SCHOPENHAUER INSPIRED WRITING
“Every man takes the limits of his perception for the limits of the world.”
I am currently in the midsts of a series of writings inspired by Arthur Schopenhauer and others who follow in the philosophical traditions of Pessimism. A very unpopular tradition in our era of unbridled optimism, but the only one I can see which explains just why we in the west are so confused about our objectives and so unhappy. The metaphysics of love, the biology of Will, the root of suffering – these are some of the themes I’ll be taking from the great philosopher and meditating upon further with some relation to contemporary culture.
MY GUARDIAN PROFILE
So it turns out that I’ve written quite a few articles for the Guardian in the last few years. You can read them all HERE. they include why Teen Dystopias preach Market Capitalism, Scottish literature and its relation to BPD, my Top Ten commune books, How 50 Shades came into existence, whether the job known as “author” will survive in the digital era and what the world of literature will look like in 2042 (I have time travelled).
Here is a preview of a still image from the feature film adaptation of my novel Swung. Swung is possibly the antidote to Fifty Shades in that it is about failure and poverty and the pain caused by being cast adrift and directionless – and about a very strong kind of love that endures the hardest tests of all: kids and fidelity. Can people really ‘share each other’? Watch this space for more information on when and where Swung will be released in 2015.
SOME of MY OTHER FILM AND TV PROJECTS ARE NOW ONLINE
You can find links to some of the films that I have written, directed and/or produced. HERE
These include an award winning short about love & CCTV, an Arab Strap Pop Video, an advert for Midori and some book trailers.
FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR
I was at Frankfurt Book Fair 2014 as an invited guest speaker at “Storydrive”.
Event – “(Almost) Everything You Need to Become and Survive as a Story Hero”
“The Scottish writer and screenplay author, Ewan Morrison, describes himself as a part-time futurologist. He writes controversial articles for the Guardian, and his latest book, Swung, has just been filmed with the leading role played by Almodovar star Elena Anaya. At StoryDrive, his topic will be synergy. He will talk about the synergies between great ideas, as for him, ideas are the stuff of stories as well as a basic prerequisite for successful media activities – successful also in the financial sense. In the future, he sees books, films, TV, serials and games merging together, while storytelling and story selling will change profoundly.”
Michael Bhaskar, Odile Limpach and Ewan Morrison will be the guests at the session “(Almost) Everything You Need to Become and Survive as a Story Hero”, Friday 10 October, 3.30 – 5.00 pm, Hall 4.0, Europa room. http://www.book-fair.com/en/businessclub/schedule/storydrive/event/01478/index.html
BOOKS, PRIZES, MOVIE – A GOOD YEAR
2014 has been a period of novel writing and unplugging from the internet. In 2013 Ewan Morrison became the winner of the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (SMIT) Book of the Year Fiction Prize 2013 (for the novel Close Your Eyes) . He was also winner of the Glenfiddich Writer of the Year Award 2012/3. The 2013/24 prize was won by William Mcillvanney.
SWUNG – the movie. From November till December 2013 the feature film adaptation of Morrison’s novel Swung was filmed at locations around Glasgow. The film stars award winning Spanish Actress Elena Anaya (The Skin I live In, Sex and Lucia) is directed by Colin Kennedy and produced by the multi award winning team at Sigma Films.
”Sometimes – very rarely – a book is just so good that a string of gushing superlatives still seem to be damning it with faint praise. Swung is that kind of novel, genuinely groundbreaking in its scope..’ Irvine Welsh.
Swung is more than a book about sex, its about unemployment, divorce and the sense of impotence that has swept over Generation X as they struggle to be parents, partners and to have careers. They are failing on all fronts at such ‘long term projects.’ cease to be achievable in the highly competitive, short term, dog-eat-dog economy.
Elena Anaya stars in Swung.
TOP 50 SCOTTISH BOOKS IN 50 YEARS
Morrison’s book Tales from the Mall has also been named one of the top 50 Scottish Books of the last 50 years, by critic Stuart Kelly and the Scottish Book Trust. You can read the list here. The public are being invited for their top ten here. Meanwhile Morrison’s award winning Tales from the Mall is being adapted into a multi-media /theatrical/film and art event for 2015. Ewan Morrison will be a key speaker on the one hour long BBC World Service Programme Mall World, which airs november 30th 2013. The programme is built upon interviews with people in four countries and takes a critical look at globalisation and ‘the malling of the world’. Morrison has important things to say about the mass consumerism and its spread, and about the dangers facing malls (in the wake of the Kenyan mall tragedy) as malls becomes targets for anti-western protest and violence.
Ewan Morrison on stage at Edinburgh libraries with author Jenny Fagan and writer, critic and Man Booker judge Stuart Kelly.
AMERICAN BLACKOUT – MASS TV EVENT
In October 2013 National Geographic Channel released American Blackout a two hour TV docudrama special about the collapse of the US electrical grid. The project was co-written between Ewan Morrison and Emily Ballou.
American Blackout was a huge hit in the US, going all the way to being debated at government level. It was advertised at the SuperBowl and had estimated International audience figures of 140 million.
You can watch the full drama-doc by clicking here.
AB plays on the American obsession with ‘prepping’ for the collapse of civic society – a theme that Morrison is exploring in his next novel.
MORRISON IS A FINALIST IN THE SCOTTISH MORTGAGE INVESTMENT TRUST BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 2013 AFTER WINNING THE FICTION CATEGORY WITH “CLOSE YOUR EYES” (ANNOUNCED 05.09.13)
Interviewed as to why Morrison feels so many projects have come to fruition for him within the same year he replied. ”If feels like luck, but maybe there’s something to be said for digging your heels in, not following trends and building up a body of work. Eight years worth of hard work has all suddenly become visible and people are seeing the common themes in what I’ve been writing. On a personal level thats immensely gratifying, but on a political level I’m concerned, as all of my writing is about people struggling to survive on the edges of a malfunctioning capitalism. It really does seem that something is going horribly wrong with the structures that are holding the world together and folk are waking up to that. Maybe the sudden popularity of my work is really just an indication that western society is about to hit a dead end. In which case I’ll have a little window of opportunity to speak something like the truth, before the avenues for meaningful self expression close down.”
Ewan Morrison, Gavin Francis, Richard Price, and Kerry Hudson were the winners of the Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry and First Book categories respectively from a shortlist of 18 Scottish authors.
The end of the world didn’t happen – again. We weren’t hit by a planet called Nibiru in twenty twelve and the north and south poles didn’t flip; the mayan calendar ending was about as significant as a digital watch going from 23.59 to 00.00. Nonetheless this zeitgeist of beginnings and endings has shaken out some cobwebs. This year Utopia and Dystopia are grappling for dominance in my head. On a personal note I was suffering a wee bit of burnout after bringing out two books last year and getting into some big arguments about the digital future on TV and Radio, Blogs and Vlogs – all of this was very time and energy consuming. Although people like to have pundits tell them what the future is going to be like, ultimately I’m a writer of books, so in January I unplugged from Social Media and started doing that very old fashioned thing….writing.
The results are two books in the making. One is a novel and it’s tentatively called YEAR ZERO. The other is a work of Non-Fiction called UTOPIA -THE DIY GUIDE.
Year Zero is about the end of the world, Utopia is about people’s attempt to make a better life, for everyone or just for themselves, and how this very often goes horribly wrong. But yes, there still is hope – trust me.
UTOPIA has received a grant from Creative Scotland and its going to take me to different intentional communities and Utopian experiments around the world.
Here’s a teaser of a potential book cover (when I need something to distract me, I design book covers for myself.)
2012/13- Awards, reviews and nominations:
In 2012 Ewan Morrison won the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Writer of the Year Award, 2012. His most recent books have won acclaim from International authors including Douglas Coupland, James Frey, Iain Sinclair, Christos Tsiolkas, Irvine Welsh and Jonathan Meades. Tales from the Mall was a finalist in the Saltire Society Book of the Year Award 2012 and won the Guardian Not the Booker Prize, 2012 . In addition Ewan was also a finalist in the Creative Scotland Writers Award, 2012. He is the author of four novels (Jonathan Cape) and two books of short stories (Chroma & Cargo).
NEW REVIEWS FOR CLOSE YOUR EYES + TALES FROM THE MALL + PRAISE FROM MR.WELSH
It’s been an intense few days at the International Writers Conference at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The debates are really heating up and I’ve particularly relished and mulled over comments from China Mieville, Xialo Guo and Denise Mina. To my great surprise and joy today Irvine Welsh spoke about Tales from the Mall in his address on Nationalism and Internationalism in the novel.
“…I focus on a piece of work, Tales From The Mall, by Glasgow-based writer Ewan Morrison, which was published this year by Scotland’s innovative Cargo Press. In the simplistic nature of market classification, this book is hard to tritely define (and therefore stock). Not only does it not fit the genre-dominated fiction boxes into which everything must increasingly be shoehorned, (again, retail-, not publishing- or artist-led), but it’s not a fictional novel, short story collection, multi-media experience, or a treatise on modern architecture, consumer capitalism, authority structures and the negation of democracy, yet it’s all of these things.
