Tag Archives: Australian fiction

Levin A. Diatschenko’s ‘My Soul Cried the Spaceman’ is out now

Black Rider Press is proud to announce the release of the ebook novel My Soul Cried the Spaceman by Levin A. Diatschenko.

The small spacecraft Wanderjahre comes upon a coffin floating in space. Bringing it inside the ship, Captain Spendthrift discovers a Gleamer (the first type of robot deemed sentient) inside it. The captain follows the coffin’s trajectory back to a nearby Earth to find that its major cities are engaged in massive funerals processions with hundreds of coffin-bearers surging down the main streets. All the coffins are identical to the one Spendthrift had picked up.

There are many planet Earths, all linked across dimensions by the force called gravity. All known Earths share similar historical and political backgrounds (though with varying emphases) but Earth 13 stands out bizarrely. The men there die on consummation, and the women only weeks after childbirth. The children inherit the combined memories of both parents, while the population shrinks.

Millions of people from the other Earths flock to the funeral planet, and wait with bated breaths for what may be the last Thirteener – one person with the knowledge of an entire species.

The locals of Earth 13 employ Captain Spendthrift – member of the Astronaut’s Guild – to find the mythical moon rumoured to be revolving around Earth 13, and penetrate the infamous ‘hidden moon cult.’ This group of nuns, who also may or may not exist, have either discovered the secret of immortality or degraded over the years into predatory vampires. Either way, they may pose a threat to the last Child.

As with Diatschenko’s other novels, My Soul Cried the Spaceman discusses the metaphysical and psychological underpinnings of human culture. This is his fourth novel, a science fiction written in the vein of Theodore Sturgeon and Philip K. Dick.

You can pick it up around the traps generally for about 5 smackers from:

iTunes Bookstore
Amazon Kindle Store
Angus & Robertson
Sony Reader Store
Kobo Books

Levin A. Diatschenko

Levin A. Diatschenko was born in Sydney, and raised in Alice Springs. Though he has lived in most major cities in Australia, he resides in Darwin.

Arnold Zable called him ‘The Kafka of the Outback’.

Rak Razam called him ‘The suburban Borges’.

His work has been referred to variously as magical realism, hard-boiled Surrealism, and mystic fable.

Since 2004 Levin has published three novels: The Man Who Never Sleeps, Meta-Detective and The Rooftop Sutras, which was shortlisted for the ‘Northern Territory Book of The Year Award’ in 2010. Levin also produces and edits an independent magazine called The Veil, which is devoted to philosophy, theosophy, mysticism and occultism.

Levin has written one play, Darwin Vs. Matilda; The True History of Australia’s Northern Frontier, which featured in The Darwin Festival, and for a season at the Darwin Entertainment Center. Sometimes he plays guitar and sings for a band called Flugendorf.


Filed under Black Rider Press, Fiction, Published

JJ Deceglie’s ‘the sea is not yet full’ – out now

Black Rider Press is proud to announce the release of the sea is not yet full by JJ Deceglie, an ebook version of the novel previously published.

the sea is not yet full is the story of Sep, an Australian writer roaring through flickering life, love and despair. It’s the story of Fremantle, Western Australia, and its brilliance and squalor. It’s incandescent. It’s Beat. It’s a punch in the gut.

Thrown in with a listless generation, Sep doesn’t understand his life or his reasons. Where is all he once knew? Sep will risk it all for a spark. Loss. Lust. Literature. Love. Limbo.

JJ DeCeglie was born and bred in Fremantle, Western Australia, and writes from Melbourne, Victoria. His work includes the novella the sea is not yet full, the short story collection In The Same Streets You’ll Wander Endlessly, and the novels Damned Good, Ennui and Despair and Drawing Dead. His next novel, Princes Without a Kingdom, is forthcoming.

His works have been published in France, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.

Find out more about JJ at www.jjdeceglie.com and www.damnedgood.com.au

Read into JJ’s words in conversation with Black Rider.

Cover art by Ryan Swearingen

What they’re saying

“Squalid and brilliant. It reads to me like James Joyce getting blind drunk with Bret Easton Ellis. I don’t recall a novel which has captured the breadth and depth of the city – from freeway to Fremantle, river to beach – with such scope and energy. It is a blooded, passionately despairing portrait, a testament not just to passion but to talent”. – Nathan Hobby

“…a transgressive fever dream, an intense assaultive descent into the horrors of self”. – Levi Asher

“..touches on human emotion like few have been capable of achieving. Nothing is censored and it is refreshingly authentic. There is so much about this book that is universal. It does something few authors have been able to do – move me to tears”. – Monique Rothstein

“There is a clash occurring in the sea is not yet full, between the world of twentieth century European and American literature and twenty-first century Western Australia, with its vacuousness and nihilism. This is an age after history is finished, Deceglie seems to be suggesting. It is a time when there’s nothing left to tell. And yet our small lives flicker on.” – Guy Salvidge

Now available

The ebook can be purchased from a range of online stores, including:

Amazon Kindle
Kobo Books
Borders Bookstore
Sony Bookstore
Barnes & Noble
with more stores coming soon.


