Cat Malogen
Country by Michael Hughes. Smashed during lunch breaks

Bit too identical to its mythical Greek roots but a ripping yarn that’s as much Rashomon as anything else

The dialect blazes, riotous characters, SAS, the psychological topography after two Ra rogues falling out over a lass. There’s a touch of The Táin to it too, Connacht and Ulster’s flapping parochialisms and makes For the Good Times seem cartoonesque by comparison

Chop 15 pages off the end and you’ve the full rout


thread death
I really enjoyed it. I was part of an online ‘happening’ every weekend during first lockdown. Hughes was on it reading from a long poem by Jonathan Gibbs based on Autumn Journal. He talked about his acting life as well as his writing. I had a lot of time for him.


Yesterday I was driving into town and car just conked out on the motorway. Luckily the insurance covers a tow and a taxi for me - but I was waiting for very nearly two hours for the tow truck to come and I read almost the entirety of Scar City by Joel Lane. I can't say that I enjoyed it much, maybe sitting in the blazing heat waiting for a tow truck with loads of lorries and stuff flying by about half a metre away is not the best situation to read such depressing stories. In fact, to give a full picture, part of the reason I was going into town was cos I had dropped my phone and the screen was smashed so I couldn't call from it, so when the car died I had to wait until Liza phoned and asked where I'd got to, and then the whole thing of getting the insurance to send a truck was this Karkaesque rigmarole with her constantly phoning me and then phoning them and them repeatedly demanding the location even though it was really really easy to find.

So I was in this strange situation where if I looked down to the page I was drawn into a dark and freezing, grimy urban hellscape populated by scarred and quietly desperate ghost-people drifting through dead end lives, always seeking to escape their nightmarish pseudo-mundanity with cheap drugs, self-harm and sex.... but if I raised my eyes from the book I was straight back into almost the opposite - a glaringly bright but featureless in-between place, caught between the motorway and the slip road into a sunblasted industrial park which bore an equally constant traffic of heavy goods lorries. The air totally filled with petrol fumes which meant I had to keep the windows shut. And every ten minutes or so Liza would phone to say "Still not coming". So this two sides of the hell coin might be why I didn't hugely enjoy the book.


One story is dedicated to Robert E Howard... I guess he created Conan the Barbarian but I never read him. Any thoughts?


Well-known member
my thought is that you should read him. then read the marvel conan comics. dont watch the film with grace jones though, it's rubbish.


Too late for the last bit
But seems he was quite an interesting guy, autodidact who loved literature and boxing and killed himself at thirty before Conan had fully taken off.
I've been reading Mike Tyson's autobiography. it's great, ghost writer has done a boss job getting his voice down. Got bored of reading intellectual stuff so thought this would be a good change but hes twatting on about Nietzsche and all sorts anyway. Good lad


So having finished my newly bought books, my eye happened to fall on A Sentimental Novel by ARG which is still lying around unfinished in my bedroom, staring at me almost reproachfully. And it's true that I do like to finish books so I have picked it up to see if I can grind through it to the, no doubt, horribly bitter end.

There are two problems though; the first of those is that it manages to be both shockingly, grotesquely violent - perhaps more so than anything else I have ever read or seen - and yet at the same time be extraordinarily boring, and the second is that tomorrow I'm getting the train into town and I can't help but worry that someone sitting next to me on the train might happen to look over my shoulder and read a passage or two from the book. And if they do that I worry that I might get arrested.