Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon January 2, 2013 - 12:46pm

'The Sound of Loneliness' by Craig Wallwork

Discussion has officially started!

Synopsis: Manchester in 1991 is a town suffering under the weight of high unemployment and massive government budgetary deficits that is plunging the UK into a recession. To Daniel Crabtree, a struggling writer, it is the backcloth to his first novel, one that will see him become a famous published author. Living off mostly water and flour, Daniel has embraced penury into his life under the mistaken belief that many young artists have: one needs to suffer for success in art. But Daniel is a terrible writer. In the three years since signing on the dole, of every morning chastising his Irish singing neighbour for waking him from his sleep, and scrounging food from his close friend Henry Soperton, Daniel Crabtree has produced one short story. His heart is bereft of words as much as his pockets are of money.

It is a story of love, and how a poor starving man chasing a dream came to the understanding that amidst the clamour of life, the sound of loneliness is the most deafening of all.

Author: Craig Wallwork lives in West Yorkshire, England. He is an artist, filmmaker and writer. His short stories have appeared in many publications in the US and the UK. He is the author of the short story collection Quintessence of Dust, and the novels To Die Upon a Kiss and The Sound of Loneliness. Craig is also the fiction editor at Menacing Hedge Magazine.

Discussion has officially started!

This one crept up on me. I didn't even realize that Craig had a book coming out until he posted something a few weeks ago. It was perfect because I didn't have a book picked yet for February. So yeah, I'm excited about this one. I've loved every short story I've read by him and I've been meaning to dig into something longer.

Here's the publisher's site: The Sound of Loneliness on Perfect Edge

Get to reading.

Andrez Bergen's picture
Andrez Bergen from Melbourne, Australia + Tokyo, Japan is reading 'The Spirit' by Will Eisner January 3, 2013 - 6:26am

Oh, what a great selection, though admittedly I may be biased — Craig is a mate and a mighty fine writer. Looking forward to reading and finding out more about this beastie!

ryan elliot wilson's picture
ryan elliot wilson from los angeles is reading Threats by Amelia Gray January 3, 2013 - 2:54pm

Just picked up my copy... looking forward to the discussion of this! The description reminds me more than a bit of Hamsun's Hunger... That one got right into my head and wrecked what there was to wreck.  Always appreciate that.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon January 4, 2013 - 9:58pm

I'm super stoked to read this. I've loved every one of Craig's shorts that I've read. So I finally got a chance to order it today off of amazon, and they're all sold out!

Phil - any news on this? Will people be able to get it in time?

edit - I'm not bitching though. It's awesome seeing small press authors selling out.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading January 6, 2013 - 5:12pm

I don't know. We planned the release date way before this book discussion, I'm afraid, so I can't speed it up, but since it's already available on Amazon for astute "early birds" I'm pretty sure enough copies will be there for those who want it... I can ask Craig if he wants to give out some PDFs to those who want it early, too... It cuts into sales, which is fine with me, but it does have the effect of the release itself being weakened.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore January 7, 2013 - 10:07am

I feel terrible, because I've either read or plan to read soon the last three or four months' books, just haven't managed to dig into the discussion because the WAR2 contest has consumed all my reading time. I will make an effort to get this read before the end of February. Which probably means pushing back Quintessence indefinitely.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon January 7, 2013 - 4:06pm

Don't worry about it Phil. We'll make it work. :)

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon January 9, 2013 - 6:16am

Mine is now in the mail. Amazon had 1 earlier. Now they are all out again. It says in stock Jan 11th.

Lookit Craig - selling out on amazon twice now! Before the official release, even.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies January 9, 2013 - 4:15pm

yeah, craig is one of my favorites authors. i actually published a few of his stories back in the COLORED CHALK days. pick this up, people. so good. seriously.

manda lynn's picture
manda lynn from Ohio is reading Of Love and Other Demons (again) January 10, 2013 - 4:43pm

i accidentally ordered three copies of this because i kept getting impatient about the estimated delivery date - so, should i feel bad that some of you are having such a hard time getting a copy??

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon January 11, 2013 - 7:27am

lmao, that's hilarious. Mine is supposed to arrive today. I have things shipped to my Dad's usually, so I'll find out tomorrow when I visit him.

