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edited by David Goodchild

Artefiction, subtitled "Notes from the post punk underground", is a mixture of things - part cartoon book, part poetry anthology, with a sprinkling of short stories thrown in. As one might expect from such a collection, the quality is variable. If I were to tell you that the opening sequence contains rather a lot of four-letter words (or rather, the same one used with monotonous regularity) and concerns the questionable sexual activities of the narrator's "best friend", you would probably ask me why I didn't stop there and just forget about the review. After all, we do pride ourselves on finding something positive to say about every publication that finds its way onto this site.

The odd thing was that I found it quite enjoyable, or at any rate intriguing. It wasn't, of course, written in very good English, but this didn't seem to be because the author didn't know how to write good English. (I suspect that "Cheryl B" is American.) Rather, it was part of the same "underground" culture that produced the original punk movement of the 1970s - representing a group of people who are not short on intelligence but want to challenge the status quo. Most of the other contributions to this volume are in a similar vein, if not quite so heavy on the obscenities.

Beyond that, the purpose of the book eludes me. The cover artwork is execrable, the printing is of school-magazine standard, and the reader is offered no information about the individual contributors, many of whom go under pseudonyms such as "Shaky 2000" and "Slug". From what I can gather, most of them used to be punks but have got too old for it - or maybe they are youngsters who think punk is something new.

For this, we are expected to pay 9.99. Can they be serious? More to the point, can they be as anti-establishment as they pretend?

Yet there is some decent writing in here, and some good ideas. Plenty of promise, if those involved should ever feel motivated enough to pursue a literary career. If so, they need to get their act together and start thinking about their intended audience. You were right in the beginning, there wasn't enough of value to cause me to want to finish the book. I got bored long before the last of the 126 cheaply-produced pages.

ISBN 0 900152 57 6
Published by Stride, 2000
126pp, paperback
Retail price 9.99

Open Book

Review by Deborah Fisher

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