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Issue 4 Vol 4 FOOD Win Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant Read the review! on Food & Heritage

Tonia Buxton

New Column New Opportunities & News All critical, all thinking, all free Tonia Buxton - Anthony Capella - Fast Food

Incorporating Writing
(ISSN 1743-0380)

Editorial Food Glorious Food Interviews Tonia Buxton

Editorial Team
Managing Editor Andrew Oldham Deputy Editor SE/Interviews Sarah Hesketh Deputy Editor Midlands/Articles Fiona Ferguson Deputy Editor NW/Reviews G.P.Kennedy Sales & Marketing Manager Graeme Hind Columnists Dan McTiernan & Christine Brandel Contributors Janet Aspey, Claire Boot, Ben Felsenburg, Mary Mazzilli, Emily Unia, Clare Reddaway, Lisha Aquino Rooney, Tom Spurling, Jennifer Thompson, Bridget Whelan, Rebecca Wombwell Cover Art Lisha Aquino Rooney Design Marsh Contact Details

Andrew Oldham’s editorial considers his love of food.


Sarah Hesketh meets the Greek Goddess.

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Antony Capella

Emily Unia catches up with the author and he reveals why food means so much.

Articles Reminiscence and the Shot
Lisha Aquino Rooney looks why food is central in her photography.


The Fast Way

Tom Spurling talks about fasting.

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Marvellous Medicine
Claire Boot takes a meal with Roald Dahl.

Yorkshire Tack
Bruce Barnes revels in the pudding.

Columns Vegetable Terrorism

Dan McTiernan talks about his attempt to become an eco-warrior.

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Drive Thru Distraction

Christine Brandel joins the team and shows us how food drives her wild.

Incorporating Writing is an imprint of The Incwriters Society (UK). The magazine is managed by an editorial team independent of The Society’s Constitution. Nothing in this magazine may be reproduced in whole or part without permission of the publishers. We cannot accept responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, reproduction of articles, photographs or content. Incorporating Writing has endeavoured to ensure that all information inside the magazine is correct, however prices and details are subject to change. Individual contributors indemnify Incorporating Writing, The Incwriters Society (UK) against copyright claims, monetary claims, tax payments / NI contributions, or any other claims. This magazine is produced in the UK. © The Incwriters Society (UK) 2005

Artwork Perfect Eye

Cover artist, Lisha Aquino Rooney, exhibits some of her work.



G.P. Kennedy introduces the next round in criticism.

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Letters and Feedback News and Opportunities Competition


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‘A Sticky Toffee Pudding should come with lashings of custard not appear in the corner of a bowl too ashamed to say its own name’

Food Glorious Food
Editorial by Andrew Oldham

It will soon be Christmas. I know that many of you will lift up your hands and huff that the jolly season is months away. Tell the high street this, go over to any bookshop cookery section and see all the new titles grabbing your attention for Christmas. Those feel good volumes that blend you into the ground because your life is grey. You know the ones, they start with personal recipes, that state, ‘my kids love these sumptious little parcels of cheese in bread, they literally wolf them down every Christmas morning before they run to open their presents, their faces glowing and their bellies full. Makes you feel like a real Mother’. Yes, they’ve sexed up cheese on toast and the fact that when their kids wake them up at five in the morning on Christmas Day their brains are incapable of cooking anything beyond toast. Yet food has become sexy in the last few years, be it to do with Nigella, whose new Nigella Express shows

that formats have to move on from pouting at the camera and languidly stating that you can cook something in fifteen minutes if only you’d spend five hours shopping. Food has crept into Literature, thanks in part to the likes of Joanne Harris and the subsequent film Chocolat. At last, we all screamed, it’s okay to revel in food and find it sexy. Let’s face facts, food and sex are the very reasons we are here, if we don’t eat, we die, if we don’t procreate, then there’s no hunters, no growers, no teenagers pushing trolleys at a supermarket. So food is bloody well sexy but being fat isn’t, this is the paradox, eat and be merry, eat but don’t get fat and this is wrong. There are two types of people in this world, those that eat and those that pretend to eat. The latter sit in front of

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immaculately presented food and pick around the edges. The rest of us dream of sandwiches that would make Scooby Doo baulk. I must admit I fall into this category, I love food. So, when it was suggested that we do a food issue I was the first to shout out a plethora of people to interview. It would have been lazy to trot out the usual names, the ones that always seem to be on the front of magazines, smiling vacantly over their interpretation of a Sticky Toffee Pudding - does it annoy anyone else that traditional food is buggered up? A Sticky Toffee Pudding should come with lashings of custard not appear in the corner of a bowl too ashamed to say its own name. Other members of the Editorial Team stared at my growing belly - there is a point when a stomach ceases to be a stomach and becomes a belly - and nodded sympathetically as I laid out before them a list of my favourite food writers. The ones that give you that warm feeling deep in your...belly. Such as, Tonia Buxton, who brings Greek Food to our televisions and celebrates not just her culture but the joy of eating with the family. Anthony Capella discusses his love of food and how coffee can be claimed as research, Bruce Barnes dives into the deep end of puddings and comes up laughing. Dan McTiernan realises that the dreams of a greener world can often go wrong and Christine Brandel joins the team salivating over Taco Bell. Merry Christmas, and no matter what the time of year, eat well, eat slow and take joy in your food.

Competition Giveaway

Incorporating Writing, in partnership with the UK Publishers, Jonathan Cape, have three copies of Rant to giveaway. The eighth novel from the bestselling author of Fight Club and Choke. To enter the competition, contact Incorporating Writing by email with the logline RANT GIVEAWAY by the 1st December 2007. All entries must include contact address, email and telephone number. Entries will be drawn on the 2nd December and the winners will be announced in the January 2008 issue of the magazine: Issue 5 Vol 1 POPULAR CULTURE

Andrew Oldham is the Managing Editor of Incorporating Writing. He is an award winning writer and academic.


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Winning Letter
The Internet
Dear Sir, Please note, at the outset, that I refer to you as ‘Sir’ only because one is accustomed to the patriarchal dominance of the publishing industry wherein the minions are female yet the masters are male. Point made, methinks. It is with profound regret that I write to congratulate you on the thoroughgoing excellence of your magazine (though one is loathe to use the term ‘magazine’ for a publication so evidently lacking in physical presence). My regret lies in my recent discovery of the Internet and its myriad hodgepodge of cerebral detritus, and therefore, that you have proven one wrong in the conclusion that the whole World Wide Web was thus populated. As a recent retiree from the world of vanity publishing (Chair, Chocstar Publications, 1967-2007) one considers oneself something of an authority of all things literary. One finds your publication (a term with considerably more accuracy, methinks) to be engaging, well written, and benefiting from that rarest of qualities (in these days of edrivel, roughly hewn from the typewriters of our closest genetic brethren) accuracy. Furthermore, the inclusion of eye-catching photography is a welcome break from the reams of newsprint featured in many other publications of a literary bent. On which note I must sound my single caveat. As a thoroughgoing woopsy of long standing I note with an overwhelming surge of inevitability the lack of gay literature and photography in your publication. I look forward to the inclusion of a Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective and an interview with David Sedaris before long. I must tootle; Nanny is calling one from the east wing. Keep up the (reasonably) good work. Your friend in word, Roger Fuedel, County Durham

Letters and Feedback
Dear Incorporating Writing, Thanks for the Revolution issue, I enjoyed reading more about Marina Lewycka as I am a great fan of her work. Is there a chance that you can list after interviews where writers and poets are reading? Thanks Anna Sofat, London EDITOR REPLY: As we work up 6 months in advance on issues it often hard to get reading dates for publication deadlines. However, if you visit the forum at: you will often find information on readings and festivals with interviewees from this magazine. Dear Sarah Hesketh, I read your editorial with interest and a somewhat marked annoyance at the glib nature with which you approached the topic of East Lancashire. I was born and bred in Nelson, and have lived here for 68 years. Many worthy individuals have come from East Lancashire, but unlike the likes of Beckham they were famous for forging the very industry that built you and Britain, cotton. Maybe you should have pride in the area that gave you everything and look more closely at your history before you dismiss it for celebrity culture. Yours sincerely, George Cumberworth, Nelson EDITOR REPLY: Thank you for you comments, George. It is impossible in any Editorial to cover all the bases and Sarah in no way wanted to upset anyone from East Lancashire. However, times move on and we must reflect those changes and though we do not support the celebrity culture we now seem to live in, we cannot ignore it. All Editorials should create debate and we

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here at Incorporating Writing will support your right to have that debate on our pages. Hi Editors, Just wanted to say how great the new format of the magazine is. I can now print it out and read it on the way to work. Thank god I use the bus! Best Wishes Elita Crook, Hackney Dear Editors, Thank you, thank you for taking time out to interview one of my favourite travel writers, Benedict Allen. His views were both funny, erudite and to the point. It was an interesting point that we are now in a Catch 22 situation, we want to see the world but can we accept the carbon footprint we leave behind? Any chance of interviewing Michael Palin next? Yours Claire Evans, Bolton EDITOR REPLY: There are no plans to do another TRAVEL issue in the future but we will certainly look into interviewing Mr Palin in a future issue! Dear Incorporating Writing, I found your website whilst wandering through the internet and found the issue there to be interesting and more importantly, free! I would like to know how you do this? Surely, there are overheads or are you another subsidised publication that we pay for with our taxes? Yours Mr G. Lawson, Cheltenham EDITOR REPLY: Thank you for your comments, we are not subsidised by any taxes. Funnily enough, taxes paid in the UK do not go into the arts, a majority of arts money comes via the lottery, which

could be argued, is another form of taxation - but hey, you pays for what you gets. We are all voluntary and we pass that spirit onto you, hence the free magazine. Dear Eds, Love the magazine, shame that you’re not over here in the US. Your magazine is a breath of fresh air and should be supported to the nth degree. Yours Paul, New York EDITOR REPLY: Thanks Paul, we are thankfully online, so available to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Well the magazine is, the team isn’t that open! Dear Editors, Why are poets such moaners? I found the George Szirtes interview to be full of moans, and tinged with bitterness. I spent my fomative years at UEA and was saddened that Szirtes seems to have lost his way. Carol Lever, London EDITOR REPLY: Carol, did you read the same interview? Revisit the piece and please let us know where and when George moans. He is positive throughout but let’s face facts, poetry is largely ignored in the UK today, so any poet has the right to moan when all our education institutes do is embsrace dead poets. We hope that you revisit the piece and reread George’s wonderful comments. Have something to tell us at Incorporating Writing? Do you want to tell readers about what has annoyed you or please you in the world of Literature and Arts? The send a 200-300 word letter to us at by the 1st December 2007 and the best letter receives a prize.


