Hello!

egl
The poet in his natural habitat

Hello!

I’m Ed Garvey-Long and I write poetry.

My debut pamphlet, “The Living Museum” is now out with Selcouth Station Press, you can buy them here or email me directly for signed copies: edward.longma@gmail.com

livingmuseum

Get in contact if you wish:

@eddus

edward.longma@gmail.com

 

 

 

REVIEW: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson

So You've Been Publicly ShamedSo You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really interesting. Read this as a way to stay off twitter as much as possible. Ultimately the cases of public shaming Ronson gets into are very interesting and ones I remember from when they occurred. The link between twitter and the idea of a dark ages mob justice is interesting and adds weight to the book. Interesting bits about Prisons (both real and in psychological experiments).

The powerlessness in our day to day lives and the despicable politics of our current time make us feel the need to take control and deliver ‘justice’ for someone at least, so people’s lives are destroyed for tweeting unfunny things which can be read as being explicitly racist (when they truly didn’t intend this). It’s made me really aware of how quickly we pass judgement on people without appreciating the nuances of their situations.

One thing about the book that frustrated a little was the sheer volume of stories which were told. Within paragraphs some people were shamed online (or, in one of the most affecting stories, in court) and then their lives spiralled out of control, then, tragically they often committed suicide. All within a paragraph. We were often not given enough time to process all this before another shorter story occurred.

Sadly there is a lot of suicide and violence reported in the book, linking self harm and violence in general to feelings of shame. Please beware if this is triggering content for you.

There’s a real lack of empathy to a lot of online interaction and this book has really made me rethink how we should act online. We need to strive to me as warm and forgiving as possible, to be part of the internet’s calm ‘suburb’ instead of its chaotic violent centre.

Worth a read !

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Poem: The Taxidermist

The Taxidermist

The squirrel had been in the freezer for weeks,
wrapped up tightly in Tesco bags
wedged between the frozen fish and quorn.
His evening was just beginning,
giving me a quick kiss whilst putting on his rubber gloves.
The bathroom was soon heavy with blood and borax.
He used a scalpel and nail scissors to slip out the organs
and to tease muscle from bone, scrape down skin.
He always had to finish it in one night
before the body started to rot.

I sat in the living room
reading Agnes Grey aloud
into the high ceilings of our flat.

At midnight, this time, he called me in to show me:

The squirrel’s skin unpicked,
draped, a deflated balloon on the side of the bath.
Its claws still poised and sharp.
One of our dinner plates smeared,
a mess of organs and blood.

 

 

This poem appeared in the Autumn 2018 edition of Eye Flash Poetry 

REVIEW: The Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp

The Naked Civil ServantThe Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my second reading of this book, first reading for was a few years ago. I came back to it because I have been craving more queer voices and I have a great love for the early to mid twentieth century queers whose struggles we all need to remember are close to being our own but for a few decades.

The book is beautiful for its directness and its voice. It’s an almost chatty spoken narrative that vaguely moves in chronological order from the 1930s through the Second World War to the sixties and seventies.

It’s clear that Crisp had an incredible gift for the quip and for the non sequitur. The book is full of very quotable standout lines and often uses his experiences to delves into discussions of issues like homophobia in the streets, equal rights for LGBTQ people, the idea of the great dark man, a masculine archetype that he desires to find. Crisp’s opinions though interesting are sometimes a little old fashioned for us now in this age.

There are a few other characters in the book who act more as foils for Crisp’s own anecdotes, this does not bother too much, as we know we are here for Quentin Crisp and no one else, but I have a lingering sense of unease, especially about his friend known only as The Czech who struggled with serious mental health issues and was institutionalised. At one point Crisp bemoans having to visit him “six times a year”. Crisp isn’t the most sympathetic of people. At the close of the book he strangely dreams of a world where the government enforces mandatory euthanasia for those over sixty years old… he then moves on to discuss his plans to murder a policeman. One wonders whether the editors and lawyers at the publishers had given up at this point and just let him write anything he wanted.

This book is important as a testimony. It has faults and quirks, Crisp himself holds some opinions which are at best taboo these days. But I am glad we have this record from this time in history of the struggle and eventual happiness (?) of a flamboyant homosexual living in London in the middle of the twentieth century.

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REVIEW: The Fish Can Sing – Halldór Laxness

The Fish Can SingThe Fish Can Sing by Halldór Kiljan Laxness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautiful and complex book. It takes in themes of nationhood, the role of parents and grand parents, heroes and the complexities attached to being a creative person.

The book works in a funny, meandering way where we learn a lot about the people of Iceland in the form of stories told by our protagonist, all the while we get to know our protagonist slowly across the span of the novel.

