Ameles/Currents of Unmindfulness
(Poe Girl Publishing)
I think I read somewhere that it is uncustomary for the after hours goings on in bookstores to be remarked upon in the media after I mentioned the after hours goings on, in these pages, in a bookstore. It felt like a genteel admonition to heel.
Howeva… From an Ancient tale of Jagger blocking the toilets taking a shit at a book launch at the British library (decades ago, and he probably can’t remember every shit even if that incident ever happened), to Birmingham writerly royalty Charlie Hill recently regaling us with a welter of shit about how not to get a job (at our Bookshop Day event at Bearbooks) to R.M. Francis having his audience at Heath Books in Birmingham shitting bricks with fear while listening to his reading from his new horror collection Ameles/Currents of Unmindfulness. After hours goings on in bookstores is our currency. I can vividly remember being naked, tied up and blindfolded with my AP Leamington scarf in a bookshop in the middle of a major British city, just after hours, for shits and giggles; winter people all wrapped up passing the locked door ten feet away, murmurs penetrating. This is the kind of shit that goes on in bookshops after hours all the time, and because writers are rock stars for us, this is where our interest lies. We’re like, OL is the HELLO of the low art low end lit world, so we just have to share the details.
R.M. Francis’ reading at Heath Books and a subsequent one I caught - at Wolver Uni, during the push for his new horror collection, Ameles/Currents of Unmindfulness, was mercifully low on nudity, but high on the dark arts of alternative horror. Francis reads in an amped up, harrowing Black Country dialect - he’s an avowed fan of Joel Lane, evoking an insidious terror that kicks against the pricks of the genre.
Ameles/Currents of Unmindfulness is excitingly British. It’s not entirely conventional and there are fewer elites in the Black Country to bother with. That’s a relief because so much horror has them. It’s as thrilling and reverberating as say director Ben Wheatley’s take on Ballard’s High Rise or in how the movie Attack the Block felt new reclaiming and repositioning sci fi - the first full scale alien invasion of the UK since the Triffids, recentering the action from Kew gardens to a South London housing estate.
Francis wants the audience to depart encumbered with the baggage of disquiet and unease. It works. He has a vivid picture of who we are, how to reach inside and twist and alarm. That voice would frighten the horses and does for us outsiders too, we are in his world and we don’t belong but can’t resist rubbernecking anyhow. It’s by degrees wonky, but make no mistake, RM Francis' horror can curdle the blood, archetypally, but equally easily could curdle milk and stand there menacing you as you are forced to drink it. It's all so unpleasantly great.
Ameles/Currents of Unmindfulness is available now, right here⇒