Craig Wallwork's picture
Craig Wallwork January 11, 2013 - 3:51pm

Thanks to all those willing to jump in and read the novel.  I'll be around to answer questions, if anyone has any.  Hope you enjoy it.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon January 14, 2013 - 12:02pm

Welcome, Craig!

Laramore Black's picture
Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 January 15, 2013 - 12:40am

I've only read two books in my free time so far this year. One was a pulitzer prize winning book by Junot Diaz called This is How You Lose Her. The other was The Sound of Loneliness by Craig Wallwork.

Wallwork's novel was by far superior and my opinion is not biased like some might because there was never words spoken between us, nor had I read anything else by him until after I read this novel.

Anyways, thought I'd share and I hope LR finds it to be as good as I did.

pathetique's picture
pathetique from Seattle is reading Dead Stars January 15, 2013 - 12:11pm

I actually haven't read any of Craig's work before. But I have acquired it, and am stoked to read it.

Craig Wallwork's picture
Craig Wallwork January 21, 2013 - 9:51am

For those still unsure if they should jump into this novel or not, Booked Podcast has done a review for your listening pleasure.  And yes, the synopsis is shit.

It's also available to buy now, too. Thanks.

Adam's picture
Adam from Denver is reading books... January 22, 2013 - 6:24pm

Just received my copy from Amazon. Looking forward to digging into this one.

.'s picture
. January 24, 2013 - 4:05pm

Can't wait to read and poke my head in.

Laramore Black's picture
Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 January 26, 2013 - 11:59am

I'm going to carry a copy around in case I ever decide to commit any major crimes. ;)

NikKorpon's picture
NikKorpon from Baltimore is reading Book and books and books and January 26, 2013 - 5:08pm

If B&N doesn't deliver my copy of TSoL before this convo gets rolling, shit's going to get real. For real, for real.

Also, the initials of your book being TSOL? Fucking awesome.

Up the punks.

Craig Wallwork's picture
Craig Wallwork January 28, 2013 - 6:15am

Adam and Jack - THANKS for jumping in!

Nik - Had to look TSOL up.  Completely bypassed me that band. Hope B&N get it to you in time. 

Laramore - Carrying books around got Mark Chapman in a lot of shit.  Just saying. ;)


LizardKing's picture
LizardKing January 27, 2013 - 10:41pm

I thought this book was pretty good in the end. Well written and all that stuff. I say 'in the end' because, up until about the point where the uncle died, it reminded me a bit too much of John Fante's Bandini. Not that that's a bad thing but I found it a bit distracting how similar the two characters and situations are. Overall though, an enjoyable read. Quite a bit of quality dialogue too.

Craig Wallwork's picture
Craig Wallwork January 28, 2013 - 11:26am

Thanks for reading the novel, Mr King.  I'd like to talk about the Fante comparison, which should not be interpreted as me besmirching your good name, or any other who draws the same comparison. :)

It would be foolish of me to try and argue the case against Fante.  It was an influence on the novel, but not the only one.  Daniel (the protagonist) was reading Ask the Dust in the Team Room, comparing himself to Bandini as he gazed upon the waitress, wondering if she could be his Camilla, so yes, I've heard the comparison before to Bandini, and Holden Caulfield too.  As soon as you set upon a novel of this ilk, those names are going to come out of the woodwork.  In truth, it's difficult not to make comparisons when you're writing about a disillusioned writer, struggling with life and trying to balance his delusions of grandeur and ambition against the reality of hardship and hunger.  All that said, Fante alluded to Knut Hamsun's unnamed character in Hunger to be an influence on him when he created Bandini.  I'm sure you know of the novel, but Sult (1890; Hunger) is Hamsun's breakthrough novel about a young writer struggling to maintain his dignity while trying to survive in a desolate and lonely world.  Henry Charles "Hank" Chinaski, Bukowski's alter-ego and main protag of Ham on Rye and Factotum, was hugely influenced (or given life) by Bandini.  Again, in Chinaski we have another Dostoyevskiesque hero, or anti-hero with a general disdain for society, possessing a cynical sense of humour, but underneath is quite vulnerable.

