Quitting the real


Bookslut interview Chloe Aridjis.

Certainly an inspiration for the first novel was a book of Joseph Roth’s brilliant essays on Berlin, written in the 1920s and the deepening shadows of the early ’30s; although he was writing about what he observed around him, they of course reveal a great deal of the author himself. The same could be said of Robert Walser’s and Walter Benjamin’s Berlin. The more infused a city’s portrait is with the author’s own spirit, the better.

Making Something of It


By Alan Cunningham.

When I read The Green Fool by Patrick Kavanagh, I read a book that – had I also been born in 1904 – I think I, too, could have written, exactly as it is; a book, however, that if I were to write it now would be a somewhat different book, being much more concise.

I believe in the possibility of exact replication because many of the thoughts expressed by Kavanagh in his autobiographical work – a very good book, by the way, but also a very flawed one – reflect attitudes and modes of behaviour that have changed little in Ireland in the intervening years, irrespective of external changes. I, and others, are evidence of this, as are events that have happened to me in that country.

Dada serious


Brian Dillon on Hannah Höch, ‘art’s original punk.’

Cut With the Kitchen Knife is Höch’s best-known work, though it’s something of an anomaly – not least in its scale – and it does not appear in the Whitechapel Gallery‘s new exhibition. Höch claimed she had hit on the technique of photomontage while on a Baltic holiday with the married Hausmann in 1918; having come across mocked-up photos sent home by German soldiers, in which the young men’s heads were superimposed on pictures of musketeers, they realised the power of cut-and-paste to “alienate” images. This origin tale is slightly misleading, however, because since 1916 Höch had been working for the Berlin publisher Ullstein, producing embroidery and lace designs for such periodicals as Die Dame and Die Praktische Berlinerin. She was probably already familiar with the kinds of collage that an expanding print media practised with photographs. Höch worked on these handicraft magazines for a decade, and even wrote a manifesto of sorts for modern embroidery, in which she enjoined Weimar-era women to “develop a feeling for abstract forms”.

Introducing: John Holten


Editors’ note: As we head towards publication, we thought we would introduce our contributors.

John Holten is an Irish writer and artist based in Berlin, and runs the ‘fictional’ publishing house Broken Dimanche Press, an avant-garde press that takes its queue from Yves Klein‘s one-day newspaper, Dimanche-Le Journal d’un Seul Jour. John is the author of The Readymades, a novel that documents a fictional network of Serbian artists known as the LGB group (“in defiance of the 21st century’s obsession with the virtual, LGB strives to produce an art of the everyday — having experienced the everyday in its murderous aspect”). We’re pleased to run an extract from Oslo, Norway, a roman fleuve on “love and the creation of fictions.”