Thursday, December 14, 2006

Someone Else's Publication

Userlands: New Fiction Writers from the Blogging Underground
Edited by Dennis Cooper

This was an unexpected delight. It seems like years ago (in reality only a few months) that Dennis Cooper invited regular contributors to his blog to submit a piece of fiction for an anthology to be published by Akashic Books - one of the few US publishers prepared to experiment and take risks with unconventional fiction). It was, of course, fantastic to be included and even more exciting when my two contributor's copies landed on my desk this morning. I'm really most excited by the thought of being able to read the other people's contributions - people I have seen around DC's blog for an age, some of whom I've got to know a little, some of whom I've only seen posting there. I think the actually release date is sometime early next year - which is why it was such a suprise today to get my copies.

Userlands Web Page

Introduction to Userlands

Akashic books

Dennis Cooper's Blog

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

FOUR New Publications

It has sometimes felt a little like wading upstream through a river of treacle whilst balancing a bee's nest on my head but I have finally managed to finished a group of projects which had all been nearing completion but needed one final push to get them to this stage. The four new books are shown below with their respective publicity 'blurbs'. Obviously, the most ambitious and most original of my publications remains the Raven Series of monographs about Frederick Rolfe Baron Corvo. This is the second in the series and I think marks another triumph of detailed and inspired research by Robert Scoble.

Of the other three I think each has something to recommend it. St Petersburg Boys has a very sophisticated and simple look to it which I am rather proud of. The Poetry of the Rose is the first time I have worked with an illustrator and the first time that I have printed directly from a block onto the cover of a book. Three Boys' Authors is a very intriguing document I think, which gives a real insight into three rather different personalities and, I believe, a rare thing to have an personality 'interview' in a form approaching what we know as interviews today, at this date.

There are, of course, many other projects on the go at various stages. My hope is, in the near future that I will be able to make a final push on two projects which have become WAY overdue. One is a book of poems by Alex of
Porcelain Skull fame. The other is a couple of poems by Roden Noel - of whom more another time - however, I was inspired by a recent meeting with a grand-magus of printers to think a lot more carefully about the layout of pages and the selection of materials and I hope to be able to produce both of these two as 'flagship' publications, as it were, which reflect in some way just a very little of what I have learned from him.

Of course, in the unlikely event that readers of this blog should want to purchase any of these then my
website is always open for business or you can email me directly using the link to the right of this page.

Raven Two: Alfred James Rolfe: The Real Sebastian Archer
by Robert Scoble

Following the outstanding success of The Quest for Cockerton, the first in the Raven Series of original essays on the life and work of Frederick Rolfe, 'Baron Corvo', I am now pleased to announce the publication of the second in the series.

The protagonist of Rolfe's novel of Venice, The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole, is a struggling writer named Nicholas Crabbe,whose tribulations mirror those suffered by Rolfe himself in that sparkling city. Crabbe is eventually saved from his troubles by an unexpectedly generous offer from his publishers for a novel he has been writing, entitled Sebastian Archer. The Corvine scholar Robert Scoble has tracked down the real person upon whom the hero of Sebastian Archer was based - Frederick Rolfe's younger brother, Alfred. In a life full of incident, Alfred spent his childhood at a prestigious London school, emigrated at an early age, met with misfortune in the Australian outback, but ultimately carved out a successful career nurtured by a happy marriage.

The Raven Series has been planned as a set of scholarly essays which will add substantially to our knowledge of the life and work of Frederick Rolfe. Each essay will be published in a strictly limited edition, and there is little doubt that complete sets will be sought after by collectors in the years to come.

Of a full edition of 70 the first twelve are case bound in dark green paper-covered boards with gilt titles, signed by the author, and include photographs of Alfred and the places and people associated with him. Numbers 13-70 form the ordinary state of the edition and are sewn into blue card covers with a paper label and glassine covers and contain fewer illustrations.

St Petersburg Boys
by Rev Edwin Emmanuel Bradford

This booklet contains two stories about boys by the Edwardian Anglican priest and Uranian poet, E. E. Bradford. Both stories are set in St Petersburg where Bradford served for a time as an assistant priest.

