The Sick List

2021, Boiler House Press (BC Editions).

On a patch of wasteland at the borders of the contemporary university Gordon stages his last tutorial. His student finds it in the verge; a trail of deception across marginal notes and decaying paper. Gordon gives lessons in sickness and makes sick by teaching. He teaches the end of education and the end of educated culture.

Short film incorporating readings from the book

The launch

(also available via Boiler House Press here)

The cover

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From the blurb

‘The Sick List operates on the far side of literature’ – John Schad

Screenshot 2020-12-18 at 16.17.29This novel takes the form of a single paragraph in which the narrator, an unnamed academic in an unnamed contemporary university, relates his obsession with his tutor, Gordon. He pores over Gordon’s increasingly bizarre mis-readings in annotations to a strange selection of stolen library books. Meanwhile, an epidemic of catatonia breaks out; academics are found slumped and unconscious at their desks. Is the only escape to become sick of reading itself?

Witty, moving, and beautifully written, The Sick List treads a fine line between deploring and exemplifying what it most despises. Inspired by the work of the Austrian novelist Thomas Bernhard, it considers how the minds of educated people are moulded by both the deceits of bookish culture and the narrowness of academic institutions.

The Sick List is about menace, about a menace (Gordon), and is written in the voice of a menace. It reads like one of the pen-portraits of surreal ultra-violence in Bernhard’s Gargoyles, where education turns out to be the most deceitful panacea of all.’ – Katharine Craik

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