Tales From The Mall, therefore, has gained little exposure, other than a fantastic word-of-mouth through the cognoscenti. This publication posits an exciting future for storytelling, from the so-called margins. It’s an innovative book that is set largely in Scotland, but which has a global reach, as this small country interfaces with a globalised consumerist culture to produce truly zeitgeist writing.”
Full speech here: THE GUARDIAN IRVINE WELSH SPEECH
Another unexpected and much welcome piece of praise came from critic and writer Stuart Kelly in the Guardian.
“Tales From The Mall is an elegy as much as it is a philippic…Morrison is easily the most interesting Scottish writer of his generation.”
NEW ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN ON THE HISTORY OF FAN FICTION + HOW WE GOT TO FIFTY SHADES. Link here. 300 comments and a great debate between various schools of fanfic writers and fanfic lovers, the so called literary ‘snobs’ and those who agree with me that fanfic is now becoming dominant in many forms, from books to films, to user generated mashups on Youtube, to mainstream cinema. Is this because we as a culture are running out of ideas, or has a long dormant cultural mass been awakened and set free by “democratising forces” of the internet. Please join the debate and add a comment on the Guardian page, and read below if you’d like to know where I’m coming from.
CLOSE YOUR EYES – the fourth novel with Jonathan Cape, is now available.
- Here’s what critics and authors are saying about it:
- “Abrave, sensitive, painful novel, Close Your Eyes is an alternative history of the last forty years, an exploration of the damage idealistic parents can do to their children and a reminder that it is sometimes the peolpe who are absent who really fill out lives.”
- JAMES ROBERTSON Author And The Land Lay Still.
- ‘Beautiful. Haunting. If Ewan Morrison was a woman, Close Your Eyes would be destined for the Orange Prize shortlist.’
HELEN WALSH, author of BRASS.
- “An insightful tale of a brave new world revisited.” THE SUNDAY TIMES
- “If you’re looking for memorable, important Scottish novels of the early 21st century then this is one of the books that needs to be read. Its very different from Ali Smith, its very different from Irvine Welsh and yet it takes its place in that group of very important Scottish writing.” NICK BARLEY. Director, Edinburgh International Book Festival.
- “Morrison inhabits his female characters with impressive skill, and his sharp portrayal of the commune’s evolution from hippy enclave to capitalist self-help business makes what is a potentially depressing novel a riveting read.” THE OBSERVER”
- “Acutely drawn…Morrison carries off the compelling second person voice brilliantly.” TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
- “The whole of Close Your Eyes is an admirable and intimate wrestling with the damages incurred by trying to heal, as Adorno once called modernity, “a damaged life….a wise, emotionally literate gauge of the burdens – and blarney – of alternative living should buy it immediately.” Pat Kane. THE INDEPENDENT.
- “Morrison’s most accomplished book yet….a complex, thought-provoking and deeply ambitious book, and one that Morrison, now an exceedingly versatile writer, pulls off triumphantly.”
MALCOLM FORBES, THE HERALD. FULL REVIEW
- ‘Mesmerising. Disturbing. Outstanding. Written with exquisite emotional perception, this is a tour de force from Morrison – the kind of book which comes along rarely but lingers in the mind long after the last page is turned.’
- “Close Your Eyes is by far his most accomplished novel, an intense account of a girl’s upbringing in a Scottish Highland commune…Switching between two timelines, this is both a lyrical account of motherhood and an astute piece of commentary on the ways in which our society and our families have changed irrevocably over the last 40 years. To Pack all that stuff into a deeply personal tale that keeps you turning the pages is a testament to Morrison’s skill as a writer. Few Male writers manage to tap into the emotional well as deeply as Morrison does, yet he has a clearer eye for the bigger picture and the writerly craft at his disposal to deliver a piercing critique of the world we live in. Morally complex, emotionally resonant – Close Your Eyes is a fine, fine piece of work.
THE BIG ISSUE. Doug Johnstone.
- “One of the successes of the book is Morrison’s convincing use of a female narrator. He writes about breastfeeding and motherhood in a completely natural way and the reader forgets the author is male. Yet Rowan is not just a woman, she is everyman, anyone who has struggled with depression, disappointment, abandonment and disillusion. Close Your Eyes is yet another step on Morrison’s journey to understand what makes society tick and take a close look at what happens when people do close their eyes. Highlights include the page-turning pleasure of a well-turned plot, Morrison’s skilful crafting of character and dialogue and his confident handling of stylistic techniques. There is betrayal, passion, idealism and defeat, the triumphs of human behaviour as well as its petty, craven failures as his utopia loses its ideals in order to survive. Ultimately, there is hope, however, as Rowan comes to terms with her past and reconnects with both her mother’s memory and her own child, and the reader is left to conclude that ultimately, a mother’s love conquers all.”
THE SCOTSMAN. FULL REVIEW
- ‘Morrison is unsparing in the emotional ordeal he inflicts on both his protagonist and the reader, but his novel is always acutely and convincingly observed. It’s a telling and powerful study of the intersection between the political and personal.’
METRO. 4 stars
- “Often the sense of impending disaster makes you sick with nervous tension. At other times, Morrison creates calm from the most unlikely circumstances. In a book that is somewhere between Esther Freud’s Hideous Kinky and Jez Butterworth’s play Jerusalem, Morrison creates something both uncomfortable and beautiful to read”.
Welovethisbook.com FULL REVIEW
- “Ewan Morrison departed from the traditional novel to great effect with 2012′s Tales from The Mall, a hugely informative and entertaining read, but with Close Your Eyes he reminds us that he can tell a story with as much skill, wit and technique as any writer around today. His mastery of narrative, voice, place and structure results in the reader always being involved in events… one of the most exciting and unpredictable writers at work today.” THE BOTTLE IMP.
- ‘A rivetting Well told tale.”
Brian Agee. THE SKINNY. 4 stars.
INTERVIEW IN THE SCOTSMAN
One of the best interviews I’ve ever had. Talking with Janet Christie about Close Your Eyes, Hippies, Communes, Findhorn, Post natal depression, Joni Mitchell and why Utopia doesn’t work.
Published on Saturday 28 July 2012
EWAN Morrison tells Janet Christie how a hippie childhood forms the painful backdrop to a novel that skewers dreams of utopian living.
“Ewan Morrison has had a good year. His last book delighted the critics and the omens for his new novel, loosely based on his childhood growing up with hippie parents, are looking equally good.
For a while, he says, he felt he was being pigeonholed as someone who only wrote about sex, and certainly the three novels that made his name – Swing, Distance and Ménage – had a whiff of scandal about them.
But in May, in Tales From The Mall, he struck out in a new direction, mixing up fiction with reportage, journalism and sociology in an innovative look at consumer culture. And in his new novel, Close Your Eyes, he is playing with form again: in a novel that takes a hard look about the realities and consequences of Highland hippiedom, the narrative encompasses song lyrics, New Age slang, and parenting manuals.”
TRAILERS FOR CLOSE YOUR EYES
You can watch the two trailers book on Youtube. Click on the links below
TALES FROM THE MALL REVIEWS & NOT THE BOOKER
I’m pleased to announce the Tales from the Mall is one of 6 British novels to be nominated for this year’s Not the Booker Prize. Here are some of the reviews for the book.
“Morrison continues Ballard’s tradition of locating menace beneath the sleekness and shine of postindustrial life. You also learn a lot along the way. A truly interesting book.”
-Douglas Coupland, author of ‘Generation X’
“Tales From the Mall is a great book. It’s touching and emotional and part of a new form of literary storytelling. It’s worth reading, worth loving.”
-James Frey, author of a Million Little Pieces
“One of the most innovative and groundbreaking books published in the last couple of decades. Mixing disciplines and drifting between fiction and fact, Ewan Morrison deconstructs the stultifying Venus fly-trap of the society and culture we’ve constructed under consumer capitalism.”
-Irvine Welsh, author of ‘Trainspotting’, ‘Skagboys’.
“Ewan Morrison captures beautifully the point at which anecdote
becomes urban myth and reportage slides into fiction. A really
important new form has emerged.”
-Claire Armitstead, Books Editor, The Guardian.
“A wonderful and important book that does the most difficult thing:
laying bare the overlooked everyday world in which we live. The dark
dreams and lightweight fantasies of shopping malls and those within
them are exposed with incredible acuity and great tenderness.”
Catherine O’Flynn, Costa prize winning author of ‘What Was Lost’
“The most groundbreaking and moving book to come out of Britain
in years. A dazzling book about everyday peple trying to find heart in a
heartless place. Morrison is so far ahead of the zeitgeist it’s frightening.”
-Doug Johnstone, author & journalist
“‘A definitive expedition into the alternative universe death-star environment of the mall. Sure-footed, smart and necessary. Morrison unpicks security barriers between genres, documenting his fictions, and smacking us with real-world retrievals. I was grateful for every word of it.”
