A powerful Noir short story collection edited by the Bukowski of Noir, Paul D. Brazill. Exiles features 26 outsiders-themed stories by some of the greatest crime and noir writers, K. A. Laity, Chris Rhatigan, Steven Porter, Patti Abbott, Ryan Sayles, Gareth Spark, Pamila Payne, Paul D. Brazill, Jason Michel, Carrie Clevenger, David Malcolm, Nick Sweeney, Sonia Kilvington, Rob Brunet, James A. Newman, Tess Makovesky, Chris Leek, McDroll, Renato Bratkovič, Walter Conley, Marietta Miles, Aidan Thorn, Benjamin Sobieck, Graham Wynd, Richard Godwin, Colin Graham, and an introduction by Heath Lowrance.
The all new version of Exiles: An Outsider Anthology – now published by Artizan– is out now!
‘A powerful short story collection edited by the Bukowski of Noir, Paul D. Brazill. Exiles features 26 outsiders-themed stories by some of the greatest crime and noir writers, K. A. Laity, Chris Rhatigan, Steven Porter, Patti Abbott, Ryan Sayles, Gareth Spark, Pamila Payne, Paul D. Brazill, Jason Michel, Carrie Clevenger, David Malcolm, Nick Sweeney, Sonia Kilvington, Rob Brunet, James A. Newman, Tess Makovesky, Chris Leek, McDroll, Renato Bratkovič, Walter Conley, Marietta Miles, Aidan Thorn, Benjamin Sobieck, Graham Wynd, Richard Godwin, Colin Graham, and an introduction by Heath Lowrance.‘
ALIBI is the first Slovenian festival of Crime&Noir literature in idyllic Gora pod lipo. It’s organised by Gora, Artizan advertising agency and publishing house (concept and communication), Hotel Jakec (lodging for guest writers) and Tednik Panorama(media sponsor).
And I’ll be there at the end of September, along with Richard Godwin, Eddie Vega, Andrej Predin, Neven Škrgatić.
I’m trying to remember where this story came from. I know the title came first, but not really because before that came William Blake and the Red Dragon, but before that came Springsteen and songs of escape, but even before that came cars.
I grew up in a factory town where automobiles were the trade. Most of my extended family worked for the auto industry in one way or another. The reality of the auto industry hasn’t matched the promise of its sleek machines for some time; the ruins of it still smoulder in the hometown I left long ago. But romance of the open road has fueled the dream of freedom for as long as I can remember.
I still feel it when I hit the highway. I spent so long afraid I would never escape that the sight of a road stretched out before me buoys my spirit in an instant. I’ll probably never completely get over the whisper that cajoles, ‘You could go anywhere, disappear, start again.’
My old red Honda makes an appearance in this story. Sixteen years I had that car, hundreds of thousands of miles I put on it. Living in the UK, I’m reminded again and again how people here have no concept of the size of the US: How the whole of this country could fit into just one of the medium-sized states. How you can still drive for hours without seeing another human being in some places, though it’s getting more difficult all the time. How states are as different as the countries of the EU, different worlds.
There’s an anonymity that all exiles know you can find in the darkened places where people drink and eat. Diners and pubs allow a certain camaraderie between strangers: brief, congenial, but definitely limited. But it’s good. Sometimes you have to be where nobody knows your name.
When you’re there in the dark corner, sipping your drink, look around. Under the brim of that hat may hide the eye of something extraordinary. Monster, magic, murder—maybe it depends on what you’re looking for. William Blake saw angels in his back garden as a child. Some people think that’s strange. Others long to find that magic. We read books for the same reason we take journeys: to see something new, to shake off the dust of the known and maybe, just maybe—to find the home that waits for us out there like a dream we can almost remember.
Bio: K. A. Laity is the award-winning author of White Rabbit, A Cut-Throat Business, Lush Situation, Owl Stretching, Unquiet Dreams, À la Mort Subite, The Claddagh Icon, Chastity Flame, Pelzmantel and Other Medieval Tales of Magic and Unikirja, as well as editor of Weird Noir, Noir Carnival and the forthcoming Drag Noir. With cartoonist Elena Steier she created the occult detective comic Jane Quiet. Her bibliography is chock full of short stories, humor pieces, plays and essays, both scholarly and popular. She spent the 2011-2012 academic year in Galway, Ireland where she was a Fulbright Fellow in digital humanities at NUIG. Dr. Laity has written on popular culture and social media for Ms., The Spectator and BitchBuzz, and teaches medieval literature, film, gender studies, New Media and popular culture at the College of Saint Rose. She divides her time between upstate New York and Dundee.
In autumn 2012, the first seeds of the Slovenian protest movement were planted in my beloved hometown, Maribor. The goal was to kick the corrupt and arrogant mayor’s ass – whose attitude had pissed my people off – but the riots soon spread all over Slovenia, aimed at the mayors of other larger towns and also at the Slovenian government and the arrogant prime minister, who had the balls to call us zombies: “This is no protest movement, it’s the rise of the zombies!”. And he hadn’t even been elected, but had maneuvered himself into the government and managed to form a coalition of dividers.
