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  • CRASH! How I Lost a Hundred Billion and Found True Love (Kindle Single)
    CRASH! How I Lost a Hundred Billion and Found True Love (Kindle Single)
    by Julian Gough

    The UK Kindle Single #1 hit.

    Jude lives in a henhouse with no roof, that he bought for ten million euro, at the height of the Irish property bubble. One day, his mortgage is rated the debt in Europe most likely to default... The political and financial elite of Europe arrive, with a plan: help Jude put a roof on his henhouse, stabilize his debt, and reassure the markets. It all goes horribly wrong.

    "This novella is very funny – laugh-out-loud at times…Gough is one of our most talented satirists" — The Irish Independent

  • Jude in London
    Jude in London
    by Julian Gough

    Shortlisted for both the Guardian's Not The Booker Prize, and the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, Jude in London is an epic, comic exploration of the bizarre love triangle between language, consciousness, and reality. Which is all very well, if you're into that sort of thing.

  • Jude: Level 1
    Jude: Level 1
    by Julian Gough

    Shortlisted for the 2008 Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction.

    The novel's prologue won the biggest prize in the world for a single short story - the BBC National Short Story Prize.

    "Sheer comic brilliance" - The Times

    "The best comic novel I've ever read" - Tommy Tiernan

    "Could be the finest comic novel since Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman" - The Sunday Tribune

  • Juno and Juliet
    Juno and Juliet
    by Julian Gough

    My first novel, of which I am very fond. The adventures of teenage twin sisters Juno & Juliet, in their first year away from home. Life, love and literature, in Galway and Tipperary.

     

    "Like Roddy Doyle in an extremely good mood" - The Washington Post

    "A modern, at times brilliantly ironic reworking of the classical fairytale, with nods to Shakespeare, Austen and Beckett." - Literary Review

    "Hugely entertaining" - Vogue

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Thursday
Sep132012

Jude in Waterstones - a new and exciting adventure for Jude, with an unfortunate ending

Two copies of Jude in London

Waterstones are the biggest book chain in the UK, with 296 shops. They sold five hundred million pounds worth of books last year. I’m very happy about that, because I write books. In fact, Jude in London, my most recent novel, came out in paperback this month. The Observer just named it their Paperback of the Week.

The paperback is the cheaper, mass market edition. It’s the one covered in great reviews of the more expensive trade paperback, or hardback, from a year earlier. The paperback is how you reach a mass audience.

I’d had a busy year since Jude in London first came out. The kind of busy year retailers like; one that raises your public profile, and brings new people to your work. My second BBC radio play starring Jude — The Great Squanderland Roof — had picked up roughly a million listeners. My stageplay starring Jude (The Great Goat Bubble), had sold out its run, every ticket, every night. The novel itself had been shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize (former winners: Will Self, Ian McEwan, Howard Jacobson…) It was even shortlisted for the Guardian's anarchic anti-award, the Not The Booker Prize. And, since Jude in London first came out, I’d written the long narrative at the end of Minecraft. (Winning every award going, Minecraft was Time Magazine's Computer Game of the Year for 2011). Given that Minecraft had by now sold nine million copies, my work had quite possibly had more readers than that of any other quirky literary novelist this year.

One of the exciting things about being a writer is when your publisher tells you how many copies Waterstones have ordered. It is exciting partly because they completely dominate the retail market for literary fiction in the UK. (If they don’t stock you, your book is dead.) But it is also exciting because I love Waterstones. Theirs are the shops in which I browse, and buy, when I’m in England. Their staff are terrific; friendly and knowledgeable. It’s a special pleasure to ask someone in the fiction section to recommend something odd and interesting. (Last time, in their flagship Picadilly branch — which has eight and a half miles of shelves — I was lovingly introduced to Daniil Kharms.) Their Oxford Street branch is a delight, and its witty Twitter account is a must-follow. Of course, those staff and managers are no longer allowed to order anything. It all has to come from head office. But that means head office can put in a huge order. (Waterstones ordered 12,000 copies of the paperback of my first novel, back when I was even more obscure than I am now.) My hopes were, cautiously, high.

So, how many copies did Waterstones order of the paperback? Two. Two copies. Not two copies per shop. Two copies to share between all 296 stores. That's less than 1% of a copy per shop. That’s… (Does the maths on a napkin)… exactly three pages for each manager. (Hmm. That reminds me of something… It’ll come to me.)

