New chapbook by Marc Lowe – A Tour of Beaujardin (or, The Derelicts).
“Written as the informative narrative of your own personal city guide, A Tour of Beaujardin is one of the most intriguing and satisfying novellae I’ve read for some time…”
Read the rest of Terry Grimwood’s review here: http://exaggeratedpress.weebly.com/reviews-2.html
Read a review of ‘A Tour of Beaujardin (Or, The Derelicts) by Kate Onyett at The Future Fire…
‘The short, statement style is common to Lowe’s writing. A review of other forums for his work present short stories and longer works cut into smaller bite-sized sections. Perhaps this is a comment on the intensity of a moment making a lasting impression rather than an elongated experience. Or perhaps this is homage to the cut-away edit that, once adopted by early cinema in the 1920s, revolutionised how stories were told and paved the way for the concise style of the ‘classic’ cinematic style. That is, the beginning of shortened attention spans as input becomes shorter, faster, and more immediate. The immediacy of Lowe’s writing is one that smacks right into the cerebrum: a filmic trick that comes from the hurried pacing of the story, the hurry of the guide and the creeping uneasiness, finally ending in a blaze of guns that would not be out of place in an apocalypse film or last-stand dramatics.’
Read an excerpt of A Tour of Beaujardin below:
The city of Beaujardin is as dark as it is dangerous. Even in the daytime, the daunting height of the corporate buildings, along with their obliqueness – constructed as they are on a slant, so that they lean inward on this side of town – manages to block out every last trace of that tired ol’ sun which occasionally shines through the swathe of clouds perpetually painting the sky a dreary gray. Although Beaujardin isn’t the smallest city on earth, its narrow streets and frequent dead ends lend one a feeling of living in a sort of maze, a claustrophobic catacomb from which escape is only possible with a detailed map (though good luck procuring one!) and the fortitude to conceptualize one’s exit route. This is why, despite its bleakness, most of the city’s inhabitants remain all of their lives. In fact, few ever consider leaving as an option. It is only those who have stumbled upon the knowledge of what lies beyond the walls and slanted buildings of their inbred prison – having been born into a wealthy family of liberal intellects, or having once found themselves in the wrong place at the “right” time – that try to get out. From what I’ve been told, very few make it.
Let us now take a stroll through the city, shall we? We start here in Right-Town, at the Rue Kaspian, named after the sea, because it is prone to flooding during the springtime rainy season, and also in the winter, after a heavy snowfall. As we walk down this most narrow of streets, we see, floating in rivers of filthy brown water, broken bottles, empty tin cans smelling of fish scraps, rats scurrying to munch on bits of moldy crusts of pizza or bread, and, in the dark, dead-end alleyways branching off from the main road, an occasional homeless person sleeping, singing drunkenly, or engaging in animal acts with other, homeless humans (vagrants come in three stripes here: male, female, and impossible-to-tell). When finally we emerge at a main road, the Rue Holografic #3, we can breathe a bit again, for the air here isn’t quite so staid as it was in the Rue Kaspian, though neither is it exactly clean. Cars, trucks, buses, and motorbikes whiz by at incredible speeds – we are reminded of the Autobahn in Germany, though this thoroughfare is much narrower than the former, and, despite the speed at which they tend to travel, most vehicles drive bumper to bumper. Accidents here are not just an everyday occurrence; they happen approximately every 10-15 minutes. It is for this reason that ambulance sirens constantly wail, and that the screeching of tires and the screaming of voices can be heard around the clock by those living anywhere near a crossing such as this.
We wait for the light to turn aqua-blue and then cross, looking both ways as we run, for the light will only remain this color for an instant. The streets and narrow sidewalks around us – painted a rich shade of purple to distinguish them from the completely black tarmac – appear deserted at this hour (15:03): those who are not moving from one point to another in a vehicle (or in an ambulance, having had an accident) are inside one of the many tall, slanted buildings we now see surrounding the main road. Working hours in this city are strictly set for all denizens from ages 16 and up (7:00-20:00), and they are upheld with an iron-fisted authority. Only on occasion does one see a young person try to break the rules and thereby suffer the terrible consequences. (The branding marks never fade, they say. I’ve met a few survivors who still have them and can duly confirm this matter-of-fact fact to be the absolute truth.) Having crossed the road without losing any limbs or toes, we now hang a left and then an immediate right, which brings us straight into the Rue Mort, a cheery little dimly-lit street which is known for its awesome variety of cemetery supplies shops, embalmers, and gothic/industrial music clubs. There are also some excellent restaurants here. My favorite is that one over there, to your immediate right. Try the molasses-encrusted scallops with red lettuce.