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Filed under Black Rider Press, Fiction, Published

Kickin’ it with JJ Deceglie

It took me about a year to track down JJ Deceglie.

I’d originally found him through following (and later publishing) Nathan Hobby’s work. For ages I’d been wanting JJ to climb up onto Cottonmouth’s stage. I couldn’t get a hold of him. I couldn’t  find him – too elusive, too non-descript.

See, JJ is exactly the kind of hepcat I dig. This cat’s work is so heavy – forget whatever you’re told anything is supposed to be. This cat is so heavy.

He’s concocted the novella the sea is not yet full, the short story collection In the Same Streets You’ll Wander Endlessly, Australia’s first novel about poker Damned Good, and his most recent novella Ennui and Despair. Plus lots of stories published all over the place.

Out of the blue a year later I heard from him, had crept out of the depths of Freo, and over jars in the Sail & Anchor then the flurry of maddening schemes, plots, codifications, defiant contrivances, irreverent. And mad for the High Ones in the Berryman sense.

So with JJ soon taking over the oncoming edition of The Diamond & the Thief, here then some of our conversation while kickin’ it.

Last time we spoke, we talked about how it was your love for poker that led to your novel Damned Good. The high stakes poker storyline goes that deep into the character’s psyche, how much of it is researched and how much of it did you live?

I think of it sometimes as a completely psychological novel; one that uses poker as a metaphor to detail a method of living one’s existence in a particularly intense way, and the agony that can come with that.
In another way it is a completely philosophical novel; guidelines to attempting life as an existential superman, and again the intensity required for that. Then again it’s also just a book about poker; also a veiled personal mythology of myself and my life and things I’ve felt and known. It’s about  failure mostly. Gambling and failing and having nothing left, but gambling yet again to get something back. There is no other way for the character, none that he can see anyway.

There’s an answer in there somewhere.

Damned Good’s ascendant and subsequent descendent arc is split by a guide to authentic poker, my fave sub-chapter being ‘In the End as in the Beginning’. How did this li’l guide come about both in content and where it sits in the story?

The actual poker guide was the publisher’s idea. I wasn’t particularly keen at first (and told them so) but went out one day and wrote some stuff down and it just flowed and I liked how it sounded. I thought I can do this and it can add rather than take away.

The way I see it is that it is something ‘The Rookie’ wrote during that period in which we aren’t with him. I had to pare down the story and took some of those parts out (sections that ‘The Rookie’ had written, along with a more surreal ending).

We know he burns a manuscript of sorts and this is what would have come outta him. In terms of content it’s a hybrid of mostly individual mysticism, throw in arcs along similar lines to that of Heidegger, Gurdjieff and Camus and you could maybe leave it about there. Perhaps a mention to old Nietzsche too.

I’ve become convinced you’re spelunking into the inner caves of what it means to be or become man while thrashing through life. (“A man is, or he isn’t.”) Do you find these protagonists are done and/or undone at their own hand?

There are, and are not. As is anyone really. For men such as these there may be no other method. Not to their eyes or hearts, not in their sphere of existence. They have to know, and will push until the bloom or wreck shows itself as the result. It is about living, how best to do it, how to actually know it and feel it and yeah to be a man, but to become a man as a result of prolonged authentic experience, not one by what you have stored up or borrowed or read about. It must be lived. I think I use the writing as a method of figuring these things out for myself; and I can tell you wholeheartedly that I have no definitive answers.

Ennui and despair, is this our inheritance?

Both are by-products of intensity and misplaced authenticity. Both are the run-off of failure and collapse. Both are the end result of abject misunderstanding and a vein of hopelessness that can be felt so strongly at times wandering about on this earth. Though both are battled with hope and beauty, and both are rendered next to dead by courage and individual responsibility acknowledged in one’s existence. If you are really trying, you have to feel them both at some stage, don’t you – I can’t see any other way.

Wherein do we find answers?

Find what you wanna do, do it with everything damn thing you got; but expect nothing without work. So work and work and work. You’ll probably still lose, and you will definitely die, but it’s better than dying while you live.

What’s next for you?

I got a novel called ‘Princes Without a Kingdom’ coming out with Disruptive Press real soon. It’s a 400 plus page work, and I spent 18 months on it over 2009/10. It’s my Dostoyevskian effort, hopefully the first of many. Big characters colliding like planets, different attempts at existence personified, talking it out, living it out, fighting life in drastic efforts to see what works best and most.