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Vegetable Terrorism
Column by Dan McTiernan

‘Exxon-Mobil, BP, Shell and all the others will pack up their bags and go home to their swimming pools filled with cash. And then we’ll be screwed’
Let’s do it, let’s become self-sufficient. I could write a blog about it, sort of as a way into the village community. Everyone will love it! We’ll be the toast of Marsden Moor. Let’s make a pact not to eat anything – other than the odd steak and chorizo – that we haven’t grown ourselves. We’ll be so healthy, so full of vitality. I could see from my wife’s eyebrows, perched so high on her forehead that they were in danger of merging with her blonde locks, that she didn’t have quite as much faith in the proposition as I did. We strode along the edge of a farmer’s field as I expounded my grand plan for off-the-grid culinary nirvana. The thwop thwop thwop of my wife’s wellies extricating themselves from mud speeded up, as she started putting yards between us. Was she trying to manoeuvre out of earshot or was she just eager to get moved into our new house and start mulching and double-digging and all those other arcane activities that would lead us on the righteous horticultural path? Wait up sweetheart! I want to tell you all about forest gardening!... That was almost a year ago. I chuckle to myself, surrounded by head-high Fire Weed, my jeans ensnared by spiky brambles, as I stand in what should be my veg plot. Just think. We’d all be dead! Me, my wife and our five-month-old son found shrivelled in the living room clutching the last wilted strands of coriander from this year’s bumper harvest. Like a family of bog people they’d inspect the contents of our stomachs and intestines to discover hidden truths about our agrarian existences only to discover that we were herbivores in the literal sense: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Not what you’d call filling. It seems, renovating the inside of the house and raising a baby have meant that instead of reducing our foodmiles to

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fairy steps we’ve actually used more petrochemicals in the manufacture, packaging, refrigeration and transport of our food in the last eight months than at any other time in our lives. We’ve dined in on more multi-layer packaged readymeals, gas-filled bags of salad and Kenyan green beans than I care to admit at work – I work for an environmental charity focussed on waste and Co2 reduction. It’s a nightmare really. Unless you have a completely repetitive, stable, small c conservative life it’s nigh on bloody impossible not to rack up billions of miles on your food-trundlewheel-conscienceometer. Well, things have got to stop. I’ve been watching numerous Google videos under the auspices of research at work on the subject of Peak Oil and scaring myself shitless in the process. The premise of Peak Oil is that it is not the running out of oil that will be the calamitous event that slingshots us into the next world war. The world will never run out of oil entirely. What will happen is that we will simply reach a peak, having extracted roughly half the world’s supply of oil – the easy to drill, high quality half – after which a rapid decline in oil production will begin and as soon as it costs more than a barrel of oil to extract a barrel of oil Exxon-Mobil, BP, Shell and all the others will pack up their bags and go home to their swimming pools filled with cash. And then we’ll be screwed. The UK imports 50% of its vegetables and 90% of its fruit. Our dominant supply chain – the supermarkets – have only four days contingency at any one time. The vast majority of our electricity is derived from fossil fuels. We drive everywhere. We’ll all be nibbling on our windowsill herbs and sitting in the dark fumbling around for the scrabble board or some other kind of ancient entertainment as our cars gently rust off their wheels.

The worst part about this is that this is not going to happen in 2030 0r 2050 or some other futuristically distant sounding epoch. Most Peak Oil experts agree that it will happen sometime between 2006 and 2010. Even the International Energy Agency – the shiny, positive face of world energy accountability - has sent internal memos declaring 2015 as the date of no return.

‘Well, things have got to stop. I’ve been watching numerous Google videos under the auspices of research at work on the subject of Peak Oil and scaring myself shitless in the process’
So I for one am going to pull up some goddamn weeds and plant some stuff to eat… The problem of course is that it’s the end of August and I don’t actually know what I’m doing. The very most I can hope for are a few fart-inducing brassicas (sprouts, cabbages, kale etc.) in the early spring and a lot of hard work in the meantime. Unfortunately it’s fairly implausible to be self-sufficient from a 12m x 3.5m plot in the foothills of the sunny Pennines of West Yorkshire. Even if I’d convinced myself it was possible all those months ago chasing after my wife’s disappearing wellies. But there could be a solution… Let’s call it Vegetable Terrorism. I can feel the little red pinpricks of laser-sighted CIA sniperrifles on me now. The concept is tried and tested already – see Al Jazeera for reference: We go underground spreading our roots to form cells. Staying within our own patch but


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working to the master plot we sow the seeds of our verdant philosophy. The leguminous references are oh so ripe for the picking. Then, under cover of night, we Dig for Britain. Sterile Lawns, tracts of concrete slab, gravelled drives. Ripped up and replaced by beetroot, parsnips and rhubarb. We could sneak plum trees on to grass verges, let peas wind their way up council railings. The Urban Heat Island would act as one huge hothouse of vegetable productivity. Before long we’d be surrounded by locally produced edibles. Forget Iraq and the crude struggle for oil. The real fight for freedom is here and its weapons of choice are horse manure and floral patterned gloves. What do you say? Make Compost Not War. You’re either with us or you’re against us… Viva La Revolución Vegetale!!

I am thinking that by the time you reach the Reviews pages you will already be familiar with the Food theme of this issue of the magazine: if so, more power to you, and keep up the good work. The lead review this time out is Laura Esquivel’s Magic Realism classic, Like Water for Chocolate, reviewed by the most recent addition to the Reviews staff, Rebecca Wombwell, in whose capable touch-typing fingers, Like Water… flows and flourishes on the upcoming pages. Continuing the themes of modern classic literature on a foodie theme, Janet Aspey fills her cakehole (in a most decorous and metaphorical fashion, of course) with Margaret Atwood’s, The Edible Woman. I make no apology for featuring books that are not new publications. Indeed I believe we should celebrate the refreshing of forgotten pleasures in these pages as we should in life. Completing the review section for this issue, though far from making up the numbers, are Chuck Palahniuk’s, Rant, a mouth watering, jaw dropping cake of a book; Jean-Paul Dubois’, A French Life, a political allegory; and, in the welcome return of top quality poetry to these pages, anarchist Diane di Parma’s, Revolutionary Letters, punch and rant their way through the page. This is the Food issue. These are the Reviews. Tuck in; fill up.

Writer, magazine editor, film maker and film lecturer, Dan McTiernan schizophrenically wanders through his well travelled working life safe in the knowledge that underneath the media façade, he’s really an eco-builder and smallholder.

GP Kennedy is the Deputy Editor (NW)/Reviews. He is a writer, lover of language and would-be goliard. Further he is a passionate pedagogue and an alliteration amateur. Deep-down he still wants to be a professional goalkeeper.

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Featured Review Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel Black Swan, 1993 £7.99 ISBN 0-552-99587-8 222pp
the wonder of everyday life. ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ was translated to English in 1992 after its success in its original Spanish (published 1989). Both the novel and its subsequent film version achieved critical acclaim as Latin American culture began to thrive in English speaking countries. The success of Esquivel’s writing is within her emphasis of both the deeply culturally bound, and the universal experiences such as food, love and passion. Tita and her contemporaries are rebellious, both in conjunction with the Mexican Revolution and on a more personal level.

‘Like Water for Chocolate’ is a compelling, fresh and honest love story by Laura Esquivel. The plot centres on Tita who as youngest daughter is bound by tradition to care for her mother. By increasingly challenging her family’s traditional rules and expectations Tita finds her own identity. Tita is the domestic stereotype breaking free of her contextual constraints; the kitchen is her territory where she recreates the foods of her culture, taking ownership of them through recipes and creation. Revolution is a main theme in this novel. Set during the Mexican Revolution, ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ is deeply rooted in this context, and epitomises Magic Realism in its Latin American culture and post modern enchantment to celebrate of

‘Esquivel’s writing is very tactile and luscious to illustrate how Tita’s cooking intrinsically links food and emotion’
A balance between revolution and tradition is evident through the characters of Dr. Brown and Morning Light; the rationalised scientist and the alternative healer, who teach and inspire each other. The awareness of internal and external existence illustrated by these characters is crucial to the novel. Tita’s moods affect the tastes and experience of her menus in contrast to the food’s restorative and nurturing effects. This reasoned approach to the mythical reflects the application of tradition in contemporary society and


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relationship between the characters and food within the plot ricochets between cause and effect. Food is deeply embedded with associations from memory, tradition, and culture. Tita creates dishes which have unprecedented effects on those who eat them, her food creates a magic spell which heightens the senses and communicates in a deep and powerful way. Tita personifies the complex relationship between people, life and food, which is an awareness that seems to fluctuate in contemporary society as we battle with ideas about nutrition, diet and social aspects to nutrition. Esquivel’s writing is very tactile and luscious to illustrate how Tita’s cooking intrinsically links food and emotion. Tita oscillates between love and passion, and a distinction between these two is never clearly defined. Rejecting John’s gentle adoration for Pedro’s forbidden excitement, is the all consuming passion that she finds true love? ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ refers to boiling water to make hot chocolate, which is also a well known phrase to suggest passion. These twin meanings indicate a heat, arousal and expectation concurrent to revolution. Food acts as a direct metaphor for passion - as an aphrodisiac, or simply within the physical pleasure of eating. The plot revolves around Tita’s recipes. Each chapter pivots around a traditional recipe (which is not necessarily for food), explaining method and relevance which helps the reader to empathise with the culture. The novel is structured around the months of the year and these instalments indicate change and continuation, but the contents are not confined to this timeframe. This structure reinforces the idea of knowledge circling and being handed down the generations and through this recurrence, making the

novel more identifiable. These staccato bulletins create informality and punctuate the swollen, intense lyrical verses. Focussing on recipes (in contrast to food) indicates domination and authorship. The ingredients listings signify Tita’s choices and her attempts to control a situation that she feels powerless in, much like the way that Chencha’s lies enable her manipulation of events. Each food is symbolic, and by breaking down a menu (and the novel) into component parts we are able to understand it better. These recipes therefore develop the novel through structure and imagery, reflecting Tita as being about her and by her, fleshing out the recipe book she writes within the story. The recipes also help to highlight stereotypes in this novel’s characters, such as the emphasis of the clash of maternal traits between Nancha and Mama Elena. Esquivel’s ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ is a humorous, chaotic and celebratory novel which rejoices in an exploration of topics that it is fundamentally unable to define. It cleverly opens up a specific culture with accessible anchors, reminding us of the importance of honest pleasures as ‘when the talk turns to eating, a subject of the greatest importance, only fools and sick men don’t give it the attention it deserves’.

Rebecca Wombell is a country girl at heart, from the wilds of Lincolnshire. She devours writing with a decadently poetic style and dreams of a llama sanctuary and studio on the coast.

