On Thursday 22nd October Ampersand Studios in Newcastle are hosting an unusual book launch. Newcastle author Guy Mankowski is launching his fourth novel, an Honest Deceit, at a party where Rebecca Reed, of The Candy Vortex has created a unique setting using specially commissioned art. Event details can be found here. This setting will, through various mediums, ‘plant seeds about the novel that readers will only understand once they’ve read it.’ The party will also feature DJing from Lady Annabella Marcewska and music from former Kites frontman Matthew Phillips, performing as Sleeping Ships. Here, are five of the novels major influences.
MUSIC Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible
I first saw this record in the racks of WH Smith when I was a schoolkid, and the idea of owning it scared me, given all its songs about various types of corruption. Gradually this record become totemic in my life- a piece of art that meticulously chronicles how the world really is, underneath all the lies pushed by governments and companies. I wanted An Honest Deceit to have that brutal accuracy too. The book follows the story of a teacher whose daughter is suddenly killed on a school trip, and how he tries to expose the cover-up around his death. He has to expose this lie, and in so doing bigger lies are exposed.
COMEDY Hannibal Buress
When I heard how Hannibal Buress’ comedy exposed the truth about Bill Cosby it planted a seed in my mind. In the novel one of the character uses his stand-up comedy to reveal some dark truth and the audience listen because he is making them laugh. I am fascinated by how engaging art can reveal not only ourselves, but the world at large. I have no idea if Buress is actually much good as a comic- I prefer Chris Rock any day.
Running alongside this story is a tale of friendship between a stand-up comic and a teacher and both of them are struggling with this idea of becoming fully grown men. In Elegy Ben Kingley’s character is a famous academic who argues, with his friend (played by Dennis Hopper) whether he should give up his beguiling young lover and settle down. There’s a thread about male immaturity in the novel that was very much inspired by this film.
ART Egon Schiele art
One of the opening scenes of the book is inspired by an exhibition I went to of Egon Schiele’s art. They are like the flipside of Jenny Savile’s portraits on the cover of The Holy Bible. In it, rather creepily, Schiele portrayed his sister Gertie in an emaciated and confrontational way. In my novel a mother paints her daughter in various ways throughout her life in a manner that says more about her than it does about her daughter. At one point the characters even go to a Schiele exhibition! I am shameless.
MUSIC The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
I listened to this record a lot when writing the book. At first I just loved all the brilliant riffs but eventually the deeper meaning of the record- private pain made into public art- came out and the album took even more of a hold on me. Billy Corgan’s become a bit of a hero of mine, for the sheer discipline he put into his work. And has any bass player has ever looked better than D’arcy Wretsky?