“The lustre of morning has intruded again, & the skies are abundant with hoop snakes wrought from gold. A glamorous and celestial sunshine, teeming with a lemniscate of light, bearing the fingerprint of creation like a watermark within a piece of parchment. Again, I am agog before God…… My breaths have shortened, & the susurrus of the Java Sea tides simulate the sigh of one thousand newborn children, floating upon backs as the angel parade courses above them on high.”
Such is the lingual splendour from the young, award-winning Australian Writer, Kirk Marshall, this time from a short story entitled Years of Viking Hospitality. Originally hailing from Brisbane, Queensland, Marshall is now actively engaged in Melbourne as a writer and teacher of Literature and Media (Film & T.V. Studies) at RMIT University. He is still an up-and-coming fiction writer but has been duly noted in some academic circles, most recently being awarded the 2010 Wet Ink Short-Story Prize and the 2010 Booranga Prize from Charles Sturt University for Best Short Story. He also won previous prizes at The Children’s Book Council of Australia and the Brisbane Short-Story Competition for youth. Rather fittingly, he has served as a panellist for the Emerging Writer’s Festival for multiple years and edits the English-language / Japanese bi-lingual literary journal, Red Leaves / 紅葉, with Yasuhiro Horiuchi.
Although still in his 20s, Kirk Marshall has written over sixty publications for various Australian and international journals and webzines. His full fiction début, Carnivalesque, And: Other Stories, was recently published by Black Rider Press and described as follows: “A short-story collection which encompasses a contemporary multi-ethnic freakshow circus as they navigate Japan’s mountain country, a Canadian lumberjack’s journey toward self-discovery, and Jesus Christ’s Mexican surf holiday, but the collected fictions also manage to pose some probing, philosophical questions. These include: ‘What’s the allegorical connection between Barack Obama’s neutered political agenda and his behaviour amongst friends?’ and ‘How does a clinically depressed half-Mexican oceanographer, a masturbatory German marine biologist and a suicidal Japanese submarine pilot formulate a family at a depth of 30,000 leagues?’” Such is the surreal-madcap-epic, guru-buffoon, polyphonic void-bursting extravaganza that drips with wild-honeyed prose from the mind of Kirk Marshall. Benjamin Law, author of Family Law, aptly concurs:
“Diabolically verbose, Carnivalesque: And, Other Stories is a joyous, demented orchestra of prose. Reading it is like being pulled into an intoxicating Japanese fug, and you’ll sometimes wonder whether Marshall has, indeed, drugged you. These aren’t stories for people with short attention spans (and you might not always understand what is happening), but pull the pages close: there is gold to be found in amongst this ensemble cast of misfits.”
There is no doubt that Marshall has a wanded quill and a wizard’s spellbinding aplomb with words. At times he belongs to the hieroglyphic sages that came down to us through the symbolist poets, the surrealist prosodists and the Oulipo contortionists – and at other times he dances with the mad glee reminiscent of ‘nonsense literature’ stalwarts from Lewis Carroll to Flann O’Brien. Perhaps the best insights to his self-confessed ‘word nerdery’ can be found at his Fun with Kites online journal:
“I’d contend, without qualification, that wordsmithy should go in the running to be regarded the world’s greatest unsung recreation — and I’ve learned to write in such a way that I’m now able to regard my process as honouring the possibilities of sentence architecture. That’s what it’s all about for me; there’s no more substantial accomplishment than somehow managing to wrangle spiky, seraphic beauty from the application of syntax. My fiction now develops as an extension of my play with form and style, and emerges in an oleatory mode in which narrative stems from the accumulation of images, allusions, events, developments. My guide & epigone in this literary method is the late, great Barry Hannah — rest and/or wrest his immortal soul! — whose genius work I’ve only recently stumbled upon (have you guys read Yonder Stands Your Orphan? => prepare to have your eyeballs explode), but who has sweetly validated for me everything I consciously strive to do with words.”
Skylight Press is delighted to unleash this word-lush tidal wave upon the world with the publication of Kirk Marshall’s demented cryptozoological novel, The Signatory. It has been a delight to work with this wonderfully talented author and we look forward to more trypticular magic from his phantasmagorical pen.