Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Where to find me in May

In the actual
I'll be taking part in a great event at Waterstones Piccadilly, London, on 16 May. It's four for the price of one: four of the Waterstones 11 all reading from our books, talking, answering questions, all that interacting with people stuff. The lineup is myself, Patrick Flanery ("Absolution"), Anna Raverat ("Signs of Life") and Rachel Joyce ("The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry"). That's also three Desmond Elliott prize longlistees in one place, for anyone keeping score. We will be "talking about their inspirations and their journeys from unpublished writer to literary success!", according to the listing. Tickets £5/£3, start time 6.30pm, more details 020 7851 2400.

In print - nonfiction
"The Towers of the Dead" is my contribution to Icon #108 (June 2012). It's a long interview with British Designer Thomas Heatherwick on what is perhaps his most ambitious and unusual project yet: an immense aviary enclosing the Parsi "towers of silence" in Mumbai. Central to the Parsi faith is the practice of "sky burial", in which the dead are left at the top of stone towers to be consumed by vultures. But modernity is threatening the practice, and with it the survival of a religion that is more ancient than Christianity. Not the usual brief for an architect, and Heatherwick's proposed response is far from the usual work of architecture, so please do be sure to pick up Icon while it's out. The rest of the issue, themed "Sacred Spaces" is great, too: Sam Jacob on Apple Stores, Edwin Heathcote on why architects love to design churches, Riya Patel on new ritual objects for a secular age, Owen Hatherley on Pyongyang, and much else.

Be sure to pick up Volume #31, "Guilty Landscapes" - it's an edition of the architecture magazine co-produced with the Unknown Fields Division, and thus includes contributions from a load of UFD collaborators, including me. My contribution is a long essay, "Zones of Anxiety", mostly about the Baikonur Cosmodrome as surreal militarised environment. I haven't seen any of the other features but from the contents page it looks like an amazing lineup: Kate Davies and Liam Young (of course), lots of other Unknown Fielders, Volume stalwarts Brendan Cormier and Arjen Oosterman, photographers like Chris Jordan, John Gollings, Edward Burtynsky and Bas Princen, filmmaker Michael Madsen (who knows where the bodies are buried), poet Mario Petrucci (of "Heavy Water: A Film for Chernobyl" fame) and just tonnes more.

If anyone's asking themselves "whatever happened to Toxic Tourism?", this Volume essay is a sizeable appetiser.

I'm also in New Humanist #127, May/June 2012, reviewing Peter Stamm's new novel "Seven Years" (Granta). Here is a link to the review.

Edited to add: I mentioned this in a previous round-up but I was jumping the gun a bit as it only recently came out - "Pocket Utopias", an essay of mine about the design of insane asylums in the 19th century and their influence on the rise of the suburb, is in Architectural Review Asia Pacific #124. It's a big and beautiful redesign issue, so well worth picking up while it's available. (There's a digital edition if you can't find a copy.)

In print - fiction
That's right, new fiction. Two short stories, although British readers might find them slightly out of the way.

I'm in "Man-Made Lands" a special "chapbook" accompanying the Spring/Summer 2012 edition of Ninth Letter, the literary magazine produced by the graduate creative writing programme and school of art & design at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Edited by Scott Geiger, "Man-Made Lands" intersects literature and architectural space. Looking at future literatures that could be generated from real places, I imagine "Selections From The Foyles Cache", a book composed of all the fragments of emails, network updates and (of course) unpublished novels produced on laptops in the coffee shop at Foyles on Charing Cross Road.

And another. The third edition of Swedish fashion culture magazine Vestoj is themed "Fashion and Shame", and includes a short story by me called "Mirror" - a brief riff on paparazzi practices and the head-coverings used by defendants on their way into court hearings.

That's all for this month.

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