'Boris Orloff' is a tender tale of romantic affection between three schoolboys. And 'The Fete at Peterhof' is a short moral tale for boys about the dangers of selfishness. To my knowledge, this is the first publication of the latter since its original publication in 1906.

It should be noted that, the first publication by callum James Books was an edition of 'Boris Orloff' in 2005. Technical issues prevented the completion of this edition and only a few were ever produced. This is therefore a new edition with the added story.

Includes a brief checklist of Bradford's books as well as a short biographical note.
20pp. sewn into card covers. Protected in glassine wrappers. Edition limited to 50 numbered copies.

Three Boys' Authors
George Manville Fenn, G. A. Henty & H. Rider Haggard

This booklet contains contemporary interviews with three authors who, between them, produced the most popular boys' fiction of their age and made a huge impact on the young men of an entire century.

Orginally published in a Boys' Magazine at the end of the nineteenth century, it is extremely unusual to find interviews of this sort at this time, the cult of celebrity as we know it now being only in its infancy. Each author is asked about their life, their books and writing methods and about their contact with their readership and letters they have received from boys who have read their work. A fascinating and probably unique insight into the lives of these authors.

22pp. sewn into card covers. Protected in glassine wrappers. Edition limited to 50 numbered copies.

The Poetry of the Rose
by Forrest Reid

Reid was respected not just for his fiction but also for his literary criticism. This short piece was written for the lay person and offers a brief sketch of the place of the rose in poetry. Not reprinted since its original publication in 1929.

10pp. sewn into card covers with hand printed design on the front. Cover and interior illustrations by S. Martin. Protected in glassine wrappers. Edition limited to 50 numbered copies.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Door Knockers of Rabat

I know, it's a strange thing to take photos of on holiday but I thought they were sufficiently quirky. I recently went to Malta for a long weekend - I know Malta quite well, a previous boyfriend (many years ago now) was half Maltese and we travelled there a number of times. But that was more than a decade ago now. This time, a different travelling companion (not R) and a different feel to the trip.

Rabat (simply the Arabic word for 'city') is the ancient Capital of Malta, the former seat of the Maltese ruling classes before the arrival on the islands of the Knights of St John. Now it is rather romantically known as 'the silent city' and, ironically for a place with very few inhabitants, it's major architectural feature is its door knockers - a sample here for your delication...

R's Five Pound Challenge Update

Those of you with reasonable memories will recall that I set my partner a challenge in September to see if he could turn £5 into £500 using Ebay. On his first attempt (see this blog: 21st September) he managed to raise his £5 to £7.35. This time, after a trip to an antiques and collectables fair in Fareham he found three items totalling £7 - a high risk strategy because if one of them fails to sell then he will be down and if they all fail to sell he's going to have to start from 35p!! Still, the three items are due to finish on Ebay in a couple of days and here they are below for those who are interested in seeing how he does...

Tin Type photo of man with his Jack Russell

Sunday, November 26, 2006

New Technique

My first attempt at combining monoprinting and collage. I've had a thing for monoprint artwork for some time and, then having seen some fantastically stark and striking work done in a book by an artist who inks pieces of paper and then tears and shapes them to use in collages, I thought I would experiment. Given the time and energy I'd like to expand this technique and perhaps make it bolder and more graphic.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Some time ago I became interested in Slash ficiton. For the uninititated, a word of introduction might be necessary. Slash fiction is romantic and/or erotic fiction written by fans of a film, TV series, book etc. in which same-sex characters (and correctly I believe it would have to be male characters) are paired off and have these romantic or erotic adventures. As I understand it, this began with Star Trek - the original series in which the most popular pairing was Kirk and Spock! The phrase 'Slash' comes from the newsgroups onto which most of this material was posted: it was necessary to let potential readers know which characters were being taken on in the story they were about to read so phrases like Kirk/Spock or K/S were introduced into the title lines - hence 'slash'. The most remarkable thing about slash fiction, however, is that, just like the audience for much of Japan's output of Yaoi manga and anime, the writers tend to be a majority female.

