Notice to the Public

Within time I will construct a tight, light and penetrating post explaining just what is happening in the world of Georgy Riecke – and which exact changes are due to be made. In the meantime, one brief announcement:

In about a month’s time, the time it takes to chew through a cherry stone, Underneath the Bunker will be undergoing further alterations. One result of this will be that the hundred or so articles currently stored there will not be immediately available to readers. They will instead be undergoing a rigid editing process, after which they will be appearing on a slightly modified site (to be found, it is hoped, at the same web address).

What does this mean to you, the reader? Most importantly, it means that if you wish to ensure that such winning pieces of writing as this and this (and more besides) are not lost to your eyes (if not forever, than at least for a while) now is very much the time to re-acquaint yourselves with them.

Fly, my pretty readers, fly!

[more on this, of course, later…]

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Date of Birth

As one decade swings gloomily into another, an eagle-eyed reader has drawn my attention to an irregularity regarding the founding date of my journal Underneath the Bunker. The information to the left of this post (‘About Georgy Riecke’) states that I have been general editor of the journal since 2003. And yet, elsewhere on the web (here, for instance) can be found claims that the journal was founded in the ‘mid 90s’. Which, comes the lusty cry, is right?

Both are misleading. The truth is that I can’t say exactly when the magazine was born, per se, though it is certainly true that it had a difficult conception. The idea emerged, without doubt, in the mid 90s, when I was still working on another journal (Peggy Grounter’s ill-fated Groping for Allusions). An early, draft copy was then produced somewhere around 1998, possibly under a different name (or then again possibly not: I can’t recall).  At this point, the project stalled for a while, before relaunching at the beginning of the decade as a fully-fledged printed journal, with a full team of employees – a situation that lasted, in all, about two weeks. In those days, of course, Underneath the Bunker had no online presence; this didn’t start until at least 2004, whereupon the printed version ran into troubles, finally dying in about 2005. At about the same time, many of the original team went their own ways, leaving me as master of the entire project, helped out by a gang of regular contributors, amongst them such names as Heidi Kohlenberg, Jinpes Terenk, Lucien Ropes and Caspar Nietcher (or Nietscher as he seems to be calling himself at present).

Since then, we have undergone further changes. As things stand, the journal is undergoing a rather long spring-clean, with the main bulk of the action being re-located to this very blog. Is it the end for Underneath the Bunker? In one form, yes. But as the old saying goes, you can’t keep a good journal of obscure European Literature down. Oh no you can’t.

To answer the original question, however – when was Underneath the Bunker founded? Well, I wonder whether it matters. It is, that is all I need to know. To ease the beating hearts of the truly pedantic amongst you, I shall nonetheless throw you a date. How’s about the 28th August 2002? Yes?

That’s settled then.

P.S. My Christmas Quiz (aka. ”Half-hearted Seasonal Quiz’) is still very much open for answers. It all kicks off here.

Admirably Grey

Following our retrospective glance at an oft-ignored portion of Oa Aayorta’s oeuvre (see below) today’s scholarly sunbeam shines on future projects. I reported a while back on rumours that everyone’s favourite Andorran novelist was thinking of releasing his third in ‘twitter’ form. I probably need my wife’s nephew to explain exactly what this would entail (and how it might differ from the ‘facebook novel’ he is himself considering). Having said that, the possibility that Aayorta would use an internationally known website to peddle his obscure literary wares seems, to me at least, to be a small one. More personal methods will, I suspect, be employed.

Still, I can confirm that the title will be A Rather Lengthy Afternoon (following on from his previous works, The Endless Winter Night and An Everlasting Evening) and that the web will be involved ‘in some shape or form’.

Which reminds me. Things haven’t been moving very fast at Underneath the Bunker recently. A few articles have been edited, a few loose ends tied up and so on – but no obvious improvements as yet. This may change soon, as I consider the options regarding site re-decoration. I don’t think I’m wrong when I say that the whole operation could be smartened up a little, though I’ve to decide just how this will be managed.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that the website has undergone changes. When it first appeared online, back in 2005, it was blessed with a concrete grey background, making it near impossible for any of my readers to digest the words scattered within. I took a certain pleasure in this fact, for a while, before submitting to the desires of those who appreciate a tad more clarity in that which they consume. It seems the time may have come, once again, to bow down to the needs of my readers, and sacrifice my stubborn faith in low-fi aesthetics for the sake of something a little more pleasing to the eye.

Somewhere, Over the Bunker (1)

I have been accused, at various points in my long and wonderful career, of spending a little too much time ‘incessantly riding the arse elevator’ (as a strange English friend of mine once put it). What this means, I think (and, indeed, hope) is that I prefer, wherever possible, to draw attention to the fruits of my own endeavour; ignoring all the while the fertile crops of my competitors.

I don’t think this is entirely true. Is this blog not already crammed with links to the work of other men and women? True, most of them come with a comment or two from yours truly – and the majority of them are published by my journal/publishing house – but what do you expect? I am a critic/editor: that is what I do. If I should harp on about Underneath the Bunker, it is not because I am vain, but because the journal is my child; my livelihood. And if it doesn’t get attention from me, who else is there to tuck it in at night?

Today, however, I have decided to embrace the spirit of common enterprise and sprinkle some ‘outside’ links over your plates, as proof that I do venture into other spaces; that I do step out of the so-called ‘arse elevator’ every now and again. As the brackets in the title suggest, this might be the first act of regular adventurings across the vast reaches of Internet culture. On the other hand, it might not.

First up the eternally un-ignorable Hooting Yard, with a piece entitled The Last Ditch. This is, as I have stated on the site, a moving stretch of prose; a taut elegy, complete with hiking boots and hypochondria. It must be read – at least seven times.

Meanwhile, here is a piece about beards, courtesy of the supremely intriguing A Journey Round My Skull. From the same site, a man riding an ostrich (I suspect he may be an active reader; I think he has a copy of some inspiring novel tucked under the feathers to his left).

Lastly, naming from The Lumber Room, which closes with the line: ‘It would be a mistake to suppose there is no pattern, or that names are meaningless; it is rather that the pattern is subtle and strange, as is language itself, and as are human beings, and gods.’

Well, indeed.

Life in the Undergrowth

I am often quoted, not incorrectly, as saying that the main aim of my journal (Underneath the Bunker) has always been to ‘to reject the well-trodden path and rush off into the prickly undergrowth’. This aim – I need hardly inform you – was praised by many. So why is it I find myself constantly beleagured by complaints that too many of the books I review, or magazines I mention, are ‘far too hard to find’?

What can I say? It is an unfortunate state of affairs. Limited print runs, small publishing houses, the state of the Slovenian literary industry: there are no end of things squatting like indolent hogs in the road of convenience. Obscure European Culture is just that: obscure. Following contemporary Bulgarian poetry is never going to be easy – and I have never pretended that it would be. Greatness, after all, usually comes at a price.

There are, nonetheless, one or two occasions on which I may allow the murmur of grumbles to persist. Earlier this week, for instance, I drew your attention to a new literary magazine named Lit Up – yet another magazine dedicated to obscure European literature. It was, I warned, hard to obtain: so it has proved. Though the offices are based here in London, getting hold of a copy is, I am told, near impossible. Why don’t they have a website? This has been the cry of some – and can I blame them? The internet, after all, should help readers connect with obscurity. And yet, so far as I can tell, Lit Up has no internet presence whatsoever.

Luckily, help is at hand. As you may have noticed, the latest article to appear on Underneath the Bunker  (see here) is an edited version of an article that originally appeared in Lit Up. We are, thus, going some way to ensure that readers are not completly cut off from the culture that counts.