Thursday, 3 June 2021

New Release: Writing Out of Earshot by Ian D. Hall


Author:
Ian D. Hall
Language: English
Published: 3rd June, 2021
Paperback ISBN: 978 1 78645 490 4
eBook ISBN: 978 1 78645 491 1
ASIN: B095HYFT6S
Length: 19,000 words (approx.)
Category/Genre: Poetry, Literary Fiction
Link: http://beatentrackpublishing.com/writingoutofearshot
Where to buy:
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Beaten Track (paperback)
Amazon (paperback/ebook)
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Blurb

“Never talk in front of Dylan Thomas,” they said as they consumed their pints and spoke of their woes and tribulations, and of the weird relative coming to stay awhile, “for the Welsh Bard will somehow weave his mercurial magic for others to consume, just as he consumes life with heart, spirit and desire flowing through him.”

I have very little in common with Dylan Thomas, except for a once fondness for whisky, a love of poetry—of which he is one of the masters of the twentieth century, alongside Allen Ginsberg, W.H. Auden, Maya Angelou, Adrienne Rich and Liverpool’s very own Roger McGough—and that we both at one time performed our work in New York.

It is, however, to Dylan Thomas that Writing Out of Earshot is dedicated, along with Ginsberg. The book of poetry you hold in your hand is a response to my long-lasting adoration of these two men.

Writing Out of Earshot is also a confirmation that writing, for me at least, encompasses several aspects of life, of struggling with illness and the feeling of being invisible in a crowd, when people will say anything in front of you because they cannot see you. The life of a poet is not all drinks at The White Horse Hotel surrounded by hundreds of people; it is one that captures a moment when you are hidden away in your room, remembering, recalling certain words and worlds and transforming them as you give birth to the next poem.

“Do not go gentle into that good night,” for the moon outside your window is full, and the passing months have yet to tell their story.

Ian D. Hall, 2021

Editor's Review

It's release day for Writing Out of Earshot - another excellent anthology of poetry and prose from Ian D. Hall, and this is my favourite, mostly for the collection of poems personifying the months. I'm not always in agreement with the poet when it comes to the characteristics of each, but it's a lot of fun reading them through his eyes, and that's very much how it goes in real life. Our perceptions of others differ, but that doesn't mean any of us are wrong, although I must say it was much easier to like February on paper than in reality. It's my second least-favourite month (after January), yet I feel a little sorry for it, what with having to fight for its days and all.

Flippant mini-spoilers aside, there's a more serious note to this collection, which is apparent in its title but becomes more poignant as the poems progress. I hope Ian won't mind me sharing this small excerpt from the title poem, as he says it so much better:

It came perhaps late in life,
the urge to shut the door
quietly,
not with drama,
not
out of spite,
but for my own peace of mind,
to keep the noise down to a minimum
and keep
writing out of earshot.
To express time in notes,
pence and the bond of suffering
as you shake your head
from side to side, an out of time
metronome
click
click
click
clic
king as a tongue biting down
desperate to fill the space
and ask, “What do I do?” behind
closed doors…

Writing is a solitary pursuit. Often our only interface with the world at large is the printed page, and it often does feel like we're bleating into the ether, or 'out of earshot'.

For sure, Ian D. Hall won't be out of earshot this time around, as there's also a collection of songs and spoken word recordings inspired by his work, entitled Listening Out of Earshot, being released within the next few weeks, for which I can take no credit, as it's been recorded and produced by Andrew Hesford, Mark Sebastian D'Lacey and Tony Higginson. Proceeds from sales go to Whitechapel Centre, Liverpool, UK.

Monday, 24 May 2021

New Release - Road to Juneau by Liam Quane

Author: Liam Quane
Language: English
Published: 18th May, 2021
Hardcover: 978-1-78645-473-7
Paperback: 978-1-78645-452-2
eBook: 978-1-78645-453-9
ASIN: B08V51WV9M
Length: 111,000 words (approx.)
Category: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Blurb

New York: two years after the Third World War.

Humanity is rebuilding its cities brick by brick; the damage done to the people, however, is a lot harder to repair. Dan Hardacre is one of those people. An aspiring stage actor and experienced draft-dodger, Dan struggles to find his place within the Utopic rebuild of New York City. When he’s not caught up with the duties of work, Dan lives a quiet life in mourning for his mother, Dyani, who went missing when he was a teenager.

One night, Dan experiences a vivid, terrifying nightmare that puts him right on the front lines of the war for which he dodged the draft; it ends with him facing Death itself in the form of a metallic, faceless humanoid creature that calls itself the Valkyrie. To investigate the reason behind his haunting experience, Dan seeks out a meeting with his estranged father, who reveals the startling truth about Dan’s dream: it wasn’t a dream.

With this newfound knowledge and the powers it brings, Dan makes it his mission to return to the scene of his nightmare. However, he soon comes to know that confronting the Valkyrie not only endangers him but the war-withstanding world he leaves behind.

Editor's Review

I have so much I want to say about this novel, but most of it would be spoilers. This is an incredible debut from Liam Quane - an author who has brought his scriptwriting and directing talents to the printed page, and his worlds translate very well into this format. It's helpful that the setting for much of Road to Juneau is a near-future/alternate post-apocalyptic New York City, so the reader has a frame of reference, albeit one slightly removed from the NYC we know. In that regard, the author does some light-touch world-building to set the scene, which in first-person present tense feels like Dan Hardacre - the main-character-sort-of-hero - is giving us a guided tour of his hometown, along with a brief history lesson.

So the scene is set. Now, I'm not a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, and it's important I make it clear that this isn't really post-apocalyptic in terms of themes, merely setting. The story, at its heart (for me) is about unchecked power and (ir)responsibility. Thus, to some extent, Road to Juneau is allegorical - a critical perspective on current affairs as much as the fictional future, and aside from the 'nature' of the central characters, it is a future that's potentially only a step or two from where we are now.

For all of that, the novel isn't hard-hitting political commentary, although there is plenty of politics in it. There's also lots of subtle diversity, wry humour, fantastic adventures on Earth and elsewhere, and a few tear-jerking moments. In short, it's a darned good read - one which I wouldn't usually select as a 'pleasure read' based on genre, but the cover...wow, the cover! That would definitely have captured my interest, so I'd have ended up reading the book even if I hadn't had the privilege of publishing it.

Road to Juneau is an intelligent, entertaining, beautifully written novel for young and not-so-young adults and is available in hardcover, paperback and ebook formats. 

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