“I can feel the city right there, smell its breath, and have a sense of the queer indignity to which I hold it subject, and in turn, the nascent threat to me that it represents. And the odorous vintage of my room and its qualities, which are marvelous and specific to this particular room, demonstrate to me that, like my compatriots when they burgled this country, I came here directly from childhood.”
In this stunning new book, New Juche turns his formidable attention toward the architecture and spatial sensibilities of the city of Rangoon, which evoke for him the dereliction of Thatcher’s Britain and the dreamy trauma and abuse of his early institutional life. Sensual, redolent and deeply personal, “Bosun” is a perversely lyrical rumination that also sheds some strange light on the author’s previous work. — Kiddiepunk
NEW JUCHE is the author of “Wasteland”, “The Mollusc”, “Gymnasium”, “Mountainhead”, “The Spider’s House” and “Stupid Baby”. He moved permanently to Southeast Asia from Scotland in 2003
‘They act as a partial visual index to themes in the book, or a partial cosmology of my childhood in institutional terms.’ — New Juche
“Hips and knees aching, blood pounding, sweat flowing, eyes stinging.
The first thing I notice is the fantastic shape and timbre of the room. It is not a cuboid, but an unevenly flattened and elongated sphere, like a room in a cave or the inside of a tumour. The matter that makes up the walls and the ceiling is like sweating, yellow papier-mâché. It is as though the room has become infected and is decomposing. The air is alive with alcoholic breath and urine. Sweat clothes me, the heat is scouring, my garments are soaked through and I am reeling as I sit down gingerly at a wooden table. Every sensorial dimension of the space is so intense, that it’s almost impossible to engage with externally in any conventional way. I have come way too far inside too quickly and am too stricken with heat. Three men sit at the table next to mine like piles of stone. My wildly uncontrolled acknowledgement of them, a humiliating amalgam of partial, confused and badly executed facial gestures, rebounds from their dismissal and disintegrates into a wormy silence that evokes a stuffy English tea room. Two are bare-chested and the other wears a collarless shirt; all three appear very dark-skinned until I realise with fascination that they are entirely covered with tattoos. The diagrams are formed of geometric patterns and grids filled with Indic characters and symbols and copulating beasts, growing in and out of each other like a rhizome, forming a complete armour over their hides. These are martial men. They sit upright and deathly still like bronze, black lizard eyes on the sides of their heads unblinking, and I fall inwardly apart in the devastating horror of our proximity. The boy comes out from behind a counter, toward my table with an unpleasant smile and some tonal sounds are exchanged from different directions, and I strain to interpret the agreement being made to fuck me, which I know is taking place. I try to dry my face again with my wet sleeve. Although the polluted sunlight falls down from the entrance onto my face, the way out is shut to me, I can’t even approach it. I know I could stand up and climb the stairs to leave, but I just can’t locate and approach the first mechanism in the series of mechanisms that such a disengagement would involve, yet at the same time I feel a pulverising anxiety about where to put my eyes in the present moment, and at the same time how to soothe my heatstroke, which is an equally urgent problem. The indecision itself is a furious torment, I grope to endure it second by second. The three men are horrifically still and upright. The menace they exude is glacial, like a death sentence, and in this moment I am so deep under its movement that the spectrum of components in my distress internally give voice to a startling and beautiful harmony. The boy understands a gesture I am able to make and brings a large bottle of beer which he opens with a cigarette lighter, just as I like to do, and puts a greasy glass down in front of me which I ignore. The bottle is mercifully and wonderfully cold, and I drink many quick sips from its rim, letting them froth up and wash around in my mouth to mix with the saliva there, before enveloping them with my soft palate and sliding them carefully down my throat. As delightful as I find the cold beer to be, it seems to concentrate and enhance my attention on the dehydration headache that has been building in the back of my skull. I wipe the cool condensation from the bottle with my hands and apply it to my face, where it burns like fiery ant bites. I am too self-conscious to smoke the damp cigar in my shirt pocket, so now I try to roll a cigarette of Golden Virginia from the pouch I pull out of my trousers. The first and the second attempts fail because my hands are so wet. Then I collect myself enough to produce a cigarette that will smoke, despite its poor form. The effort is draining, but an absolutely unavoidable necessity. I daren’t look at the men and their granite stillness. They are so close to me that I must allow them to form great blind spots in my vision, but though I consciously will my blindness of their substantive texture, I cannot avoid my perception of their shape and alarming stillness, and I feel a humiliating dread in response to the sustained ferocity of their silence. The stillness and the lack of acknowledgement is as deliberate as it is elaborate. The boy laughs at me as I light my cigarette with unusual labour, and inside of a tiny fraction of time, the cigarette is depressingly finished, and I dribble what’s left of it onto the floor. The boy turns to the festering yellow wall and lays his hand on a burnished copper tap, of the type that I have seen in old Edinburgh whisky bars, no longer in use but preserved as ornaments, and runs water through a small sieve into a plastic cup from which he drinks as though it were hot, grimacing and extending his feminine fingers out in a fan. My beer is getting warmer as I hold the bottle in both hands, and this allows me to take longer and deeper drinks, though I know I cannot avoid another cigarette before the bottle is finished. The men are still silent, but with more of the nutritious beer inside me I settle into the horror of the bar a little. I become aware of some other men deeper inside the room, but I daren’t look at them. I won’t turn. If my physical composure is still yet to be salvaged, I am at least less disorientated than minutes ago, and my fear is no longer hot and pumping, but cooled, alert and still. The beer has done me remarkable good and has been a wonderful tonic, although my discomforts are still legion. I take up the tobacco pouch again and carefully roll a fuller cigarette, which is more effort to smoke than the first although I have better control of it this time in both my fingers and my mouth, and in any case, I have the presence of mind to acknowledge the slight difference in function between the first cigarette and the one that I’m smoking now, which I am drawing from deeply and heartily, doing little ejections of thick, pure, uninhaled smoke from my nose, before taking down long, tight lungfuls and breathing them out all over myself. Several times my vision starts to pixelate and I have to carefully grip the side of the table. Without having been asked, the boy brings a chit to me with a single figure written on it equal to five or six bottles of beer. I take out my wallet and pay the figure exactly, drop my cigarette and carefully get up to leave. In a rush of misguided defiance I turn my head to one of the men and take a look at him in one of his hideous black eyes.”
