It’s time I did a bit of propaganda for a unique writer whose words put mine to shame, for inspiring me to start my own blog.
Actually, it was my good friend and fellow artist, Helena Godwin, who first suggested blogging, and I was probably quite offensive and rude to her at the time. As I remember, I said something along the lines of ‘Hmph. I ain’t putting my stuff out there for free; I want publishing.’ And left it at that.
I never thought I’d end up ‘blogging’; blagging, maybe, but blogging? What? I hated the word for starters. Whoever came up with that word sure put me off sharing any of my precious words with the www.coms of this world. I wanted quids in and I wanted them now. Then. Twenty years ago.
Call me what you want, but I didn’t even know Shane’s page was a ‘blog’. When I came across it a while back, the screen glistening in opaque, rainbow patterns as my spunk splashed over his lovely photo, specifically the lit tip of his cigarette, I was hooked.
Okay seriously now, I can’t produce spunk, and I couldn’t actually see his photo at the time, reading as I was on my shitty mobile version, but his words resounded with me, straight to the gut. It was his post ‘The Sinner’s Eye – The Culture of the Needle’ which first hooked me. I’d never before identified with someone so strongly in the apparent weirdness of my mentality:
‘As it killed me, so it saved my life’
Before reading this I’d been called all manner of things by all manner of people for my belief that IV heroin saved my life. ‘You have to stop justifying your using thoughts’ ‘Good excuse to relapse’ ‘Fuckin lying junkie’ ‘All you fuckin drug addicts do is make excuses’ et cetera. Ad nauseum. Not that it matters ‘what people think’, but reading certain phrases in Shane’s Memoires was like reading my own thoughts:
‘And more than that I enjoyed the marks I was imposing on myself. It was a thrill, and finally I had some visible mark for the invisible pain I was trying to tame.’
And my god it felt good to have someone tell me, through beautifully written prose, it’s okay, that’s normal: I felt that too.
I don’t have the mis/fortune to be able to read Shane’s work from the perspective of someone who never had an IV heroin habit, but it’s not just about identification: it’s a bloody good read for saints and sinners alike, and if it’s blood and injection fetishism you’re looking for, don’t be disappointed that he covers so much more than just the ins and outs of the pin. Moreover, his work is important not purely on a literary level, but does much to de-stigmatise, demystify and ultimately challenge the way addicts are treated in society:
‘In it the addict has found a means to show a hurt or trauma that is not expressible in words.’
It is a vehicle for change. Well, that’s a nice thought. Let’s hope I’m right. Addiction is, after all, the new leprosy. And Shane has the cure for the bell-sellers.
And like heroin itself, reading Shane’s Memoires is both therapeutic and addictive. Despite its apparently bleak edge, it’s feel-good literature. That’s the writer’s job, after all, to make the reader feel good. Nothing better than a good book that you can’t put down. Shane Levene has a talent that is rare in contemporary literature. His metaphysical, ethereal imagery transports the reader into his world, where the page becomes a cerebral cinema:
‘It was one of those rare occasions where the people were scarier than the shadows they cast.’
One night or morning, in the insomniac hours, I wrote Shane a fake review, and I meant it, because he truly is one of the best writers I have ever read. Here’s my fake review. Okay, why call it fake? I’ll become a reviewer now, as the blogosphere allows me to do so (fuck sake, I still hate that word, ‘blog’)
Shane Levene’s words cut cold as the pin which slices skin and snags virgin mainline, and suave as the plunger pushes home; sharp, satisfying and deep enough to sting with acidic wit…and always, but always leaving his reader wanting more…like coming home…
So, I decided to start putting my writing out there too. Because I’m sick of being productive yet unproductive, and because I like Shane’s concept of Shitting on Publishers’ Desks. Why lick the arses of publishers only for one’s hard-written words to remain housebound? My words have cabin fever. They feel better now they’re sneaking out: here’s their elixir.
So thanks for the inspiration, Shane. May you outlive the cut’n’paste archivist publishers by many years.