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The Edible Woman Margaret Atwood Virago, 1980 £7.99 ISBN 0 86068 129 7 281pp
woman’s sense of self when she gets married, when her name is replaced by another, when she becomes a mother, and whether marriage is the answer for a successful relationship between the sexes at all. When Marian accepts Peter’s proposal at the end of Part One the whole narrative tone of the book shifts into a third person narrative. Marian effectively becomes lost in her narrative. She starts disappearing in her dreams, running down streets, hiding under beds and becomes adverse to food until there is barely anything she can stomach to eat at all. Although this is not as great a novel as many of Atwood’s later works, it is a very entertaining one. There is honesty in her characterisations and in her exploration of the relationship between the sexes, and her clever, witty observations make the prose sparkle. What struck me most upon re-reading Edible Woman was the resonance it still has with today’s world and the questions it forces us a reader to ask about it. Atwood says in the foreword: “the tone of the book seems more contemporary now than it did in, say, 1971, when it was believed that society could change itself a good deal faster than presently appears likely.” If we consider the “Bridezilla” culture that has arisen of late, where the average cost of a wedding is £18,000 and yet divorce rates are higher than ever, then Atwood already has a point. Motherhood is a series of slogans; “yummy mummies”, “slummy mummies”, “super mummies”, on television we are, almost constantly,

The Edible Woman’s premise, on the surface, sounds very familiar in the glut of post Bridget Jones “chick lit” books. Marian is an ordinary, sensible girl with a dead end job who would like to get married some day and have a family, except her boyfriend Peter is commitment phobic and goes into mini meltdowns every time one of his friends pops the question. Her flatmate Ainsley is an independent, creative spirit who wants a baby minus the husband. Then there is Clara, married and bored, who needs her single friends to add some vicarious drama to her monotonous stay at home existence looking after the children. However this is not a book written in the mould of the chardonnay drinking singleton. Atwood’s concerns are not girl gets boy, eventually, after a lot of wine, tears and sex, but what happens to a


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being shown how to be the perfect housewife/domestic goddess, how to cook ourselves thin, how to look good naked and just a quick glance in the self help section shows we are still working out if women really do “come from Venus and men from Mars”.

‘This is not a book written in the mould of the chardonnay drinking singleton’
This is a novel of self and the human, not only feminine, need for self to be accepted and valued in a loving relationship. If you are a fan of Atwood then this is a must read. Certainly do not let the proto-feminist tag put you off from reading her highly engaging debut.

Rant Chuck Palahniuk Jonathan Cape, May 2007 £12.99 ISBN 978-0-224-08059-0 336pp
There’s a curious prefatory author’s note on the page before the beginning of Rant: “This book is written in the style of an oral history, a form which requires interviewing a wide variety of witnesses and compiling their testimony. Anytime multiple sources are questioned about a shared experience, it’s inevitable for them occasionally to contradict each other. For additional biographies in this style, please see Capote by George Plimpton, Edie by Jean Stein, and

Janet Aspey is a recent MA Creative Writing graduate with a drama background.  She is particularly interested in feminist history and literature, and is currently working on her second novel.

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Lexicon Devil by Brendan Mullen.” Perhaps you first came to know Chuck Palahniuk after seeing the intoxicatingly inventive film Fight Club and going on to discover that his original novel had in fact been the source for the myriad notions of consumer dystopia acted out by Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. His style a kind of Dom DeLillo-lite, Palahniuk’s obliquely apocalyptic writing is addicted to the zeitgeist, mainlining it through pop culture references on every staccatoparagraphed page of subsequent novels Choke and Survivor amongst others. There’s an engaging adolescent bravado to his playful way with small bits of knowledge, about everything from airplane disasters to the Heimlich manoeuvre, reconfigured to match a confusingly similar universe parallel to ours. That insinuating cockiness makes it all the more strange Palahniuk should announce his latest novel with such diffidence. Yes, there may perhaps be a certain superficial irony in putting this multi-voiced account of the life of Buster ‘Rant’ Casey — an anti-hero leader responsible for the mass fatalities of a rabies epidemic he spreads himself — alongside factual biographies (Mullen’s is of Californian lived-fast died-young punk star Darby Crash) of sub-culturally resonant figures. Still it feels like a monumental gesture of buck-passing for the use of this form and failure to take responsibility from a writer who has previously been so insistently seductive in his relationship with the reader. The failure of nerve proves, at least, that Palahniuk’s instincts are accurate, for Rant is a quagmire of a read, horribly hidebound by that awkward profusion of first persons. The jagged experience of jumping back and forth between very

short bursts of each character’s account is unrewardingly disorientating; it doesn’t help that they all have pretty much the same voice, driven as they are by the preoccupations that run through Palahniuk’s work.

‘This is Palahniuk running on fumes’
Worse, those preoccupations here are wearyingly familiar and underdeveloped: too often one is left wondering if it wouldn’t be better just to turn to the latest JG Ballard for reflections on millenarian social fissuring splashed with dark humour. Here, out come the same wearying riffs: there’s only so many ways of reworking the Andy Warhol adage on the fifteen minutes of modern fame, only so much we want to hear about car salesmen and Elvis Presley. It’s tempting to conclude that Rant is what happens when a novelist is temporarily exhausted and tries to breathe life into what is little more than a collection of notes and culture-surfing speculations, for that is how these anecdotes strung by a thin fiction read. Being kind, this is Palahniuk running on fumes.

Pen for hire Ben Felsenburg is currently covering prime-time TV for a national newspaper and scribbling contemporary dance reviews while busily not writing a novel on death, golf and post-colonial cuisine.


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A French Life-Vie Française Jean-Paul Dubois Hamish Hamilton Ltd 26 Jul 2007 ISBN-10: 024114339X ISBN-13: 978-0241143391 288pp
character Paul Blick reflects on the ups and downs of French politics. At first glance this suggests that ‘no man is an island’ defying the current general political apathy; instead it re-affirms its political scepticism and stoicism. In the end, the narrator seems to say that there is not much that ‘one’ man can do to make an impact. Paul Blick confesses that he has never voted and never will, not even when encouraged by his sick impaired mother, who cannot leave the house and go to the polling station. Political awareness versus disenchantment, leftism versus capitalism dominates Paul Blick’s life, at times despite himself. Paul Blick is never totally blinded by the socialism of the 60s and always maintains a sceptical attitude towards politics. A ‘revolutionary activist’ in the 60s ends up leaving ‘the other side’ and ‘joins in’ the society, the ‘petite bourgeoisie’ by marrying Anne, ambitious entrepreneur who worships free market economics. Apart from the political element, the novel presents intense and vivid personal accounts of Paul’s life and his family, their emotional rifts and dramas. It opens with the sudden death of Paul’s older brother, Vincent, at the age of eleven, which deeply scars Paul’s family and Paul himself. Vincent becomes, then, the absent character of the novel, to whom Paul often refers in moments of sad contemplation, at least for the first part

Vie Française is an attempt to describe the life of ordinary people through French politics, where the personal history of the individual meets the bigger picture; the political history on a large scale of a nation. It is also an attempt to reflect upon the nation’s own very history; of its own social and cultural changes. Politics is what builds the structure of the novel, divided into chapters according to the successions of French presidents from the late fifties to the Chirac presidency. The political and historical connotation of this book is also what defines the characters, who are mostly first introduced to the reader by their political standing. The personal journey of the narrator-

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Interview by Alexander Laurence of the novel.

‘The last one hundred pages seem to redeem it thanks to a compassionate and heartfelt writing’
The novel can, in fact, be artificially divided into two parts. The first part of the novel describes Paul’s youth enjoying the freedom of the time, whereas the second part after marrying Anne is a gloomy and tragic one. Paul growing weary of society and melancholic finds refuge in photography, before a series of family tragedies transforms his life for the worse. In an attempt to define Dubois’ writing, one could argue that this novel is a contemporary Bildungsroman following the psychological development of the hero, whose moral and political struggle, though, has already been lost from the start. To some extent, this novel resembles many others written in the last thirty odd years by male authors of the like of Michel Houellebecq and Milan Kundera, about shallow and socially inept male characters in a decadent political setting. However, more similar to the Houellebecq than Kundera, Jean-Paul DuBois lacks pungent and aggressive writing of the first and the literary talent and attentive existentialist insight of the latter. The narrative of Jean-Paul DuBois’s book is fluid, vibrant and dynamic, which makes it easy enough to skim through the pages. This strength is also the weakness of this book that pays the price for its superficiality, when it disappoints the reader and fails to reflect upon important moments, like the character’s

epiphany taking pictures of trees in the woods. Considering its male perspective, it is surprising that this book won the Prix Femina- a prize decided by an exclusively female jury (apart from the Prix du Roman Fnac), especially if we count that Anne, the main female character, is depicted as a self-centred ambitious and obnoxious woman, roughly drawn, as are others like Mathe Rochas, Paul’s landlady, and Anne’s mother as sex-craving individuals. However, one must say that there also moments of ‘tenderness’ between Paul and his politically minded mother and indipedent yet beautiful women like Marie, who Paul accompanies for abortion. This book is not a literary masterpiece but definitely the last one hundred pages seem to redeem it thanks to a compassionate and heartfelt writing, which is pessimistic but never bitter. We see a broken and totally ‘alone’ Paul who failed to help heal her daughter’s depression finds himself on a psychological island, a place where both Vincent and his mother are absent and where politics is no help.

Mary Mazzilli is a poet, playwright, academic essayist and a PhD student in Chinese literature at SOAS-London. Previously she has worked as Literature assessor for the Art Council (20032006). She has recently founded Stagevibes Productions –dedicated to international and experimental; she is currently working on her third Play, The Wrong Sleep.


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Revolutionary Letters Diane Di Prima Last Gasp Distributed by Turnaround, London $14.95 ISBN 13: 978-0-86719660-3 ISBN 10: 0-86719-660-2 160pp
Diane di Prima is a revolutionary activist and utopian anarchist, both of which you might well believe to have been consigned to the pages of history along with the flower garlands from Woodstock and those ‘make love not war’ bubble graphics. However, a new edition of Di Prima’s poems Revolutionary Letters, has just been reissued. The majority were written in the late 60s/early 70s, but some 23 new poems are included. They are surely classics of their type. Di Prima’s life reads like a 20th century Bohemian cliché – second generation Italian New Yorker, her grandfather an active anarchist, she was a Beat generation writer, she linked up with Timothy Leary’s psychedelic community in the late 60s, then she moved to northern California and joined in with the political activities of the Diggers. She studied Buddhism, and went on to have a successful career as poet, writer and academic. Throughout, she has remained fiercely anti-establishment. Her targets range from cities to multinationals, from schools to armies, from the media and capitalist exploitation worldwide, to America, always America – the evil and iniquity of her leaders and the consumerist blindness of her people.

