerprints on my skin; I smile to myself.  Back.  With my other hand gripping the rim, I clamber out of the old chest freezer and follow my wife into the warmth of the house.


* *The End* *

It smelled awful.  A rank, noxious, decaying-garbage-mixed-with-warm-urine smell –a city smell—and it was rising out of the ground like the mist of London streets in werewolf movies.  It was Madison Avenue and the steam was coming from an open sewer. Men in orange vests, yellow hats and work-boots were drinking coffee out of blue and white deli cups and standing around the hole, looking in.  The wind was blowing north that night, Uptown.  We were walking home after a long religious class, my sixth, three-hour session of learning how to become Jewish. 

Warmer than it had been, I took my coat off and held it over my nose to stop the smell.  Despite the coat, the smell got stronger as we walked closer to the hole.  The wind picked up.  One hand on my pregnant middle (as if to hold the baby from running away) and the other holding my coat over my nose, I nearly lost my balance when I saw him.  Sam Shepard, my hero.  Chelsea Hotel, fucking Patti Smith, his book of short stories, a true genius!  He was walking straight towards us.  There was no one else. He was walking with the wind. He looked straight at me.  In what seemed molasses-slow motion, we passed.  He stared.  I stared.  My friend stared, too.  Only the workmen were left out of the moment. 

When we’d passed each other completely we both stopped and looked back.  Not me and Sam, but me and my friend.  “He stared at me.”  I declared loudly, images flooding my head from some saving-the-farm movie he’d starred in titled  “River something”.  Oh, how beautiful his eyes had been in the scenes where he’d been covered with dirty river mud…

“You were covering your face with a coat.  Of course he stared” my friend said, the words reaching out and slapping me a little from behind.  My thoughts turned to Jessica, his famous wife.  Where was she?  Why wasn’t she with him?  And where was he going alone, walking on Madison Avenue like a lonely old man on a regular Thursday night?  I thought of my favorite Jessica movie, Frances, and how it had disturbed me.  I saw it and hadn’t been able to calm my blood for weeks—the way the people around her made her into a crazy woman when all she wanted was love.  And they locked her up against her will and no one would believe her.  No one was there to help.  And that mother!  What an evil mother she was!  Crazier than anyone else! And deceitful!  She’d ruined her own daughter’s life.

 “He stared right at me.”  I said again, this time thinking of the recent Vanity Fair photo of Sam, standing in front of the Chelsea Hotel. Then, strangely, I thought of Sandy, who had also lived in the Chelsea Hotel.  I met Sandy at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in a hospital on the Upper West Side.  That group had been surreal.  In the middle of a man’s “sharing” this woman, Sandy, a complete stranger to me then, had leaned over and whispered did I wanna’ go downtown for an art opening when this blowhard was through?  I was caught up in the man’s story and barely heard her.  The man was crying, talking about his missing lover.  He’d been killed and put inside a mattress in the apartment they’d shared.  Murdered by one of their friends–another junkie–and the man said he had slept on the mattress for a week, almost two, before he found him in the middle of it.  “Yes”, I told her, “I’ll go.”

 So after the meeting we headed down to the Village.  Turned out it was the opening of a photo show about Andy Warhol.  Sandy was in some of the pictures with Andy.  Everyone at the Gallery came over to talk to her.  Everyone seemed to know her.  I was only eighteen years old. I’d never heard of the Chelsea Hotel and the only thing I knew about Andy Warhol was that he had bad skin and white hair.  I wondered whatever happened to Sandy.  Then I remembered Sam.

 “Do you think I should turn around and go introduce myself and tell him that I’m going to send him my novel to read?  Or should I ask him who his literary agent is and send it to him instead because it’s like, less threatening?”  I thought of all the waiters and waitresses trying to get their big break and how maybe it could happen.  How it does happen, sometimes.  I thought about Madonna and how she met the father of her child while jogging in Central Park. Then I remembered how last year I trained for the New York City Marathon in Central Park everyday for nine months and never met a soul. But still, maybe he would like me?  Maybe he would sense just from my one sentence how bright and brilliant my future was going to be?  Why, yes!  Of course he would.  And he would want to facilitate my rise to the top, take part in shaping my career, maybe (hopefully!) even corrupt me lecherously, turning into a worldy sex-crazed svengali and guide.   It does happen, I told myself.

 “I know, I’ll send him my novel and attach a note reminding him that I was the pregnant lady he saw on Madison Avenue and 60th Street, holding the coat over her nose one night in April.  I’ll remind him he was walking Uptown.”  There was a pause. “He was staring straight at me.”

