Vote Knitwear


Congratulations to Chrissie Gittins, whose Between Here and Knitwear has been shortlisted for a 2016 Saboteur Award in the category of Best Short Story Collection.

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Between Here and Knitwear, a sequence of semi-autobiographical short stories that follow a life’s journey from childhood to middle age, has been picking up admirers since its publication last November.

Praise for Between Here and Knitwear

‘exceptional … Gittins has a superb way with evocative suburban detail and chord-striking experiences. These candid stories follow her life through to dying mum, dementing dad and beyond.
Phil Baker, Sunday Times

‘These twenty-two stories are tough, flexible fibres of Lancashire lives, woven together with laconic wit and warmth of feeling. Arguments, sex and raw solitude: all familiar, all seen anew.
Helen Dunmore, Best Short Story Collections of 2015, Bristol Short Story Prize website

‘There is consistency in the style and length of each, mirroring how memories are remembered like a kaleidoscope. While the stories are very much standalone vignettes, they also flow together as sequential chapters, making it a very satisfying and captivating collection to read.’
Durre S. Mughal, Wales Arts Review

‘The tightly-written stories deal with the small events in life making them very profound and memorable. They are at times bleak, at others funny, but always a little haunting.’
Barbara Waite, Lancashire Life

Vote Knitwear

The Saboteurs are decided by public vote. We’ve come close before, both for Words and Women: One, Unthology: Three and Most Innovative Publisher but we really think Chrissie deserves some recognition for this elegiac, witty and bittersweet collection.

If you would like to Vote Knitwear, click here.

Best wishes and thank you.

The Unthank Team

Project U Returns with Girls Versus Boys



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Norwich’s only prose event will emerge from the mists on April 21st, rematerializing at the Library Restaurant to host readings from two special books.

For the Red Team we’ll have Words and Women: Three, edited by Lynne Bryan and Belona Greenwood, published by Unthank Cameo in March.

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Deborah Arnander
Victoria Hattersley
Antoinette Moses
Sarah Ridgard

In the Blue Corner we’re delighted to have readings from Being Dad: Short Stories about Fatherhood edited by Dan Coxon and published by Tangent Books.

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Lander Hawes
Tim Sykes
Andrew McDonnell
Iain Robinson

Please be informed that the use of ‘versus’ is used in cheap sensationalist fashion merely for the purposes of advertising, and there will be no contest or combat of any kind. The pen is mightier than the Chinese burn, the towel flick and the wedgie.

Project U
The Unthank Prose Event
Girls versus Boys

21st April 2016
Upstairs at The Library Restaurant
4a Guildhall Hill
Norwich
NR2 1JH
7.30pm


FREE

The Unthology Interviews: Armel Dagorn talks to Kit Caless



Top Unthologists Armel Dagon and Kit Caless get together to chat about Kit’s ‘Not Drowning but Saving’ in Unthology 8.


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Armel Dagorn: Your story “Not Drowning But Saving” starts from the simple idea that people working for charities might get addicted to their roles as helpers/saviours. Then it takes this premise up a notch (or two), and leaves the reader wondering if this really is an outlandish fabrication, or if they simply haven’t yet stumbled upon that particular dark corner of the real world. I love stories that manage to pull off that kind of off-kilter realism. First off, could you tell us about where that story got started (or your stories in general, for that matter) got started?


Kit Caless: Thanks for the kind words about the story. This particular piece came out of a novel that I shelved last year. I’d been working on the book for a long time, and I did finish it. But unfortunately it just never quite saw the light – both in the sense of me still being enthusiastic about it, and in its coherence. However, when you’ve written something that long, there’s always a lot of material you can mine for short stories! I rewrote one of the chapters into a short story, and it developed into “Not Drowning But Saving”. In terms of other things I write, most of my stories start from a word, or phrase. I was given a book at Christmas, The Book of Human Emotions, which is perfect for me! I look up a word like ‘basorexia’ [n. the overwhelming urge to kiss someone], and I’m off scribbling away. Other than that, I find some of the non-fiction I write for money ends up influencing my fictional story telling. I have written a number of pieces for Vice about work, which has in turn led to a number of short stories based around conceptions and functions of work.

AD: It’s quite a dark story – though not without (dark) humour – and reading it, I found myself thinking about books and movies such as Fight Club (for the obscure, secretive group of a chosen few), or (The) Ring and its evil videotape (here the phone, which might not be lethal, but still ties the characters together in quite a creepy way. Did you have any influences in mind writing it? Or nods to other works?