p.s. Hey. A new book by New Juche is always an event, and this one is beautifully published by the mighty Kiddiepunk, which only adds another layer of cruciality. So the blog celebrates the birth today. I’ve just started reading ‘Bosun’, and it’s just fantastic. Please check out the post and then join me. Also, I’ll be here for the p.s. tomorrow, but I’ll have to be quick because I’m heading off into Germany on a road trip tomorrow morning. That means you’ll get posts for the following fours days, but they’ll be p.s.-free, and I’ll be back full steam on Monday. But I’ll say more tomorrow. **Wolf, Wolfie! Aw, it was so great to see you and hang out in London! The last day we just hung for lunch with our friend Cornelia and then hit the Eurostar. I’m so happy you liked PGL and my new written thing. Your sag aloo has my own personal taste buds doing a little Gisele Vienne-y dance on my newly stage-like tongue. Luckily Halloween is standing firmly in the way of Xmas. Not that I dread Xmas, of course, but, for now, spookiness is the order of the day. I’m good, working and working, and heading off to indulge in German parks for a bit of relief before working and working again. And you? What’s the big old current haps? Love like scones for days, me. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Yeah, who knows on that conspiracy theory, and yet I’m doubtful, but I don’t believe in Paul/Faul either, so I could be a spoil sport. The occasions on which French pop stars have the potential to go international is rare enough that, yeah, I think the powers that be behind Chris/Christine feel a little hyperactive. I’ll follow that link you provided, thank you. ** Nik, Dude, thank you! Huge traffic this weekend and compliments on the sidelines galore. So great! Right, right, about your performing comfort/interest and working with your voice as you are. I know what you mean. When I had to do a book tour for ‘The Marbled Swarm’ and read aloud from it, which is written in so extremely not my speaking voice, it was painful. But worth it. Synopsis: We’re still trying to figure out how to get around it. Basically, the film’s narrative wanders and accumulates and is complicated, so I think we have to just isolate one through-line and describe it, even though that won’t represent the film accurately. But they’ll have the script and treatment too. I don’t know. It’s weirdly very hard to ace. Maybe not as hard as synopsising a Blanchot novel though. Best of the greatest luck today. ** Misanthrope, Hi. Oscar’s a smart guy. He said there scene where Roman and Tim talk looking over the fence at the dead boy is what brought it home. I know busy. I almost remembered my dream last night for about ten seconds after opening my eyes, but then … whoosh. ** Bill, Hi, Bill. It only showed up once, fyi. October will be packed, yeah. Heavy TV script work will be the main drag. Question is whether I can get to LA for Halloween or not. Want to badly. Kind of need to for haunted house research. I hope so, but I don’t know. I was in Porto once and liked it very much. A Taipei trip is a dream and a vaguely planned out thing, but for when, I don’t know. Were the last two days dreamy, i.e. mellow? ** Jamie, Hi ho ha, Jamie. My weekend? Err, not a lot. Met with Gisele, worked on stuff, enjoyed a couple of heavy rainstorms, emailing … kind of vague in retrospect, I think partly due to the constant low hum of tooth pain. Urgh. Oh, no! I hate when that happens, i.e. writing something you think is great and then it landing with a thud inside other people. Was it over their heads? Glad their tastes ponied up to your script though, whew. You think Peter Took is the best Monkee too? We are few and far between on that opinion, my friend. Nice agreeing with you. 40 songs?! Well, I guess one could applaud their selfless generosity? My today is, uh, … trip prep. Download a bunch of music for the car sound system. A bit of work. Zac and I have a Skype interview about ‘PGL’ at 6:30 pm with a interviewer in Lima, Peru, which is exciting. Might go see Oneohtrix Point Never after that depending on the energy level. Like that. What did your Monday do? One hopes it arrived in the form of an endlessly rub-able genie’s lamp. Hash browns burrito love, Dennis. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, David! Great to see you! Where you been? I saw Brian semi-play/sing with the Beach Boys one more time after that, but it was always a ‘will he, won’t he’ thing. Ha ha, so true about ‘Zabriskie Point’. What’s your theory? ** _Black_Acrylic, Hooray for positive changes! It really smells like black pepper? That’s interesting. So you will have the superpower of making your enemies sneeze when need be? ** Right. Be with New Juche today. You’ll be glad. See you tomorrow.