Her poems are not beautiful or elegant, exquisite or soulful – they are punchy, violent, ragged, didactic, tumbling off the pen in a passionate rant, full of capital letters for emphasis and abbreviations as though she hasn’t the time to spell the full word. Reading them is like being swept along by rhetoric at a political rally as she thumps the podium and shouts ‘The only war that matters is the war against the imagination’ (#75).

‘Some poems are startlingly prescient. She writes with passion about pollution, environmental destruction and green issues’
The poems capture the mood and spirit of their times, beginning with the extremism and optimism of the 1960s, continuing into the anger and frustration of a paranoid 1970s America, riven with CIA plots and the Vietnam War – ‘the stench of jungle-exploded/flesh’ (#70). In some of the most interesting poems, Di Prima provides advice to those bent on revolution: to store water and food (#3), to ensure you have an escape route (#18, #25), how to provide a safe haven and ‘not to freak out/at the sight of torn or half-cooked flesh’ (#14), what to do when you seize a town or campus (#15), or (my personal favourite) to ‘go to love-ins/ with incense, flowers, food, and a plastic bag/with a damp cloth in it, for tear gas’ (#8). Nowadays, I see VW camper vans as the height of retro chic, but she writes of a friend who keeps two weeks survival rations stashed in his, a reminder that hippies were not only about peace and love. Some poems are startlingly prescient. She writes with passion about pollution,

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environmental destruction and green issues. Jamie Oliver would cheer at her diatribe against processed food (#55). Her latest poems about 9/11 (‘What did we in all honesty expect?’ #88) and the Afghan war (‘We Air-Drop Transistor Radios/can you eat them?/will they/keep you warm? #86) are part of a continuum that she began in 1960. Idealistic, extremist, sentimental, unrealistic, unbelievable....but energetic, vivid and refreshingly uncynical. I am brought back to the poem in which Di Prima writes ‘A lack of faith is simply a lack of courage/one who says ‘I wish I could believe that’ means simply that he/ is coward, is pleased/to be spectator,’ (#23). Excuse me, I need to go and find a demo.

Anthills and Stars by Kevin Duffy (Bluemoose Books ISBN 0955336708 ISBN 13: 9780 955336706) £7.99 
Fiction. It's 1968, and in Paris the students are rioting but in Broughton, 20 miles East of Manchester the Permissive Society has just arrived, driving a multi coloured VW camper van...Mrs. Hebblethwaite thinks the devil himself has arrived, he has.

The Bridge Between By Nathan Vanek (Bluemoose Books ISBN 0955336716 ISBN13:9780955336713) £ 7.99.
Clare Reddaway writes scripts for theatre and radio, and stories for children.  Her latest play BAD MOTHERS is touring East Anglia later this year.  She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa Non Fiction. Born and raised in Toronto, Nathan Vanek, Yogi and Guru, spent much of his adult life in India. He communicates the essence of his knowledge and insights into the dramatic contrasts between the two countries, and the essential oneness of us all. fo




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Tonia Buxton Food and Family

Interview by Jennifer Thompson


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Soothed by the orchestrated clatter of a central London café, month old Zeno Buxton lies sound asleep beside his mother. His tranquillity is a sweet paradox when compared with the cheeriness and openness of Tonia, whose eyes light up at the prospect of cake. Customers tentatively squeeze themselves onto the neighbouring sofas, with that new-born adoration spreading across their faces. Tonia laughs, comfortable with her baby beside her, and warns them all will be fine unless they “squash him”. Such are the perils of being a working mum. As a Greek-Cypriot, Buxton expresses first how her heritage is at the forefront of both her culinary drive and her lifestyle. “Food and feeding people is literally part of the culture, so is something that is almost innate. I’ve always cooked. When my mum was working, I would cook the dinner. I’m the only daughter in the family, I’ve always helped in the kitchen”. Despite having always lived in London, it is immediately apparent that her entire ethic is deeply embedded within her Mediterranean roots. Rather than discussing the pleasures of food, Buxton talks more about the pleasures of feeding others. This, she believes, is what cooking should be about, adding somewhat modestly, “That’s where I come from, food, I’m not some brilliant chef by any means, I can’t do intricate things, they get on my nerves, I can’t be bothered”. She seems less enthused by the notion of arranging a culinary masterpiece that perhaps lacks in passion what it gains in pretension, and instead diverts the conversation back to that of feeding people. “There’s a real pleasure in feeding people. It doesn’t matter whether it’s something really

simple like bread and olive oil and some olives, or cucumbers and tomatoes, or whether it’s something that takes alot more cooking. It’s just about seeing people eat and making them happy”. Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of Buxton is the grounded attitude she exudes regarding her life and accomplishments. It is obvious on talking to her that she holds a strong work ethic, and that her achievements haven’t been based by any means on luck, but simply hard work. She presents a rather eccentric curriculum vitae, working from schoolteacher to athlete, to presenting historical documentaries. But cooking seems to be the pinnacle of her career, something that is intrinsic. Buxton believes everybody can cook to a certain degree, and that it’s less about talent than it is about actually wanting to be able to cook. She seems horrified at the thought of what she used to eat when visiting girlfriends at university. “Beans on toast and deep fried Mars bars, disgusting, absolutely disgusting! I used to cook them proper food. And now they’ve all decided that they want to cook. Now that they want to, they can”. Rather than approaching food from an experimental angle, Buxton seems to be more a stick- to-what-you-know-best sort of chef. “My food is all hand-medowns, all recipes that are Greek and have been around for ages”. On the subject of domestic cooking, she remarks, “Once you get into the rhythm of things, you develop your own style. I love black pepper and I love cinnamon and garlic. I like it that way and I know that about myself and I develop that”. When asked if she experiments with food from cultures other than Greek, she replies, “I do but I’m crap! Apart from the Greek cuisine, which I think is the best cuisine in the world, obviously I’m


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biased, but I love Thai food, I love the spices. I do often cook Thai dishes but it’s like stepping out of your safety net of cooking”. Buxton is most widely known for her cooking programme ‘My Greek Kitchen’. Presenting the series was a huge commitment, and she talks of the programme lovingly. More than a cooking show, the series took her around Greece and its islands, incorporating its history whilst meeting with the locals and discovering new recipes. On the differences in attitudes towards food in Greece and England, she asserts that, “There’s nothing the same. Eating is something that we [Greeks] could do all day long, and often do do all day long, even on a Sunday. My uncle is a priest so we’d get up early to go to church, come back and have breakfast. And breakfast would turn into lunch, because as breakfast was being had and different

things were being brought out, lunch would be made. We really do live to eat, and it’s all about family as well. It’s unheard of to have a microwave meal and sit in front of the telly alone”. We in England perhaps display a rather more robotic attitude to food, eating when necessary, without the care and attention that seems to be commonplace in Greece. Ready meals fill our supermarket shelves and we eat them because they are quick and easy, despite the seeming lack of any nutritional value. “My mother never ever bought anything ready made. We always had fresh food cooking,” assert Tonia. Meal times to Buxton are not simply a matter of food, but also a matter of family. Being very family orientated, Zeno being the fourth addition to the Buxton brood, she sees dinner in particular as a chance to catch up with her family after a hectic day. “It’s a kind of get together, especially if you’re working a lot, like the

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‘It turns out that the Greeks were the first real cooks, or the first people to cook together and have recipes’


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way I work. If I didn’t have that grounding me at home I’d probably never see my family”. Buxton’s family life is not only a daily priority, but has also passed over into her work. She describes the first series of ‘My Greek Kitchen’ as more of a ‘magazine show’ that was in its way quite stylised. In the second series however, Buxton stayed with her family in Greece. It “Was very different, much more personal. Before I agreed to do it I had to ring my family and say to them ‘look, I want to do this, are you going to be alright with being filmed’. And they all said, ‘No’, but I totally ignored them! It was very emotive for me”. There is something highly endearing about Buxton’s attitudes towards family, perhaps stemming again from her Greek roots. While filming the show, she says it, “Reaffirmed for me that true Greek culture and the way that they live is such a lovely way to live. And I want to make sure that I pass that on to my children. I don’t want them to loose that unique sense of family”. She talks passionately about history, especially ancient and Greek history, having studied classics at university. “It turns out that the Greeks were the first real cooks, or the first people to cook together and have recipes. When the Roman’s conquered the Greeks - the country is so small, they’re not great fighters - so many of their recipes were lost, they got burnt. But there are remnants that have been kept which without a doubt prove that they were the first chefs, they were the first cooks, the first people to make recipes and mix spices together. And not just for nutritional purposes, but for medicinal purposes as well”. Filming the programme has allowed Buxton to learn so much more about her culture. Having already an established Mediterranean

background, the fact that she is incredibly proud of her heritage and that the programme was made with nothing but loving intentions exudes from her. Buxton is yet another to join the influx of celebrity chefs that have braced out screens over the past few years. But what does she think of the sudden rise? “I think it’s great, I think it’s fantastic. I really think its reintroducing food into homes. I recently read that it’s introducing more men into the kitchen. Women are still out of the kitchen, sort of too busy now to cook”. Still, she admits it’s not all quite as genuine as it may seem. “I do think a lot of it is about entertainment, and not that much of it is about food. I’ve got so many friends who will watch a celebrity chef and still never attempt to cook. For some it’s all about being an entertainer”. For the best part though, it’s all positive. Even if people never attempt the recipes shown, then they may still remember them and try something a little different. “Jamie Oliver is my hero!” He is certainly not one of those jumping on the “celebrity bandwagon”. As far as his ‘Better Food for Schools Campaign’ goes, Buxton thinks it’s “brilliant”. “Its not working because they’re still giving kids too much choice. Parents turning up with McDonalds to feed their kids should be hung, drawn and quartered!” She goes on to say that, “healthy and good food can be very tasty, but it can’t fight against salt, sugar and additives because they are addictive”. Her fears about this have been transposed onto her own children. “My children have often gone to bed hungry because they’ve decided they don’t want to eat what I’m cooking. They’re not going to starve, and if they’re hungry enough they’ll eat what I’ve

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‘Parents turning up with McDonalds to feed their kids should be hung, drawn and quartered!’


