Another exquisite portion of Kill Your Darlings was served up to the lit-loving Bristol masses at the Cube Cinema in this latest outing. Met with great anticipation, the event welcomed new 'darling', writer and poet Chimene Suleymen, whilst the superb Joe Dunthorne, author of Submarine, took the role of headliner. The nominated theme for performances this month was 'Wasted'.
In typically erratic-but-eloquent fashion, resident 'darling' Byron Vincent took his turn as host. Having sidestepped writing a full contribution for fear of darkening the event again (following last month’s delve into his sink estate up-bringing), Byron self-deprecatingly explained that it would’ve likely only ended up with something unsavoury like “shady Dave getting gangrene in his testicles”. Yet, even as host, he managed to cram in the mental image of the cast of Deliverance dressed in highly combustible sportswear, and relay an offer he received during his adolescence to purchase a crossbow for the purposes of armed robbery, so the audience still managed to fulfil their enjoyably unique Byron fix.
Next on stage was Nikesh Shukla, who treated the crowd to a passage of his new novel Meatspace, due for release this July. Time 'wasted' on the Internet is certainly an issue for his main character Kitab. A perfect blend of social commentary and comedy, the extract explored frustrated author Kitab's world of rejection emails and current relationship break-up, failing due to him “draining” his girlfriend's “enthusiasm for life” with his social networking addiction. With his ever-decreasing bank balance, we learn that his activities are becoming limited to eating onion chutney and browsing pornography on the web. Meanwhile, his flat mate Aziz has the pleasure of discovering Kitab's 'interesting wank face', a revelation enjoyably relayed by Nikesh to the laughing crowd to conclude his set.
After a brief, surreal interlude courtesy of Byron, ‘Alan the lamb chop’ and a suspect-looking Katie Hopkins from The Apprentice, it was Clutterbuck o'clock.
The comedian chose weed-smoking for his take on the 'Wasted' theme and confessed that whilst he does partake in said activity, he assured the room that it's not something he's proud of and that it doesn't mean that he “listens to reggae... or wears a beanie hat”. Instead, he said, it’s used mainly as a “jerk suppressant” to prevent him from making snippy comments and tidying up around his housemates. Whilst referencing lots of cringey stoner stereotypes, epitomised by the alien-fronted 'Take Me To Your Dealer' posters of the 90’s, Tom’s act was more than some “beardy, hippy” guy presenting “Cheech and Chong does Bristol”. His entertaining performance concluded with a great set-piece and a tale of an accidental dabble with harder drugs which resulted in him ‘coming-to’ at a house party to find himself jamming, surprisingly well, on a Glockenspiel!
Molly Naylor graced the stage next to share her 'wasted' opportunity, a touching (but highly amusing) story of her trip to Spain to learn Spanish. Wanting to exchange the jokey glibness of her usual social life for an experience of pure and direct communication, things didn't go according to plan. The Spanish hated her for trying too hard and being over-polite, whilst the language class she attended consisted of Friedrich the ice-cold German and Dutch Rick the mild racist. Aiming to experience one thought occur naturally in Spanish, Molly finally achieved her goal through a series of embarrassing and frustrating moments, with the eventual conclusion translated from Spanish into English by an audience member to big laughs, ending the piece perfectly. Not taking your friends for granted was, in many ways, the moral of her story.
After a short interval, it was time to meet “shiny new darling” Chimene Suleyman, and to get acquainted with her unique brand of memoir poetry. London, the city she was born and bred in, was woven through much of her work. For the theme's sake, it was a booze-based set, starting with a moving poem containing the memorable line “with each Jägerbomb, they will put a shot glass to ear and listen for the sea.” Using strong language and tenderness in equal measure, her work was reflective of many aspects of modern life. She moved through some of her poems too quickly though, humbly declining applause in-between them, whereas pausing to give the words chance to resonate fully would’ve benefited her excellent work. Concluding a strong debut performance, Chimene ended with a beautiful, emotionally charged piece about the passing of her grandmother.
With the evening reaching it’s peak, the exceptionally talented headliner Joe Dunthorne was invited to join the party. Taking to the stage, Joe started with some poetry, including one apt piece on being searched for drugs that have already been eaten. He followed with 'Sestina For My Friends', a skilful poem about being calculating and using The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald as a prop to look clever. Having thoroughly stoked the already-warm crowd, Joe began the main event, a reading from his new novel. Set at a party, he painted such a vivid picture of his characters and their interactions that you could actually visualise the “spritz” coming off “Dave's moustache” whilst he spoke. Richard, who takes cocaine and seems to think the bathroom is like a “time machine”, was also introduced, though the narrator wisely told us that he had “learned not to speak to Richard until later in the evening” when he had began to “hate himself a little.” Concluding the night brilliantly, the recital continued in this vein, rich with the hilarious thoughts and dialogue of the narrator, as well as brilliant observations and inventive representations of the human condition.
Another glowing triumph for the Kill Your Darlings collective, they’ve set themselves a challenging standard for future events, with Joe Dunthorne likely to prove a very hard act to follow.
Photography: George Dallimore