‘Disorder’ by Nicholas Royle

This is from an anthology of shorts based on one of my favourite records, Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. When I read this story (named for the opening track on the record) for the first time, I struggled to pin it down. The imagery was very much in keeping with the lyrics of the album but much as I liked the vibe, the clashing, fragmentary images and the jarring dissonance of the prose, it was somehow too on-the-nose, a touch too derivative and it frustrated the hell out of me. 
Then I got to the end and read the author’s note in which he said the story was written by taking every single word used in the album’s lyrics and rearranging them to form the piece, using each word once and once only, except in cases where a word was repeated on the record – and at that point my mind was blown completely. Such a great idea for a way to assemble a piece on the theme of Disorder, and also very much in line with Ian Curtis’s love for avante-gardists like Ballard and Burroughs and the cut-up techniques they used to experiment with. The whole collection is excellent and has some great writers in it – Jenn Ashworth and Toby Litt being two other notable contributors – but this one is the jewel in the crown for me.

First published in We Were Strangers, Confingo Publishing, 2017

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