Now, I have no problem with this. I understand that nobody wants to read highly praised novels that have been shortlisted for well-known awards, especially when they’ve been written by award-winning cult writers whose writing gets millions of listeners and readers in other media.

What’s been puzzling me is…  why did Waterstones order two copies? Why not no copies? I mean obviously they don’t like the book. Fair enough. My stuff has a strong flavour that is not to everyone’s taste. Ordering no copies would make sense. But a head office order that comes to only three pages for every shop? Why would they want… wait a minute. (Googles feverishly. Returns a couple of minutes later…)

Hey, did you know that, in the UK, the average person uses three sheets of paper to wipe their backside after a crap? Obviously, some use less, and some use more, but the UK average is three.

So, Waterstones have ordered two copies of Jude in London.

Just enough to give every manager of every shop in the Waterstones chain exactly three pages each…

Hmmm.

They REALLY don’t like my book.

Saturday
Jul072012

An Open Letter To Jonathan Ive (and Apple)

Yes my short story, the iHole, was here. No, it's not there now...

Yes, there was an open letter to Jonathan Ive (and Apple) here. No, there isn't now.

Sorry about that. (If you are REALLY disappointed, here's a different free story instead, as a consolation prize. It's a comedy about a financial catastrophe involving goats. You might even like it more than The iHole.)

Back to the missing iHole.... For background, I'll just quote briefly from the original open letter:

 

"Dear Jonathan,

My name is Julian Gough. I write fiction. And I have a problem that only you can solve.

I recently wrote a short story called The iHole, and I think it’s the best I’ve ever written. It’s about the design of an imaginary product, and it’s set inside a fictional version of Apple, at some time in the near future. A fictional version of you is mentioned, by name, a couple of times, though he stays offstage as a character.

A major media player wants the story. Their editorial people love the story. The potential audience is a million plus. So far, so good. But now their lawyers have asked me to change the name of the fictional company from Apple, and change the name of the character I’ve called Jonathan Ive..."

 

 

OK, I put that letter, and the story, online three days ago. This morning, we've all come to a satisfactory resolution.  I'm really sorry if you came here to read The iHole and are disappointed. It will be available (legally) again later this year, honest. 

First, I want to say thanks to everyone - Minecraft fans, fiction fans - on Twitter and elsewhere, for their support, encouragement (and even editorial suggestions), over the past three days.

And second, I want to say that THERE ARE NO VILLAINS in what's just happened. Apple behaved perfectly, and the media organisation wanting to use The iHole behaved perfectly, as did their lawyers. I'm not mad at anyone and I don't want you to be mad at anyone. if there was a problem here, it was with archaic laws that make it hard for writers to write about the modern world.

In fact, I particularly want to defend the media organisation involved. There are precious few media outlets for short stories already, so the last thing these guys deserve is to be kicked for having the courage to take on an unusually tricky modern story like mine. They have behaved impeccably throughout, attempting to keep the story intact while still obeying the law.

My attempts to sort this out directly, by going over their heads, have almost certainly made their lives more difficult, for which I apologize. There's always a healthy creative tension between the artist and the industry, but I realize I generate a lot more tension than most. Sorry, everyone...

Finally, I'm happy that we seem to have sorted out a compromise that doesn't damage the story artistically. And I'm very happy to discover that such large numbers of people can still get excited, and passionate, over a short story.

Fond regards,

 

-Julian Gough

 

 Photo courtesy Sophie Gough Fives (age 7)

Friday
May112012

Irish Writer Pardoned For Stealing Pig

 "The pig is rightfully MINE, Sir Terence!" (Photo by Sophie Gough Fives.) Actually, to contradict the caption, (which, on reflection, I realise is more Sherlock Holmes than Bertie Wooster) - I hope Sir Terry Pratchett wins. THIS time...

Well, well, well. My new novel, Jude in London, has been shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize. Older readers will understand why I am so surprised (as well as, of course, delighted); younger readers will have it explained to them shortly. It involves dark literary doings, and the theft of livestock. Stick around.

The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction is the one where they give you the prize at the Hay Festival, name a pig after your book, and take your photo with the pig. A great, idiosyncratic prize, with a good track record. The Wodehouse judges discovered
Marina Lewycka's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, they chose Vernon God Little before it won the Booker, and last year they gave the prize to Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story.

