John Muckle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

John Muckle (born 9 December 1954) is a British writer who has published fiction, poetry and literary criticism.

Writings and editorial[edit]

Born in Kingston-upon-Thames, he grew up in the village of Cobham, Surrey and has lived most of his adult life in Essex and London. After qualifying as a teacher and working in FE colleges, Muckle took an opportunity to work in book publishing. He first worked for small literary publisher Marion Boyars before moving on to be paperback editorial copywriter and editor for Grafton Books (later subsumed into HarperCollins). In the mid-1980s he initiated the Paladin Poetry Series. He was General Editor of its first anthology The New British Poetry (Paladin, 1988), commissioning other titles before leaving in anticipation of the company's takeover and dissolution by Rupert Murdoch. The poetry imprint was then edited by London writer Iain Sinclair. Muckle's own books include It is now as it was then (with Ian Davidson - poetry, Mica Press/Actual Size, 1983), The Cresta Run (short stories - Galloping Dog Press, 1987), Bikers (with Bill Griffiths - Amra Imprint, 1990), Cyclomotors (illustrated short novel - Festival Books, 1997), Firewriting and Other Poems (Shearsman Books, 2005) and London Brakes (a novel - Shearsman Books, 2010). His second novel, My Pale Tulip, set partly in Jaywick, Essex, was published in 2012. His critical study, Little White Bull: British Fiction in the Fifties and Sixties, appeared in 2014. Muckle has contributed to literary journals and has published essays on poetry, including that of Allen Ginsberg, Ed Dorn, Tom Raworth and Denise Riley. In 1989 he received a Hawthornden Writer's Fellowship.


Muckle's short story collection The Cresta Run was well-reviewed. Norman Shrapnel wrote in The Guardian: "An identifiable vernacular for this still measurable sector of the populace - working-class if not always working - is amply available and John Muckle's excellent stories prove it. The territory of The Cresta Run is short on dropouts and introverts; it's more a world of sleazy service stations, hot-dog vans and skinheads along the Hog's Back, dangerous sailors hot from the Falklands, people you watch your words with." In London listings magazine City Limits Nick Kimberley explained that the book was "almost entirely speech-driven" and concerned "people who are not very bright but love country and western; he skilfully catches the rhythms of their talk, not in 'Minder'-style caricature but as an imaginative means to pinpoint their place in this shabby world." Edinburgh Review inferred that Muckle was a post-modernist, or perhaps an apocalypic, concluding: "But the fetish fashionism surrounding junk, icons, kitsch makes this a collection which is only almost disturbing". Cyclomotors, ten years later, was not widely reviewed, but a number of well-known writers praised it highly, including John Berger ("a wonderful book"), Michael Moorcock, Harold Pinter and Will Self. Marxist literary critic Terry Eagleton praised Firewriting, a long poem about Walter Benjamin, as "a deeply impressive poem ... full of riches and depth." On publication of London Brakes, a novel whose background is based on London's motorcycle couriers, Muckle was attacked by a columnist for quoting Pinter's words ("More power to your writing hand") on its front cover. Of My Pale Tulip Ian Brinton wrote in PN Review: "John Muckle's compelling and fast-moving new novel ... has links with Terrence Malick's dream-like film of crime and punishment, Badlands, in which the two youngsters Kit and Holly drift through South Dakota ... a beautifully realised sense of that cinematic drift contained within the cocooned magic of this desperate bid for an escape from the drabness of these teenagers’ fractured Essex backgrounds."