Years ago, and under a pseudonym I wrote some Star Trek Deep Space Nine slash fiction - maninly because I had a bit of a thing for Jake Sisko in the TV series. I haven't had much of an active interest in slash writing since then until very recently.

One of my guilty secrets is a passion for the Harry Potter books. As a result of which, in an idle moment a while ago I began trawling the net to see what the slashers might have done with the Potter franchise. The first, and so far the best, site I came across was
The Restricted Section (a reference to The Restricted Section in the library at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

I've always been intrigued by the way certain pairings take-off within the slash-ing of certain 'fandoms'. I was intrigued, and I confess a little disappointed to discover, that in the world of Potter Slash, the main pairings are the incomprehensible (to me) Harry/Draco and Harry/Snape - affectionately and, let's be honest, a little geekily referred to as Drarry and Snarry fiction. I had a lot of stories to avoid, not particularly wanting to be reading either of those genres but luck struck and I came across a writer called Thevina. She writes mainly, but not exclusively Harry/Ron stories, which seems to me a much more reasonable pairing! One in particular grabbed me and another wacky idea was born.

I clicked open my email program imediately and started writing to the pseudonymous Thevina, asking if she would mind if I created two bound copies of her story, one for her and one for me, and would she mind terribly if I sent both to her and asked her to sign one and send it back? I suddenly had visions of a unique collection of signed erotic books - not necessarily slash fiction - but anything which I found on the internet and was only published there, things which grabbed me and made me think I would want to read them again and again.

To cut a long story short, Thevina agreed happily and I now have the first volume of this proposed collection on my shelf. And even better than a new book and a new collection, I now have a new friend, the wonderfully open, inquisitive, kind quirky and completely adorable Thevina...

The book itself uses an old-fashioned picture framing technique to apply gold strips around a hole which is then backed with a photo. Overall I was quite pleased with the look of the thing but now I have to decide wheher other volumes in this collection will all be in the same format or if I will use it for experimenting with book-building techniques...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Abraham and Isaac

Recently I have been putting together a blog about the way in which the life and person of Saint Sebastian has been represented in art and literature. Underlying that venture of course was the pervasive homoeroticism of the way Sebastian is represented. The project, and a number of other things recently, have made me think on other themes, perhaps less likely ones, which for me at least contain a tinge of homoeroticism. One of these has always been the story of the sacrifice of Isaac (something of a misnomer since the sacrificial knife was stayed).

Finding an undertone in the story is, for me, not a new thing. I was familiar with it as a child and, as I might have written before in this blog, when I was a child there was a distinct masochistic part of my personality. This, of course is well nourished by an identification with Isaac in the story.

Despite some recent attempts within narrative criticism in Biblical theology to reenvision the story from Sarah's point of view, (attempts which are extremely interesting but, to me, in this context, irrelevant) this is an intensely male story. To read the text is to be enchanted by a very sutble interplay of trust and betrayal, power and submission, innocence and above all duty. These are powerful and attractive ideas when encountered by a young mind. There is a certain something about the conventions used in the artistic depiction of the scene too which calls loudly to the masochist: the binding, the being held down, the willing submission or the exicted struggle.

There is not as much material to create a entire blog based around these themes so this is a mini-exhibtion to enable me to revisit this haunting story.

oil on canvas, 1040mm × 1350mm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)
Oil on canvas, 195cm x 132,3cm

Filippo Vitale
Oil on canvas - 130 x 200 cm
Naples, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte

Caravaggio - of course
(b. 1488, Paredes de Nava, d. 1561, Valladolid)
Polychrome wood
National Museum of Religious Carvings, Valladolid

SACKS, Morton
Oil on canvas. 49" x 69"

(b. 1547, Verona, d. 1627, Firenze)
c. 1596Oil on wood, 51 x 37,5 cmGalleria degli Uffizi, Florence

The Water Babies - the book and the memories

This particularly unassuming book is one of my favourite things. I use the word 'things' advisedly because it is not just that The Water Babies is a favourite book it is that this copy is important to me. I was going to say that it is a cheap edition but I have just looked for it on Abebooks and discovered that it may be a little more expensive than I thought in this condition but it is certainly true that it was produced as a cheap edition and, published in 1948 as part of the Golden Galley series, it has a certain wartime feel to the paper and production quality. I was reminded of it recently talking with a friend about books and eroticism.