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cooked”. She considers her children to be “annoyingly awful” when it comes to their eating habits, “They’re terrible! We fight every day. My children are just as bad as everyone else’s, you just have to fight through it and be the adult”. Adding to her ever-growing list of achievements, Buxton has also written a book ‘Have a Baby and Look Better than Ever’, and is currently working on a cookery book as an accompaniment to ‘My Greek Kitchen.’ On the subject of writing, she admits, “I enjoy it but I find it hard. I’m a natural talker, but I’m not a writer”. With so many cookery books in the shops now, she knows she will have to work hard to make hers extra special, and it is for this reason it is taking her so long. “I don’t want it to be just a picture of the recipe, and the recipe beside it. I want to put some emotion in, you know, what the recipes mean to me, when it was cooked in the culture. Make it be filled with stories as well, and that’s why it’s taking me so long. I’d rather not do it than not do it properly”. Such is often the enigma about sitting down to write. “I’ve had some offers from people to ghost write and do this and that, but it just feels like cheating. I have to do it”. One of the things that Buxton feels she always must stress, is that non of her accomplishments would have been possible without her husband Paul, “It was only through his encouragement that I was able to do ‘My Greek Kitchen’”. It is obvious that above all else, Buxton values her family and her culture, and this is perhaps the driving force that will allow the many future additions to her career. She animatedly discusses plans for a brand new venture. She talks of wanting to open a restaurant similar to the Italian and French restaurants that constantly thrum with diners. “Greek food is far more

refined and far more exciting than Italian food. But unfortunately, the Greeks that have come over here and opened up restaurants haven’t evolved their food in the way that the Italians have. The Greeks have still got their Grandmothers cooking in the kitchen, and it’s all about quantity, sometimes quality goes out of the window a little bit, and aesthetically they haven’t moved on. So that’s a project I’m thinking of doing”. Buxton is inspiringly confident with her achievements, and comes across as a breath of fresh air. Her ethos is simple and refined, linking her personal life with her career. “Food and family are the same thing to me”. She is one of the few who has got that balance right.

Jennifer Thompson has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Born in the North, she is currently living in London and pursuing a career in literature.

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‘I long to capture the very feeling or embodiment of anticipation in my photos’

Reminiscence and the Shot
Article by Lisha Aquino Rooney

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I remember waiting with wild excitement to taste my dad’s mango sauce on Portobello mushrooms, to take the first bite of a homemade four-tier chocolate cake that I was told I didn’t have to share, an elaborate Thai food picnic on a lover’s bed before a crosscountry flight, unwrapping tamales on Christmas eve, my husband’s midnight barbecues, oysters and Sancerre followed by one of the best cigarettes of my life in Paris, the thick orange grease that stayed on my fingers after eating chilli cheese fries at a burger joint in Los Angeles, and the chicken and ginger porridge a friend came over to make for me when I was ill. In striving for my food-related photography to serve as a slice of a narrative or a distinct emotion in a thread of sentiments or memories, I have become acutely aware of my appreciation for the act of anticipation and how the anticipation of being in the presence of someone I love, tasting a new ingredient or concoction, smelling the cologne or perfume of diners in close proximity to my table, hearing the sound of a bottle being uncorked or a utensil falling on a hard floor, seeing the colour of papaya flesh, or feeling sifted flour with my hands or the steam from a dish on my face plays a powerful role in the formation of my memories. Interested in the role of anticipation in the construction of memories, I unveiled research regarding how the mere expectation of something can set in motion two memory-forming regions of the brain – the amygdala and the hippocampus – prior to something even occurring. Thus, in medico babble, the act of anticipating how a certain food or meal will engage the senses may play an unexpectedly significant role in the memory of a food-related experience. Scientists believe the amygdala is related to the formation of emotional memories,

while the hippocampus assists the brain in forming long-term recollections. I recall reading a related article by worldrenowned chef Heston Blumenthal about Alzheimer sufferers who begin to eat foods they previously disdained. While the brain creates a memory connection for every sensory experience, when the communication between brain cells deteriorates, an unpleasant set of associations with certain foods is forgotten, and rather than opposition to any genuine taste of the food itself, it is evident that one’s like or dislike of certain foods is attached to memory. Parallel to my unwavering desire to engage all senses while anticipating or eating food in an attempt to – likely subconsciously – add hues, aromas, consistencies, rustles and even silence to my sensory repertoire, as well as to lubricate an experience, I long to capture the very feeling or embodiment of anticipation in my photos. Because anticipation is an emotion as opposed to a fact or object, there is a certain expectation of the viewer of the photograph. Although for years it was suggested that the main purpose of photography was to illustrate reality – a documentation of what one saw and was compelled to record – I ask the viewer to consider a narrative, whether it be his or her account or my own. In this consideration, my hope is that a recollection and/or comprehension of anticipation surfaces. In viewing my own photographs, there are often two simultaneous memories at play: the memory of anticipation that was the impetus for the photograph and the memory of the moment the photograph was taken. My impression of the combination of these two memories – the first of which is ignited by sight, the


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strongest sense for short-term memory, and the second of which inexorably taps items from long-term memory – adds a significant component to the narrative or emotional yield. Thus, contrary to what Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag have contended – that the photograph serves the process of forgetting – I believe that photographs supplement memory and influence a memory’s substance. With my photography in general, I am interested in ephemeral, fragile scenarios whose after-effects are ever-present. Delicate states often intimate heightened moments, and I aim to depict the anticipation, confrontation, reclamation, or ongoing rejection of such moments. As an expressionist ode to the human condition, my photography tends to be investigative in its approach. In addressing such themes as memory, Eros, death, relationships, childhood and psychoanalysis, I attempt to create a realm which offers viewers a sincere glimpse into their own psychological condition and to question why they are interpreting the work as they are. By creating variable emotional perspectives, I intend for my photography to be an inquiry into that curious territory of understanding oneself and with direct regard to my food-related photography, to be au fait with food’s role in the creation of pleasant and unpleasant memories and the effect these memories have on future food-related experiences. In the process of photographing, I have realized the significance of psychological engagement with the subject of the work: it is impossible for me to disappear from my photographs altogether. Why would I try to deny the materialization of the memory of waiting to taste Char Siu Bao (pork buns) with my grandma in Chinatown in Los Angeles while looking through the window of a Chinatown

bakery in London? How could I reject the emotion represented by a coffee ring left over from an invaluable conversation when I see similar coffee remnants? Because it is of utmost importance to me that the form fit the substance, I try to hone in on the particular feeling that was the inspiration for the work, and with food-related photographs, it tends to be pure anticipation, as well as the memory of anticipation. Although very disciplined, I leave room for the organic, for the exhilaration, grit or stench that surfaces. It would be antithetical – not to mention highly unfortunate – to become abstracted to the point of being devoid of emotion during the process of creating photographs. When we eat, we never eat with just our mouths. When I photograph, I never photograph with just my eyes, but also with memories, including memories of anticipation.

Lisha Aquino Rooney is an American artist living in London. She received her MA Fine Art degree from Central Saint Martins in 2006, was twice bestowed the Photo of the Week award by The Saatchi Gallery and received an honourable mention for Lisha Aquino Rooney the 2007 Berenice Abbot Prize for an Emerging Photographer.

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Perfect Eye: Lisha Aquino Rooney

Lisha Aquino Rooney


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Lisha Aquino Rooney


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Lisha Aquino Rooney is an American artist living in London. She received her MA Fine Art degree from Central Saint Martins in 2006, was twice bestowed the Photo of the Week award by The Saatchi Gallery and received an honourable mention for the 2007 Berenice Abbot Prize for an Emerging Photographer.


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Anthony Capella: All in the Senses

Interview by Emily Unia

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I go to meet Anthony Cappella at his Oxfordshire home on a glorious September afternoon, arriving puffed out after a a rickety bicycle ride. As I skid across the gravel, a dog barks, a door opens and in front of me is the man himself. He is not as I imagined. Not Italian, or even half Italian, but, as he himself puts it, ‘a middle-aged, middleclass Englishman - ‘my publisher’s biography slightly exaggerates my Italian credentials.’ He ushers me in and excitedly offers me coffee from his new machine. It grinds the beans and makes delicious espresso at the click of a button; he claims it’s a research tool - his next book is about coffee. As this issue of Incorporating Writing focuses on food, I suppose I had better declare my vested interest at the start. I have an alter ego. Her name is ‘Cake.’ I leave you to draw your own conclusions, but make no mistake, I am serious about food. I talk, think, read, dream, cook, consume and wistfully remember great meals. When I first read The Food of Love I was captivated by the intoxicating effect that its descriptions of Italian food, appropriate for all seasons and occasions, had upon my senses. Sales of the book rocketed after it was picked for the Richard and Judy’s 2005 Summer Read. ‘We had an order from Tesco that was as big as all the other orders put together. It made a huge difference.’ Cappella bought a swimming pool with the proceeds. The Food of Love tells the story of Laura, an American art history student who falls in love with Rome, its food and the wrong man. It is, as Cappella puts it, ‘Cyrano with chefs,’ a superbly told reworking of the ‘wooing by proxy’ format of Cyrano de Bergerac. Yet what stands out is the role that food plays. In place of fine words, Cappella puts traditional Roman cuisine ‘the kind of food people remember their mother and their grandmother cooking for

them; the stuff you remember from your childhood, simple, homely, timeless recipes.’ Capella’s passion for good food clearly influences his writing. ‘I eat far too much, I am a foodie, definitely, but I hate poncy food and Michelin snobbery. What I want is the simple, old-fashioned stuff.’ His interest stretches far beyond ingredients and recipes and he sees food as the perfect vehicle for exploring the senses. ‘I think food is very interesting to write about, partly because you’re in the realm of fairytale. If you say, “Emily and Tony sat down at the table,” that’s one thing. But if you say, ‘Emily and Tony sat down at the table and in between them was a warm, white, freshly baked loaf, then suddenly, you’re in a fairy tale, you’re in the magic porridge pot, you’re in gingerbread houses, … It becomes a story about the senses, about love and temptation and providing for people.’ He mentions Joanne Harris’ writing as one of the few examples of modern fiction about food, admitting that he set his work in Italy, rather than Cyrano’s France (‘too poncy’), because, ‘the setting is a licence to be more sensual.’ One of Capella’s other key sources for The Food of Love is the cookery writer, Marcella Hazan. ‘I remember reading her book and thinking, this is just fantastic , she just writes so beautifully and with enormous magisterial authority on the right way to serve a salad…when you write about that stuff, you find yourself writing about tradition and love of your place of birth and that fierce conflict between tradition and progress.’ While the conflict in The Food of Love is mainly a foodie battleground, Capella’s second novel, The Wedding Officer, is about real conflict, set in Naples during the Second World War and partly inspired by the experiences of Norman Lewis in Naples ‘44. It is much darker than his first novel,


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‘It’s still about the senses, but more sensual, less comic’

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but Capella is clearly glad it took a different direction. ‘When you’ve written two books, you’ve sort of made a deal with your audience, that whatever’s common between books one and two, that’s what they expect from book three, so, if book two had been another retelling of a classic plot then my thing would have been retelling classic plots, but what I wanted to keep was food and Italy. So I did.’ Capella’s next book won’t be about Italy and it won’t be about food, but coffee. ‘It’s still about the senses, but more sensual, less comic. It’s set in Victorian times, in London. It’s about a Victorian dandy who ends up being sent to start a coffee plantation in Abyssinia because he needs to make money to marry the coffee merchant’s daughter.’ It’s called, The Various Flavours of Coffee and it’s due out next June. The film rights to both of Capella’s novels have already been sold, but there’s been no activity on them for a while. ‘The Food of Love actually started life as a screenplay, but I was advised to set it in San Franciso due to language issues. It didn’t work so after a few years languishing in a drawer, I went back to it and began writing the novel instead, then, bizarrely, even before I finished it, I sold it as a movie!’ There’s no sign of either film going into production at the moment, but Capella is philosophical about the industry, ‘it’s all about who’s free and who’s not free, in my experience, only one in a thousand movies ever get made.’ If the films ever see the light of day, fans will be pleased to hear that while Capella has handed the screenplay of The Food of Love to another writer, he will be writing the script for The Wedding Officer himself. Although Capella says he always wanted to write, his ambition never stretched to

great heights. ‘I’ve got no aspiration to write the next great literary novel, a turgid and worthy masterpiece. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying no to awards or prizes, but I always wanted to create, ‘comfort’ novels,’ (he hates the word ‘feelgood’). ‘Novels that you can re-read when you’re in bed with the flu, like Brother of the More Famous Jack, by Barbara Trapido. If I could achieve that status, I’d die a happy man.’ If that’s really what Capella aspires to, then I can assure him, (aside from my own indulgent habit of re-reading his novels) he need only read his own website message board to realise he has already far exceeded that ambition.

