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Multimedia: Foxx January 22, 2023

Posted by sjroby in Uncategorized.
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I’m enjoying some smaller multimedia worlds lately. Sure, I still love the vast tangle of TV episodes, movies, books, comics, and more that make up Star Trek and Doctor Who, but it’s fun to follow something on a much smaller scale. So here’s one of my recent explorations, with more to come. Not really Facebook material.

John Foxx started writing Ballardian and surrealist short stories under the umbrella title The Quiet Man long ago; some of his lyrics from his early solo work and his Ultravox days tie in with them, in choices of imagery and phrases. In 2009 he released a spoken word (with ambient piano background music), The Quiet Man. That was followed by a book collecting the short stories, The Quiet Man (Rocket 88, 2020), a chapbook of a new short story, “The Lake” (Nightjar Press, 2020), and a second spoken word/piano reading of stories, The Marvellous Notebook (2022). I like the book, but nothing beats listening to Foxx read one of the stories. He chose to have Justin Barton read the ones on the earlier album, because the Quiet Man at the centre of some of the stories is meant to be relatively featureless, grey, unnoticed, and Foxx thought his northern accent might give a bit too much specificity to the character, so he went for a Londoner. From outside the UK, it hardly seems necessary; if anything, Foxx’s accent has softened enough over the years to be less noticeable to Canadian ears than a London accent. Or perhaps to Canadian ears that have heard a lot of northern accents on TV, from Coronation Street to Cracker to Doctor Who (McGann and Whitaker in particular). So I was glad Foxx chose to read the stories on The Marvellous Notebook. The stories, like the ambient underscore, tend to focus on isolation and strangeness. So reading the book in a couple of sittings, while certainly possible, dulls the impact of some of the stories, which, while not too much the same thing, tend to operate in similar shades of grey. Anyway, the tales here make overt the connections between decades of songs and instrumental music from Foxx’s prolific music career. More than worthwhile for fans, and possibly an entry point for new readers and listeners. “The Lake” sold out almost instantly but the rest is still available.

Video for John Foxx’s The Quiet Man, read by Justin Barton