Flying Down the Yellow Brick Road

I saw End of The Rainbow at Trafalgar Studios the other day. It’s a play about the last few months of Judy Garland’s life. The theatre is like a small cinema and they sell Revels and beer. Tracie Bennett as Garland makes the play, and the sets, the songs. Also the band that materialise behind a glass stage and accompany her through classic Garland tunes.  Over the Rainbow, of course, is in there. Bennett can really deliver a line, and to see the grown up Dorothy drunk, always itching for tablets she’d hide in her shoes, under carpets, or down the back of the sofa, was tragic. It was also humane and quite often totally hilarious, because Judy Garland was a funny woman. She was a spiky, nervous, neurotic, several hundred miles an hour nut!  When she climbs up on a table in her hotel and threatens to jump (so the hotel manager will stop hassling her for money) she says, ‘This’ll work, nobody wants to see Dorothy splatted all over their red carpet!’ Her husbands are a waste of space, her managers, agents, all hanging off the fame and fortune of a golden goose. In the play she has only a few close friends, mainly her long term accompanist, Anthony, an old gay guy who wants her to come and live with him in Brighton so he can look after her. She seems to consider it as she knows she’ll die soon, but not really. At the end nobody could save her. That live fast, die young punk ethos was manifest in her swagger, it’s there when she tells her fifth husband to ‘suck my cock,’ and reminisces on the role that made her ‘Skip down the yellow brick road? I was so fucking high I flew down it!’ When she goes, at the end, it’s quick and sad. Other than that the script didn’t hold up too well, but it didn’t really need it, great one liners and the truth of an addiction that would not let go, provide enough on their own. Here is Eva Cassidy, singing Over the Rainbow.

Other than that, this year has changed from the last. I’ve a new novel and the old one is getting sent out to publishers. I return to the waiting game that is words and the world. Well, really I return to the words because the world is flighty and waiting bores me. My poetry collection is 3AM Poetry Book of the Year which is uber cool. I’ve not done any readings for a while, I probably will later on in the year. The Marquis de Ridgwell is immersed in his new novel The Jago, which I think (when I can steal a look) is a stunning novel. That whole era in London is an amazing time to document and I’m looking forward to reading the whole thing. Other than that, the new generation’s arrival is imminent, may they always upstage the last!  Onwards, onwards. Watch out for those flying monkeys, the wheelies are grabbing hold of the back of cars and racing each other down the M4. Like the sign says, the Universe is closed – but we can always take the rainbow. Salut, salut, salut Jxx

The Dead Queen of Bohemia Wins Poetry Book of the Year at 3AM

Dear peoples of the new decade,

I just found out that my recent poetry collection The Dead Queen of Bohemia, is Poetry Book of the Year at the discerning 3AM Magazine stable. I am keeping some most excellent company, see below for winners of the other categories, all well worth checking out. I’m now going to celebrate with a cup of tea and a waltz with Gringo so shimmy sideways, polish the moon and kick against the pricks always! The angels of fire are sleeping, and it is time we dreamt their dreams.

Jxxx

3:AM Awards 2010

deadqueen

3:AM POETRY BOOK OF THE YEAR 2010
Jenni Fagan’s The Dead Queen of Bohemia (Blackheath Books)

tommccarthyc

3:AM NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2010

Tom McCarthy’s C (Jonathan Cape)

newruins

3:AM NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2010
Owen Hatherley’s A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain (Verso)

 

blackhole

3:AM ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2010
Jon Savage’s Black Hole (Domino)

 

robinsonruins

3:AM FILM OF THE YEAR 2010
Robinson in Ruins, dir. Patrick Keiller

 

Cover 17.1.indd

3:AM MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR 2010
Nude


melville2

 

3:AM PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR 2010
Melville House (interview with Dennis Loy Johnson)

killauthor

3:AM WEBSITE OF THE YEAR
> kill author

journeyminds

3:AM BLOGS OF THE YEAR 2010
A Journey Round My Skull
Dangerous Minds


Monkey Reviews The Dead Queen of Bohemia

THE DEAD QUEEN OF BOHEMIA by JENNI FAGAN

An ex-girlfriend had a tatty book that gathered dust in my old flat. It was called How Poetry Works. I flicked through it a few times but it could’ve been a computer manual from the 1980s for all the sense it made to me. I don’t know how poetry works. I don’t know how computers work either. I couldn’t care less; as long as they do. Music’s the same. Ray Davies onArenathe other week got all tetchy about documentary makers wanting to over-analyze artists when people “either like the song or they don’t”.I like Jenni Fagan’s poems. They live at the dark end of the street, across the tracks, on the outskirts of town in a world inhabited by junkies, winos, weirdoes and whores. And they’re only the harmless ones. Fagan doesn’t romanticize them but is empowered by her own experiences and wears them proudly like a rusting pin badge rescued from the rain. Out of the human wreckage come phrases like “…the schizophrenic knew fifteen different ways to bring Satan through a crack in the wall like a great vagina of doom” that instantly leave their words stamped in the brain. But there are two sides of every coin and on the flip of Jenni’s feisty confrontations are glimpses of vulnerability and tenderness.

They work for me. They should work for you too.

The Dead Queen of Bohemia by Jenni Fagan is published by Blackheath Books, priced £7.50.

Blackheath Books Website.

posted by monkey at 12:07