-Iain Sinclair, writer and filmmaker. author of ‘Ghost Milk’
“An innovative way of delivering his trademark obsessions with globalisation, consumerism and relationships, its an engaging mix of fact and fiction. The stories range from laugh out loud funny to on the button social commentary. Staffing the tales from the mall are brilliant characters, this is a book for anyone who’s ever dated, waited, worked or berated in a mall. Which is all of us.”
“Morrison glides us through people’s lives, picking up tips for creating havoc at malls, digesting facts and stats, dipping into the loneliness at the heart of consumerism. The effect is, like a mall, mostly dazzling. Morrison is always ready to find disquiet and unease in the most banal of places. His book is populated by small lives in the shadow of the multi-national, delivered in a sympathetic manner …His writing remains fresh and inventive.”
“… Morrison has produced something really special with Tales from the Mall. It’s to Morrison’s credit that he has created an engrossing book which will change, to just a small degree, how you will look at the next mall you enter.’
“Morrison has pulled together a wealth of information and anecdotes and produced a vibrantly funny and genuinely scary portrait of our times.” Brian Donaldson. THE LIST
“An innovative way of delivering his trademark obsessions with globalisation, consumerism and relationships, its an engaging mix of fact and fiction. The stories range from laugh out loud funny to on the button social commentary. Staffing the tales from the mall are brilliant characters, this is a book for anyone who’s ever dated,waited, worked or berated in a mall. Which is all of us. SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY
“Welcome to a new kind of 21st-century storytelling. This remarkable collection of writing is hard to categorise in any orthodox sense, but it is a brilliant and often profound form of literature that says more about the modern human condition than a hundred more conventional novels might. The genius of Tales from the Mall is that Morrison plays everything with a straight bat. There are pieces of writing here that will make you cry, others that will give you a warm glow about humanity, and still others that will make you despair at the state of the world.”
“One of the real successes of the book is that its mood and tone continually shifts, from a sense of wonder at, say, a mall’s naming conventions, to slightly bleaker, almost Dickensian visions of working life”.- The National
‘Do you ever feel the fates are telling you to read a certain author? … Tales from the Mall’ is a quirky and rather unusual read but all the better for it. The way that fiction, facts and real people’s real stories retold merge creates this wonderful mix of the real and surreal and captures humans and the way that they behave. I haven’t encountered a book that does this in quite this way before. It’s fascinating, funny (often darkly) and at times really affecting. I am really glad that people pushed me in the direction of Ewan Morrison, now I am hopefully going to be pushing him on you. SAVIDGE READS
“A rich mix of fact, fiction, urban myth and haunting graphics, Tales from the Mall explores the centreless space at the heart of our culture and finds revised revenge, a parent’s worst nightmare, bargain hunting as a violent competitor sport. By turns clever, funny and moving, this is the unmissable retail experience.”
“Gruesomely funny, uncomfortably accurate, astonishingly varied…Tales From The Mall… represents and creates a nether world that is all around us, mostly ignored, hardly seen, incessantly frequented.”
- Jonathan Meades, Author, Broadcaster
“I confidently predict that Ewan Morrison’s Tale From The Mall… will do for Cargo what Children of Albion Rovers did for Rebel Inc. This is a phenomenal and important groundbreaking novel maybe even the Trainspotting of its generation.”
Kevin Williamson. Rebel Inc.
“A brilliant new book”
- The Verb, Radio 3.
TALES FROM THE MALL & A quote from IRVINE WELSH
- This is what Irvine Welsh has had to say about the book:
- ‘One of the most innovative and groundbreaking books published in the last couple of decades. Mixing disciplines and drifting between fiction and fact, Ewan Morrison deconstructs the stultifying Venus fly-trap of the society and culture we’ve constructed under consumer capitalism.’
- You can BUY Tales from the Mall in paperback for £6.99 (from UK) or as a KINDLE: HERERecent articles, reviews and interviews have appeared in -The NationalScotland on SundayThe ScotsmanThe IndependentScots Whay Hae!The SkinnyThe List
- We’re having our LAUNCH at Waterstones Sauchiehall street on Tuesday the 1st at 6.00pm , and then Mark Buckland and I will be over in Edinburgh at Blackwells on Thursday the 3dr of May at 6.30 pm. Please print out an invite (BELOW) and come along. To find out what leading writers and critics are saying about the book, also have a look at the invites, which have quotes from James Frey, Douglas Coupland and Claire Armitstead.
- To kick off our mall press there is EWAN MORRISON’S TOP TEN MALL BOOKS in the Guardian this week – which included JG Ballard, Walter Benjamin and a curious new ager who tried to find God on a shopping pilgrimage.
- And then there is EWAN MORRISON’S MESSAGES FROM THE MALL in Scotland on Sunday April 29th, which features three anecdotes from the book and comes up with the revelation that ‘these are places where people go to act out their crises of non belonging.’ Also coming up are an interview in The Herald, with Teddy Jameson, an article in the Times and appearances on BBC’s You and Your, the Culture Cafe, Radio Ulster, ABC Radio and several leading blogs. A busy time for Mister Mall. You can place a pre-order for the book on the GUARDIAN BOOKSHOP or from AMAZON.
- TALES FROM THE MALL IS COMING OUT (and is making radio appearances)
- On April the 10th. It will be available for PRE ORDER from the 3rd of March -in all formats known to man, from the Cargo website.
- I’m doing a lot of media right now, on radio and in print. I just had the most interesting experience of having three of my mall videos turned into radio in Melbourne on Triple R on the Lorin Clarke show.
- THE END OF BOOKS IS BACK.
TALK/DEBATE. CCA GLASGOW. New statistics, a new conclusion, a theory about CREATIVE DESTRUCTION and some tips for surviving the digital deluge of free content.”In the first of our 2012 Debate & Discussion events, Ewan Morrison presents the most important debate for all writers to date. Is it ‘the end of books?’ Come along and have your say!”You may also like to hear about the four digital gurus who have now turned against the net and are campaigning to have it regulated.HERE IS SOME BLURB - END OF BOOKS DEBATEEDINBURGH REVIEW ENTERS THE MALLI’m very please to find that two of my mall f(a)ctions are in print in Edinburgh Review, and also available on their website. You can read them here.EDINBURGH REVIEW – THE KEY TO HAPPINESSHere is a sample:Incidents in a Mall# 4 The Key to HappinessHappiness: the word does not seem immediately synonymous with market research, but since late 50s, corporations have been keen to tap into and exploit this illusive phenomenon in the search for what they call ‘the key to happiness’. This was, in fact, the name of an extensive market survey, conducted in 2002 by a shoe manufacturer, with over five hundred focus groups and two thousands head-to-head interviews, know as ‘depths’.
- STORY. Incidents in a Mall# 52 ChalkmarksThere are chalk marks on the grey walls; they stretch on and on, down through featureless passages cut off from natural light; scoring the many floors which mirror each other only in anonymity. Here, behind the scenes, there are almost two kilometres of service corridors. They connect the rear entrances of every retail outlet via elevator and stair to the subterranean service entrance where the tons of daily goods arrive in vast trucks that appear mostly in the dark of night. None of the light or sound from the mall enters these corridors, it is like walking through an old black and white photograph. Walls, floor and roof are grey concrete, the neon lights illuminate sewage pipes and electrical wires which give the corridors their only colour; save for the chalk marks, in shades of pastel peach and blue, weathering to white on the walls. These are not drawings: there are no scrawled images of faces or genitals, no words, dates, names or jokes. They are not graffiti as was first thought, but simple lines, stretching hundreds of yards; it took time till the reason for their existence was revealed.
- READ BOTH STORIES BY CLICKING ON THE LINKS.
- NEWS STORY – FATHER IN ANTI-TERROR MALL PHOTO ROW
- I interviewed Chris White today on and published the video interview (8mins) and an essay on BELLA CALEDONIA. The breaking news story which has gone viral on the net and is on most news channels, is that of a father being harassed by MALL security and Police for taking a photograph of his own child on a shopping trip.
- Here is a sample.
Given that we live in an era in which, as one politician once claimed- ‘it’s your duty to shop’ and at which time that civic duty of consumption increasingly involves buying cheap hi-tech equipment for domestic use, usually a smart phone or iphone – with a hi-def camera, one would assume that the natural thing to do as an honourable consumer would be to shop in a shopping centre and photograph your family enjoying the pleasures of retail.Not so.On Friday the 7th of October, Chris White, (45 years old, a married, mental health trainer from Glasgow) was shopping at Braehead shopping mall on the outskirts of Glasgow, with his daughter. In his own words, this is what happened – “ I took (a) photo of my 4 year old daughter looking cute on the back of a vespa seat at an ice cream bar inside Braehead… Having just bought her some new jigsaws we were going to go look at some clothes shops but never managed to continue our shopping trip.?? Walking down the shopping mall a (security) man approached me … as I was carrying my daughter in my arms. He came from behind me, cutting in front of me and told me to stop… He then said I had been spotted taking photos in the shopping centre which was ‘illegal’ and not allowed and then asked me to delete any photos I had taken.”