I got some poetry I’m working at too.

Also a hardboiled noir novel. 

Why press on? Why continue? What is it with obsession? I’m thinking about this: “All you have, the lot, before, now and after, the real gambler, the real artist, it is risked every time, and it is accurate living; the will to live burns most intense only in the moments of unchecked creation, or in the winning at the highest possible stake.”

I think you either understand it the way it is written above, or you don’t.

Confusion or bewilderment?

Bewilderment. Complete and absolute. You can clear up confusion, you can elucidate it. Bewilderment is akin to disorientation, to perplexity, and I know and feel it like one would a sibling. It cannot be altered, it can only be lived, accustomed and adapted to. We habituate it.

What’s coming around the bend? And how fast are we running toward it?

More of the same, unless you change it, so buckle up, or expire now.


Filed under Australia, Black Rider Press, Fiction, Interview, Kickin' it with, Perth

Black Rider Lines: A masterpiece of the Maranoa plain

A review of Patrick Holland’s The Mary Smokes Boys

By Kirk A.C. Marshall

While we are at an inextinguishably critical juncture in which the function of reviewing contemporary literature demands a sincere reassessment within the aperture of the global media — do we readers succumb to engaging in a measured and industrious critique for the underlying purpose of endorsement, of publishing promotions, of exclusively contributing to the generation of future book sales, without an oblique investment in actually framing the literature in the context of its substance? — one must always be wary of the motivations of journalistic hyperbole. This is an arduous task for a reviewer to perform with any degree of insightful consistency, of self-reflexive discernment, but it’s especially the case in the context of reading a great book.

Patrick Holland’s The Mary Smokes Boys is one of these. In fact, it’s easily one of my three favourite books this year (the others are Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur and Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom), and like those two triumphs of modern American fiction, Holland’s novel is a lyric testament to the power of a single writer capturing the world through the eye of his quill. Even in this age in which, at every fleeting moment, the economically-governed “progress” of global technology and commercial industry consumes an individual’s means to hypostatise the present — to capture an irrefutable vision of the place we hold in our millennial world with fire and eloquence and valour and violent intelligence before such a perspective is occluded entirely from view. Patrick Holland has proven himself robustly attuned to this task, and his second novel, The Mary Smokes Boys, swarms with the value of integrity and sensation in a way that works of fiction so rarely do, in our daily margins of profit and financial gain.

I can promise you that this will be the most significant new work of novel-length Australian fiction you will read from 2010 (I will not disparage nor diminish the vitality of other great and powerful works of original fiction, and from Alex Miller to Chris Womersley to Jon Bauer to Wayne Macauley to Emmett Stinson to Joel Deane to Daniel Ducrou to James Laidler ad infinitum, I know there are many), but Patrick Holland’s The Mary Smokes Boys vibrates beyond the realm of nepotistically-inclined marketplace comparisons, because the novel offers a reality so achingly wrought, so decisively rendered, so incendiary in its heartbroken hunt for human morality that the book, and its relevance, could only be tarnished by the limitations of analogy. So what about Holland’s narrative is so relevant to you or I?

First among many reasons is that he has crafted a story to chill the bones, one in which the haunting bildungsroman of Grey North — sole son to an emotionally-insensitive self-penitent Australian stockman given to vice, and an inexperienced but soulfully generous Gaelic mother devoted to Christianity whom we only come to know through retrospect — is transcribed to page with a trembling fidelity of purpose, and with an urgency and economy of phrase which intensifies the iconographic culture of Mary Smokes, foregrounds its symbolic heft as an almost apocryphal town to which all modern Australia has either originated from or retreated to: the locus of the heartland of our country.

Second among my rationale is that a story of these same dimensions, of a sharp-eyed boy growing up within a forsaken community to endure and transcend the emotional compromises of adolescence — which is to say, a premise almost originary in its vivid overuse within the context of Western literary fiction as to now be a mythology of our culture, a cipher of the way in which we look to writing to self-identify — supplants all prior constructs in the veracity of its articulation. Holland elevates the genre by exploiting the silences manifest within this project of adolescent growth: for example, Grey feels such an obligation of love for his younger sister, Irene, with such an unquestioned sacralising kinship as to channel an almost possessive pathology, as if Grey’s nondistinct (but always apparent) wounded reckoning to protect Irene was beyond the role of territorial older sibling and dancing on the cusp of desire (but this is of course the very point, for to bear human witness to something so beautiful is also to simultaneously engage in the conviction to attain that which is desired).