 It was then I realized my friend felt left out, clearly jealous of the attention I’d gotten.  “He stared at you, too.” I said falsely.

 “That’s because I was walking with a pregnant lady who had a coat on her face” my friend said.

 By 56th Street the smell had gone completely and we got in a taxi.  Inside, the driver smelled of Petrulli.  I stuck my head out the window, breathing in the shit city air and thinking of Sam the whole way home.

ta ta

February 11, 2008

closed for new business

Savage Manners – closed for any new submissions.


So, today’s book industry is focused on profit margins and it’s tough for authors to get themselves in print. What’s new?

As an editor who has worked in corporate publishing for six years, and freelanced as a writer and editor for many more, I’m always fascinated by the idea that “big” publishing has no time for writers, or readers. For what it’s worth, here’s a view from the inside. I’m not sure I can live up to cynicalsteve’s expectations of starting “a spicy thread” but I’ll do my best …

I work in one of the Big Four; we employ more than 500 people, many more globally. The aim of all this, as I personally understand it, is to create great books across several genres whilst – and sorry if this bit upsets you – making money. Once upon a time it may have been easier to reconcile aiming for both greatness and profits. It’s a tougher job these days.

Over the course of a publishing year there are approximately 100 new titles per division, but more than 400 across the whole company. Editorial teams are much smaller than they once were, with many of the tasks such as copy-editing now done by freelancers, but the number of jobs relating to each book has increased. There are now blogs and websites to update, internet as well as more traditional marketing campaigns to design, different editions to be prepared for different markets (those freebie books on the front of magazines, international editions, audiobooks) and a plethora of outlets all clamouring, we hope, for our books.

Yes, in the 1950s it may have been a more “indulgent” editorial age but it was also a very simple age, one where the market was dominated by fewer books, writers and outlets. In the internet age, it is no wonder that the book is suffering, publishers and booksellers with it. And yes, writers too.

Was it ever easier or better? Well, in the 1920s Virginia Woolf would have written a story, set it and had it printed. Independent-spirited, discerning booksellers would have recognised a startling new talent and begun to stock her books for similarly minded readers. How lovely and romantic – and possibly imaginary – that sounds. But is it?

Because how often do you willingly go into an independent bookshop to pay £9.99 for one book, when you can buy two for a tenner down the street? I confess this is a personal bugbear. But it is hypocritical to complain about the Tesco-fication of books at the same time as buying into the cut-price deals. If you care about writing and its future, about publishers taking risks or about the survival of independent bookshops (and their much wider range) you should make a point of paying full price.

Twenty years ago we all wanted cheap food and loved supermarkets; then we noticed that the supermarkets had put all the small shops out of business and were offering us bland food … cheapness and conglomeration have a detrimental effect on quality, whatever the business.

What about all the celebrity rubbish, I hear you cry? Well, again, it is hypocritical to bitch about publishers buying celebrity-penned (or not) books, when the marketplace, and readers, seem so very thirsty for it. Perhaps nobody who contributes to this blog ever reads Heat (not even over another’s shoulder), watches reality TV or uses YouTube? Yes, publishers can be accused of copying trends and following the herd – but so can we all. Publishers are businesses; they need to make money and if there are a million readers willing to buy a celebrity biography, is it really possible to argue that they shouldn’t publish it?

At the same time, it is also not true that there is less of a market for new writing and new ideas. If that were the case why are there increasing numbers of publishers, and titles, every year? Nor is it true that there is less courage. If you went into a publisher’s office you would be astounded by the dedication of editorial teams. I still am, six years on.

There aren’t many jobs that start on about £18k in London where the person would willingly give up their evenings and weekends to read, in the hope of finding something great. Every editor I know puts in more hours than they are paid for because they love reading and they love writing. The fact that it is incredibly hard to take on and sell a new writer doesn’t stop editors coming to the acquisition meeting every week to persuade sales, marketing, publicity, international to do just that.

To spend money based on judgment and pure speculation is a leap of faith. Editors do it every day, every week, because they, like everyone in publishing, love great books.

And before you think me party to the cause, I should add that I’m also a writer. Yes, as beatitude and elcalifornio point out, a network can be incredibly important if you want to get published. I got an introduction to several agents because of connections, but only one took me on. And, despite my contacts, my first book didn’t sell.

Unlike some, my reaction is not, “Oh the publishing world doesn’t know what it’s missing” – it’s a combination of, “It’s not right for the market” and (whisper this), “It’s not good enough…” What will I do? Write another. For there is a difference between wanting to write, and wanting to be published.

New # of SVG!!!

June 11, 2007

Site of the week:

Blogs Guardian


London Lit +


Chris Major