- A SNIPPET OF ONE OF MY MALL STORIES IS IN THE LIST THIS WEEK
- Buy the magazine and scan the RFID link onto your smart phone and you will get the full story and a video.
- To celebrate the fact that Cargo Crate has signed up Ewan Morrison’s print and digital mega-project, Tales From The Mall, The List offer you a sneak peak with an excerpt from the one of the 22 stories, Early Learning Centre.EXCERPTOne thing disturbed Les about her job in demographics: her workbook said there were 82 types of person in the world. Only 82. In her twenties she decided to prove this wrong and went through an ‘excited and dizzying’ period, dating many people from different places, in the search for someone, like herself, who didn’t fit any of the boxes. There was Taz (type F35), Shena (A8), and Flack (G42). She slummed it with immigrants and had a brief ‘amore’ with a ‘Symbols of Success / Global Connector’ who, with his pied-a-terre penthouses in several countries, BMWs, and share portfolios was a complete caricature of the Type A1 slash 2 that he aspired to be. But he’d kept an old Play-Doh model of Kermit he’d made when he was four, and Les found that redemptive. For a while.
- THANKS TO THE LIST FOR ALL THEIR SUPPORT. More good things will be coming soon. Keep your eyes peeled for my Braehead Jedward video – a new mall video in the offing.
- ‘THE END OF BOOKS’
- ‘ipad over a sea of Fog’ Caspar David Friedrich 1865.
The Guardian ran with my speech from the Edinburgh Book Festival on the subject of The End of Books The event was with Claire Armitstead and Ray Ryan this week). I am very pleased to find that some blog contributors have submitted detailed advice for how authors might survive in the digital era.
Otherwise I’m alarmed to find that a great number of the comments come from people who:
(a) have no problem with the fact that author advances have been slashed by 80%
(b) have no issue with consuming free digital products in other formats
(c) think that books will somehow be spared the trend towards zero price that is happening in other digital media
There are also many book sniffers locking horns with digital fetishists but sanity is generally prevailing
Join the debate here: END OF BOOKS
on the subject of LAST THINGS AND BOOKS
I’m please to announce that the first book I wrote, perhaps ironically called THE LAST BOOK YOU READ is now available as a cheap and cheerful ebook (£1.72) on kindle.
Here is the blurb: This is the first e-reprint of Morrison’s breakthrough 2005 short story collection.
Twelve stories about love, lust and loss in the age of the internet.
‘The most compelling Scottish Literary debut since Trainspotting’ The Times.
‘A mini masterpiece’ Chris Dillon
‘A brilliant collection of searing short stories – deeply poignant’ Richard Holloway, BBC.
‘A mesmerizing, no-holds-barred collection’ The Herald
An internet blind date; a fuck buddy; a man who is writing a book called The Adulterer’s Guide; a couple venturing out on their first foursome; a man waiting to see his children again after a divorce; a woman planning to seduce a friend’s husband. Frank, witty, disturbing and ultimately compassionate, The Last Book You Read marks the debut of a powerful new voice. These stories tell of people caught between places and lovers, between the USA and UK, between desire, addiction and regret. From this collection emerges a singular picture of modern-day relationships, their conflicts and passions. Male or female; gay or straight; young or old; married, single or divorced – the difficult loves of the contemporary urban world are charted with clarity and assurance.
You can buy it here: THE LAST BOOK YOU READ
TALES FROM THE MALL HAS A HOME
CARGO CRATE ANNOUNCE ACQUIREMENT OF EWAN MORRISON “MALL BOOK”
Tales From The Mall promises to be “groundbreaking” digital and print project
Cargo Crate, the digital arm of Cargo Publishing and Scotland’s first digital label, have announced the signing of acclaimed Menage and Swung author Ewan Morrison for a new print and digital project, Tales From The Mall.
The book includes new stories, found fragments and essays as Morrison charts the rise and fall of shopping malls and the place that they hold in our lives. The ebook and app version include new animations and videos by the BAFTA nominated Morrison. “What’s particularly appealing about this thoughtful, mature and beautifully-constructed set of stories is that its content remains one of the most interesting, educational, intimate and engaging reads for me this year” said Editor In Chief of Cargo Crate Anneliese Mackintosh. But the plans for the digital aspect of the book go much further.
“We’re looking at several groundbreaking options” said Cargo MD Mark Buckland. “Animation, audio and video are fast becoming the standard for what we use to enhance a book, with Tales From The Mall, we’re looking at augmented reality, interaction across social networks and how we bring the book into the real world through flash mobs and user contributions.”
The format of the book follows a plan of a mall rather than a standard contents and Morrison was delighted to explore this non-linear concept in a book, digitally and in paper form. Anneliese Mackintosh was equally pleased with the technological potential: “Not only is it an exciting step forward for Ewan in terms of both subject matter and style, it is also an extremely inspiring project for Cargo Crate, in that we can use technology in completely new, innovative ways in order to explore the concept of ‘the mall’.”
With great debate in the industry over ebooks and many authors being in fierce opposition to digital ideas, Morrison was all too keen to embrace ebooks. “This is a real time of change for books”, he said, “equivalent to the transformation from medieval hand-made illuminated manuscripts to the printing press. Ironically the illuminated manuscript is making an unexpected and wonderful return, only this time around, words, pictures and sound can live in full colour within the format of the enhanced ebook.” Cargo Crate plan to partner with several digital partners and the book marks a significant investment and development for an independent publisher like Cargo.
Tales From The Mall is part of a line of recent procurements for Cargo Crate including a collection of political essays from maverick poet Tom Leonard and Morrison was pleased to join the lineup. “I’ve been really impressed, over the last year, with Cargo’s maverick and daring attitude towards ebook innovation and in their support of the work of indigenous and challenging Scottish authors”, he said. “In the next year they will publish the critical writings of Tom Leonard, a writer who has been much neglected in the UK, but who has immense importance in the history of Scottish writing. Cargo are joining the dots between where we have come from, and where we are going in Scotland, and in that they are leading the way.”
World rights to the book was bought by Cargo MD Mark Buckland and editor-in-chief of Cargo Crate, Anneliese Mackintosh, who noted “it’ll change the way you feel about shopping forever.”
Some of Morrison’s mall short films can be watched at
Ewan Morrison is the author of three novels, Menage, Swung and Distance and the short story collection The Last Book You Read. He has been nominated for BAFTA’s and Arena Man of The Year.
Cargo is a publisher from Glasgow, a subdivision of which is Cargo Crate, Scotland’s first ever digital label. Cargo Crate have published The Moira Monologues by Alan Bissett and 140 Characters by Simon Sylvester, with a book of Tom Leonard’s political essays and Ewan Morrison’s Tales From The Mall for 2012. They are also releasing major new ereader apps and technology in 2012 with new hardware for 2013.
More details? Contact Martin Brown at email@example.com
A NEW MALL TALE as part of the (g)host city. Hear it free here GRAVITY GUY, or download it as MP3 or FLAC. (g)host city is a very fine idea which involves specially commissioned audio recordings, inspired by specific locations in Edinburgh. These stories be listened to on hired headphones as part of a virtual tour. Other contributing writers include Jim Colquhoun, Kirsten Innes, Alan Bissett and Katy McCauley. Gravity Guy is intended to be listened to in Princes Mall, on Princes Street, Edinburgh.
BY POPULAR DEMAND – COUNTDOWN TO ZERO.
I read this at the Margins festival and assumed that the pin-drop silence meant that everyone thought I was mad. It turns out, at least one person, found it of some use. This is a single page of ‘evidence’ from Tales from the Mall. This is for Iona.
Countdown to zero
Compiled from the cover titles on Women’s magazines in Tesco, Silverburn Mall, Glasgow, between 19th and 26thJanuary 2010.
673 stylish and pretty ideas 478 genius budget buys
387 ways to make your life easier 365 star style secrets
321 ways to look ten years younger 278 killer ideas 200 glossy new looks
150 ways to spend less and live lots better
I took 120 slimming pills and forty laxatives in one go
63 small changes with big results 54 foods that fight fat
20 lbs in 30 days and still losing 19 dresses that show who’s boss
12 poses for self empowerment –how to create positive change
10 hair myths busted 9 secrets of women who enjoy best sex
8 steps to a calmer happier life. 7 day dressing. Your work to weekend wardrobe covered.
6 instant confidence boosters Flat tum in just 4 days
3 ways to lose weight in 21 days How I dropped 2 dress sizes in 4 weeks
His # 1 sexual fantasy.
A BUSY MONTH OF READINGS AND MALL FILM SCREENING
First up is Glasgow’s new and very exciting Margins Festival. I’ll be reading some very short Mall pieces alongside mister Tom Leonard. It takes me back to the 70s when my father used to run a festival of ‘poetry folk and jazz’. Only this time, it will work. Here’s what it says in THE LIST -
Over four days, Margins will feature showcases from all of the best-known live literature nights in the central belt – Glasgow’s Monosyllabic, Words Per Minute, Seeds of Thought and Edinburgh’s Golden Hour are all present and correct – alongside much longer readings and discussion nights with more established writers: Doug Johnstone, Rodge Glass, Alan Bissett and Ewan Morrison will all perform, each with new writers like Allan Wilson and Kirstin Innes on their bills. The real surprise is that elder statespeople like Tom Leonard and the recently-announced Scots Makar Liz Lochhead will also be taking part in these events.