This isn’t a philosophical, psychological or psychosocial desire, either, but a physiological one; an embodied paean, engendered in a man’s breath and heart, to intervene on the behalf of that object of beauty, so that nothing can intrude to damage it. Irene is Grey North’s touchstone for the person he strives to become: a dependable protector, unlike his alcohol-crippled old man, an independent scholar of experience, like his best friend Ook, a wayfarer to the land of those same wild-prairie Queensland horse districts in which Holland himself enjoyed a boyhood, immersed for twenty-odd years in the music of a bluff of silent tussock, of a solitary fox padding away from the corona of the town’s menacing shadow, of the rumbustious meander of Mary Smokes Creek.

I could will myself here, as a discriminating reader, to broker a précis of the plot for Patrick Holland’s brilliant book — a small rural town, persecuted by bankruptcy, and simultaneously haunted by both the threat and deliverance of a new council-auspiced highway which will disrupt the sleepy isolation of Mary Smokes forever; the emergence of a love triangle which must by the consequence of its geometry only signify horrifying consequences for Grey, his blood brother, Ook, and his sister Irene; a rash attempt on Grey’s father’s behalf to salvage a family he himself unintentionally dismantled; a youthful ache to reconcile the difference in racial and political experience felt by oneself and one’s friends, to spurn the ubiquitous scorn of conservative values in the Abaddon-like outpost that is Mary Smokes; the fragility of something, a place, a heritage, a people, a melody, a life more precious than all others, being beset upon by those who, from their own dimensions of heartbreak, are already sickened by loss; a world weakened by one’s familiarity with it, until what originally made it spectacular has become a normativity, so that its votive of flame ends up guttering — but such attempts would only reduce the complexity of Holland’s emotional landscape to a thumbnail impression.

It’s best to leave it to the following letter, which I wrote to Holland, myself, upon reading his novel, to express the fullness of my gratitude. This is not just a novel of breathtaking vision, but one which displays a humbling respect for his readers. He invites you into the folds of a personal memory, and asks that you respond in kind.

I’ve just finished reading
The Mary Smokes Boys — literally ten minutes ago, and it just galvanised the tinder of my gut and heart and wrought me asunder: it is such a profound and powerful little novel, so towering with empathy and human compassion, for an authentic, undeviating, unprepossessed and always sincere affection & concern for your characters, and it bristles with pain; the pain we witness exchanged between Grey, Ook, Irene, Vanessa and the unfurnished desolation of what has coalesced over time and through a chasm of misdirected intention into the interior desolation of Bill North, and the exile & fidelity of the wild boys. But it also rings with a yawning, bloodbuzzed, free-throttle authorial pain which I can only discriminate, with the innermost transparency, to the sacrifice you had to make to write that lucid, staggering, awful, incendiary, most honest, vast and fire-breaking ending. I could never allow myself to channel that much hurt, for an ending like yours; it is testament to your certainty in the love for the people who populate this world that you dare to render such heartbreak, and stir the lost, wheeling embers inside the most fierce reader. I think this is actually an artefact of immense creation, Patrick, a vivid and living book, and that aching penultimate-chapter sacrifice feels corrosive in the best way; like you’ve crafted a subversive Australian pastoral tragedy which earns both its grief and its wonder. I wouldn’t gnaw the inside of your cheek or give a prophetic fuck about any quivering, feeble criticism dispatched your way: you’ve written something I think amounts to one of the best works of fiction this year, and you can only be accused of defying comfort: you are a mad one, Patrick, a real furious exponent of the word, an important scribe and a heartfelt moralist. I’m fortunate to know you, and share in the passion you transfer to page. As for the convergence of ideological & theological expression in the novel, from the glimmer of reincarnation (both literal/embodied and allegorical); the skeptical urgency, yearning for and reluctant dispassion with religious faith; the four-antlered eros/phileo/agape/storge love felt, fundamental obsession and distorted loyalty between Grey and Irene deepening the conflict apparent in the themes of possessing that which is immediately lost; the seeming vacuity of domestic space; the racial condescension intentionally represented towards the likes of Ook and Pos; the violence of wanting something, perhaps sacred, so much that it seeds ruination — I’m sure this all culminated to will unsympathetic fools into convulsions of critical wariness. But such feelings are cruel, lacking in foundation and blind to beauty. If you’ve frustrated anyone, you’ve moved them. That’s how I’d choose to view it. But it would be compromising and counter-intuitive to take anything expressed in this vein in the unsweetened guise of truth. Your book is more than any of this. It is a song, and they have discerned more rousing pastimes than to hear it. This is their inefficiency; not yours, and certainly not that of The Mary Smokes Boys.


Kirk A.C. Marshall


Filed under Australia, Black Rider Lines, Black Rider Press, Fiction, Kirk AC Marshall