Thursday, 16 May 2013

Message in a Bottle by C.T. Kingston

Read by Matt Fleming

First off, I just want to say sorry. If you’re out there listening, Jen, I just want you to know, I shouldn't have done it. But at the time, you can see, you can understand why, can't you? I know everybosy says this, but I did it for us: I really did. And if you're heading for the door right now, please, just stop, wait half-a-minute, turn around baby, listen. Please.

Plenty of people write autobiographical fiction; it's a thing, right? It's so common it's more than respectable: Tobias Wolff, John Updike, Philip Roth, Sheila Heti ... I won't mention James Frey if you don't. And it's not like I was out of ideas. Short stories, so many stories, I mean they just poured out, right? Even got published, some of them. But Deborah was adamant, that way she is.

"I gotta see a novel, Robert ... you wanna make it in this business, right? You wanna give up the day job?"

The Other Mother by Ysabelle Cheung

Read by Sin Gwamanda

They come in droves, buzzing in the humid air like hot flies. They are nubile young things, their bodies voluptuous in brown globes of fat. They smell of the Philippines; salty and lean. They do not speak.

These Filipino maids, the bun mui as we call them, have no engagement with the Western language. The creativity of their vocabulary lays in the repetitive ‘no m’am’ and ‘yes ma’am’ or else, a mute, dazed shake of the head. They are afraid.

During the day they congregate in their employees' kitchens, whispering and chopping scallions till their fingers run raw. Radio crackle mingles with steam: they are only allowed to listen during the preparation of supper between six and seven pm. Sometimes they sing along with the program whilst they sauté, slice and fry our dinners. They have thin, pretty voices; their singing represents a kind of short-lived happiness. Only for an hour a day.

Blue Lovers by Huang Haisu

Read by Hin Leung

Phoenix couldn’t figure out why Jake refused to eat her hometown stinky tofu. After all, she had gone out of her way to try his moldy, milky and chunky blue cheese.

“They from one house,” Phoenix put it into their fridge, “All smelly, all blue.”

Jake said NO again in the living room and insisted she take it out. “It’ll stink up everything.”

“Then where I put?” Phoenix said and rested the tofu inside, making sure Jake heard the fridge door shut.

A year ago, Jake had proposed to Phoenix on her twenty-fifth birthday with a two karat diamond ring from Chow Tai Fook, the best jewelry shop in Pulandian, a town on the outskirts of Dalian. All her “sisters” including the lady owner of the Happy Feet massage parlor turned green with envy yet were suspicious. Why would Jake, a fat and limp foreign man ask a young Chinese massage girl twenty years younger to marry him? And, why would she agree to marry a guy like him?

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Lust & Chastity - confirmed stories

Another month, another event!

We just confirmed the lineup for Lust & Chastity.

The following NINE stories (yes, we threw an extra one in there just for you) are...

A Good Hard Shopping by Keon Woong Lee (LLHK actor!)
Warrior Princess by Michael Skansgaard
The Prince of Poland Visits the Pieta by Grace Andreacchi
Chastity by Richard Meredith
Bonerland by John Biggs
All the Way by Daniel Bird
Scimitar and Cane by Paul Comrie
Brotherhood of the Blue Balls by Sam Carter
Our Lady of Guadeloupe by Evan Pheiffer

The event till take place on June 24th. Stay tuned for venue and other details!

How I Met Your Mother by Evan Pheiffer

Read by Keon Woong Lee

I think I winked when I first saw her, though I could be wrong. Perhaps I burped. I remember drinking a black cherry soda; the moment she emerged from the around the corner I nearly choked on the carbonation. She was the most delightful thing I’d ever seen.

It was early summer and I’d just failed my exams. Father didn’t want me running around the capital in my usual drunken stupor, so he sent me to America to conduct ‘research’ in the ‘field’. It was 1990 and the Party was still zealously keeping tabs on any Tiananmen scum who’d fled to the West. I was to track them down, befriend them, infiltrate their networks and find out what kind of support they were getting from those bastards in Washington. Since many of them were now teaching in provincial universities, I’d be stuck in the cornfields all summer. But that was before I’d seen her...

