the m john harrison blog

Month: June, 2021

unwritten beginning

As a teen I spent a lot of time in the public library, especially after I started truanting. But I never felt I belonged there, any more than I belonged anywhere else. The library’s offer lay not in its sense of community but in its sense of being unoccupied. It was empty a lot of the time, especially during the day. No one bothered you. You were left alone to follow the shelves like disused railway lines. Leading towards what? Something to read, anyway. You heard very little. No one came near you much. It seemed like the calmest, least anxiety-ridden place to truant to. For an hour or so it could be your space. Of course, the books themselves became spaces. I think that was an error, to regard a book as having an interior, as being a world rather than a written thing. Somewhat later, around the age of thirty, by which time I had already written books of my own, I had to take time to extract myself from what had become an unexamined assumption.

Previous post: I forgot to add that a new short story, “English Heritage”, will be published soon as one of Nick Royle’s beautifully produced Nightjar Press editions. It’s 4,000 words and very much in the tradition of the modernist ghost story, having the vibe of the second & third volumes of Cynthia Asquith’s Ghost Book, some of my favourite reading when I was twelve. Usual rules will apply: limited edition, signed & numbered, and when it’s gone, it’s gone: so get in early if you want one. I’ll give plenty of warning here & on Twitter.