To end their relationship Borak and Karissa must find a bubble of air buried among twenty-four types of mud.
On their descent into subterranean London they are followed by a film crew and its odious Director, documenting their quest. As they chance upon bones, bricks and a talking mole, they must restrain themselves from throttling each other, and falling in love all over again.
Chris McCabe’s macabre version of Orpheus and Eurydice brings its themes into the present day; a contemporary re-tuning of the mythic ‘Father of Song’.
The Periodic Table of Muds
The paperback first edition comes with a poster. This depicts a periodic table of muds descending from eight Major Muds, an octave of dirt arranged in order from Light to Dense.
Every Artists’ Book of Mud is dedicated to one of the 24 mud types, and accompanied by a unique mud print. We took urban mud samples (from London gardens, graves and parks) to be our pigments.
It followed we needed a found object, a mute Orphic printing block. Chancing upon a car crash (only the wall was hurt) we plucked a half-brick from the broken wall, an object mentioned several times in the novel; a car-crash relationship.
The great thing about using such a humble, mute and ubiquitous object was that it made the process of making more visible and important than figurative representation. There were also six faces that could be worked on. The most frequently used was the recessed face that Builders call the “frog”, a dip which holds mortar and locks bricks together. (A cheaply made wall is “frogs down” i.e. less mortar is used). The frog provided a mound shape when cast, a door-like image when its edges were printed, and a tray in which clay and wax could be set and cut like lino or scribed like a tablet.
The resulting fine-art prints are reproduced in every edition of the novel, and the prints themselves are presented with the Artists’ Book that is their namesake.
About the Author
Chris McCabe is the author of five poetry collections, most recently The Triumph of Cancer (Penned in the Margins). Pharmapoetica, with Maria Vlotides, was shortlisted for The Ted Hughes Award and his plays Shad Thames, Broken Wharf and Mudflats have been performed in Liverpool and London. His non-fiction series, searching for a great lost poet in one of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries, begins with In the Catacombs (selected as an LRB Bookshop book of the year) and Cenotaph South: Mapping the Lost Poets of Nunhead Cemetery. He co-edited, with Victoria Bean, The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (Hayward Publishing, 2015). His debut novel Dedalus (Henningham Family Press) was LRB Bookshop Book of the Week and shortlisted for The Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019.