‘We’re so excited about Liz and Tom agreeing to take part,’ Buckland says. ‘We wanted to put on an alternative, different book festival, and Tom we felt was someone whose contribution to literature isn’t reconised as much as it should be.’
Indeed, Leonard will be taking part in the festival’s closing event, alongside Morrison and live music from Burnt Island, Where We Lay Our Heads, and Edinburgh lyrical legend Withered Hand, only a few of the live music acts sprinkled throughout the programme.” Mark Buckland
Here is the rest of the programme for the 5 days – which also includes Doug Johnstone, Alan Bissett, Liz Lochhead and the indomitable Ryan Van Winkle.
FILM SCREENING ‘NEU REEKIE’. Friday 25th EDINBURGH. VENUE – SCOTTISH BOOK TRUST EDINBURGH. £5.
Thanks to Mister Kevin Williamson I’ll be showing a couple of the new mall films at Edinburgh’s new night of ‘Avant Garde Poetry and Film’. Something is going on in Scotland right now and it’s grassroots and political in a different way from what we ‘ve come to know, it’s also cultural but not in the traditional sense. I’m glad to be taking part.
INTERVIEW WITH DANGEROUS MINDS
INTERVIEW here. Paul Gallagher of the cutting edge blog dangerous minds gets me to spill the beans on why I’ve committed two years of my life to writing about something that might be about as interesting as train stations and bus shelters. But seriously, I’ve managed to formulate some of my political motivations and insights in this interview. There are some mentions of NAFTA, free trade agreements and even a prediction.
Thank you Paul. also the website is very funky and you can watch most of my videos on it in comfort.
THE NEW MALL VIDEO
A GAME WITH A MALLET <—-click here, is now up on my YOUTUBE page
It’s only two minutes long and it answers the question: ‘What do a medieval game, a cigarette and a wrecking ball have in common.’ Actually this is a fairly serious history of how the word ‘mall’ came to stand for what it does today. The linguistic path is fairly absurd and involves a fair bit of international travel.
The DYING VILLAGES project
I am very pleased to let you know about an important project which fuses writing with a sociological and humanitarian method of exploring an important subject. The Dying Villages project, is poetry, oral history, image, sound, music and the voices of others.
I cannot recommend highly enough the book of poetry that accompanies the project. SONG FROM A DYING VILLAGE.
Tom and I plan to connect the Villages Project and the Mall Project by doing some joint talks and maybe a set of exhibitions in the coming year. Both projects are grounded in the same ‘problems’ and in spite of them celebrate surviving oral history traditions.
Go to: www.dyingvillages.com
This is what Tom says about the project:
By 2030 it is estimated that Europe will have lost one third of its population. It is already an ageing population with a low birthrate. The effect of this demographic change – the greatest since the Black Death – will be felt most acutely in rural areas. In 2007, I received a Creative Scotland Award from the Scottish Arts Council for a project aimed at responding in poetry and prose to the social, ecological and cultural effects of demographic changes on villages in Europe.
In 2007 and 2008, I made trips to affected areas in Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Russia and Greece. The Dying Village website reflects these trips in sound, image, interviews and artworks.
Dying Villages is an ongoing project. Related works of poetry and prose will appear elsewhere.
A NEW MALL STORY IN US indie BIRDVILLE MAGAZINE. It’s about demographics and market research.
‘In demographic terms Les’ parents would have been seen as fairly permissive middle class college educated couple with a single child - Edgy Bluecollar Suburbs (D22). But they would have scorned such a reductive caricature.’
READ IT HERE, and perhaps discover which demographic box you fit into.
Ewan Morrison is a E31 and sometimes a J56.
EDINBURGH REVIEW 130
I’m pleased to have a short story ASDA – from the Tales from the Mall collection – in the new edition of Edinburgh Review. Number 130
” For a moment there you were gone; your head hit the glass then the voice of the guide brought you back.
Madames et Monsieurs, mien Damen und Heren …
Through the coach window now there is concrete passing, tower blocks, gasometers, freeway signs; colours of cars trying to settle into sense.
Die Schloss und…
Everything drifts out of sync, you know this from before. Every time, the jet-lag throws you, as if mocking your attempts at arrival. Breakfast in the middle of the night; nine hours ahead on a twelve hour flight; your eyes say you are violating their right to sleep; change your watch to yesterday. You stare at the tour guide and her words are mouth movements, obscene and animal; the language escaping.”
To read more please go to the site and order a copy.
‘The current issue, Wynd, showcases work by some of Scotland’s cutting edge writers.’
MALL VIDEOS. You can find a series of short films based on some of the mall tales on the Mall tales page on you tube. Some samples are here on the right column ——————>
These include: A short film revealing one of the reasons why we sometimes feel ‘herded’ in retail spaces. The first in the series of SUBTLE TECHNIQUES FOR CONSUMER MANIPULATION
A short animation celebrating the weekly supermarket experience with music by Julian Victor Corrie.
Surprising and disturbing findings from a market research survey into ‘the key to happiness’.
an exotic true story of an incident in a car park in a Glasgow Shopping mall – with music by Greg White.
Incident in a mall # 65: Secret Shopper
‘Imogen B, 25, is a secret shopper. She doesn’t buy into the bullshit though, in fact, she’s laughing at it all. She does this little bit of freelance work for company X, she likes to keep the name secret, like she’s working for the CIA. She‘s paid by X to shop in twenty of their stores in local malls within region X within a given time frame, X. She is given X amount of money and a shopping list decided by head-office and while she’s shopping it is her task to secretly test the standards in their stores so that they can enforce uniform staff behaviours and brand identity…’
CLICK ON THE ABOVE LINK TO READ THE FULL STORY AND SEE ANOTHER MALL PIC.
You can also read an Interview with myself and Andrew Gallix of 3 AM HERE
“I really worry for Generation X right now. I think we really did have a different experience of life than the generations that preceded us and the ones that have come after; and now our history is in great danger of being erased. The baby boomers have a lot in common with Generation Y. Both have a real sense of positivity and self-belief — whereas for the boomers this was all about changing the world (and they ended up opting for ‘self-change’ through private enterprise), Generation Y is extremely well adapted to life under capitalism. Both the boomers and the Y-ers believe, totally unselfconsciously, and uncritically, that they can ‘change the world’ through their ‘free choices’ as consumers (canvas bags, fair-trade teabags, recycling etc). They also believe that the future is a better place, one unified by technology and communication. Those of us in Generation X were skeptical about such things: we grew up at the very tail end of the Cold War and can recall what opposition there once had been to capitalism and the violence on which the global free market was based.”
MODERN LIFE ISN’T SO MUCH RUBBISH AS JUST A LITTLE ODD
Thursday 26 August
8:30pm – 9:30pm
Author of Swung and Ménage, Ewan Morrison has been busy this year collecting stories about people’s relationship with and experiences in shopping malls. For Tales from the Mall, Morrison has sewn together anecdotes, myths, jokes and incidents to compile a tapestry of urban living. Simon Crump’s Neverland features seventy two standalone yet unifying chapters which present various aspects of Michael Jackson’s life. Spookily, the book was completed just four hours before its subject passed away.
Contributors to new Scottish literary magazine Gutter discuss whether or not a tradition of Scottish erotic writing exists. Confirmed authors include Michel Faber, Ewan Morrison, Allan Radcliffe, Helen Sedgwick, Anneliese Mackintosh and Zoe Strachan.
UNBOUND: A FREE EVENING OF STORIES, MUSIC AND LITERARY ENTERTAINMENT
SUN 15TH AUGUST. CHARLOTTE SQUARE GARDENS. FREE.
I will be reading with Kevin Williamson and George Gunn at EDINBURGH READS: THREE CAITHNESS WRITERS
6:30pm Thursday 24 June 2010
Central Library, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh
The event is FREE and complimentary drinks will be served
Booking is essential, please contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org / 0131 242 8100
MALL READING ON VIDEO
I recently read a tale from the mall and showed a short film at the newly launched Words Per Minute weekly event in Glasgow. Nice to be surrounded by so much young talent. You can watch me (and all of the other writers/musicians) here on the WPM website.
AUTHORSPLACE – MY OTHER BLOG
For those of you who might be interested in the weekly workings of this particular mind, yo can check out my weekly updated Blog at AUTHORSPLACE
TALES FROM THE MALL ANTHOLOGY IS LAUNCHED
The highs, lows and occasional misfortunes of the everyday take centre stage this fortnight as part of a unique new storytelling initiative concerning the world of shopping malls. Inspired by Author Ewan Morrison, in conjunction with award winning digital gurus, Blackwatch media, the List are on the hunt for your stories.
