Wednesday, 2 November 2016

NIGHT CITY - My review of this publication from March 2015

Night City by Ian Barraclough (Published by Brabazon Press 2014)

Thanks for the gift of ‘Night City.’ I've read it twice now and feel it works a bit like a documentary poem. For me the main power of the piece suggests many of the conventional things that people dislike about living or experiencing the big bad city, however I think the work is like the GRIT that gets into the oyster and aids the growth of the PEARL. I imagine your references come from you time living in London filtered through a commuter’s eyes.

I feel you are part channeling George Grosz 'The City' combining this with the aesthetic of a faded plastic carrier bag. Have you ever printed onto carrier bags? In the early stages of the story the graphic feel reminds me of Russell Mills 'More Dark Than Shark.' Your torn ephemera acting as flotsam and jetsam from the streets.

You use lights well nothing suggests grime and crime better than nighttime light. The blazing lights of the steel towers blinking carelessly down on those who will never benefit from 'trickle down.'

I love the Angel image the angle reminding me of my Noir favourites and Wenders 'Wings of Desire.' The Angel cannot save us, which was its original purpose.

The centre pages show a complex image filled with multiple elements but somehow every part is isolated and at odds with its surroundings. This is very effective.

The text works well and allows open interpretations in some cases but also punctuates with powerful meaning when needed - as with the 'swan dive' death of the man in the later pages.

I particularly like the words "office screen slaves" "like insects in matchboxes" "they got the job, now the job's got them..."

The final two pages remind me of the fatalism found in many a good Ian McEwan novel. I am the person in the window wishing to blot out the things I feel helpless to change.

One suggestion: the really dark pages might need to be printed differently so there is more contrast. Use truer blacks if possible.

I hope this is an okay review. I'm impressed by your output and rather saddened that I've not added to my own work for quite a while. The cover of the book works well for me. The overlapping lines like the red separation cell of the four-colour process.

Keep going my friend as your work is distinctive and shows what you are thinking about and what concerns you most.


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