Keenan’s debut novel follows the 2016 reissue of shop favourite England’s Hidden Reverse, his epic history of the esoteric musical underground of the 1980s, and it doesn’t disappoint. This is the oral history of Memorial Device, a Lanarkshire post-punk band of mythical misfits and sideways dropouts, as told by those involved. Clear chronology is largely eschewed in favour of kaleidoscopic fragments of violence, punk, sex, psychosis, and the fertile misery of small-town life—all constantly sliding against each other, at once illuminating and obscuring the bigger picture. Hilarious and bewildering in equal measure, this will bring to mind David Foster Wallace as its closest point of reference, but ultimately Keenan is operating in a zone largely uncluttered by familiar signposts.
We have a very limited number of signed copies of David Keenan’s debut novel, This is Memorial Device, with accompanying zine, Go Ahead and Drop the Bomb, and a Memorial Device badge. Once they’re gone they’re gone, so drop us a line if you’d like one!
You can read Ollie’s bookseller recommendation here.
Join us as we celebrate the release of 'Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983' with a talk from Tim Lawrence, followed by a screening of Downtown 81 (2001, 72 mins) and music till late from from Lucky Cloud and BBE Music.
LIFE AND DEATH ON THE NEW YORK DANCE FLOOR, 1980-1983 (2016, Duke University Press): As the 1970s gave way to the 80s, New York’s party scene entered a ferociously inventive period characterized by its creativity, intensity, and hybridity. Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor chronicles this tumultuous time, charting the sonic and social eruptions that took place in the city’s subterranean party venues as well as the way they cultivated breakthrough movements in art, performance, video, and film. Interviewing DJs, party hosts, producers, musicians, artists, and dancers, Tim Lawrence illustrates how the relatively discrete post-disco, post-punk, and hip hop scenes became marked by their level of plurality, interaction, and convergence. He also explains how the shifting urban landscape of New York supported the cultural renaissance before gentrification, Reaganomics, corporate intrusion, and the spread of AIDS brought this gritty and protean time and place in American culture to a troubled denouement.
Tim Lawrence is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London and the author of 'Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970–1979' and 'Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973–1992', both also published by Duke University Press.
DOWNTOWN 81 (2001, Dir. Edo Bertoglio): Starring the legendary American painter, graffiti artist, poet and musician Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), Downtown 81 is both a post-modernist fairytale and a vivid depiction of the downtown New York art and music scene in the early 1980s. The film chronicles a day in the life of a 19 year-old starving artist (Basquiat) who must raise money to reclaim the apartment from which he has been evicted. Hoping to sell a painting to earn the rent, he wanders the downtown streets, painting in hand, encountering painters, models, junkies, graffiti artists, rappers and rockers whose lives and performances provide a slice of life from one of the most exciting periods in American culture. A “lost” film, shot in 1981 but not completed and released until two decades later, Downtown 81 not only captures one of the twentieth century’s most interesting and lively artists in Basquiat, but also features music from many of leading musical artists of the era including Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Tuxedomoon, The Plastics, James White and the Blacks, The Lounge Lizards, and DNA.