Adrian Slatcher writes poetry, fiction and criticism, and lives in Manchester.
The Portable Slatcher Volume 1
Completed in April 2020, The Portable Slatcher Volume 1, is a self-published collection of fiction and poetry by Adrian Slatcher. Began a few years earlier on turning 50, the 667-page selection, provides a retrospective of a (mostly) unpublished writer.
Not simply a selection of what I want preserving, its a curatorial piece of work, as much an art project or a work of achive as a book for reading – though yes, its also for that.
In the preface I talk about my motivation for putting it together – to find out what kind of writer I am – and, also, to select and collect my work. The cut off point is 2010, so it was already archival at the time of collation, and its starting point is round or about 1995, when my novel “Lineage” was shortlisted for the Lichfield Prize, the first outward recognition I’d received (though a few pieces do pre-date this.)
It’s broadly divided into 3 sections: Novels, poems, and short stories, and each selection can be seen as both comprehensive, and merely a taster depending on point of view.
The novel section begins with the first few pages of “Mocking the Peasants” a novel I began in the late 1980s. It then includes extracts from “Lineage”, “High Wire”, “In Search of Sally Johnson”, “The Badger Farm Report” and “The Instruction Manual”, so covering the 7 novels I wrote before, during and after my M.A. in novel writing. “High Wire” (my M.A.) novel includes a substantial extract. It also includes the completed first half of the follow-up novel “All this Scenery”, and to finish this section a complete work, the comic novella, “For the Want of a Gas Barbecue.”
The poetry selection includes an unpublished collection that I put together in the late 2000s, “The Sedge Flowers of Imagining,” the Salt Modern Voices pamphlet “Playing Solitaire for Money”, one of the four long experimental pieces from the Knives, Forks and Spoons pamphlet “Extracts from Levona”, and a few additional poems from this period.
Having written around 100 short stories, the selection here is necessarily selective and the 24 chosen stories includes both published and unpublished short stories. Unpublished ones are chosen because they are particularly favourites of mine, or are doing something different and range from the “flash fiction” “The Girlfriend Who Got Me Into Mazzy Star” to the longer stories “The Ghosts of Coos Bay” and “Lionel, life and death” as well as more experimental pieces such as “Autobiography of a Supermodel” and “I am No One.”
The initial selection had been intended to include non-fiction, drama, SF, and longer poetic pieces, but even with the work included it came to 667 pages, as much as it was possible to include in a single volume, so a 2nd volume has been planned to follow. As a book containing a substantial amount of unpublished work I did edit the anthology to fix obvious errors, and where several versions of a poem or story existed to choose the best version. However, I did resist changes that I might have made now to a particular piece, trying to keep the integrity of how it was written at the time. Any errors are my own.
It was reviewed by Joe Darlington for Manchester Review of Books here.
The Portable Slatcher Volume 2
For someone who has never been a professional writer, I’ve written an awful lot of reviews, non-fiction, essays and the like.
The planned Volume 2 tries to make sense of this work, much of it previously published online at my cultural blog Art of Fiction.
The collection is almost a series of mini-collections, pulling together thematic works and reordering them to make more sense. In particular, my considerable amount of writing about contemporary music is reordered to be a partial history from the 1960s to the present day. Written both for the blog, and for other purposes, its an eclectic but surprisingly comprehensive “history”.
Similarly my writing about art is a mini-collection on its own, from gallery reviews to ruminations on particularly artists or scenes. Alongside this the political is a smaller selection but includes key pieces such as being present at Gordon Brown’s last speech to Labour activists before the 2010 general election.
As you may imagine, the Art of Fiction blog was mainly focused on literary matters, and here they are split into two sections: a series of reviews of contemporary and not-so-contemporary novels; and a more eclectic series of blogposts that are small essays on creative process and practice.
Finally, a few pieces of memoir, or creative non-fiction are included.
At the time of writing (August 2022) I hope to have the collection finished by the end of the year.
Unlike Volume 1, the time period comes right up to the near-present, and again, goes back as far as the mid-1990s, so around a quarter century or so of commentary.
The Portable Slatcher Volume 3 & 4
There are possible plans for further volumes. A collection of my fiction and poetry since 2010 would make sense, once I’ve stopped trying to get things from that period published, and again, I’ve put together various “collections” of poetry and fiction for that period, that whilst unpublished could form the basis of a further volume.
There also remain a good degree of miscellany, from notes about key works, to drama (including the unperformed play “Grist”), to longer poems, to song lyrics, to more experimental pieces, as well as quite a few visual pieces. Having tried to include some of these in an appendix to volume 1, I realise they will probably work better as a (somewhat shorter) addendum. With the exception of “All this Scenery” in volume 1, I have not included any unfinished works, but have considerable fiction projects that stalled, and which have some interest and value. It may be that extracting those works that could stand alone would be a useful project in its own right.