“Getting drunk was good. I decided that I would always like getting drunk. It took away the obvious and maybe if you could get away from the obvious often enough, you wouldn't become so obvious yourself.” ― Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye

Then you have novels like The Loser's Club by Richard Perez, most of Dan Fante's books (Mooch, Chump Change et al) and Hating Olivia by Mark SaFranko, a story about Max Zajack who is consumed by his desire to write like the greats, to deliver something worth reading; something that will leave a stain.  They are all writers' novels and as such, if you look at the reviews and opinions of the readers, they will all have comparisons made from the genealogy of the aforementioned.  I think there's an interesting discussion here in terms of influences, and how many characters or novels are truly original, or are they just the bastard children of forgotten fathers.  maybe for another time.

What I'm saying is, I'm flattered and honoured to have such a comparison, but there's no way to shake off the ghosts of the past.  We can only hope, or least I can only hope, that someone who has never read Fante, but will read this novel, may go on to read Ask the Dust or Road to Los Angeles.  Likewise, after they're done with them, move onto SaFranko, or Perez, or Dan Fante.

I'm glad you kept with it to see the subtle change too in Daniel's character, how he became more introspective, less concerned with external observation and more human self-reflection.

Again, THANK YOU so much for reading.  Really appreciate it.

Eli Wilde's picture
Eli Wilde February 1, 2013 - 6:43am

I'm only halfway through reading - Loneliness, and (as a writer) I can see already that this book is gonna be my first real influence of the year. Thanks Mr Black for pointing me in the direction of this sound.

manda lynn's picture
manda lynn from Ohio is reading Of Love and Other Demons (again) February 1, 2013 - 7:46am

the details were the thing for me in this - Emma's shoes and the way she felt about them. and the way Daniel would openly and contemptuously list the things he hated about his fellow town-dwellers, the things that made them ignorant and unlike him - then very subtly these things would appear just a bit here and there in his own behavior, totally unnoiced and barely even noted by him. and that was well-done, the examples would flit by without Daniel's notice but enought for ME to pick up on, and that's tricky, to let the reader gain insight about a first-person narrator that the narrator doesn't have without making it obvious that's what's being done.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading February 2, 2013 - 1:35pm

I don't know how Craig feels about this, but I want to open up the possibility on this thread:

Does anyone want to take a picture to help promote the book that would fit the theme of "starving writer"? For instance, a desk with some pot noodles and a notebook. Or a beat-up couch with a pile of books on the side? Or a picture of you with a bottle of whiskey. Whatever works. It'd be nice to get a few pictures going on Facebook, get some visual imagery associated with some of the book's themes...

Laramore Black's picture
Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 February 2, 2013 - 2:59pm

Did you miss his Facebook signed copy giveaway? I'm the only one that entered with the details you described, but I did it and won nonetheless. Pretty cool for a crappy photograph.

manda lynn's picture
manda lynn from Ohio is reading Of Love and Other Demons (again) February 2, 2013 - 6:36pm

i'll do it but only if i can do it sexy. not boob sexy but leg sexy. okay, heroin chic, which isn't really sexy. my point is i'll do it. with the book discreetly in there, even. if craig is cool with the whole thing i mean.

Craig Wallwork's picture
Craig Wallwork February 2, 2013 - 6:43pm

I'm cool with whatever suggestions are made, and yeah, Laramore will have a signed copy of the book winging its way overseas next week.

Eli - man, I'm still reeling from that wonderful review over at Goodreads, so glad you dug the novel.  Thanks again.

Manda - You're so right about the smaller details in books, and how they are implanted into the reader through more subtle means than just saying, "hey, LOOK at me! I HATE people!!!" I remember reading And the Ass Saw the Angel by Cave and falling in love with the language and the pace and beat and everything damn little thing about it.  Then, a year or so later I'm writing a short story about a town where it begins raining and doesn't stop for five years.  And here I am, thinking this is original, and how the rain, the presence of it, the way it forces the family to reflect on each other, or endure the suffering mete out my proximity and familiarity, when all the while it was an idea planted in my head by Nick Cave.  A good writer is more sharecropper, a farmer tilling the fields of the reader's imagination, planting seeds and then letting them germinate, grow or perhaps die. It shouldn't be about throwing the story or the actions or the emotion at the reader, but giving them a worn plimsoll to illustrate poverty, introversion, discomfiture, or that she is a girl aware of herself, and how she does not want to be seen as the clothes she wears. 

So the discussion is official, right?

Anything you want me to elaborate on, or answer, just let me know.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon February 4, 2013 - 3:47pm

It's official. Discussion has started!

I've been swamped and haven't been able to finish the book yet. But I'm really looking forward to what you guys have to say about it.