This year, it's a very strong shortlist: the other four are Terry Pratchett (for Snuff), Sue Townsend (of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole fame, for The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year), John O'Farrell (for The Man Who Forgot His Wife), and John Lanchester (for his sprawling financial comedy of London life, Capital). Normally, natural humility would cause any author surprise at being on such a splendid shortlist. However, as regular readers of my work will know, I do not suffer from humility. My surprise at being on the shortlist comes from the fact that, last time I was on it, I disgraced myself so thoroughly that I'd assumed the judges were more likely to put me on a blacklist than a second shortlist.

Back in 2008, the first novel in my Jude trilogy - Jude in Ireland - was shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, alongside Alan Bennett, Will Self, Garrison Keillor (of Lake Wobegon Days fame), and Joe Dunthorne. I swelled with pride, chiefly in the region of the head. I blogged about my joy. But... well, at this point I may as well quote from a slightly later blog entry:

"You can imagine then my dismay when I discovered, shortly afterwards, buried in the small print of the Hay-on-Wye festival programme, the odd phrase "Will Self, winner of the 2008  Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize." Winner? WINNER?!?!?!

As the festival program had gone to print before the shortlist was announced, this meant that the prize committee had picked the winner before they had announced, or perhaps even picked, the shortlist. It was a stitch-up. But worse, I had been denied my rightful month of anticipation, tingling, hiccups and giddy excitement.

Also I'd put serious money on Alan Bennett to win. His The Uncommon Reader is a little masterpiece. Something had to be done.

I thought long and hard. The prize is named after that comic god, P. G. Wodehouse, inventor of Jeeves and Wooster. What, I thought would Wodehouse have done, faced with such provocation? Sat in his room and written another comic novel, probably. That's how he reacted to everything, including World War 2. As I was already sitting in a room writing a comic novel this wasn't much help. Action was called for, dash it. So I asked myself, what would P. G. Wodehouse's greatest creation Bertie Wooster do, nobly backed by the genius of his manservant Jeeves?

 

And the answer came to me as in a vision - as though the ghost of Wodehouse himself whispered in my ear - he would steal the pig.

For if there is one constant in the work of P. G. Wodehouse, from Pigs Have Wings to Pig Hooey, it is that God put pigs on this good green earth to be kidnapped. Not a chapter goes by without somebody chloroforming Lord Emsworth's favourite sow, The Empress of Blandings.

And thus I made my way to the Welsh borders and, with the assistant of my trusty gentleman's gentleman, Jeeves (not his real name, but he would like to remain anonymous for some reason), I stole Will Self's pig.

I sent the organisers this, ah, pignapping video, containing my ransom demands. Tense negotiations continued up until the last minute. They, understandably, did not wish to give the prize to the man who had stolen their pig. I offered, as a very reasonable compromise, to deliver the pig to Alan Bennett's door in London if they would re-award the prize to him. They baulked - Will Self was in the program - his angry fans, denied, might rampage, torching tents, incinerating Gore Vidal in his invalid chair... The intervention of a bishop almost led to a compromise candidate (Joe Dunthorne), but we ran out of time..."

The full story is here. And in this story in The Mail. And in various pieces by Hugo Rifkind, now stuck behind The Times paywall... And The New York Times' arts blog... And in India's Sunday Tribune... I know, I know. And not a thought for my long-suffering mother.


OK, basically, I got a bit carried away. It's always a bad idea for comic writers to leave their padded cells and attempt to do things in a real world for which they are so ill prepared. Still, one learns valuable lessons, which can be fed back into the fiction. I learnt that stealing pigs, for instance, is considerably harder and more complicated in real life than in books. The paperwork for the transfer of livestock across EU borders is shockingly complex. I strongly suspect that PG Wodehouse never stole a pig in his life...

Anyway, it all turned out OK; Will Self kept the title, but I made my point, and I got a pig out of it, which, once converted into wurst and salty bacon, got me through the long Berlin winter.

The only downside, I thought, was that I'd thoroughly burnt all my bridges to the only prize in these islands for comic fiction - pretty much the prize I most wanted.

And thus my surprise at being shortlisted again this week. I think it reflects very well on the people who run the Prize. They have shown true Christian - or Wodehousian - charity. Moral of the story (if there is one): There is greater rejoicing in the literary world over the pig thief who repents, than over the author who never steals a pig at all.


 

(For those not put off Jude in London by the moral depravity of its author... the free Trust Edition is available from Ben, my publisher, here. You may download it and read it for nothing. If you like it, you can pay whatever you think it was worth. More orthodox editions of the book are available here...)

Friday
Feb102012

An old scratchy photo of Malcolm McLaren, Suzie Shorten, Michael D. Higgins, and me.