The tour continues now with the Rue Stercus, named in part for its brown-painted streetlamps, signposts, and buildings. Here the sounds and smells of flatulent living can be experienced 24/7, for those with digestive disorders are made to dwell – and to work – in this part of the city under penalty of law (folks who dissent are sent to camps without proper facilities). It is only those whose nasal cavities have been eroded by time, misuse, or disease that can stand hanging around this place for very long. As I do not belong to that most rarified of species, and as you, presumably, do not either, I bid thee follow me, quickly, into the Rue Sac…
The Rue Sac is one of the darkest streets in the city, where the ears serve as the eyes, for the echoing sounds of inhalation and exhalation can be heard as though one were inside of a giant “sac” of lungs. One can even feel the ground move like elastic with the exertion. Mothers tell their children to clench their jaws as though chewing cud in order to allow the pressure that builds up in the ears to discharge, for gum is strictly prohibited in the city. (There’s an eye-opening anecdote about this I’d like to share, if I may. One middle-aged man, whose name I never learned, was caught by an authority spitting a piece of gum into a trashcan designated for paper products while I happened to be watching. He disappeared with the authorities into a back alley and did not emerge again. I forgot about the incident afterward. . . .But then, two weeks later, I learned from a neighbor that the man who was caught spitting chewing gum into a trash bin on the same street as I had been that day was found wrapped up like a mummy in blue bubble gum in the Rue Kaspian, lying in a puddle of filthy water and covered with patches of toilet paper!) At any rate, it is interesting to try and pick out one’s own breathing amidst the breathing of the street and of others who are around at any given time. It is also said that one must be careful that a stranger, cloaked in the darkness of this place, does not steal one’s breath, as many people drop dead of depletion of oxygen to the brain in the Rue Sac. So, beware!
A Tour of Beaujardin (or, The Derelicts) by Marc Lowe, 2010, ISMs Press,72pages, £3.00/$4.50 (not inc. postage).
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Download “Sui Generis” and other Fictions by Marc Lowe
This collection of 23 stories written when the author was living in Japan is a consumable portion of Lowe’s writing pie. With a pastry crust of obsessive machinations and a meaty filling of surreality, this is a dish you’ll be wanting more of.
There are certain authors that spring to mind when reading Lowe. Bataille, Robbe-Grillet, Philip K Dick and Italo Calvino, perhaps a little Vonnegut Jr… But these names are simply a small number of the ingredients that make up the pie. Lowe’s style is all and none of these.
A lot of thought has gone into these stories, which may be considered formulae, wrapped around a narrative darkly. Lowe isn’t just unravelling a good yarn for our entertainment. He’s playing cat’s cradle with the entrails. Many of his stories are segmented into time, place, film take, camera shot. He takes one world or scene or character and duplicates it. He takes a code and sets out to break it. He takes a formula and twists it around until he’s created something new. His subjects include voyeurism, murder, sex, parasites, sweat, semen and severed limbs. His world may not be for all tastes but to the rest of you I say only this: Bon Appetit!
“Having read most of these fictions over the last several years in the various publications where they first appeared, online and in print, I can truly state these fictions bear up to re-reading. They are full of ideas and questions, clues and insinuations, vivid images, “jagged edges” and carefully constructed but unsolvable mazes. While they contain elements of noir and detective fiction, as a whole this collection conveys a distinctive quality all its own.”
Read the rest of Louise Norlie’s review here
Review by Nathan Lea at The Future Fire
Review by Lynn Alexander at Full of Crow
Review by Christopher Frost at Neon Magazine
Review by Spencer Dew at decomP Magazine
Review by V Ulea at Paraphilia Magazine
Read an interview with Marc Lowe at Cousins Reading Series