Morrison’s interest in malls began when he started work on his latest fiction novel. ‘I was interviewing people, who shopped, worked there, developers, all sorts. I quickly realised the amazing real-life stories people had to share’. Morrison is now planning an extended non-fiction e-book Tales from the Mall, as part of his findings, with some of the more interesting stories being made in animations by top animators.
As Part of the project members of the public are encouraged to send in their own tales, with the top five stories being turned into animations and the top twenty-five stories included in the enhanced e-book of Tales from the Mall. The best five will also receive copies of Morrison’s novels, as well as a chance to be seen in print on these very LIST pages
‘Your stories could be just a paragraph or a page, or something larger,’ explains Morrison. ‘You may have heard the one about the man who was accidentally locked in John Lewis for a night and slept in the bedding section, or the one about the teenager who caught her mum buying lingerie together with her lover in Victoria’s Secret. ‘
‘Whatever your story, we want to hear it.’
SEND YOUR STORIES TO MALLTALES@YAHOO.COM
TALES FROM THE MALL – VIDEOS.
The Tales from the Mall story project is gathering momentum. I’ve been collecting peoples stories about life in a shopping mall and turning them into short films on my YouTube page. Click here to see them:
Here is my Request to the populace:
TALES FROM THE MALL
Anecdotes, jokes, urban myths, tales of horror, boredom, infatuation or even just shopping – almost everybody has a story to tell about something that happened to them in a shopping mall. For example, you may have heard the one about the man who was accidentally locked inside John Lewis for a night and slept in the bedding section; or the one about how an entire mall had to be closed for a day because of something ‘un-hygenic’ that fell out of somebody’s handbag; or the one about the teenager who caught her mum buying lingerie with her lover in Victoria’s Secret. There are stories of love and hate; of how communities have been transformed for the better or completely destroyed by malls.
Tales from the Mall started life as a collection of short stories by myself. Since the research material turned out to be so rich, I’ve decided to expand the project, to create a collection of Scottish ‘mall stories’.Such archives exist already for Scotland’s rich aural tradition of storytelling, for Scotland’s folk music and poetry. These older cultural phenomenon are often seen as ‘authentic’ while shopping malls are seen as being in-authentic, phoney, or as an invasion of our own culture. However, given the huge impact that shopping malls have had on the landscape of Scotland (Glasgow has more malls per square mile than London and has the 7th biggest retail street in the world), and on the changing nature of identity of people in Scotland, we would be wrong to overlook the impact of malls on life today in Scotland. Just as retail has become our main industry, Malls have in many ways come to replace our old town centre – this it is our reality today and it should be recorded.
Your stories could be just a paragraph or a page, or something longer. These don’t have to be stories of momentous occasions, say for example, ‘the day I met my future husband in The Body Shop’ or ‘The day we lost our son in Braehead’, they could equally well be small stories, say about the best day’s shopping ever, or a description of a regular days routine working in a shop in a mall. Your story could be one of a case of mistaken identity, or of revenge, or of being accused of shoplifting; it could be about what it’s like to be a security guard in a mall or a shopper; it could be about committing some forbidden act or being a victim of a crime. These could also be stories about how malls work, how they are built, and what effect the coming of a mall has had on your community.
The most forty most interesting of the stories you send me will be put together into an anthology for publication; and two of my favourites, will be turned into short stories, written by myself and credited to yourself. Heart breaking, angry, dirty, amusing, political, hilarious, I would like to hear all of your stories and to help Scotland tell the hidden history of its malls.
Leave me a note here and I’ll get back to you.
KIDS STUFF. I have just written my first story for kids. It’s called STUFF and has been brought out online as part of the launch of 3PM magazine. Andrew Gallix of 3AM and 3PM magazines says, STUFF is ‘an allegory full of humour and scathing satire. Think Brothers Grimm meet George Orwell.’
Here’s a bit of STUFF:
“When the box of stuff arrived in the huge grey palace of the central committee, the officials prodded and sniffed the contents, before passing it on, perplexed, to the scientists. In air-tight rooms with reinforced glass windows, the stuff was burned, frozen, melted, cut, blended, squashed and exploded with careful measurements being taken. As the scientists gathered their results, they became afraid. So did the central committee as they read the report. They had no choice but to present their findings to the glorious leader — a big old man with a deep voice and grey hair from the burden of ruling the country all his life. ‘What?’ he raged, ‘a thing of no use, it is not possible!’”
31 January 2010
The article from which this very short extract is taken was written by myself and appears in full in the new Edition of The Edinburgh Review. With reference to David Foster Wallace, Dave Eggers, Don Delillo and others, it charts the rise and the limitations of Postmodern fiction.
PO-MO KILLS ME
In memoriam David Foster Wallace
Why can’t I be a postmodern writer? Why can’t I embrace irony and write ‘mash-up’ novels? Or put the world in quotation marks and ironically ‘deconstruct’ daily life? Am I just dated, quaint? Why do I still stick to this outmoded form called ‘telling stories?’ Throughout my years attempting to write I’ve constantly had to assess my work against the provocative ideas of the influential postmodern author David Foster Wallace. His suicide last year, after years of complex negotiations with his own style and subject matter, has led me back to question the role of postmodernism in fiction.
My long, troubled history with po-mo started in artschool (I graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1990). My education was a living example of the total transformation that swept through the art world at that time and left fiction reeling in it’s wake for over a decade. With po-mo, writing stories became impossible, risible. Recently, I’ve had to go back to where it all started to find out where I, and maybe even postmodernism, went wrong.
I entered Glasgow School of Art straight from high school, young, naïve, wanting to be a painter. Neo expressionism was in vogue, with painters like Stephen Campbell, Peter Howson and Ken Currie in the international spotlight; all painting bold, larger-than-life canvases of brave and bold (and often working class) men, expressing the power of the imagination and their unique artistic selves. It was all rather daunting. Madonna bought works by some of these artists and many talked about them in terms stolen from the 50’s and Jackson Pollock – the solitary artistic genius, the no-sell out existential soul, the artist against the world.That someone like Madonna could pay the price of a mortgage for these paintings that were supposed to be profound expressions of human truth and dignity was deeply unsettling to me.
In rebellion, I preferred trash. I was into Warhol and Pop Art. I had questions about gender and politics; my art was more about questioning than expressing. I was, at that time, a Trotskyite, my parents had been hippies and I grew up witnessing the death of their dream. I was also confused about my sexuality; all around me sex was being used to sell everything from cars to cola. I felt that art should in some way address these very troubling issues. I struggled, and failed, at making little paintings about big questions. My images were always invaded by advertising, I felt that photos torn from fashion magazines said more about this thing called ‘me’ than anything I could express. I was a failure; my ‘self’ was just too confused, too superficial.
Enter a visiting theorist who delivered the first of many lectures on something that the art school had thus far protected us from. I recall a sense of panic-attack realisation as he discussed Jean Baudrillard’s Simulation and Simulacra, and Frederic Jameson’s Post Modernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. It was revealed to our scared and impressionable minds that Jackson Pollock and the great painters of his era had been used as pawns in the cold war and been covertly funded by the CIA. Self-expression carried the mark of an American colonialist mindset, the rampaging western male ego. The way forward was to stop feeding the machine the myth of the artist/genius and to take apart the mechanisms of Art, exposing its complicity in consumerism. The word was Deconstruction. The old certainties were dead. The grand narratives of modernity were in crisis; Marxism was a corpse and Feminism had become a caricature of itself. It was the End of History, The Death of the Author. The artist and the author were what had led us into this human tragedy called modernity.
I don’t know if those lectures were the start of the revolution at Glasgow School of Art but these apocalyptic revelations had a devastating effect upon me. Starting, yet another, unfinished collage experiment with pages from Marie Claire and text by Marx, which my painting tutors condemned, I decided to open myself to the many doubts. Within a month I had abandoned painting, given up on Trotskyism and re-started my life, taking photographs and writing ‘texts’. I re-styled myself as a postmodernist and felt I was making a stand against the rampaging western ego of self-expression.
EDINBURGH REVIEW – http://www.englit.ed.ac.uk/edinburghreview/
Essayist and critic William Hazlitt once commented: ‘To be an Edinburgh Reviewer is, I suspect, the highest rank in modern literary society.’ Numbered among our nineteenth-century contributors were Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Carlyle and William Ewart Gladstone; more recently, James Kelman, Janice Galloway, A.L. Kennedy, Kei Miller, Tom Leonard, Meaghan Delahunt and Tracey Emin have all contributed to the journal.
The current editor, Brian McCabe, continues the practice of presenting work by established and emergent writers. Under his editorship which began in 2006 while he was Writer-in-Residence at Edinburgh University, each issue offers a view into a particular culture or region.
INTERVIEW 3 AM MAGAZINE.
If you ever wanted to know who or what inspired the character of Saul, what effect the hippies had on me, what’s wrong with the Art world and what’s right with people then ceck out this exhaustive interview that Andrew Gallix of 3AM put me through. I think it’s the best I’ve ever had, it’s a discussion of all four of my books and why it is that I’m writing. It inspired me, so hope fully it will do something for you too.
