Knife skills

Posted by Lenin | Posted in Bloc events, Chapbooks | Posted on 24-06-2010


Which of our writers — photographed at their recent chapbook launch — seems more comfortable brandishing a sharp kitchen knife? You decide.

Use this information in the future, when you decide how vigorously to applaud each reader.

Chapbook Launch!

Posted by Lenin | Posted in Bloc events, Chapbooks | Posted on 08-05-2010


WRITERS’ BLOC presents

Nil by Mouth/The Secret of Scottish Football

  • WHATBook launch, with live readings of original fiction
  • WHOWriters’ Bloc spoken-word performance group
  • WHEREFunction suite, Easter Road Stadium, Easter Road, Edinburgh
  • WHEN7.30 p.m., Thursday 27 May 2010

Writers’ Bloc is pleased to announce the launch of two new chapbooks, and has secured the function suite at Easter Road for the launch!

Andrew C. Ferguson’s The Secret of Scottish Football is a soccer book with a difference. Fife has spawned many famous footballers, but it’s also had its share of the supernatural. As these stories show, when the two collide, the results can be more surprising than the half-time pies at Stark’s Park.

Scotland on Sunday described one of these tales as having “all the energy and vigour of early Irvine Welsh, but with far more humour and nuance”. In his foreword, Pat Nevin says, “Harsh reality sits side by side with sometimes even harsher fantasy, in a long Scottish tradition that echoes much of the work of Robert Burns…”

Continuing the culinary theme, the stories in Morag Edwards‘s Nil by Mouth are a dark, spicy mixture, topped off by recipes and Mo’s own fantastic artwork. Just make sure you follow the haggis recipe very carefully… calls this chapbook “a fantastic example of the darkly witty Scottish sense of humour and a punchy little collection of stories that can be devoured in a lunch-break”.

The event starts at 7:30 p.m., and there’s a pay-as-you-go bar. Even Jambos will be made welcome.

tasty Nil by Mouth review

Posted by Lenin | Posted in Chapbooks, Reviews | Posted on 28-04-2010



Thank you to Hereward L. M. Proops for this rather fine review:

On a recent trip to Edinburgh to celebrate my thirtieth year in this funny old world, I stumbled across a rather lovely specialist bookshop called Transreal Fiction ( Living in the Outer Hebrides has its advantages but a major disadvantage is the lack of choice in the local bookshop. My nearest is a great little shop if you like mass-market fiction, Gaelic books and tomes on local history; not so great if you are searching for something out of the ordinary. Then again, most major booksellers have a staggeringly limited range of titles thanks to the increasingly homogenised market of brain-dead celebrity memoirs and inane by-the-numbers thrillers. But I digress. Transreal Fiction is a cracking bookshop specialising in science fiction and fantasy. Best of all, they don’t seem to be afraid to stock works published by small, independent presses.

“Joy of joys!” I thought and pinched myself to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming or having another one of those episodes. No, the shop was still there, as was the great selection of writers I had never heard of. My hands began to shake and I could feel my credit card throbbing with anticipation in my pocket.

“Bloody hell!” I exclaimed to my bemused wife, “They even have a section entirely devoted to BattleTech novels!”

“This is all a bit Games Workshop, isn’t it?” my beloved pondered.

“Shhh!” I hissed as the gentleman behind the counter looked up, “Don’t ever mention that word, or they’ll take us out back and tickle us with tiny paintbrushes until we apologise. We’d have to roll a 00 on a 20-sided dice to get out of that one.”

Silenced by sheer terror at the prospect of such geekish tortures, or perhaps just wondering what the hell a 20-sided dice looks like, my wife browsed the selection of imported art books and I began to scour the shelves in search of obscure reads. I found a few before my ten month old daughter began to howl and we were forced to beat a hasty retreat to the nearest place we could change her nappy. I’ve decided to review the most obscure of the bunch, the one that you’ll probably have difficulty getting hold of a copy of unless you go to Edinburgh and pay a visit to Transreal Fiction yourselves. Why? Because I sincerely believe that there is a lot of talent hidden away in small presses that deserve publicity. That and the fact that Morag Edward’s Nil by Mouth is a fantastic example of the darkly witty Scottish sense of humour and a punchy little collection of stories that can be devoured in a lunch-break.