Handover (an extract) by Paul Blaney

Read by Brad Powers

In Macau he found a hotel on the beach. The first room they showed him had no windows but from the second, on the sixth floor, you could just see the sea. He paid in cash from the envelope Elaine had given him and went straight back out. It was already dark when the taxi dropped him in the centre of town. He set off on foot with a mind to buying some clean clothes—Bossini or Giordano—but his feet took him elsewhere, away from shopping, along cobbled streets that wound and narrowed and pulled old churches from their sleeves until he was properly lost. Turning down a street of electrical shops, he was startled by a mournful blare that issued from each—bagpipes!

There was a barber’s shop. He went in and sat down and had a shave. He’d walked far enough. What he needed now was drink. There was a bar on the corner, dimly lit, with loud music. It was full of people, Europeans and Chinese, holding glasses and smiling. He sat at a table drinking whisky and everything around him was nicely dislocated. Shining faces, blank eyes. He was getting towards the place where he wanted to be, both here and not here.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Wanderlust by Zarina Zabrisky

Read by Lara Genovese

I need help. I suffer horribly. I torture my family, I’m desperate.

I’m dying although I’m perfectly healthy. I never have colds, and my dentist cries like a baby when he sees my flawless teeth. I have the resting heart rate of Martina Navratilova and my abdominals were featured on the cover of Shape magazine. I do a hundred squats and sixty dead lifts every morning. I eat organic, but Wanderlust is eating me from inside like cancer.

Let me give you a little background. Travel is in my blood. When you think about it, it all started when one restless couple was exiled from an exotic tropical resort called Eden to a correctional facility called Earth. Their even more restless offspring kept marching between Egypt and Palestine in a rather confusing manner. Apparently, that wasn’t a long enough trip so next generations moved to Europe, where they were periodically chased from one country to another. Eventually, the most impractical group settled in Russia, a swampy place with disgusting climate and unstable social situation. I was conceived on the Trans-Siberian express, and was born in a desolate town called Vyborg while my mother was cross-country skiing.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Charades by Chance McLaren

Read by Saffron Chan

That time of year again. Ma fusses, dancing around the topic, but always landing on it, flat-footed, while aunties, uncles, the cousins, and now a little niece and nephew wait for my reaction. Ba doesn’t say a word, but you know what he’s thinking. Isn’t it about time? Thirty-one, and no one serious? He looks at his watch and up at the clock as if to confirm his suspicions that his only child is past her sell-by date.

This time I’ll show them. Can’t wait to see their eyes pop, their jaws drop when Wang Fei drives up in the posh rented Mercedes. I told him to wear a suit, look the part, please—successful Hong Kong banker, ya know?

Last year’s date--were we more than that?—had been a disaster like the year before when I came alone, empty-handed. Sure, the guy was cute, and the aunties cooed over his blond crew cut, his broad shoulders, the deep-set eyes. They didn’t seem to mind that he taught math (“Ah, education, that’s good!”), but he was one of them after all. It’s okay for us to explain how to make dumplings, to exchange “Ni hao’s”, and to smile a lot. It’s something else to be a future son-in-law.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Departures by Liam Hogan

Read by Alex Milner

Two men meet in an airport departure lounge. One, travelling West, wears a white shirt and a dark charcoal suit, and even in the airport thinks he represents his company, as he has not even loosened his thin, neutrally coloured tie.

The other wears loose fitting trousers and a pair of shoes that would be turned away at most night clubs. He carries a canvas backpack that looks like it has been round the world a few times.

It has.

There is little reason for the two of them to converse, except that the lounge is otherwise empty. It is between planes – the man in the suit arrived an hour earlier than he needed to, worried about missing his flight, but now that he has navigated check-in, now he has passed security, he is calm. The man with the canvas bag cut his departure customarily fine, and – the airline having over-booked – has waived his seat in return for an upgrade on a later flight. And yet his eyes dart around the room, with the look of a man who is ... well, what? Hunted? Or haunted?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

East & West recap

Thanks to everyone who came out earlier this week for a fantastic night of tales, tapas and tunes!

We had our biggest crowd yet on Monday; our Liars spotted literary agents, publishers, writers, bankers and musicians among others in the crowd. One very special guest flew all the way in from San Francisco for this particular night - Zarina Zabrisky, the author of 'Wanderlust', lives up to her story!

Thanks to Shirley Sheung for the photographs and Joe Angelakis for the videos (which shall be up soon).

Alex Milner reading 'Departures' by Liam Hogan

Saffron Chan reading 'Charades' by Chance McLaren