Tag Archives: david peace

63. On the mark of the Devil, and material evil in England – David Peace & I

I daresay that the photo to our left is not the most ‘gothic’ of images you could imagine – two shaven-headed figures in black, for sure, not a bad start maybe, but then the glare and the carpeting and, above all, that bright green plastic carrier-bag would seem to lessen the menace…
What do we have here then? Well, ‘Foggy Sapphires’ is the blog of London-based writer and journalist Caroline Simpson, and I’m pleased to report that she has recently posted a very affable and considered write-up of the first Faber Social event from back in early June when David Peace and I shared a small dais and an exchange of views on the subject of the contemporary gothic, and (yes) the immanence of evil in the world. Here’s how Ms Simpson summarises:

First up were the novelists David Peace and Richard T Kelly in conversation who gave powerful readings of their work and discussed their very particular contemporary takes on the Gothic and occult histories.
David Peace expounded on “the occult history of Britain – a hidden history – the history that’s not been written” and suggested that Marx was both political and gothic,”the gothic description of structural evil”. He suggested that “Lucifer was Yorkshire” in regard to his Red Riding quartet and that capitalism was the evil that possesses us and that “misogyny” in particular as manifested by the Yorkshire Ripper “is an evil” too.
Continuing the theme of possession and evil, Richard Kelly talked about R.L. Stevenson, “the mysteries of London” and “the mysteries of Paris” and the “dark world that lends itself to creativity” and said [] “I don’t believe in God but I am convinced of the devil” while noting that “good doesn’t have a good press”…

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27. David Peace & I debate the Occult…

I’m pleased to report that I’ve been asked to read and speak in the company of the mighty David Peace at the first in what is envisaged as a regular/monthly series of literary soirees organised by Faber and Faber under the label of The Faber Social. This inaugural is scheduled for Monday 6th June 2011 @ 7pm, venue being The Social at 5 Little Portland Street, London W1W 7JD. As I understand it David Peace will read, he and I will talk, then I will read a bit too. Simple as that. What will we talk about? The audience has been promised “all things gothic, occult and Northern.” Well, yes, for sure we can do that. I expect I will want to ask David about his extraordinary novel Occupied City. This review by Justin Cartwright is worth reading primarily for the virtue that one could believe Cartwright had read nothing of Peace’s prior to this, his eighth novel; and initially he seems a little sceptical – which makes his stealthy appreciation of the book’s high merits (“hugely daring, utterly irresistible, deeply serious and unlike anything I have ever read”) all the more striking, even touching.

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13. David Peace commends ‘Doctor Forrest’

David Peace by Naoya Sanuki

David Peace is, of course, the widely and ardently admired author of the ‘Red Riding Quartet’ – 1974, 1977, 1980, and 1983– and of GB84, The Damned United, Tokyo Year Zero and Tokyo Occupied City. Earlier this year he read The Possessions of Doctor Forrest in proof and gave my publisher this quote:

‘THE POSSESSIONS OF DOCTOR FORREST drags the gothic novel kicking and screaming into this new century replete with its own horrors and demons; and confirms Richard T Kelly as one of the most astute and imaginative novelists of his generation.’


Having Peace’s endorsement is an especially precious thing for me, as I think of him as one of the most formidable English writers working today. Part of his passionate fan-base is rooted in the crime-fiction genre, and Peace has a foot in that camp, clearly. But you would dub him a writer of ‘crime stories’ only if you were comfortable calling Dostoyevsky a writer of ‘murder stories’. It would be more to the point to say that corruption and evil are matters that Peace returns to repeatedly, forensically, and not for mere entertainment. He is a stylist of uncommon rigour, with a fearsome ability to dig (or claw) into a mood. No-one is better at evoking states of mental torment. Factual research, expertly incorporated, loans his novels a foursquare density. As Martin Amis once wrote of Norman Mailer, Peace’s ‘presence on the page’ fills one with disquiet.
I think it was Peace himself, interviewed for GB84, who coined the expression ‘occult history’ to thumbnail his approach to his true-life material. The excellent Guardian journalist and author Andy Beckett, reviewing GB84 for the London Review of Books, wrote of Peace’s inimitable style as ‘political gothic.’ I can’t imagine any sensible reader who would hear these two luminous phrases and not be drawn to uncover the enthralling writings and the extraordinary writer so described.

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