Lee Rourke

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Lee Rourke
Born 1972
Occupation Novelist, Literary Critic, Editor
Nationality British
Period 2002–present
Notable works The Canal, Everyday, A Brief History of Fables: From Aesop to Flash Fiction

Lee Rourke is a writer and editor. He is the author of the short story collection Everyday and the novel The Canal published by Melville House Publishing. He has also written for The Guardian, The Independent, TLS, The Observer, and the New Statesman as well as book blogs such as Ready, Steady, Book. He is Contributing Editor for 3:AM Magazine and also blogs at SPONGE! He lives in London.

Work[edit]

Novels[edit]

The Canal follows an unnamed narrator as he tries to make sense of the everyday violence around him. One morning, instead of walking to work (his usual weekday routine), he simply walks to the Regent’s canal in north east London, where he finds himself a suitable bench to sit on opposite a whitewashed office block on the other side of the murky water. He spends most of this first morning watching the commuters walking and cycling to and fro, together with the swans, coots and moorhens who have made the canal their home. He blames the onset of boredom for this sudden change in lifestyle. He is soon joined by a young woman on the same bench. She doesn’t speak, just stares ahead at the whitewashed office block, watching its occupants move from office to office and desk to desk. In this coming together begins a complicated treatise on violence, catastrophe, secrets, death, aviation, weight, technology and gravity, as this mysterious woman leads the narrator into a dark world of obsession and brutality.

Short stories[edit]

Everyday is a set of short stories based in the heart of London. Rourke writes:

“What truly interests me is why Everyday was created in the first place: I guess I wanted to recreate, or copy, the base materiality around me: the same faces walking to work each day, the same arguments in the road, cyclists falling off their ‘fixers’ and ‘Bromptons’, the same conversations, the same daydreams, the same photocopying machines… A copy of the things of the everyday. I’m interested in Blanchot’s idea that we are all riveted to existence.” 3:AM Magazine

Anthologies[edit]

Best British Short Stories 2011, Edited by Nicholas Royle, Salt Publishing, UK (2011).

Best European Fiction, Edited by Aleksandar Hemon, Dalkey Archive Press, US (2011).

Writing at the Edge, Edited by Zsolt Alapi, Siren Song Press, Canada (2007).

3:AM London, New York, Paris, Edited by Andrew Stevens, Social Disease Books, London, (2008).

The Bookaholics’ Guide to Blogs, Compiled by Rebecca Gillieron & Catheryn Kilgarriff, Marion Boyars Publishers, London/New York, (2007).

Love Hotel City, Edited by Andrew Stevens, Future Fiction London, London, (2009).

The Beat Anthology, Edited by Sean McGahey, Blackheath Books, (2010).

Non-Fiction[edit]

A Brief History of Fables: From Aesop to Flash Fiction is published by Hesperus Press.

'A poem should not mean,/ But be,' or so the twentieth century literati would have had us believe. Yet from the earliest of classical narratives to modern-day e-zines, literary works have been turned to political, didactic and symbolic ends. In this groundbreaking work, Lee Rourke traces the long history of a form currently enjoying a resurgence online and in the works of some of the most talented young authors in print. As we begin to emerge from modernism and its aftermath, fables – the briefest of narratives given the most expansive of significations – have gained in popularity. Author and literary critic Rourke here considers the permutations of the form, from Aesop's tortoise and hare, via Plato's socio-political works and the later ribald medieval tales, to Kafka's anthropomorphism and present-day authors including Blake Butler, Joseph Young, Shane Jones and Jonathan Lethem. A Brief History of Fables offers a bold take on the new face of literature.

Criticism[edit]

Reviews for Ready, Steady, Book readysteadybook.com

Articles/Reviews at The Guardian The Guardian

Reviews for The Independent Dazed and Arouzed by Gavin James Bower The River Wildlife by Joe Stretch The Bird Room by Chris Killen

Reviews for Bookforum Bookforum

Reviews for The Quarterly Conversation The Power of Flies by Lydie Salvayre

Themes[edit]

Boredom[edit]

Rourke’s fiction deals primarily with boredom. Rourke explains further in The Guardian:

“Boredom has always fascinated me. I suppose it is the Heideggerian sense of 'profound boredom' that intrigues me the most. What he called a 'muffling fog' that swathes everything – including boredom itself – in apathy. Revealing 'being as a whole': that moment when we realise everything is truly meaningless, when everything is pared down and all we are confronted with is a prolonged, agonising nothingness. Obviously, we cannot handle this conclusion; it suspends us in constant dread. In my fictions I am concerned with two archetypes only, both of them suspended in this same dread: those who embrace boredom and those who try to fight it. The quotidian tension, the violence that this suspension and friction creates naturally filters itself into my work.” The Guardian

External links[edit]