Occasionally I like to make note here of mentions of Hooting Yard from elsewhere in Interwebshire. I see this as a boon to scholars in years to come, who will not have to look quite so hard for references when compiling the fat magnificent doorstoppers devoted to Mr Key with which bookshelves of the future will surely teem.
Anyway, here is the view of Rachael K. Jones:
Frank Key is an odd, odd author.
South Coast minstrels The Flying Aspidistras perform a rousing version of Dismantled Wooden Myrna Loy. Watch it here.
There I was, thinking that my film career began (and, thus far, ended) with Miss Hathorn’s splendid adaptation of A Recipe For Gruel in 2014. But what is this I find, lurking in a remote corner of Het Internet? Why, it is a film entitled Creekside Artists, made by Endwell Productions as long ago as 2006-7, the soundtrack of which is a direct recording of Mr Key babbling away on the radio about Dobson, Marigold Chew, squirrels, and seagulls. I had no idea this existed. I suppose it also counts as one of my rare forays into the world of ART.
The eerie silence of the past week or so has not been occasioned by the usual vacancy-between-the-ears syndrome. On the contrary, Mr Key has been a busy buzzing bee. I received a commission from the splendid Norm Sherman of the Drabblecast to write a Lovecraftian tale for the podcast’s annual celebration of the Rhode Island master of purple prose. Thus I spent several days immersed in the world of shoggoths and mad Arabs and hideous crawling chaos (with tentacles) and then another couple of days tippy-tapping a tale that I hope will prove a fitting homage. The text will be posted here after it has appeared on the Drabblecast.
I now need to delovecraftise my brain, which is easier said than done. After reading just a couple of stories, it is very easy to get completely sucked in by all that nameless miasmic horror. Perhaps I will hoist myself out of it by writing a twee story about Popsy the Pony in a buttercup-splattered meadow, or some such winsome tosh. Watch this space.
I have just discovered this rave review of Hooting Yard by Madeleine Swann – what an excellent surname! – who is a British “bizarro, horror, surreal, and weird fiction writer”. I do not know if she writes about swans, but I hope she does. Anyway, she has nothing but kind words to say about Mr Key and his prose, and she includes some links to stories featured on the Drabblecast. They include Norm Sherman;s matchless reading of “Far, Far Away”, which Ms Swann describes as “[not] so much science fiction as a bowl of madness”. If you have not heard Norm intone the words “magnetic mute blind love monkeys”, then do so right now. You will not regret it. And many thanks to Ms Swann.
From the “What are you reading?” column in this week’s Times Higher Education:
Tony Mann, director of the Maths Centre, University of Greenwich, is reading Frank Key’s Mr Key’s Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives (Constable, 2015) and By Aerostat to Hooting Yard: A Frank Key Reader (Dabbler, 2014, Kindle edition). “Thanks to a reading at the excellent Greenwich Book Festival I have discovered the work of Frank Key, whose humour is reminiscent of both Wodehouse and Beckett. His stories of his imagined world, with evocative place-names and regularly recurring characters like the out-of-print pamphleteer Dobson and the ‘fictional athlete’ Bobnit Tivol, are unsettling, vaguely sinister and very funny.”
Clearly a very sensible Mann.
I mentioned my hope that one day a blue plaque would commemorate the site of last week’s live appearance at Brewer’s Bar. Jonathan Coleclough, who attended that night, has been out and about with his box camera and reports that the plaque is already in place.
As most of you lot know, I do not engage with Twitter. (The Hooting Yard Twitfeed is an automated bit of gubbins that updates whenever I post something here.). It has been brought to my attention, however, that last week I was all over Twitter like a rash – if being retwitted over fifty times is, as I am assured, a rash. The cause of the hoo-hah was the attention given to a letter I had published in The Spectator which is, I hope, self-explanatory.
The Public Domain Review Book Of Essays 2011-2013, which I told you lot about yesterday, is reviewed on the Paris Review website. Well, sort of reviewed. The author confesses he had never heard of Christopher Smart before, and devotes the bulk of his piece to a summary of Mr Key’s essay on Jubilate Agno. I added a comment directing readers to the audio recording at the Internet Archive. Sooner or later, Germander Speedwell and I are going to “go viral”, I am sure of it.
