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Address Book is the new work of fiction by the Costa-shortlisted author of Skin Lane. Neil Bartlett’s cycle of stories takes us to seven very different times and situations: from a new millennium civil partnership celebration to erotic obsession in a Victorian tenement, from a council-flat bedroom at the height of the AIDS crisis to a doctor’s living-room in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, they lead us through decades of change to discover hope in the strangest of places.
Neil says, ‘Every place I’ve ever slept in, I’ve always wondered about what went on at that address before I moved in. To write this book, I went back to some significant places in my own life and let the walls talk to me. The result of that listening is this new cycle of stories.’
Editor Nathan Evans says, ‘I’ve loved Neil’s writing since finding his first book in the university library, so to publish his latest is something of a dream for me. Inkandescent are proud to be working with such an important queer writer with so much to say about where we are and how we got here.’
‘Bartlett is a pioneer on and off the page and we are lucky to have him telling our stories’
‘One of England’s finest writers’
Neil Bartlett has been an acclaimed and pioneering voice in British queer culture since the 1980's.
His first novel, Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall (written in a council flat on the Isle of Dogs), was Capital Gay’s Book of the Year 1990. It went on to be translated into five European languages, and was recently republished by Profile as a Serpent’s Tail Classic. His second novel, Mr. Clive and Mr. Page, was nominated for the Whitbread Prize in 1996, his third, Skin Lane, was shortlisted for the Costa Award in 2007, his fourth, The Disappearance Boy, earnt him a nomination for Stonewall Author of the Year 2014.
Neil is also a maker of rule-breaking performance and theatre. After a controversial early career, he was appointed Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith in 1994 and, in recognition of his work there, was awarded the O.B.E. in 2000. Since leaving the Lyric in 2005, he has created work for major cultural producers including the National Theatre, the RSC, the Manchester Royal Exchange, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Wellcome Foundation, Artangel, Tate Britain—and the Royal Vauxhall Tavern.
Each of the stories in Address Book takes place behind a different front door, and each is told in a different voice. Here are four of those voices...
From the first story; the opening paragraph of the book—
Tomorrow, everything will be different. There'll be a brand-new care-team for me to head up—a brand new hospital whose corridors I'll need to learn how to navigate—and yet another set of protocols for me to get familiar with I'm sure. But tonight, here I am; seated in the middle of my living-room floor, surrounded by boxes and files, still procrastinating over what to take with me and what to leave behind. It's twenty past eleven, the moving van is booked for seven o’clock tomorrow morning—and here, between my fingers, is a small piece of thin blue paper.
When it first slipped out from between the pages of my old address book, I had no idea what this piece of paper was. But then, as soon as I unfolded it, I remembered everything. His handwriting; his address, and all eleven digits of his phone-number.
Arriving at the train-station, that August morning.
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These people are helping to fund Address Book.
John Atterbury Davies
John Lee Bird