THE TIMES T2 . Article on the history and psychology of the Menage a Trois by Ewan Morrison.
“The magic of a ménage à trois.” A menage is usually associated with tortured bohemians driven by wild passions — but for one man it was a surprisingly calm and positive experience”.
Related links. Celebrity Menage a trois.
MENAGE – REVIEWS
Stuart Kelly Scotland on Sunday 5th July.
‘Ewan Morrison has swiftly established himself as the foremost chronicler of the more perplexing and unconventional contemporary relationships… Ménage is an accomplished, often poignant, novel. …the novel strives to go beyond corrosive irony and world-weary cynicism to recapture a sense of the possibilities of love.’
Matt Thorne. The independent.
‘The link between art and madness is a tired theme, but Morrison makes it fresh by rooting his story in such a richly realised vision of the early nineties… It is a mark of Morrison’s considerable talent that his exploration remains fascinating, and that watching his characters’ fantasies (and sanity) crumble is just as interesting third time round as it’s ever been before.’
Doug Johnstone. Scotsman. 3rd July.
‘A shrewd and insightful look at a complex love triangle… Frightening, funny, perceptive, emotional and honest, Ménage is an excellent piece of work from a clearly gifted writer.
Alan Bissett. Author Death of a Ladies Man.
‘Menage is a triumph. The density of the psychological relationships; the connections between art, love and madness; the cleverness of the structure, the sheer believability of these screwed up, solipsistic people. The weight of it. A huge, brave feat.’
[Menage] is an attempt to see how we can keep desire alive in daily life; how we can negotiate a pathway between sexual desire and emotional intimacy. An attempt to ask how important sex is and what we’re willing to risk for it. And, more importantly, what we’d be left with if we risked nothing at all.
Sunday Herald – summer reads
A fast-paced, poignant tale about the arrogance of youth and insane, all-consuming love.
Alan Brown. Sunday Times Ecosse. 5th July
‘A good read but it does come across at time a bit like Jackie Collins for Guardian Readers ….Personally I find that his work, menage in particular, can make one feel ancient and suburban.’
Menage is a gripping read .. a steamy exploration of regret, sexual tension and a whole truckload of juicys tuff. Buy this and see what all the fuss is about. Ewan Morrison is one of Scotland’s – and Britain’s finest authors. ’
ESSAY Here’s my essay Death of a Nihilst or Obituary for a Nobody, which reveals the background for the novel Menage. In this months 3AM magazine.
BOOK LAUNCHES AND EVENTS
You are invited to the launch of Ewan’s new novel, menage, at Waterstones, Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow on the Wed 8th of July at 6.30. Ewan will be in discussion with writer and biographer Rodge Glass who has very recently won the SOMERSET MAUGHAM AWARD for his biography of Alasdair Gray.
You are also invited to the Edinburgh launch at Waterstones
west end, 128 Prince Street, Edinburgh on Thursday July 9th at 6pm.
FILM EVENT. I will be introducing a documentary on Francois Truffaut (Jules et Jim et al) at the Glasgow Film Theatre, as part of their 50 year anniversary celebrations for the French Nouvelle Vague. Monday 6th July 6.30 pm. TRUFFAUT EVENT.
My ‘Book of a Lifetime’ – Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller – 400 words on how the book influenced me appeared in the Independent on the 26th June. CLICK HERE: TROPIC
Here’s my Top ten books that are about the Menage a Trois. As featured in The Guardian Weds 24th June.
These Include Kerouac, Sontag and the book of Genesis. If you think I’ve missed any of the greats (She came to Stay by De Beauvoir has already been pointed out) then please add to comments.
New and wonderful things are going on at 3AM MAGAZINE. First up is an article on my experiences of the British Art Scene in the 90′s entitled For the Love of God (or how not to be a YBA)
The short story CLEAN SHEETS AND A VIEW OF THE HUDSON is online with THE BEAT magazine.
If You would like to view from Film Clips or listen to some audio recordings and interviews about or featuring text from ‘Menage’, then visit my new AUTHORSPLACE site. On there you will also find links to other Random House authors and be able to check my schedule.
My FIVE TOP TIPS for writing sex scenes appeared in The Times (21st June) as part of a debate WHO WRITES THE BEST SEX – on whether women can write Erotica or not, sparked by comments made by the new owner of the Erotic Review owner Kate Copstick. Times article by Kathy Lette.
You can also see THREE VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE that I shot myself, that involve readings from Menage ( I’m doing Voice Over too.)
A new short story entitled DOGS can be read on the fine online literary magazine DOGMATIKA
Ewan has a short Flash fiction in FLASH MAGAZINE the International Short Story Magazine.
Vol. 2 No. 1 (Apr. 2009) Includes stories by:
Roberta Allen, Dave Eggers, David Gaffney, Rodge Glass, Francesca Haig, Kobus Moolman, Karina Magdalena Szczurek, Matt Thorne, Gee Williams
MENAGE. Ewan’s third novel will be released in July 2nd 2009.
The Duchess, Zarathustra and ‘O’ – those were the names they had for each other as they marched hand-in-hand round Hoxton in 1993. Three young iconoclasts living in glorious squalor, dole scrounging, shoplifting, doing drugs and swapping clothes and beds. They survive on the fringes of the Young British Artist scene convinced that they are making their lives into an artwork, even greater than those of the other great artists’ menages a trois of the twentieth century – from Henry, June and Anais to Duchamp and his many tangled love triangles. Years later and Saul, Dot and Owen have each been blown in different directions by the explosion of that one year of debauchery and excess: Dot is now an internationally renowned artist; Saul, the mad Nietzschean visionary, has vanished from the world and is rumored to have become a homeless drug addict; and Owen is an art critic, heavily burdened with guilt over what he feels he caused to happen to the other two. 2008. A big retrospective of Dot’s work is put on and Owen is forced to face images from their past. Dot and Saul, too, are drawn back together. But as all three are reunited things become complicated – Dot has a child from a broken marriage and so their union of three is now of four. And Owen’s feelings of guilt and jealousy resurface, threatening to bring them back to the conflicts that led to Dot to the brink of suicide only then to catapult her to stardom. Is the menage a trois a way to live? Or is it just a dream, a work of art, impossible in reality? “Menage” is a Jules et Jim for the jilted generation. A tale of heroin chic, fake mustaches, shoplifted sherry, pot noodles and a love so powerful that it constantly threatens to destroy the lovers.
To pre-book a copy go here – MENAGE
BOOK FEST APPEARANCE
Ewan will be reading from Menage at this years Edinburgh International Book Festival alongside author and co-conspirator Alan Bissett (whose new novel Death of a Ladies Man is highly recommended)
EWAN’S BOOKS OF THE YEAR
Check out my top choices at this very well maintained Blog by hip and wise author Will Ashon
I am very pleased to see that the 19050′s American classic Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates is currently experiencing a renaissance with the re-issue in paperback of all of Yates back catalog and of course the movie with Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet. Revolutionary Road was the inspiration and model for Swung. Rev. Road is about two proto-betanicks struggling with conformity in 1950′s America, and coming to the painful realisation that there is no escape and they are maybe just like their neighbours. Ewan wanted to do something similair with Swung and Gen-x. Swung started from the question: ‘would it be possible to re-set the conflict in rev.road in the present- given that we live in a time when there are no remaining jobs-for-life, when taboos around sex have all but vanished, abortion has become easy and acceptable and ‘rebellion’ has been reduced to consumer choices that signify rebliousness.
In the 90′s Ewan bought Rev. Road eight times as he was always loaning it out and then the borrowers would loan it on again. There was a kind of secret fraternity of fans. It’s a great book and ahead of it’s time.
Here’s the book link
and heres the movie link
and the trailer link
And here is the Richard Yates Archive link
ONLINE VIDEO INTERVIEW. ABC AUSTRALIA. 11 minute interview with Ewan on books, inspiration, love etc. Click here to stream it.
21st OCTOBER. Ewan appeared in the BBC ARTS PROGRAM “IMAGINE” presented by Alan Yentob. The 50 minute program is an exploration of ‘the love story’ and includes interviews with Sarah Waters and Adam Phillips and a section about the Le Prince Maurice Prize in Mauritius that Ewan was shortlisted for.
To view the programme on iplayer click here IMAGINE
go to literature, go to the far right and open NEW ANOTHER DOCUMENT and click on DOWNLOAD ANOTHER DOCUMENT. Another document is a damn fine literature magazine within a magazine. This edition contains photographs by Katy Grannan, Malerie Marder and Tanyth Berkeley and a story by AM HOMES and writing by ALAIN DE BOTTON
DISTANCE – Ewan’s second Novel – the story of a long distance relationship – was released on June 29th (Jonathan Cape)
The Times ****
“A writer of serious intent and prodigious talent…In lesser hands, the besotted dialogues and communications between Tom and Meg might begin to grate, but here the author makes them utterly compelling… On this form, Morrison is one of the finest novelists around”
The Sunday Telegraph ****
Top 50 Summer reads 2008.