It has come to my attention that some among you lot are not spending your appointed three hours per day listening to Jubilate Agno, Christopher Smart’s lengthy and demented poem, recited in full by Mr Key and Germander Speedwell. Happily, there is a link to the recording at the Public Domain Review. Backsliders take note!
Which prompts me to bring to your attention the newly-published Public Domain Review : Selected Essays 2011-2013, a book which you ought to buy immediately. Go here for further details and ordering information. Mr Key’s piece on Kit Smart is included in the book, so it is a necessary purchase (along with Kew. Rhone.) for all fanatically devoted Hooting Yard completists, which of course is every last one of you.
I would like to remind readers that Hooting Yard has an eerie, shimmering “presence” on both Facecloth and Witter.
The Facecloth group is sunk in lassitude, but it can be revivified if you lot all join up and start posting the sorts of posts persons post on Facecloth, whatsoever they may be.
The Witter site is automatically updated* every time Mr Key posts something here at Hooting Yard, which means I never have to lift a tweety finger, thank heavens. But I understand that following and retweeting things is a constant activity for half the planet these days, so I encourage you all to get cracking.
*NOTA BENE : Due to inexplicable and quite possibly Lovecraftian forces at work in the aether, the updates have not been appearing for several months. This should be fixed soon, possibly by the time you read this.
This is the Age of Unbridled Narcissism, but Mr Key is of course a diffident and unassuming fellow. However, I would like to draw to your attention the programme for Devour! The Food Film Fest, to be held in Wolfville, Nova Scotia in November. Among the films to be shown is Sharon Smith’s splendid adaptation of A Recipe For Gruel, described thus:
Animated and described cleverly by the best British voice you have ever heard, A Recipe for Gruel will charm and inform, but mostly charm.
Er … to be precise, it was animated by Sharon (aka Miss HatHorn) and narrated by Mr Key, but I am flattered by such praise. In case you have no idea what the Nova Scotians are talking about, you can listen to untold hours of that voice babbling away at the Hooting Yard On The Air archives at Resonance104.4FM.
When it has done the rounds of the film festivals, food-related and otherwise, A Recipe For Gruel will be available to watch online. I shall keep you informed.
In his scholarly introduction to By Aerostat To Hooting Yard, Roland Clare writes: “The Bad Vicarage is a very funny piece that epitomises not only the moral instability of Hooting Yard but also Key’s desire to puncture the very illusion of reality that naturalistic authors are at pains to sustain. Even if the rest of the story were sensible – rest assured, it is not – there is no easy way we can come to terms with the unreliability of a narrator who first wonders what has become of the ‘Bad Vicar’, then reveals himself to be the incumbent in question.”
The estimable Walt O’Hara of Airy Persiflage says: “Not for the faint of heart, Mr. Key’s spine tingling tale of a monstrous vicar of old and the evil that he wrought!” You can enjoy the pleasurably disconcerting experience of listening to the tale read by Mr O’Hara here.
The word “Medium” to me suggests a Victorian charlatan in a darkened room, summoning the spirits of the dead and spewing forth ectoplasm. “Medium” is also, I learn, the name of a new(ish?) bit of interwebbery, a repository for prose, a sort of amalgam of bloggery and twittering. Those more familiar with these matters could no doubt explain it better. But Hooting Yard is always bang up to the minute with the latest developments in technology, and not just L’Oreal’s light-reflecting booster technology. That is why Mr Key has taken a tentative step into Medium, by reposting that recent spot of wittering about surrealism.
I may add further pieces to the site, and you lot can all hie over there with your knapsacks and a packed lunch, and “recommend” me. Who knows if conquering Medium will be a profitable step on the path to our ultimate goal of Hooting Yard Global Dominion?
Here is a date for the diaries of those of you lot who live in or around London. Next Saturday sees the London première of Sharon Smith’s film adaptation of A Recipe For Gruel at the BFI Southbank. It is being shown as part of the British Animation Awards – programme 2, on 8 February at 6.20 p.m. Mr Key will be in attendance (incognito, of course). Don’t miss the cinematic event of this, or any other, century!