Emily Unia lives in Oxford and works for ITVnews. A self-declared foodie her chocolate brownie recipe has been known to make people go weak at the knees.


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Article by Tom Spurling

The Fast Way

‘So if we are what we eat, then what are we when we don’t eat?’

In Franz Kafka’s harrowingly hilarious story, ‘A Hunger Artist’, a young man performs the ultimate act of self-denial. In a cage, in front of a paying public, he flat out refuses to eat. The mood of the passing crowd shifts between boredom, awe and disgust. But the artist himself achieves rare moments of clarity. The joke is on you, the hunger artist thinks (just before he dies), because to me, fasting ‘is the easiest thing in the world’. Eating is a violent pastime. Buddha said it and Buddha meant it, and the Man-God had an appetite. We ingest the life force of whatever we consume, and its worries become our own. That’s partly why cannibals are so crazy—get a bad man and it might just repeat itself. But this is not a story about vegetarianism. Plants too grow happy til the second they’re plucked for our plates. And let’s not even get into, though we like to, the additives, preservatives and sedatives of the modern diet.

So if we are what we eat, then what are we when we don’t eat? Where does our energy come from when we have no food in our bellies? What do we think about when we stop thinking about our hunger? Virginia Woolf insisted that she couldn’t do a thing until she’d dined like a queen. But for many writers the delights of gastronomy leave us too glazed over for words, more interested in the netherworlds of booze, sex and sleep. Yogic philosophy suggests that this is due to our energy shifting to the crude lower chakras, or energy centres, away from the highest crown chakra that serves as our link with universal thought. Sooner or later, argued Tolstoy, one must take The First Step. If the sages are anywhere near right, then shouldn’t writers be trying to seek out this universal thought? Could the stereotype of the starving artist really be in our best interests? Should writers be

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choosing not to eat? Clearly, the answer is yes and no. Starvation is an avoidable tragedy. In Paul Auster’s ‘Moon Palace’, Marco Fogg endures a prolonged period of noneating. Not surprisingly, Auster himself once experienced accidental fasting while living in rural France with his girlfriend. When the last remaining food in the house—an onion pie—was tragically burnt, Auster was inconsolable. “It sounds like a funny story now,” the novelist recalled, “but at the time it was anything but funny.” Choosing to forego meals is not just about solidarity with suffering. For a writer, it can be a means to a better understanding human nature. For a human, it can be damn fine for your health. Animals stop eating when they’re wounded, sick, love-struck or depressed. When this happens, we consciously shift our energy from the digestive system to the immune system. We heal ourselves through denial. Fasting has a long artistic and spiritual tradition. Perhaps the two are intertwined in the intestines of the soul. The early Christians regularly abstained from eating, as a hats-off to Jesus in the desert. Jews also fast regularly, most notably on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when their names are inscribed in the book of life. The Feast of Ramadan energises even the most jaded traveller, the Russian Orthodox Church reserves 180 days for fasting, and Hindus have slotted the fortnightly ekadashi fast into a colourful calendar of excess. Meanwhile the Jains, who enjoy one of the finest diets in the world, eat only during daylight. Somerset Maugham’s ‘Razor’s Edge’ is partly a tale of a man in control of his physical self. Larry devours books, and

eats only one small meal a day. He lives on a few francs in downtown Paris, and sleeps a few hours a night. He writes selectively (no modern day freelancer!) and truthfully; mostly biographical essays about obscure historical figures that lived with great principle. The narrator, presumably Maugham, describes young Larry’s writings as compelling and wise, and without the indulgence or confusion of the inexperienced writer. When Larry travels to India and finds something like enlightenment, it’s enough to make your stomach turn. ** I fast twice a month, for twenty-four hours a pop, from sunrise to sunrise, by the Hindu calendar. The moon’s gravitational pull draws the liquid from my body, or so they tell me. No food or drink can pass my lips so I sneak up before sunrise to scoff a banana. I hydrate heavily the night before. Throughout the course of the day, a number of things happen. First, I get a thick film of gunk on my tongue—toxic residue from the modern man’s diet. I feel pangs of patrimony then contempt for my fellow man, as I hum Tantric chants in the shower. By mid-morning I’m struggling to concentrate. By lunchtime I’m cranky, and the mind games start soon after. I consider breaking the fast then loathe myself. I get headaches. I don’t want to read and I certainly don’t want to write. Then something else happens, and it’s always unexpected. Somehow, I don’t seem to care anymore. Around late afternoon my priorities have changed. After two weeks of sitting cross-legged and howling at my mischievous monkey mind, this way that way, I find myself firmly—finally—in the present. Time slows down. The idea that I even want to write


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seems absurd. My worries subside and I forget my physical woes. Meditation is tough but intense. I develop feelings of empathy, compassion and intuition. Then comes the surge of energy. Time has slowed down, but I’m on the up, like someone’s pressed turbo on the chakra up my ass. In bed at night, I stare at the ceiling and can’t sleep for the joy. Come morning I’m ping-eyed awake, early, to sip lemon juice and water. In the words of XTC, I’ve got ‘one, two, three, four, five…senses working o-ver-time’. Better yet, perhaps, the fridge has never looked so full.

Thomas Spurling is a freelance writer from Melbourne, Australia. He is the co-editor of ‘View From Station Peak: Writings on Geelong’ (November 2007) the first in a series of regional anthologies of Australian writing. His writing appears regularly in Pine Magazine ( and in Lonely Planet. He is currently working on a book about Tantra...

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Drive Thru Distraction
Column by Christine Brandel

I am a secret devotee of “women’s magazines.” Despite not caring about the majority of what is inside them, I can’t seem to stop buying them. I have never used liquid eyeliner or a cellulite treatment nor have I ever chosen an outfit that can easily adapt from sophisticated businesswoman to girls’ night out apparel with the addition a few carefully chosen accessories. But I read about the women who do. I also don’t go on diets and I’ve yet to see an edition of a woman’s magazine without an article on diets. And I am always greeted by numerous adverts for diet pills, plans and gizmos as I close the magazine, wondering why yet again I’ve wasted my hard earned money looking at shiny pages of empty people. Perhaps it is some sick ego boost, just a quick reminder that I’m not like the women in the pictures—not a slave to fashion, not trying to trap a man and not overcoming my issues with food.

I suppose the whole concept of “issues with food” was first brought to light when the self-help movement emerged in the eighties. People wanted to take control of their lives so they read books to define their problems and then followed step-bystep guides to cure them. However often it just began a cycle of blame and people who initially wanted control began to give it up: I am a victim of food, love, drink, etc. Common issues women in particular seem to have with food revolve around things they can’t control elsewhere in their lives. When they can’t get comfort from a loved one, they will cuddle up with a chocolate bar. When they can’t achieve the perfection of a supermodel, they refuse to eat anything at all. Food then becomes power. Food isn’t power to me. Food is something I put in my mouth when I’m hungry. I’ll occasionally eat it out of boredom or curiosity but mostly it’s to satisfy my basic need. I like food that tastes good. That’s about it for me and food. Well, except for one thing...Five years ago I relocated from Midwest


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America to the East Midlands of England. Despite Europe’s belief that Americans are addicted to McDonalds and America’s belief that the British boil their food until it’s grey and bland, I’ve managed to merge my taste buds so that I am pretty happy with the way I eat here. I’m always up for fish and chips or a Cornish pasty, and my mother regularly sends me care packages of American candy so I feel I’m living the best of both worlds. However there is one food that I can’t get here and on occasion the desire for it has driven me to distraction. It’s Taco Bell. Taco Bell is a North American fast food restaurant chain, which serves cheap and not-tooauthentic Mexican food. They serve hard and soft tacos and burritos but also such delicacies as gorditas and chalupas. Plus you can often upgrade your meals to a supreme or even a bellgrande—how cool is that? Before moving to England it was a staple in my diet, and I sometimes feel that it is the thing I miss most about America. For my first birthday in England my husband set out to investigate the Taco Bell situation. In the end the best he could do was write a letter requesting that the company open a chain here. Very sweet of him, but ultimately unsatisfying. Although Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut are all part of the same franchise, Taco Bell is the only one who, despite encouraging its customers to cross “the border,” hasn’t been willing to cross the ocean. On expat message boards in the UK, you’ll see the occasional spotting of a British Taco Bell, but I’m afraid that they, like Big Foot and Nessie, are the things of myth. Taco Bell food is tasty, there’s no doubt about that. But when I find myself longing so desperately for the ability to be handed a bag o’ beans and cheese through a drive thru window, I wonder if perhaps the food means something else to me. I’m not sure it’s power or control, like some

anorexics or bulimics describe their view of food. Could it be, dare I say it, could it be that Taco Bell represents freedom to me? Before I came to England, I felt younger, I had a relatively easy job and was not burdened by financial or family responsibilities. I would zip through those Taco Bell drive thru’s with a tip of my baseball hat and John Mellencamp blaring through my car stereo. Almost any time of day I could make a run for the border (most Taco Bells are open until 2am and the one in Bowling Green, Ohio, where I used to live, was once of the first in the country to open at 6am for breakfast). Gathering up the loose change in my sofa would give me enough to at least get a burrito and a bottomless cup of soda. Ahh, the days. Now I live in England where, despite Tony Blair’s best laid plans, my choices are a bit more limited. I live in England where the stores which advertise themselves as open 24 hours a day, close at 10pm on Saturday night. I can’t seem to find an affordable automatic used car that also has power steering so most often I ride the bus. There’s no way you could get a bus through a drive-thru, even if the other passengers didn’t mind taking a detour. So in the end, maybe I do have a bit of an issue with food. Maybe it does mean more to me than just the stuff I shove in my mouth. If only I could find a women’s magazine advertising an all-Taco Bell diet for. Then I think I’d be in paradise. Paradise Bellgrande. Christine Brandel is a British American now, really, so please don’t make fun of her accent. She teaches in an inner city secondary school and wastes her time by playing Mah Jongg


