I’m really excited to be able to tell you all (officially) that my first book, Egress: On Mourning, Melancholy & Mark Fisher, is coming to bookshops near you on 10th March 2020, published by the wonderful folks at Repeater Books.
The book’s blurb reads as follows:
An exploration of the work and legacy of Mark Fisher, one of the most influential and incendiary writers of our generation.
Egress is the first book to consider the legacy and work of the writer, cultural critic and cult academic Mark Fisher.
Narrated in orbit of his death as experienced by a community of friends and students in 2017, it analyses Fisher’s philosophical trajectory, from his days as a PhD student at the University of Warwick to the development of his unfinished book on Acid Communism.
Taking the word “egress” as its starting point — a word used by Fisher in his book The Weird and the Eerie to describe an escape from present circumstances as experiences by the characters in countless examples of weird fiction — Egress consider the politics of death and community in a way that is indebted to Fisher’s own forms of cultural criticism, ruminating on personal experience in the hope of making it productively impersonal.
There’s more to it than that though.
Egress has been a labour of love lost for me over the last three years. It originally came into the world as an unruly MA dissertation, submitted to Goldsmiths, University of London, in September 2017.
The death of a lecturer might sound like an unusual choice for a dissertation topic, especially since it was written in the immediate aftermath of said death without any distance, but I wrote about Mark because I didn’t know how to write about anything else. Mark’s death had so absolutely dominated all social and academic experiences that year, and challenged the research I had been doing before his death (into Bataillean ethics and the politics of community) so absolutely, that there seemed like no other way to move forward than to grab my grief by its horns and write my way out of it.
As such, it was a very weird dissertation to write but the response to it was hugely gratifying. My academic supervisor and second marker — Ayesha Hameed and Irit Rogoff respectively — were the first to offer their feedback on it and they were more encouraging than I could have anticipated. Both suggested I should keep going with it and let it see the light of day outside the walls of the institution. It was already written with one foot outside those walls and so, with this tentative permission to keep pushing forwards, I thought I might as well take the leap. At first, that’s what this blog was for — an excuse to keep writing after there were no more academic hoops to jump through — but it quickly grew into something much more than a blog.
It has taken a further two years to get it right but now, six times the length it was in September 2017, and with a few more years thought and experience inserted into its initial ideas, the result is something I am immensely proud of.
However, if it was a weird dissertation, it also remains a weird book. As I’ve been warning family and friends who have no idea what I write about here on the blog, “it’s certainly not a light beach read.”
As I write in the book’s introduction, it is as much a product of grief and depression as it is about those two things and so it is a book that slips and slides between registers and references, between personal experience and collective thought, in a way that is both indebted to Mark’s work and the slippery practice of blogging through which he made his name and to which I’ve also dedicated much of my life. It also attempts to connect these practices and projects to the wider philosophies that Mark and his friends were so naturally in tune with. As such, I believe that this weirdness is its strength rather than its weakness.
Suffice it to say, this is not a by-the-numbers summary of Mark’s published works or a biography of the man himself. With Egress being the first work of “secondary criticism” about Mark’s work, I think that’s how it should be.
This is not an attempt to tie up the loose ends he left behind into a neat package. It is an attempt to give an account of his death, written through the experiences of those he left behind, and an attempt to show, through a philosophical rigour and a rhetorical accessibility (and a certain desperation), how the relevance of his work persists even though, at a glance, it may appear to have failed the man who penned it.
You can find out more information about the book over on Repeater’s website here.
I’ve also got a page here where I’m collecting any endorsements and reviews which I’ll be updating periodically.
If you’re in the UK, you can preorder it from Blackwell’s, Foyles and Waterstones. If you’re in the US, it’s available from Barnes & Noble and Penguin and… I don’t know what shops you have over there, but it’s in lots of places. Check your nearest bookstore! It’s global! (Amazon has it too if you’re desperate.) It will also be available to order direct from Repeater here on March 10th.
I’m sorry to say you’ll be seeing a lot more of my face and hearing a lot more of my voice over the coming weeks. I’ve got a bunch of press stuff and events planned so keep an eye out for those. (There will be a book launch in central London on March 11th which I can’t wait to announce — save the date!)
Thanks to everyone for the support over the last few years and to those who have had a more direct hand in keeping me sane and afloat during this book’s gestation. I hope you feel it’s been a worthwhile endeavour.