NikKorpon's picture
NikKorpon from Baltimore is reading Book and books and books and February 4, 2013 - 6:21pm

I blame Barnes and Noble for my lack of participation in this discussion. Fuckers still haven't delivered my books.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon February 4, 2013 - 6:36pm

Well you know they never go away. If you get to this book in a month - just post then! It'll also maybe respark interest.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon February 13, 2013 - 6:30am

I finally finished this last night.

While in the beginning it was easy to see the Fante comparisons, towards the middle of the book the main character really became his own person. I hated him at first, but then really came to like him - which I'm sure was the point.

The story - It's like, for me, all of my cousins are relatively successful. I always feel like I'm the black sheep. So I assume that anybody I knew in my past, is now doing great - graduated college, has a great job, kids, a house. I know this isn't true. But I always think that. I feel like the main character had that kind of attitude about everything. And then with Emma, it was the extreme. He really built her up into something there at the end and then it was smashed before his eyes.

Craig Wallwork's picture
Craig Wallwork February 27, 2013 - 2:44am

It's nearly the end of February and I just wanted to thank everyone who contributed to the discussion here and read the book. Big thanks to Pete for allowing me to be part of this, and I hope to those who were undecided whether or not to read the book, some of what has been said here has helped to make up your mind. 


Thanks. Good luck with the March discussion! :)

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore February 27, 2013 - 6:35am

I'm reading this right now. Thoughts to come later. For the moment, I'm brushing up on my British slang.

NikKorpon's picture
NikKorpon from Baltimore is reading Book and books and books and February 27, 2013 - 9:39am

B&N is continuing to be a bunch of cocksuckers, so when they ship the book in March, I'll post up my comments.

Craig Wallwork's picture
Craig Wallwork February 27, 2013 - 12:20pm

Thanks, guys. I'm slighty intimidated that Gordon is reading it. I've used humour in the book, and to offer it up to Gordon maybe like cooking an omelette for Anthony Bourdain.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon February 27, 2013 - 12:21pm

I know I say this all the time - but post in the discussion threads whenever you want. Even if it's a year later. :)

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore March 17, 2013 - 12:14pm

Something I want to know is how Craig feels about differentiating the author from the character in first-person. I struggled with this in my first novel, where the character was not supposed to be skilled at writing, yet it was filled with clever insights and descriptions he likely wouldn't have possessed. I was always worried about outwriting my narrator (or being unfairly judged myself if I "dumbed him down" too much, being that his prose was my own and it was my only book people had to go on). In TSoL, Crabtree is a hack writer who almost never spends any time at his craft, despite being surrounded by potential/interesting story ideas and characters in his life. The irony. I liked how he eventually came to realize this. Even though he's supposed to suck, the book itself is quite good, especially in its descriptions. So while he's putting all his hope for success into this one lame short story, the reader's going, "Dude, you're writing a novel; I'm reading the thing." I thought there might be some references to that process somewhere in the novel, what happened in between, how he ended up at the present. There are signposts throughout as to the era the story takes place in, but only a few montions (that I recall) late in the book letting us know these things happened a long time ago, suggesting a present-day memoir. Thoughts?

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon March 18, 2013 - 4:33pm

That's funny. I never thought of it that way.

I think Chuck once said something in one of his lessons about a reason to tell the story. Or a gimmick I'm sure.

I don't always think of a 1st person story as a written story (even though it obviously is). Just because I'm reading it doesn't mean that the narrator wrote it (even though he obviously did). I always picture them talking to me.

Must reevaluate!

Craig Wallwork's picture
Craig Wallwork March 20, 2013 - 1:06am

Interesting that you picked up on that, Gordon. You're right that there's the risk of writing about a writer who is poor at writing, especially when told via first-person narrative and the writing is good. Do you dumb it down, like you say, or write is so it's engaging and rich with humour and honesty? If it is a *Mise en abyme (that visual experience of standing between two mirrors, seeing an infinite reproduction of one's image) it does infer that the narrator, Crabtree, has progressed as a writer and this transcription of his life, self-reflection, is the fruits of his labour. As you said, his social commentary, prose and structure of sentence, illustrate perfectly he is a good writer. However, I never meant this as a novel within a novel, but more like what Pete said, where Crabtree is narrating his exploits and life-story to an invisible person, the reader. In fact, it's more **Roman à clef, a novel about real life, overlaid with a façade of fiction. A lot of the incidents and people in the novel are real, and Crabtree is just documenting them, delivering his inner monologue to the invisible reader.  If that makes sense? I never saw Ask the Dust, Ham on Rye, or Lolita as an "intended" or "pre-designed" novel, but more novels about writers. The Sound of Loneliness is a novel about a writer, not a writer who had wrote a novel called The Sound of Loneliness. I think On the Road is more a novel about a writer who wrote about his life that he turned into a novel. Off the top off my head, that's the only one I can think of.