KC: I must say I love Fight Club, the film and the book. However, my gripe with Chuck Palahnuick is that no one can write about therapy groups without his name being brought up! Haha. He has certainly cornered that area of fiction and moulded it to his own. I love Ringu too, so you’ve nailed it. I think anything that links communications, secrecy and death is fascinating. Sometimes I think back to the chain mail letters my sisters used to get. You know the ones that said, ‘If you don’t pass this message onto 10 friends, you’ll die in eight Sunday’s time’ or whatever. There’s always been these weird communications threats, death from talking, ‘keep mum’ etc. I’m currently writing a story about a whatsapp group that mysteriously poisons you unless you invite ten friends to it from you contacts list. What else is writing if not just updating the same set of stories over and over again?

AD: What are some of your favourite writers/works in general? And do you find them to be influences? Can you notice their traces in your writing?

KC: It’s difficult to talk about influences from literature, I think. Someone else should tell me what has influenced me as I’m too close to what I write to be aware of any conscious influence. I haven’t sat down and though, ‘I would like to write like this woman’ or anything like that. I’m probably more influenced by music in that respect. I try to write to certain rhythms. With “Not Drowning But Saving”, I wrote most of it to a track called The Crow By DJ Food. It starts off with this beautiful singular double bass line and then adds layers one by one; a clarinet riff, a congo flourish, until it builds to this cacaphony with strings and full drums. I found that the pace of that track was wanted I wanted to do with the story. Other times, if I want to write something glitchy I might listen to Mumdance or Preditah, or something fast paced, Heavytrackerz instrumentals or even some old Bad Company drum and bass!

AD: I find that Unthology has been showcasing stories that are more diverse in terms of “genre” than many literary magazines, or stories that are maybe more genre-fluid, incorporating aspects of speculative literatures, and in that regard I find that “Not Drowning But Saving” fits right in. Clichéd question, but how do you feel about genres, and I suppose the often talked about genre vs. literary issue, in both your reading and your writing?

KC: Unthology is excellent in that regard. But with genre on the whole? Hmm. I don’t really understand genre other than as a device to market books. I’m not even sure what ‘speculative’ means, other than slightly weird storytelling. The ‘literary’ branding seems to do with making a books seem for a more discerning audience. I don’t really care enough to argue about it though. If the story or characters or place grab me in the book, it doesn’t matter what genre it is. Equally genre classification doesn’t protect me from reading shit books. I think Ballard said something along the lines of ‘The great thing about science fiction was that nobody lived in Hampstead.’ That was probably an ice breaker back then, but I don’t think it applies anymore. Sci fi in Hampstead rather than Shepperton and its surrounds would be the new thing to do now!

AD: I was thinking about your role as director/editor at Influx Press, which specialises in site-specific literature. As I re-read “Not Drowning But Saving”, I realised how unspecific it was about place. It’s the ultimate disembodiment: the whole story takes place on the phone, callers “sound” like they’re from New York, or Australia, and their employers can only be guessed at. Their names are fake, and their very jobs, working for NGOs, imply nomadic lifestyles. As a result, the reader, instead of being transported to some location, is included in the limbo of the conference calls the characters take part in. Was that by any chance a way of getting out of your day job’s (or second night job’s) dictatorship?

KC: Ah good question! I hadn’t really thought about it like that, but you’re probably right. I find place writing, whatever you want that to mean, an absolute pleasure to read and edit. The closer you can hone in on one place, the greater truths you can illuminate. But I suppose with my own writing, yes, there is a disembodiment with that story. But that’s mainly because the characters themselves have become disembodied from any ethical grounding. As I was writing the story, a phrase about Colonel Kurtz in Heart of Darkness: “There was nothing either above or below him, and I knew it. He had kicked himself loose of the earth” kept going around my head. I feel like my characters are like that. You could also use a phrase on Kurtz further on in that passage to describe them too: “His mind was clear, even if it was focused exclusively on himself. His soul, however, was mad.” The characters in this story have all had their souls driven mad by altruism. In terms of actually locating the story, the novel I mentioned that it came from is set on a nameless estate somewhere in the UK, which I purposefully left undetailed. Maybe this is why I shelved it! hahaha. Having said that some of my favourite books exist in unnamed locations – The Invention of Morel, or Will Wiles’s Care of Wooden Floors.

AD: What are you working on at the moment? What are your projects for the year to come?

KC: I’m busy at Influx putting out a number of books in 2016 which you can find out about here: I’ll continue to write bits and pieces of non-fiction/journalism too. My favourite commission so far this year is for Architectural Digest India, where I’m interviewing a very famous interior designer. It’s not the usual sort of thing I would do, so I’m looking forward to that. I’ve started work on a new novel too, set in Clerkenwell, London. But everyone in the written world is working on a novel so the less said about that the better. In fact, pretend I never said it – it’ll probably just end up as a short story somewhere!


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“Not Drowning but Saving” by Kit Caless and “Nora and Anthony” by Armel Dagorn both appear in Unthology 8, available from all good booksellers, Wordery, Book Depository and for Kindle and iDevices.