"The prize itself is a mug...but the glory is incalculable!"
August 13, 2011 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Novelist, frontman, economist, pig stealer, and man from Ireland, Julian Gough invites you to join him on an adventure in "a love-based mutant version of capitalism."
posted by villanelles at dawn (18 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Very cool. Listening to Galway and Los Angeles second time, and the novel looks great and is on the Wish List.

I'm looking forward to learning more about this guy. His band reminds me of a lot of bands I like: Talking Heads, TV Personalities some other 80s bands on the tip of my brain...

Thanks for this.
posted by Skygazer at 2:11 PM on August 13, 2011

So a random novelist would like us to read his soon to be published book and vote for it in some competition...

Yeah, but he stole Will Self's pig. And that is so brilliant and hilarious (and the truly perfect response to the behavior of a committee that gives away a prize named after P.G. Wodeshouse) on so many levels.

I want to be his new best friend.
posted by Skygazer at 2:18 PM on August 13, 2011

"His second novel, Jude, stars an orphan with two penises"

Not promising so far.

Mind, I will look further as I like a funny novel a lot and you really never do know, but still-

not promising.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:22 PM on August 13, 2011

His band reminds me of a lot of bands I like: Talking Heads, TV Personalities some other 80s bands on the tip of my brain...

I get a really strong Momus vibe from the linked song.

I remember Toasted Heretic releasing a greatest hits a couple years back, and some radio play here in Ireland, but I haven't checked them out much beyond that. I might be tempted to rectify that sometime soon.
posted by rollick at 2:46 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Now, here's the bit where we revolutionise Capitalism.
Apparently he's only humble when it comes to his finances...
posted by -1 at 3:02 PM on August 13, 2011

Juno and Juliet, his first novel, was a fun read, though. I read it at the same time as Emma Donoghue's Stir-Fry...must have been going through a naive-Irish-student phase.
posted by mippy at 3:02 PM on August 13, 2011

Though I believe he released a book of poems entitled Free Sex Chocolate, which does indeed come across as as smug as all-get-out.
posted by mippy at 3:03 PM on August 13, 2011

[Removed a bunch of snark. Flagging and moving on is your option, folks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 4:37 PM on August 13, 2011

I find Julian Gough to be a very funny writer, and also I don't really get why there would be snark about someone giving out free copies of a book (or album or what have you) accompanied by a quite above-board request for some support from people who decide they like it.
posted by uosuaq at 8:10 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

does indeed come across as as smug as all-get-out

Ding. Thanks, Julian.
posted by flabdablet at 10:23 PM on August 13, 2011

For those who find themselves interested but unsure if Julian Gough their cup of tea, I recommend trying him out with either the short story that I somewhat circuitously linked earlier or this spirited defense of the comic tradition in literature.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:36 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Alright, so the guy is a bit self-absorbed and that can be grating, but if the work is good, then all I can do is thank him for leading me to it somehow. Jury's still out on that (although the song I heard -linked above- by Toasted Heretic is quite good.)

At any rate, it's a bit like the online version of busking, I guess, and like IRL busking you can walk away and ignore it or be intrigued and give it a chance and think it's bad, good or mind-blowing and a serendipitous bright spot in your otherwise mundane workaday internet routine.

I haven't looked at his writing yet (thanks for those links villanelles at dawn), but I still think stealing Will Self's pig, if that is indeed what happened (and I'm thinking perhaps it's made up and awarding the pig really did hit some sort of bump in the road), is a stroke of inspired Quixotic hilarity reminiscent and worthy of some great literary lights wiseacres like Kingsley Amis (Lucky Jim era), the son (Money era only though), folks like the superlative Fred Exley (A Fan's Notes), John Kennedy O'Toole (A Confederacy of Dunces, another masterpiece) or present day practioners like Sam Lipsyte (The Ask is an hilarious blast), and Gary Shytengart (The Russian Debutant's Handbook, Absurdistan, Funny Sad Love Story etc..), Joshua Ferris's And Then We Came to the End, there's probably many others in that lineage of painfully insightful and painfully funny literary bittersweet hilarity, early Pynchon, I suppose, and P.G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves" (the ridiculous hapless man-about-town-Bertie Wooster and his brilliant always unruffled butler, Jeeves, that is, in stuff like Joy in the Morning) books of course (the master and perhaps genius who invented the modern style of that short of Cervantes), and also Will Self, himself (no pun intended really I promise there), with My Idea of Fun, which was also horrifyingly funny like an electric shock sort of "funny," I haven't read anything else by him. Ah, and the other bible of that satire style of hyperbole and painful funny style, Joseph Heller's Catch-22.

Pulling off a good comic novel that is also great writing is a "higher form," someone once explained to me, and it's become a bit of an obsession actually. Because it is incredibly fun if it is done well and to laugh while you're getting insight into your own shortcomings via a protagonist being tortured (or pleasured) and humilated in various impossible, absurd situations imparts and requires, not small amounts of wisdom.

Can anyone else make add suggestions along these lines?
posted by Skygazer at 12:17 PM on August 14, 2011

requires, not small amounts of wisdom...
posted by Skygazer at 12:20 PM on August 14, 2011

Ooof...wrong button.

requires, not small amounts of wisdom.

from the author, that is hopefully imparted to the reader.

is what I meant.
posted by Skygazer at 12:21 PM on August 14, 2011

villanelles at dawn: this spirited defense of the comic tradition in literature.

The piece Gough wrote for Prospect Magazine, is precisely what I'm going on about in my comment above regarding literary comedy. I'm happy to see many of the same people and works show up.

It really does prove the point that he's coming from, speaking to, speaking with and within that specific literary and artistic tradition.

I need to read some Evelyn Waugh. Of, whom regretfully, I've read not a thing. Zero. Zed-E-R-O. Zip. Zilch. Goose egg.
posted by Skygazer at 1:45 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not to shoot my own thread in the foot, but if you haven't read any Waugh then that's what you've got to read. Scoop, Handful of Dust, Vile Bodies, Decline and Fall (to name a few) are all amazing and hilarious in a way that Julian Gough would not be insulted to hear he could not be. On the subject of other funny books, this thread's own IndigoJones has an AskMe thread that has a lot to say on the subject. It leaves off Anthony Powell though, who is underrated as a comic novelist and who is anyways one of the best novelists in English ever.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:43 PM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Well I just wanted to say thanks villanelles at dawn for this post! don't think I'd have heard of this prize experiment in time to join in, which I did, and was very happy to. I liked the spirit behind the idea even before getting to read anything. Judging from comments from Guardian people and other writers, seems they appreciated that spirit too. After all the idea of the prize itself is all about having a bit of literary fun.

Of course it's shameless self promotion, but done in such a lighthearted friendly and trusting way, well done to the publisher too. We're talking a small publisher, and giving away a book before it even gets published, I for one don't consider that the kind of shameless self-promotion that deserves my scorn. And Julian sounds like a very nice friendly guy, didn't get any smugness or pretentiousness vibe at all, on the contrary.

Must say I'm enjoying the book a lot, very lighthearted, surreal, clever but not in annoying way (de gustibus). It's so packed with references that can be hilarious especially if you have a thing for Irish humour and writing and history, though I guess it should be half Irish half English, or maybe wanting to sound Irish but coming out English... (The first dozen pages are actually all about a surreal confusion about that, about which language and culture is your own, and that alone gave me more than a few chuckles.)

Anyhow, seems the plot may have worked - not the one to subvert capitalism, not yet (that was so close!) but possibly the one to get the prized mug, and definitely the self-promotion through file sharing - quick update from the author.
posted by bitteschoen at 9:47 AM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

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