He later added that we were a bunch of left fascists (what ever the fuck that means!), but “the zombies” beat him – he finally had to go (just like the mayor of Maribor before him), and is now on his way to the prison for two years. Well, we’ll need to see more of this happening to a bunch of his cronies too, of course!
Nothing has changed unfortunately – the protests never developed into a revolution, the corrupt politicians and greedy bankers weren’t flushed away, we never saw new faces, just the same stinking asses changing seats to keep them warm for the next four years (which they are now going to change, as the “new” government has also fallen apart after only a year, go figure).
We-ea-aa-aa-aaah, the sheep, are filling holes the “successful” businessmen drilled in our banks, so the sons of the bitches managing them can enjoy their ice cold champagne, oysters and fresh piece of ass on a yacht and laugh their asses off at how stupid we are – instead of providing us loans to move the economy forward. And we allow our incompetent higher-authority-obeying “rulers” to sink our grand-grand-grandchildren into the endless pit of debt, while my people are getting poorer and poorer, and those who help the poor get punished by the state, which created the perfect conditions for becoming poor.
“We can and we will!” Hell, yes – enjoy the party!
I’m angry! I’m mad! But at least in my story, The Tribe, things are going a different way – the revolution breaks out in the City, there IS a new face to disrupt the routine there, no matter what they do to him or where they put him in. The story is told by a cop, who had to fight the protesters and who’s supposed to nail Vladimir, the revolter professor, but …
… but I have a reason to be both proud and happy to have my work featured again in the line with such excellent writers (thank you, Paul), and my writing HAS a purpose, at last: the anthology’s mission is to raise awareness of (and some money for) the Marfan Foundation.
Bio: Renato Bratkovič is an advertising creative, fiction writer and blogger from Slovenia. He writes in Slovene and in English. He’s published a short story collection Ne poskušajte tega doma (Don’t Try This At Home) in 2012, his story High Midnight has appeared in Noir Nation 3 (VegaWire Media) and The Tribe is one of the Exiles: An outsider Anthology (Blackwitch Press) stories. He runs Artizan, his advertising agency and publishing house, with his partners.
Exiles: An Outsider Anthology is out now .
The Djma el Fnaa is Marakech’s central square. By a linguistic quirk, its name can be translated as either ‘the Mosque of Nowhere / Nothing’ or ‘the Place / Assembly of the Dead’. It was too good a title not to use for a story, and several people have indeed beaten me to it in the 25 years since I thought of it, and done that. It’s a market place by day, but at night turns into a circus of a place, full of performers, storytellers, hustlers, vendors, snake bullies – they don’t charm them at all – musicians, dancers, pickpockets, some plying their trade only because of the tourists, and some just because they always have. As noted in my story, our guide book described it as ‘the most exciting place in all of Africa’, a ridiculous claim that I make a character address briefly, and somewhat flippantly.
My first wife and I spent five weeks in Morocco in July and August 1989. I’d been there about two weeks before I got to Marakech. I was used to the hustlers by then, which didn’t make them any less wearying. They didn’t want all your cash, just some. They weren’t bad people, just hungry, jobless – just bored, maybe. They weren’t begging; you couldn’t cut to the chase by paying them to go away. None of this stopped it being tedious, though, especially when you knew that you would extricate yourself from it only for it to start up again a few minutes later, a different bloke, same spiel.
A friend of mine had travelled in Morocco the previous year. He’d lost his rag with a hustler in some small town, told him to fuck off. After that, the man and his pals followed him around for the rest of his stay, saying, “You don’t say ‘fuck off’ in this town,” and making slit-your-throat gestures at him. They camped in his hotel lobby, occupied tables in every restaurant he went to. They said, “See you later, alligator,” each time he managed to get away, or when they had to go home for their tea. They were probably just having a laugh, labouring a point, or really had nothing else to do. When my friend gave up on that town, this entourage escorted him to the bus station. It was their last chance to slit his throat. Though he’d got used to it as a charade of sorts by then, a performance, he was glad to get on the bus. An old man boarded, shuffled and wheezed up the aisle and sat down, turned to my friend and grinned and said, “See you later, alligator,” not knowing it was a goodbye and not a greeting; it was just some stray English, offered in friendship. It only freaked my friend out a little, I think.
So I knew not to tell the hustlers to fuck off, even though I wanted to sometimes. I said I was not interested in making a financial contribution to their ventures, at that moment – maybe I’d bore them into going away. But Moroccans are polite and patient, mostly. (One man was the exception, aggressively accused my wife of acting like ‘a Jew’. “There’s a very good reason for that,” she informed him, somewhat dangerously, but her actual Jewishness was beside the point he was trying to make. He was a carpet seller, though, a breed apart.)