Álfgrímur the protagonist feels like a stand in for the novelist himself (and for this reader) someone who has a creative spark which he doesn’t quite know how to harness or whether he should or can harness it at all. He builds up a complex relationship with Garðor Holm, a world famous singer from humble beginnings in Reykjavik. Garðor becomes a mentor of sorts as well as a bad example. His worldwide fame is not as pure as he lets on. When he visits Iceland he continually misses concerts and events in his honour. You are left wondering whether he can sing at all, whether instead the whole thing is a ruse. In the book he only sings a handful of times. A heartbreaking exchange nearer the end of the book nearly had me in tears on the train, all about how much Garðor had to struggle to become the artist he was.

I loved the world of this book, it had the completeness of an fantasy world. The narrative voice had shades of magical realist novels like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, but everything in the book was plausible and grounded within a reality, nothing quite stepped into that other world of magic.

Like all great novels it leaves you with unanswered questions. We wonder off and on for the whole book who the protagonist’s birth parents are, but in the end this doesn’t matter. The relationship Álfgrímur has with his adopted grandparents is a beautiful and the location of Brekkukot in the novel is very important and evocative, a sort of tavern where travellers come and go, some stay forever, some go there to die.

There was a lot about what it was like to be Icelandic before they gained full independence from Denmark in 1944. This sense of the ruling class being Danish and their use of language to distinguish themselves as the civilised people compared to the Icelanders was fascinating, and a story sadly recognisable in many other nations in the world.

A beautiful introduction to Icelandic culture, the humour of the people and the struggles of living in that world, as well as the trials of being someone who could escape.

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Poem: Vogue

Vogue

Whitney Houston, Eartha Kitt
Gladys Knight and Bessie Smith.
Ellen, Björk, and Britney Jean
on the cover of a magazine.
George Eliot, Austen, Jane
Intellectuals, eternal fame.
Nicki Raps, Madonna’s grand
Beyonce and Babs Streisand
They have style, they have grace
Nichelle Nichols explored space.
Michelle Obama, Malala too,
Hillary Clinton, we love you !
Ladies with an attitude
Women that are in the mood
Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it
Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it

 

 

A recording of me reading this poem is available here

This poem was published in PERVERSE here 

 

REVIEW: Call Me By Your Name – Andre Aciman

Call Me By Your NameCall Me By Your Name by André Aciman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A universal and beautifully real novel which runs along so easily and wonderfully. Narrated by Elio, the younger of the two, you feel his fears, the thrill of his growing obsession with Oliver and, at moments, his fantasies made real. The novel has a few differences to the film (which is similarly glorious) in location and in time frame. The book has a larger scope in terms of the history of the relationship and, having seen the film, it’s lovely to read the book and to continue the story beyond what happens in the film.

A deeply affecting book which I read very quickly and intensely. I felt like it brought me closure on my own past, I was a similarly intense romantic boy once and it was incredibly emotional to see such a real portrayal of love like this.

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REVIEW: Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

Northanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Austen. Her wit and wry humour is something I have enjoyed immensely for a number of years. Knowing her other novels well, this one does have a slightly different atmosphere and tone at moments. For the first half of the book, it feels very much like a standard Austen, a witty comedy of social rules. Bath, Balls, and making calls.

This time our a heroine is idealistic and young and loves novels, something which was considered “women’s reading” at the time. Men were supposed to only read non-fiction! Austen names various novelists of the time who are now considered pioneers of the Gothic movement. Gothic novels are all blood, family secrets, old decaying mansions, murder and thunderstorms. When Catherine finally makes it to Northanger Abbey over halfway through the book, Austen uses the tropes of the Gothic as a prism in which to examine the heroine’s idealism and naivety. Catherine’s expectations of the Abbey are prejudiced by her love of the Gothic, as well as Henry’s flights of fancy describing the Abbey on the journey there. During her stay there, Catherine is consistently disappointed by the Abbey. It is too clean and modern. She becomes obsessed with living her own Gothic fantasies, which we as readers find increasingly irrational and absurd.

I imagine this book is used extensively on Gothic fiction modules at Universities, because in satirising the tropes of the Gothic, Austen perfectly describes them. Storms! Old Manuscripts! Ruins! Family Secrets!

There was one moment that really stood out when our heroine accuses a character of either murder, domestic violence and/or imprisonment of someone in a locked up wing of the Abbey. This excess of Gothic imagination on the heroine’s part was a step too far for me in terms of keeping the character likeable. But I do suppose this served well to remind us of the character’s youth (17!) and idealism.

This strong sense of a viewpoint and satire of the Gothic movement in this novel is unusual for Austen. Her work usually focuses more on the impossibility of human interaction, manners, social rules, and character studies. I enjoyed every aspect of this novel, but felt the especially Gothic sections were like reading a different book, which if it were meant earnestly instead of ironically, would not be as successful. Thankfully Austen always serves us with double helpings of sarcasm, irony and wit, so we know we’re not to take certain moments seriously.

There are some really wonderful moments in this novel where you feel Austen right there with you, she will announce herself as the narrator and remind you that you are the reader. She doesn’t do it often, but when she does it feels incredibly modern. You feel close to her as a person.

Loved it with all my Gothic heart!

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