‘Arse on Earth’ by Tim Etchells

I have the Pulp Books edition of Tim Etchells’ endlessly grainy, deeply sly, rebarbative, criminally under-published collection Endland Stories, with the blurry grayscale photos & the typeface that mimics a cheap printer from ten years earlier. It’s held up well although the paper’s looking forlorn after being cured so many years in flats, cellars & self storage units etc etc. Etchells’ fiction is less experimental than out on its own somewhere looking at things on your behalf, often from a viewpoint of psychically-damaged faux naif. My personal favourite is a story whose name I never remember but which is no more or less than a two or three thousand-word list of the nicknames of a vast motorcycle gang composed perhaps of everyone in Endland, or maybe even on this planet. Sadly, that one doesn’t seem to be in here, so I am going out on a limb for ‘Arse On Earth’, the weird but compassionate odyssey about a goddess–or perhaps less a goddess than a headstrong Aeon–and aren’t they all–who descends to Earth with the intention to solve this problem: WHY IS MODERN LIFE RUBBISH? and ends up in Derby, where a cull of street pigeons is in progress.

But you could pick any of these stories and it would be the finest as far as you were concerned. Endland Stories is best summed up from its own introduction—

Bear in mind it is not a book for idiots or time wasters but many of them are wrote about in it. For the rest–concerning the bad language, bad luck and low habits of the persons described–I make no apologies and, like the poets say, “welcome to Endland”©, all dates are approximate.

–and is about to come back into print from And Other Stories. Look out for it.

In Endland Stories, Pulp Books, 1999

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