Writers Bloc is a spoken word performance collective based in Edinburgh. I couldn’t really glean much else about them from their website but from reading Nil by Mouth I wish I had picked up a few more of their books. Morag Edward’s book is a collection of five strange short stories, supplemented with even stranger recipes based on each tale. The stories are all quick, unchallenging reads and this simplicity is part of the collection’s strength as the reader is taken unawares by the dark twists and turns of the individual tales. Although I haven’t yet gathered up the courage to try any of the recipes (Deep-Fried Starfish, anyone?), their inclusion is no gimmick or mere afterthought. They appear to be the real deal, so if you’ve ever had the urge to make a vegetarian haggis or spiced thistles, this is the book to track down.

Examining the stories in great detail would probably spoil the deliciously wicked surprises lurking within so I’ll stick to a brief overview of each: “Pie for Tea” tells of an elderly lady whose empty larder doesn’t stop her from enjoying a decent meal; “The Anniversary” is a grisly tale whose twist, whilst a little predictable, is a nice little tribute to Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus; “Serendipity Soup” is a far more pleasant affair detailing a gathering of friends – mercifully free of any outright unpleasantness; “The Wine Cellar” is a laugh-out-loud funny story of adolescent revenge; the collection is rounded off nicely with the supernatural shocker “Fleur na h-Alba” (Flower of Scotland, to non-Gaelic speakers).

Nil by Mouth was touching, stomach-turning and hilarious. That’s no mean feat for a collection of stories clocking in at a mere 40 pages. I can’t think of an established writer able to capture so disparate a range of emotions in such a small book. It’s a great little title and well worth the asking price. Unfortunately, being an extremely limited edition publication by a small press, Nil by Mouth is unlikely to get the audience it deserves. With luck, the author will choose to reprint or republish the stories online to make them available to others. In the meantime, if you live anywhere near Edinburgh, head on over to TransReal Fiction and pick up a copy before they’re all gone. Just don’t mention Games Workshop.

Hereward L. M. Proops

Andrew Ferguson and Morag Edward release brand new Bloc Press chapbooks

Posted by Lenin | Posted in Chapbooks | Posted on 04-01-2010


Bloc’s very own Andrew Ferguson and Morag Edward have both published new Bloc Press chapbooks. You can pick these up at our shows (naturally), direct from Writers Bloc, in Transreal Fiction or Wordpower books.

The Secret of Scottish Football front coverThe Secret of Scottish Football
Fife has spawned many famous footballers: Celtic goalie John Thomson; Liverpool favourite Billy Liddell; and the legendary ‘Gentleman Jim’ Baxter. All grew up in tough, hard-drinking mining communities and cut their teeth in the local leagues.

Fife also has its share of the supernatural. Witches, wizards, bogles and fairies have traversed the ancient Kingdom, their stories grimmer than the half-time pies at Stark’s Park. These stories weave the two together in a blend of football magic, secret knowledge, and the native Fife patois.

“…all the energy and vigour of early Irvine Welsh, but with far more humour and nuance.” – Scotland on Sunday

Nil by Mouth front cover
Nil by Mouth

Feeling hungry? Get your teeth into five twisted culinary tales accompanied by recipes that Delia would never dare to print.

In Pie for Tea, an elderly lady takes an uncompromising stance on vegetarianism. A betrayed lover cooks up a grisly revenge in Anniversary. And the Highland myth, Fluir na h’Alba reveals a plat that sinners should avoid.

Featuring ill-advised ingredients and macabre methods, Nil By Mouth lends new meaning to the phrase, “You are what you eat.” This collection comes with no Health and Safety guarantees.