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‘I find myself longing so desperately for the ability to be handed a bag o’ beans and cheese through a drive thru window’

Steinbeck’s Travelogue of War

Article by Claire Boot Photographs by Andrew Oldham


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Marvellous Medicine: Eating with Roald Dahl

Article by Claire Boot

When you think of food and literature, various seminal moments come to mind. Oliver Twist boldly asking for another bowl of gruel; Alice bravely experimenting with the shape-shifting qualities of refreshments in Wonderland; Edmund seduced by the White Witch’s Turkish Delight in the wintry wastes of Narnia. Food, especially the fantastic kind, is a staple feature of books for children – and when it comes to making a meal out of children’s literature, there’s none that can touch Roald Dahl. Dahl was born in Cardiff to Norwegian parents in the middle of World War I and began writing long before Harry Potter’s parents were in nappies. Famous for his children’s books and adult short stories,

Dahl also wrote the screenplays for two Ian Fleming novels – the fifth Bond film You Only Live Twice and the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He never lost his knack for taking the ordinary and spinning it into something extraordinary, whether sumptuous or macabre; when playing with food in his children’s books, Dahl runs the gamut from especially delicious to particularly disgusting. And because he is as creative with words as he is with food, Dahl serves up a veritable literary feast for his young readers. Food forms the context for three of Dahl’s best-loved works. In James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, his technique seems to have been ‘think of your favourite food, and

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then imagine masses of it’. Imagine a soft, sweet, lightly furry, juicy peach – and then imagine it growing bigger and bigger, out of all proportion, becoming more peach than you could ever hope to eat. Or think of a bowl of rich melted chocolate, that doubles and trebles and quadruples in quantity until it flows like a vast river complete with cascading waterfall. Fancy a dip? Yes please. For both James and Charlie, food is the framework of their adventures, but it’s also the catalyst for their release from some dire situation. The house-sized peach first flattens James’ repulsive relatives, Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge, on its way to the Atlantic. Finally it makes a deep impression on the Big Apple, impaling itself upon the point of the Empire State Building and using the iconic skyscraper like a giant cocktail stick. James and his giant insect companions are treated to a ticker tape parade, and the previously isolated and neglected James is never lonely again. Charlie is cherished by his family, but he faces a life of grinding poverty and near starvation. Miraculously finding the final golden ticket to win a tour of Willy Wonka’s confectionery power plant, he survives the thrills and spills that the trip entails to become Mr Wonka’s adopted heir, “to whom I can tell all my most precious sweet-making secrets”. Food is also a means of escape in George’s Marvellous Medicine. It may not be strictly food, but who hasn’t wanted to rifle through every cupboard in the house and mix it into one glorious concoction? Gleefully flying in the face of every piece of packaging that’s ever proclaimed a parental warning, George pours in everything he can lay his hands on, from scarlet nail varnish to half a pint of engine oil. It’s the third incarnation of the medicine that George’s horrid grandmother greedily grabs that causes her to shrink and shrink until she

thankfully disappears.

‘Even when it’s not the central theme, Dahl can rarely resist using food to drive the plot or create dramatic set pieces’
We know George’s grandmother is horrid because her delicacies of choice include “Worms and slugs and beetley bugs”. In the world of Roald Dahl, you are what you eat and a character’s eating habits are a sure-fire giveaway of hero or villain. The foul male half of The Twits likes to keep leftovers in his beard to nibble between meals, the more stale and rancid the better. Mr Twit is also partial to freshlybaked Bird Pie, made with birds sneakily ensnared on a booby-trapped tree smeared with glue. In Matilda, the boorish parents of the eponymous young genius eat their stewed and boiled TV dinners off their laps in front of a soap opera. In sharp contrast, Matilda’s teacher Miss Honey – sweet in name and nature – serves up a thoroughly civilised tea of toast and butter and strawberry jam around the kitchen table. And back in the Chocolate Factory, Charlie’s unpleasant fellow ticket-winners meet appropriately sticky ends. Unable to check their greedy appetites, Augustus Gloop narrowly escapes becoming a piece of chocolate-covered fudge and Violet Beauregarde is transformed into a human blueberry. Even when it’s not the central theme, Dahl can rarely resist using food to drive the plot or create dramatic set pieces. The Witches sees The Grand High Witch Of All The World devise a plan to exterminate every child in England. And the means of this malicious mission? Food, in the form of sweets and


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chocolates laced with “Formula 86 Delayed Action Mouse-Maker”. But our heroic narrator – himself made a mouse by the witches’ brew – turns the tables and pours the stuff into their soup, giving rise to a wonderful scene of ostensibly respectable ladies turning into mice in a Bournemouth hotel dining room. ‘You

kitchen. You can cook up a Green Pea Soup to finish off all the witches in England, or make your own Marvellous Medicine, or bake a bird-friendly Bird Pie. Roald Dahl made the edible, incredible; with this recipe book you can make the incredible, edible. All this talk of food is making me hungry. I’m off for a snozzcumber sandwich.

can cook up a Green Pea Soup to finish off all the witches in England, or make your own Marvellous Medicine, or bake a bird-friendly Bird Pie’
Matilda may extol the virtues of reading rather than eating, but there’s still room for a food-focussed episode. Bruce Bogtrotter stole a piece of the fearsome Miss Trunchbull’s precious chocolate cake and so, as punishment, he is forced to eat a whopping great big chocolate cake in front of the whole school. Miss Trunchbull is sure the boy will fail; yet Bruce digs deep and steadily consumes the entire thing. An outraged Trunchbull snatches up the plate and smashes it over his head, but: “The boy was by now so full of cake he was like a sackful of wet cement and you couldn’t have hurt him with a sledge-hammer. He simply shook his head a few times and went on grinning.” Thanks to a book published four years after Dahl’s death in 1990, you too can be like Bruce Bogtrotter. Life – or, more specifically, food – imitates art through Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes, helping you create Dahl’s weird and wonderful foodstuffs in the comfort of your own

Claire Boot writes prose, poetry and plays, recently while commuting and during her lunch hour. She also enjoys speed-reading her favourite childhood books, while ignoring the strange looks from other commuters.

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Call for Writers and Artists- Incorporating Writing have announced their themes for 2008. Guidelines can be obtained from the editors listed below or from Andrew Oldham (Managing Editor/Columns) Sarah Hesketh (Deputy Editor SE/Interviews) Fiona Ferguson (Deputy Editor Midlands/ Articles) G.P. Kennedy (Deputy Editor NW/Reviews) Article, Letters and Art calls for: January-March 2008 Incorporating Writing Issue 5 Vol 1: POPULAR CULTURE Deadlines for contributions 1st December 2007 Publication Wednesday 3rd January 2008 Issue breakdown: Incorporating Writing Issue 5 Vol 1: POPULAR CULTURE This issue will explore popular culture in literature. April-June 2008 Incorporating Writing Issue 5 Vol 2: SEX SELLS Deadlines for contributions 1st March 2008 Publication Wednesday 2nd April 2008 This issue will explore how sex has been used in literature to boost popularity and sales, from the Oz trials to celebrity culture books. July-September 2008 Incorporating Writing Issue 5 Vol 3: PULP Deadlines for contributions 1st June Publication Wednesday 2nd July 2008 This issue will explore literature deemed as pulp from SF, Fantasy, Romance, Poetry and the snobbery of Literary over Pulp. This can also be a good excuse for us to look at films made into books and vice versa. October-December 2008 Incorporating Writing Issue 5 Vol 4: BIOGRAPHY Deadlines for contributions 1st September Publication Wednesday 1st October 2008 This issue will explore the rise in non-fiction biographies and our continued love with private lives. Entries are being accepted for the Muslim

Industry News and Opportunities
Writers Awards 2008. The awards were originally conceived to showcase and highlight new literary talent from the Muslim community in Birmingham, but this year they are going national. The organisers said the project is to assist and nurture emerging writers and get them published. “We are looking at the writers’ creative talent - not their religious beliefs”. However, a rule states that while entrants must be unpublished writers; all entrants must be Muslim and work must be submitted in the English language. Categories for the 2008 Awards are: Non Fiction; Short Story; Novel Award; Poetry Award Under 16s; Best Children’s Story; Best New Writer of the Year; Best Published Writer to be nominated by publishers. Closing date December 28, 2007. For detail, see the website Muslim%20Writers%20%20Conditions%20of%20Entry% Applicants for The Eric Gregory Trust Fund Awards 2008 must be British by birth. To be more exact, they may not be a national of “Eire or any of the British Dominions or Colonies”, according to the rules, and they must be aged less than 30 years. The annual awards scheme exists for the encouragement of young poets. A total of £24,000 is available for disbursement. Candidates may submit a published or unpublished volume of poetry (up to 30 poems). Work submitted may be poetry, dramapoems or belles-lettres. Poems should be submitted on numbered sheets of A4 paper with a contents page that states the author’s name. For detail and entry form, see:


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GREGORY_entryform_08.pdf Closing date October 31, 2007 The Way Ahead: the future of creative writing in education, The Hawkhills, York, 1618 November 2007 with special guests: Michael Morpurgo and Kate Atkinson For this residential conference, held near York, we are bringing together key figures from within the field to look at the future development of writing in a variety of contexts including schools, university and the community. This represents an important opportunity for writers and other colleagues to engage in a discussion on how their work will be positioned and supported over the coming years. The full programme and booking information is now available online at or in printed form from the NAWE office. All enquiries to Gill Greaves Cadaverine Magazine ”The Cadaverine is a new Arts Council funded magazine based in Leeds. We believe the UK is blessed with a talented generation of youngwriters. Yet, talented as they are, much of their work is left unseenand unattainable. We believe this region benefits from an active,young and eager readership. Our purpose is to unite these isolated groups - to bring together a new readership with emerging authors. This month we have exclusive interviews with Raw Shark Text author Steven Hall, poet, Ian McMillan, novelist, Ray French and New Ventures Winner, Nicholas Hogg. As well as new fiction and poetry from our regions most exciting writers. The Cadaverine is making links with writing magazines, the ArtsCouncil, Universities and the digital community. We want to develop creative partnerships; to bring young writing to a wider audience. We believe literature is news that stays news. We believe our writers are its authors.”