*I didn't know this phrase off the top of my head.
** Nor this. I had to look up both. this perfectly illustrates I need to learn more about writing.
Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore March 20, 2013 - 9:49am

Tricky stuff. I'm familiar with roman à clef, but the other term was new to me, too. I'm glad to hear Crabtree came out the other end a good writer. When I was reading, I wasn't sure what the time period its "present" was until near the end, so I didn't know how much time had passed since the days he was writing about, and I found myself curious about how his career had progressed in between.

Craig Wallwork's picture
Craig Wallwork March 20, 2013 - 2:22pm

Timeline is, if memory serves, 1991 (?), then skips 5 years to 1996. That's it, in theory, but Crabtree could be narrating his past in the present day, 2013. Or, just after leaving the Agecroft. I've said this elsewhere, but TSoL forms part of a trilogy. I've just started the first one, which will be set in 1983. The final instalment will be present day, when Daniel maybe gets his "big break".

Meant to ask, Drew Ballard (or was it Tobe Mohr?); was there a time you thought, maybe I should have dumbed down the prose a little to fit with the character, or like you said, were you keen not to compromise on style or skill in case it read poorly? Never really read a novel where the narrative is completely dumbed down. Even Haddon's Curious Incident had moments of genius writing and observation, even though the text was very flat and simple.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore March 20, 2013 - 4:17pm

Yeah, it was the time between 1996 and ____ that I was unsure of. I thought you did a good job with inserting some '90s touchstones in a non-intrusive way (though I can't recall what they were).

Speaking of dumbing down, how intentional was it that Crabtree was somewhat oblivious to all the potential story ideas floating in his periphery (at least at the time)? Was that a device, a way of illustrating that he was merely shortsighted in his youth, because he did recall them later? I kept wanting to slap him for dwelling on that one short story, and go, "Write, motherfucker!" haha  As I said, I know he comes to recognize and appreciate his surroundings more later in the book. Did you ever get frustrated or impatient with wanting to speed up his arc, just from a vicarious living perspective as an author yourself? Or did you revel in his artistic misery, masochistic bastard that you are? 

I definitely thought about dumbing Drew Ballard down, but what I decided was to have his philosophy be pretty lowbrow (because that's more obvious to the average reader) but expressed in language that was florid enough to keep me happy. And he gets noticeably better throughout the book, even though it's not about writing. Well, it is in the meta sense, but not the literary one. The second book, with Tobe Mohr, is third person, so I kept the gas pedal down the whole time, and his evolution is purely a character one.

Craig Wallwork's picture
Craig Wallwork March 21, 2013 - 3:37am

The 90s references were subtle. Mentioned The Gulf War and Thatcher. There are lots of geographical landmark shifts that you'd only know if you lived there. The main reason for setting it in 1990 was because the climate and economical state of the UK was almost identical to what it is now. High unemployment. Recession. War. Too, I needed that 5 year gap to play around with. 

You may have noticed this, and I'm quite sure a lot of other people have too, but I know writers that are GREAT in social observations and storytelling in emails, posts on forums, and replies/tweets/status updates, but when you read their books, or short stories, you don't see any of that magic or passion or adroitness found in their non-prose. Crabtree is like that. At the time of writing Love is a Gazelle he is a terrible writer. Unpublished. One story. However, he could, even then, tell you all these great anecdotes or social observations. But putting them all down in a story was beyond him. That carries on throughout the novel.  

And yes, THAT story! It sounded shit when he described it. And then to base his whole career on that one story, or believing it is great, even though it was rejected from a local rag, proves his ego and bravado was hindering his potential.  Then, during his time with Melissa, he gets more rejections! It proves that sometimes there are people who sound like they can write, or are very knowledgable about the craft, but when it comes to actually forming a brilliant story, they just can't do it.  

And no, I'm not naming names. ;)