Monday 12 September 2016

The Waxwing Slain

I'm a year late to the party with this, but The Beginner's Guide is... a metafictional videogame tragedy about literary theory? I'm so glad that it exists.

The closest thing I can think of to it, formally, is Nabokov's Pale Fire. In both cases, we're being guided through an oblique artwork (or, in The Beginner's Guide, possibly a set of artworks) by an editor and commentator whose conclusions are flawed and whose motives are suspect. In Pale Fire we have a poem with a commentator who might be mad, leaving the whole book as a puzzlebox with no readily available solution. In The Beginner's Guide we have a series of strange, short videogame levels presented and narrated by an enthusiastic fan of their reclusive creator - a fan whose tendentious readings and airy editorialising seem to undermine the original "meaning" (if indeed, there was any meaning) of the levels.

Sunday 4 September 2016


A poem from 2013, written on the notes function of a mobile phone, which is my excuse for the metre sometimes being a bit of a mess.

A dozen miles since dawn in the frozen

Fog, and the weathered Scots in front refuse

To tire. I'm drunk on cold. No: more than drunk,

Already face down, collapsed in gutters

Barely human and barely breathing. Christ,

Can't they understand? It isn't human to walk

This far, this fast, in this tight, relentless,

Brutal chill.