It’s Open To You Following our recent success in the Yorkshire region, we’re extending our submission criteria to those under 25 living in the UK. For further submission details visit our site at Richard & Judy’s Best Kids Books Ever Authors of children’s books selected for the latest Richard & Judy TV show initiative will be hoping for a rise in sales similar to that achieved by Joseph O’Connor’s book Star of the Sea when it rose by 360 per cent after being featured on the programme and its film rights sold. The inaugural children’s books list includes some 19 titles in four categories. The winners will be announced at the Richard & Judy’s Best Kids Books Ever show which is to be broadcast on October 28, at 8pm on Channel 4. Teams of young people will help the show with a final selection of eight books. The show will create children’s book clubs across the UK to make the final selections. The list includes: Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman & Ben Cort - Simon & Schuster Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, illustrations by Guy Parker-Rees - Orchard Books A Very Fishy Battle by Jeremy Strong - Puffin Someone Bigger by Jonathan Emmett, illustrations by Adrian Reynolds - Oxford University Press Poppy and Max and the Fashion Show by Sally Grindley, illust. Lisa Gardiner - Orchard Books Spy Dogs by Andrew Cope - Puffin You’re a Bad Man Mr Gum! by Andy Stanton Egmont Books The World According To Humphrey by Betty G. Birney - Faber & Faber The Girl with the Broken Wing by Heather Dyer illustrations by Peter Bailey - Chicken

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House Septimus Heap Book One: Magyk by Angie Sage - Bloomsbury Sundae Girl by Cathy Cassidy - Puffin H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education by Mark Walden - Bloomsbury The Killer Underpants by Michael Lawrence Orchard House Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy Harper Collins Children’s books Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams - Chicken House Girl, Missing by Sophie McKenzie - Simon & Schuster The Recruit by Robert Muchamore - Hodder Children’s Books Finding Violet Park by Jenny Valentine Harper Collins Children’s books Lucas by Kevin Brooks - Chicken House. For details, see: microsites/R/richardandjudy/index.html New Poetry from Peepal Tree Press. http:// single_book_display.asp?isbn=1-84523-0434&au_id=154 Raymond Ramcharitar’s American Fall. Raymond Ramcharitar’s sophisticated and formally ambitious poems have Trinidad as their centre but are global in scope. This is reflected both in their subject matter and their form. The regular movement between the Caribbean, Europe and North America that several of the poems chart is seen both as a contemporary reality, and as no more than a continuation of history’s patterns: of, for instance, Indo-Trinidadians who are the ‘scions of waylaid Brahmins and pariahs’. This particular migration is placed in the context of a wider world of human movement and ‘new theologies springing from old

longings’. In form, too, the poems refuse to be confined by any limiting sense of the contemporary and the Caribbean. Use of the archetypes of classical mythology, traditional verse patterns (such as the villanelle) and the careful, confident use of rhythm and rhyme are the most evident outward features of Ramcharitar’s concern with form. There are homages to Derek Walcott and Wallace Stevens, but the closer one’s acquaintance with the poems, the more evident that Ramcharitar’s post-modern voice is a thoroughly individual one, with a capacity for writing verse narratives that are condensed but reverberate like the best short stories, dramatic monologues that skilfully create other voices, and lyric poems that get inside the less obvious byways of emotion. ISBN: 1-84523-043-4 Price: £7.99 Pages: 72 Literature Training Guides app=&isa=Category&id=2191&op=show&iid=2191 The first two titles in literaturetraining’s new series of professional development guides for writers and literature professionals are available to view now: Professional Development Planning. A guide to supporting the professional development planning of writers and literature professionals by Jude Page Mentoring. A guide for creative writers by Sara Maitland and Martin Goodman. Both publications are available as free downloads from or you can buy print copies. To view the Page: Professional Development, browse to: app=&isa=Category&id=2191&op=show&iid=2191

All news for this section is compiled by Incwriters. Send your info to: Further news can be found in their forum at:


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Yorkshire tack

Article by Bruce Barnes

‘I would smuggle a truckle of Wensleydale cheese onto my Desert Island, and declare Yorkshire curd tart as my one essential item’

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The Yorkshireman’s motto to ‘eyt all, sup all, and pay nowt’, doesn’t do him justice. He can be generous to a fault and have discerning tastes; where else, for instance, could there be such passionate arguments about the preparation of a staple food, Yorkshire pudding. For some it’s the haphazard approach, no measuring but plentiful hope, others have a plan of campaign, making the batter up just after breakfast, (note the careful timing), leaving the batter to stand outdoors with a plate on top, the more attentive Tyke waiting half an hour for the flour to absorb the ‘liquid’, until small bubbles begin to form. And it’s never simply a liquid: there’s full fat milk, skimmed, milk and water, or the Scott of the Antarctic variation, a handful of snow. We’ll leave aside the argument for beating the liquid hard or ‘middlin’, with fork, whisk, or wooden spoon. Whichever way one chooses to make it, the oven firing, like raku, will be beautiful and unpredictable: perhaps flat and crispy with a toasted sheen glowing above the dark of the baking tray, or tummy hugging and slightly wet in the middle, but worst luck is the tablet of stone. Pudding is versatile: a sweet with sugar, a starter with gravy or a bit of trickery to make the stomach think that a meat course is inessential. To be fair, the Yorkshire man doesn’t skimp on his meat; at one time the pubs in Leeds, supplied free brigg-shot, not an early bird cocktail, but cold roast beef. Bradford, in the 1840’s, had its hawkers in pubs selling hot pies and sheep trotters. Drunk or sober, who would not salivate at the sight of tender young Swaledale lambs, or the porkers in their muddy housing estate, south of Northallerton, beside the East Coast mainline?. The Dales and Wolds provided a steady supply of fresh meat, more so to the literati. Laurence Sterne wrote from Shandy Hall:

“ I sit down alone to venison, fish and wild-fowl, or a couple of fowls or ducks with curds, and strawberries and cream”. A servant cooked for the young Brontë sisters dinners of roast or boiled meat followed by milk pudding; the bill of fare declining once they were in boarding school. Charlotte’s retrospective on school dinners in Jane Eyre, ‘I perceived I had got in hand a nauseous mess: burnt porridge is almost as bad as rotten potatoes’, suggests that she was missing the meat course. Taste is a persistent sense: W.H. Auden, towards the end of his life, commented on childhood food, ‘Who but an Englishman…can know the delights of stone cold leathery toast for breakfast, or the wonders of “ Dead Man’s Leg”’ –a.k.a suet pudding, but to Wakefield folk that’s ‘Queer Times Pudding’-if only…. Sometimes bodily functions such as eating find no place in writing. J.B Priestley in his autobiography, ‘Margin Release’, describes his regular visit to the Lyons café in Market Street, Bradford; “ the solid customers munched away on ground level; we golden lads…made straight for the upper level, where we were capable of monopolizing a couple of tables for hours while spending sixpence a head.” No mention of what his sixpence bought, but perhaps six filling havercakes and a cup of coffee. Havercake is the dodo of Yorkshire cuisine, a sort of oatmeal pancake that had been the staple food of the Dales and Bradford folk for nearly 1,000 years until the last West Riding bakery ceased at the end of the Second World War. Surely one of the delights for the writer is Yorkshire’s food names. You can travel from one end of the County to the other and hear a Babel concerning the mid morning snack; lowance, drinkins, sandwich, ten-o-clock, mining on, bite, or jock. And get your chops around fat


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rascals, moggy, frumenty, oven bottoms, sad cake and swimmers. The latter, pork pie served with mushy peas, is a West Riding delicacy served at cafes in and around Leeds and Bradford Market, although this Cockney is loath to give the region credit for it. I do mourn the end of Petches’ of Great Ayton, North Yorkshire; my mother tells me she was travelling on a train somewhere, idly having her lunch, when a fellow passenger who had been staring hard at the pie she was eating, said “You are from Great Ayton, aren’t you?” You could spot a Petches’, with the juice oozing from its secret recipe pie crust, anywhere. Moggy and frumenty attest to the heritage of Yorkshire cuisine. Moggy may be derived from the Old Norse, Mugi, a heap of corn, and in the right hands, becomes like a breadpudding pummeled by a Viking horde, judging by the W.I recipe. I have tried frumenty, and should your Christmas pall, try simmering kibbled wheat for twelve hours, adding spice, currants, sugar, cream, and rum; if you still have guests, feed it to them quickly, before its super glue qualities damage the saucepan. Convenience food, fish and chips, arrived in Bradford in the 1860s thanks to Granny Duce and her chain of chippies; everyone will have a favourite, be it the plush of Harry Ramsdens, the sea salt tang of Whitby’s, or that place around the corner. Over-fishing or Gothic horror may have inspired Bill Broady’s short story ‘Coddock’, but I do like to see what I’m eating….I like to watch as the chips fizz in the fryer, check that they are ducked rather than drowned, and sniff in the direction of the wet fish for the sea. Curry houses and sweet centres are a feature of Bradford too, Bill Bryson choosing one, as his abiding memory of the place. The growth in curry tourism is a tribute to the adaptability of Yorkshire cuisine, but yet more promotion is needed.

Oldroyds, growers in the rhubarb triangle, who advertise that ‘ Yorkshire leads the WORLD in forced rhubarb production’, are one step nearer to world domination with their EEC campaign to secure ‘Yorkshire forced rhubarb’ as a trademark. ( But who else would want it?). Promoting Yorkshire cuisine should include giving it a proper shop window with a chain of restaurants, a social peg down from Betty’s, serving traditional fare made from fresh locally grown produce; they would fill the hungry gap left by those housewives who used to throw open their homes on market day. A Bradford restaurant briefly toyed with Yorkshire nouvelle cuisine: Dales lamb cutlets lost in an acreage of white plate with a molehill for a mountain of fresh vegetables. I would smuggle a truckle of Wensleydale cheese onto my Desert Island, and declare Yorkshire curd tart as my one essential item. But not because it’s from Yorkshire, that perfectly balanced sweet & sour taste of nutmeg spiced curd inside a short crust pastry, derives from an identical recipe for Holloway, (North London), cheese cake. The symbolism is delicious …I would be leaving behind a trail of cake crumbs wherever I went.
Credit to the following ‘cook-books’; Food in England, Dorothy Hartley, McDonald & Co, 1973. Old Recipes of Yorkshire, Ann C Johnson, Age Concern Knaresborough 1999 Not Just Yorkshire Pudding, Dulcie Lewis, Countryside Books 2006 Yorkshire W.I Recipe Book, Yorkshire Federation of Women’s Institutes, (no date or ISBN)

Bruce Barnes is a Bradford based poet whose latest collection is Somewhere Else (Utistugu Press). Winner of the Ilkley Literature Festival Poetry prize, recipient of ACE writers award and is the Poetry Society’s Stanza representative for Leeds/ Bradford, and a member of Beehive Poets/Bradford Poetry Workshop.  

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