I've been so FLIPPING busy that my blog has been left unfed since October. (Also, I will admit, the crack cocaine of tweeting has weaned me off the long opium dream of blog posting.)

But my old friend Suzie Shorten just sent me this photo, so feck it, I'll slap it up for your amusement.

Major flashback... Galway, 1997... Town Hall Theatre bar. Left to right: Former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, Suzie (who's at MCD now), future president of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, and me (with blond hair).

Some cowboys, in the Wild West, 1997: Malcolm McLaren, Suzie Shorten, Michael D. Higgins, and me.

By golly, a night out in Galway was a NIGHT OUT in those days. Malcolm had finished his talk, and was about to be taken away by the Arts Festival organisers, to the respectable and venerable festival club in the Warwick, in Salthill. They'd almost got him safely into the taxi when he escaped from his minders, trotted up to me and my beloved (we were sheltering for a last few minutes in the theatre doorway from the inevitable Galway rain) and, under the entirely mistaken impression that we knew where the cool clubs were, asked us where he should go. (I was a milk-drinking, hot-water-bottle-using homeboy who went out about once every three years, and my beloved was worse, but he wasn't to know that. It was the hair, man. Blondes DO have more fun.)

I had heard of an illegal wine bar, in a cellar under a solicitors on Abbeygate Street - passwords! secret knocks! - but I'd never tried to get in. It turned out that "er, yeah, that's Malcolm McLaren" was a secret password. And so Malcolm held court, enthroned in a very comfortable old leather armchair, in the Galway underworld, till pretty close to dawn. Stories, theories, stern lectures, good advice (which I never took), even better anecdotes, and his complicated, multiple, silly, brilliant future plans. (He was most excited by his Chinese, satirical/situationist, pop group, The Rice Girls... I don't think he ever did get a record company to fund that one...) A highly entertaining man. (Oh, if any tabloid journalists are reading this; the future president retired early - long before the illegal wine bar - don't worry.)

For a more detailed account of the night... er, email me.

Thursday
Oct132011

The Jude in London, Not The Booker Prize, Flashmob Book Club

OK, if you want something meaningful and life-changing to do this weekend (and who doesn't?), you can join this one-off, high-speed, hold-onto-your-hats, Jude in London/Not The Booker Prize, flashmob bookclub. Will the life you change be yours, or mine, or both? We won't know till Monday.

 

A totally gratuitous topless shot of the author. Wearing a David Shrigley temporary tattoo. Long story.Here's the deal: my publisher and I will let you download my brand new book, for free, here. (It's usually £12.99 in trade paperback, or £4.99 on Kindle). You read it over the weekend, throwing in comments and arguing with each other (and me) in the comments section below. And if you love the book - and only if you love it - you can vote for it to win the Guardian's (in)famous Not The Booker Prize, anytime before midnight London time, this Monday (17th of October, 2011).

 

If you choose to vote for Jude in London to win the Not The Booker Prize, you'll need to vote in the comments on this page, and write a very short review here to prove you've read it. Also, bear in mind there's several other excellent books on the shortlist for the prize (I'm thinking in particular of Spurious, by Lars Iyer, and King Crow by Michael Stewart), so feel free to check those out, or read and discuss them instead.

 

And yes, when it's all over, you can pay as much (or as little) as you think the book was worth, directly to me & my publisher Ben. (We'll split it equally between us.) But if you're really poor, forget it, the book is on me & Ben. (I was on the dole for ten years, learning to write. I know what it's like to be too broke to join in the fun.)

 

So, it's an experiment - we're going to try and assemble a virtual flashmob book club. If you have any friends who might be interested, tell them. And I'll see you in the comments section down below, later.

 

Just click to go to the download page for the Jude in London Trust Edition

Oh, if you're wondering will Jude in London be to your taste, here's some recent reviews from The Guardian, The Irish Times, and The Cadaverine. (And if you want to go straight to the source and judge for yourself, here's an instant extract you don't have to download, about goats and financial bubbles: The Great Hargeisa Goat Bubble...)

 

If you've any problems downloading the book free from here, just email me at JulianGoughsSecretEmailAddress@gmail.com, or tell me on Twitter (I'm @juliangough), and I'll email you a copy directly.

 

Have fun, be nice. Enjoy the weekend.

 

(EDIT: As soon as I posted this, and tweeted about it, the responses began - on Twitter. D'oh! I hadn't thought this through... So yes, we can talk about the book here; but also on Twitter (where I am @juliangough), using the hashtag #judeinlondon. I'll mosey back and forth. Talk soon...)