Of course, what it important to me is the combination of this actual copy, the memories it evokes, the story itself and the illustrations (by Ian Kerr). This is the copy that was read to me when I was very young and it the memory of that still has a flavour of innocent eroticism about it. I remember the notion of nakedness being exciting in the kind of way that will make a small boy wriggle on his seat and Tom's nakedness in such an open and natural way was extremely appealing. In fact, I spent a lot of teenage hours, sneaking out of the house in the dead of night in order to strip off in the fields and woodlands around where we lived and walk naked through the silver-black of night in the countryside and it was there too that I took schoolfriends in my late teens to fumble my way through my first seduction attempts - some sucessful, some not. Kerr's illustrations reinforced what it might be to be naked in the open air (and indeed under the water - I suspect that with opportunity and more swimming ability I may have been quite the teenage skinny-dipper), Tom was the ideal companion in many ways for a rather odd kid like me and though I must have been in single figures when this book was read to me I was in no way unaware of the affect it was having on me.

Kerr's illustrations include both black and white and full page colour drawings. The black and white is by far the best and the smaller ones, used as chapter headers and footers, no more than devices really, were the most interesting to me as a child and the ones I like most now.

This is, of course, exactly why I am fascinated by books as objects, there are a very few which can act as a kind of focal point for a thousand strands of memory and personality and that requires not just some nebulous idea of the text and illustration, it requires the physical object in the hand.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I forgot one yesterday

The Postcard Palace A 'just for fun' venture which seemed like a good idea at the time - and was! :-)

My Internet Presence

Over a year ago I decided it was time to build a presence on the internet both personally and for work. Many of the places I have created do not link together because they deal with substantially different things. This blog, however, is intended as the hub of it all so I thought it might be worthwhile gathering it all together in a post.

My internet life has brought a lot of new people into my life and for that I am very grateful and I scorn all those who scorn the idea of meeting real and interesting people through the internet and becoming friends with someone you have never met.

Front Free Endpaper - you're here now. My main blog. In need of a bit of direction perhaps but the place where I can write or post anything.

Silver Birch Junction My writing blog. Not updated for quite a while but a repository for experimental bits and pieces of writing - poetry and prose - some good, some not.

The Agony and the Ecstasy A relatively new blog in a different style: a vaguely curated rolling exhibtion of art and literature inspired by the person and life of Saint Sebastian.

Callum James Books My publishing website. Very proud to finally have this as it enables me a wider circulation than simply selling my books and booklets on ebay.

My Ebay Auctions This is where I make most of my money. I have been a full-time trader on Ebay for some few years now, specialising in books, vintage photographs, artwork and ephemera of all kinds... anything made of paper and I'll sell it!

Collectors' Guide to Samuel R Delany Still unfinished. A project which began as a print booklet, a fact which is still reflected in some of the text. A site of homage to one of my favourite authors

My Gaydar Profile Speaks for itself - be aware you may not want to see this if my naked body will ruin all your illusions!

These things together, along with an active membership of a number of websites and mailing lists make up my internet 'presence'. Building it up over the last few years has been a real pleasure.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Booklet News

It's been a long time since I have mentioned on this blog any of the new booklets and books that I've been working on. This one is a work in progress but the front cover - and I'm hoping possibly even the illustrations inside are going to be the first direct block-printing onto any of my projects. I aksed a friend who suffers badly with arthritis to create the block for the cover and as she doesn't have the power in her hands to carve wood or lino she cuts the blocks out of foam. The block won't last as long as a more traditional material but then, it doesn't have to do more than 50 prints for one of my booklets and it seemed a perfect accomodation to her particular abilities...

The picture is of the mock-up and there's a fair way to go yet before its ready for sale.
Who links to my website?