It sounds like I had a bad time in Morocco, but in fact I enjoyed most of my time there – you can’t spend five weeks anywhere and have every single moment be a joy. I’m reminded of a scene in Nicolas Roeg’s 1980 film Bad Timing: a couple in a fractious relationship are in the Djma el Fnaa, and the woman chides the man for his petty obsession over some aspect of their life together. “Look at where we are,” she reminds him. I’ll probably never go back to Morocco, so I’m glad I didn’t let anybody, even an anti-Jewish carpet seller, spoil it for me. Why am I talking about all this, then?
The answer is that a story isn’t made up of the nice things in life. I’m also not a travel writer, and any guide book can describe the brilliance of Morocco better than I can – just as a postcard seller can supply a better photo of its monuments than I’ll ever take. I’ve tried to reflect Marakech’s atmosphere in The Place of the Dead, but it’s not a story about Moroccans. Think of the crowded streets I show in my tale; most of the people in them were unaware of us, and if they were aware, they were leaving us alone. As per the brief of this anthology, the story is about foreigners, outsiders, and how they might behave out of their comfort zones.
The couple in my story is not based on me and my first wife, nor on any of the many people we met. A few of the incidents described happened, such as the frustrating, lengthy journey at the opening of the story, the conversations with hustlers, the sunglasses that attracted a pint-sized opportunist, the constant assumption that we’d want an English newspaper, and watching that exciting ending to the 1989 Tour de France, a race that is often done and dusted in its last few days, and like watching paint dry. They are all only background, though. None of them make a story. The heart of the story is the people in it, and how they conduct themselves when faced with certain choices, and how their lives will be affected by those choices, and by their actions and reactions.
You can see more of my short stories on my website, The Last Thing the Author Said. Laikonik Express is my first novel, published by Unthank Books, and is a comic look at friendship and a quest, a road novel on rails, a sober look at the world of post-1989 Europe through a shot glass full of vodka.
The road is a pretty malleable image. My story is about exile that is both imposed and the result of trying not to be a prisoner of alienation. Don is a criminal with a poetic vision. He belongs in a Jean Genet novel, a man with a massive rose beating in his troubled heart. The narrator, Mike, is hitchhiking, riding the road, being picked up by strangers. Watching the shadows on the walls of the homes and being outside, being alien, being something else. We categorise, we belong to groups, to clubs, we are inside, and outside are all the exiles. To blur the lines, to define yourself.
My story is about a drifter who encounters a criminalised visionary who makes him see something about himself, something that was missing. It’s about a guy who hitches a ride from a stranger who is more familiar to him than anyone and who leaves him tasting stale beer. Falling through the hourglass.
Alienation pervades modern existence. We live in an age of massive information that disseminates just about everything and because of its overload creates complex patterns of data that overwhelm the senses. On the road searching, hunting for a path that has meaning. Through the dissemination of facts the black out.
And inasmuch as Falling Through The Hourglass is about two men searching for a way out or a way through, it is about society today. It is about lies and the need for what Ibsen called the life lie to sustain us. It is about certainty and how you survive its absence. It is about Art and identity. And it is about all the roads that remove you from yourself. And the ones that lead you back there.
Bio: Richard Godwin is the author of critically acclaimed novels Apostle Rising, Mr. Glamour, One Lost Summer, Noir City and Confessions Of A Hit Man. He is also a published poet and a produced playwright. His stories have been published in over 34 anthologies, among them his anthology of stories, Piquant: Tales Of The Mustard Man. Godwin was born in London and obtained a BA and MA in English and American Literature from King’s College London, where he also lectured. You can find out more about him at his website www.richardgodwin.net , where you can also read his Chin Wags At The Slaughterhouse, his highly popular and unusual interviews with other authors.
Exiles: An Outsider Anthology is OUT NOW.
Like a lot of my stories, “What Friends Are For” is set in the country. Dirt roads and the life along them have always been a fascination of mine. One I owe to my father who grew up in rural Ontario and whose childhood home stands—to this day, I believe—on a dirt road.
The story’s about a guy who tried to leave a reckless rural life behind without moving away. He’s moved up in the world and wound up an exile-in-situ if that’s possible. Now he’s about to learn how much he values his new life and whether the friendships he once enjoyed still matter at all.
I experience relationships as permanent things. We move in and out of people’s lives and forget many of those we meet. But we leave traces. And bigger relationships—especially formative ones—leave grooves. Sometimes ruts.
I started to write a story about something odd that happened one day in the bush. And I wound up exploring a man’s desire and ability to chart a new path.
If I’m making this sound like a schmaltzy bro tale about the ties that bind, keep in mind it’s for a noir anthology curated by Paul D. Brazill . There’s grit in the air and it’s not all road dust from a pickup passing by on a dry summer day.
It’s a taste of country in an international collection I’m damn proud to be part of.
Bio: Rob Brunet’s debut novel is STINKING RICH, from Down & Out Books. His crime fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter, and Noir Nation among others. Before writing noir, Brunet ran a digital media boutique producing award-winning Web presence for film and tv, including LOST, Frank Miller’s Sin City, and the cult series Alias. He tweets @RRBrunet and rants at http://www.robbrunet.com.
Exiles: An Outsider Anthology is OUT NOW.