The List. Camilla Pia ****
“Incredibly compelling reading…. an often overpowering, whirlwind romance peppered with hilarious, snappily rendered critiques… bittersweet anecdotes and, perhaps most interestingly, some searing attacks on and celebrations of modern Scotland. Morrison keeps the reader’s spirits up and gripped to every chapter with an abundance of witty lines, bittersweet anecdotes and an underlying sense of hope, which keeps Distance from becoming too sinister.”
Doug Johnstone, author, Tombstoning and The Ossians
“Distance is a remarkable, penetrating look at the nature of love, the psychology of sex and the role of delusion and fantasy in relationships.”
“The absorption of two lovers can make the reader feel like a gooseberry… Morrison leaves you aching for their reunion.”
The Daily Mirror
“A transatlantic romance is brilliantly stretched to breaking point… Secrets and lies mount on two continents, as a face-to-face confrontation inevitably looms.”
Independent: Jonathan Gibbs
“Morrison seems on the button with the mundane routines of long-distance love.”
Financial Times, Melissa McClements
“Morrison can be insightful…This, together with philosophical musings about the nature of affection, bring weight to bear”
“The much anticipated follow-up to Swung, takes off in a rush, a headlong dash, a slipstream of heat with the force of irresistible suction. Giddy, off-kilter and wholly absorbing, it features two lovers, besotted, reeking of lust and loss, in the wake of a week of powerful sexual-cum-psychological intrigues in New York City and beyond.”
TO READ EWAN’S GUARDIAN ESSAY ON STUTTERING got to:
to read of EWAN’S WEEK AS A PRINCE MAURICE NOMINIEE go to:
Ewan is very pleased to have found this critical perspective of the first two books on the british council website. Scroll down and there’s a page long review.
RADIO INTERVIEW WITH IRVINE WELSH
Ewan and Irvine Welsh interviewed each other and chatted about their new novels on BBC RADIO CAFE on 21/07/008. To stream the interview go to:
SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY – SPECTRUM MAGAZINE. Cover Story 31st March. – Ewan went on a PICK UP ARTIST course in London (how to pick up women) – and this was the result…
Also check out ewan’s weekly column: http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/comment/Ewan-Morrison-39Little-white-cowboygeared.3858848.jp
SHORTLIST- LE PRINCE MAURICE AWARD FOR THE MOST OUTSTANDING LITERARY LOVE STORY
SWUNG has been shortlisted for the annual literary prize known as Le Prince Maurice. The two other authors shortlisted are James Meek for ‘We Are Now Beginnning Our Descent’ and Salley Vickers for ‘The Other Side of You.’ The winner will be announced at a ceremony on the island of Mauritius in June.
Here are links to the two other authors.
ITALIAN IMPRINT OF SWUNG
On Feb 28th Swung appeared in Italy with the publishers Fazi Editore. The novel in Italian is called SCAMBISTI.
Keep an eye out for an essay by Ewan on Love in La Republica. and also a Q&A appearing in the forthcoming edition of Italian womens magazine â€˜Anna.â€™
THE GERMAN IMPRINT OF SWUNG
was released on 24th March 08 under the title SWINGER. The publisher is C. Bertelsmann.
A large interview is being published in ‘Brigitte’ Magazine, Germany.
REVIEWS SWUNG: The Novel
Ewan Morrison’s first novel SWUNG (Jonathan Cape)
was published on April 5th 2007.
PRAISE FOR SWUNG
“Sometimes – very rarely – a book is just so good that a string of gushing superlatives still seem to be damning it with faint praise. Swung is that kind of a novel, genuinely groundbreaking in its scope and insights, highlighting that its author is one of the most gifted and accomplished writers to have emerged in recent years” – Irvine Welsh
READ IRVINE WELSH’S ENTIRE GUARDIAN REVIEW HERE:
‘A devastating book. As Real as it gets. Sexy, dark and unbearably moving.’ Alan Bissett.
‘Seedy and undeniably erotic, this is the best book on sex since John Updike’s ‘Couples’ – Arena Magazine
‘A surprisingly gripping and sensitive read…Swung is a smart peice of fiction, stunningly executed for a literary newcomer, with characters that are both real and sympathetic. Morrison adds very little padding to his sentences allowing his expertly fleshed out characters to the drive the book and the result is a moving, compassionate responce to modern neurosis.’
SUN HERALD (sydney, Australia)
“That rare thing – a serious book about sex. Ewan Morrison’s brave, dirty utterly honest account of the psychological side of swinging is a complete delight.” – Matt Thorne
‘Swung isn’t especially prurient, or even that erotic. It’s more concerned with grey matter than pink bits – a funny and disturbing phsychosexual dissection from a writer with considerable literary gifts.’ MELBOURNE AGE
‘Morrison, a sometime swinger, is a sufficiently solid writer to know that sex without emotion is narratively very dull indded. Though sex is it’s language, this is a novel about ageing and settling and messing things up again, with heart enough to make it hurt a little.’
‘There is a direct line from Douglas Coupland’s generation-crunching debut novel and Swung… the move from Generation X to generation XXX is seemingly complete… In documenting an aparrently minor pursuit Morrison has served up a generation’s epitaph… Swung is a good read but not a happy read.’
Colin Waters. Scottish review of Books
‘As “Swung” begins, there is a worry that it will exhibit the kind of name-dropping, know-it-all post-modernist tendencies that are too irritating to endure. However, Morrison reveals a far subtler agenda. Beneath the boredom there remain yearnings and struggles, there might just still be spheres of genuine experience…What Morrison does is to re-establish an intimate bond between reader and character through a kind of sustained interior monologue, verging at times on free association.’
Henry Archer. TIME OUT 4 stars.
Read the full review here: http://www.timeout.com/london/books/review/book/376/ewan_morrison_swung.html
‘Swung is an amazing debut novel with a genuinely fresh take on the human condition and the mess we all make of our lives. It’s a literate, smart, compassionate and complex look at how people struggle to untangle the threads of sex love and longing which bind us. It is by turns hilarious, frightening and heartbreakingly moving, and it shows Morrison to be an extraordinarily gifted writer with an incredible future ahead of him.’ – Doug Johnston
‘What happens to Generation X when the time comes to settle down and grow up?….Morrison’s accomplished short-story collection, The Last Book You Read also told of jaded, solipsistic chatacters who turn to sex in the last hope of finding an authentic or meaningful connection. They invariably came away unsatisfied, but over the course of a novel you’ve got more chances to find what you’re looking for and Morrison just about keeps alive the possibility that David and Alice will come through their increasingly unconventional sexual experiences a closer and stronger couple.’ THE INDEPENDENT. Laurence Phelan May 8th
“Ewan Morrison has a rare, enviable talent, like Vonnegut, like many of the best, he writes like he hates the world he lives in but sympathises with the people in it – no matter how many mistakes they make, how many people they hurt, how many times they almost give up. Despite being on one level a book about sex, Swung seems to me be more about how people cope with growing older and realising they won’t achieve the perfect life they once hoped for. It is as much a soft lament as an ecstatic howl.” - Rodge Glass. Author: No Fireworks
“The Self confessed ‘erudite purveyor of filth’ certainly knows how to make a buzz. With this novel about Glasgow swingers that sound should turn into a veritable cacophony.” – THE LIST Magazine
“Morrison has translated his experience as a scriptwriter skilfully into a style that is by turns nervy and reflective. Unuttered thoughts and spoken responses intercut-rapidly, observing and observed, each clinging to the other in the bid to explain the truth of a scene. Morrison is very good at sex. He’s aware of what to take seriously and what to laugh at – (he) ensures that (the characters) approach the glimmers of hope which grace the books final pages with the honest, nervy indecision that they deserve. Swung is a book of real ambition, a wide ranging exploration of human needs that starts from the most unexpected of websites.”
“A searching new novel about love and trust.”
THE SCOTSMAN WEEKEND
“Extraordinary. While the sex in the book is frankly depicted it doesn’t actually feel like a book about sex. It’s more about people burdened by the heavy weights of economics, history, and (sexual) politics.”
“(A) fantastic debut novel – Morrison knows what h’s writing about, he experimented with swinging for a year, and used his experiences to create a perceptive and touching fictionalisation of a topic which many folk see as simply perverted.”
THE BIG ISSUE
“It’s as dirty a debut novel as Adam Thirwell’s brilliant Politics a few years back and just as funny and thought provoking – Morrison has the authenticity of a man who has lived the life and Swung is a heavyweight read – but, luckily, you can hold it in one hand!”
DAILY SPORT. Book of the Week April 14.
“Morrison writes about endless sex without missing a beat, partly because his warm, witty, poignant novel is as much about 21st-century consumption as its is consummation.” Metro Newspaper
“A racy romp – not for the faint of heart, this psychologically involvimg story certainly makes for an eye-opening read.” Easy Living Magazine