Kind summed up the black humour in this all too short collection by new Manchester writer, Stephen James when autographing this collection instead of signing it in his name, he autographed it ‘all the best, Charles Bukowski’ as reading a lot of his stuff when I was younger, I definitely read somewhere Bukowski up to me when he would sign other names into his book sometimes just to confuse people.
This doesn’t mean of course that Stephen wrote this in a fit of drunken stupdour like Bukowski, although the wit is still the same where on for the first page he starts off with ‘I’m a poet from Manchester
‘I’m sure youcan tell
These rhymes and this rhythm’
Before then doing a P.S. to the piece on the same page
‘I lied, I’m poet form Wilmslow
I hope you cn’t tell
My dad a drives a Jaguar
And I’m going to hell’
Although the Bukowski influence is there certainly in pieces like All the things I didn’t do yesterday where on the first stanza where he talks about a baby crying through the doors of the lift, it has a realism which perhaps not as stark as Bukowski has a subtle charm or humour if you will, where considering rolling a joint he considers waiting to watch a duckling call for her duckling before eventually giving totally up and moving on.
What is also impressive is the lack of generic titles in pieces like ‘The Perks’of having a relationship that you genuinely want to work and having your life descend into cliché’ where in the first three lines alone, the detail could easily descend into a novel where he starts off with
‘My life is a bad coming of age novel
the post not quite a break up and now we’ve not quite
made up scene in the trendy coffee shop’
What I particularly like about Stephen’s work within this booklet is apart from the ideas which make him stand out as a writer to watch is the way he mixes the mudane into his work with extreme technical cleverly almost turning reality upside down in some places, requiring re-reading in-between chuckles, making me realise like Bukowsi at his best that rewrites are needed frequently just so you can pick up further elements with re-reading.
Samples of Stephen’s work can be read at his blog http://folknwords.tumblr.com/
Copies can be bought for £5 plus P & P from firstname.lastname@example.org