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des
Posted on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 02:34 am:   

I thought I would start a new thread about 'Agra Aska', one of my few novella length pieces. This was first written in the early eighties before I started on the trail of DF Lewis short story publications in 1986. It was revised in the mid nineties and was published by Scorpion Press in 1998 in a smallish print run. A UK Small Press at the time. I don't know how many people read it! It had five introductions! -- by Rhys Hughes, Simon Clark, Paul Pinn, Tim Lebbon and Allen Ashley.

Below if you're interested are some contemporaneous quotes about AGRA ASKA.
Des

"I could go on to tell you about the references from literature, mythology and religion that are planted in the text like precious gemstones embedded in a rock face, landmines primed to explode at the tread of sensitive feet. I could rave about the sparkling dialogue, the elegant and witty prose, and the sheer passion that's to be found in some of the pronouncements. I could talk about resonances and patterns that weave back on themselves like a demented Mobius strip. I could do all of that and more, but if you haven't got the message that this book is a little bit special by now then I guess you never will."
- Peter Tennant in UNREAL DREAMS


"What is really remarkable about the novella is not its sardonic wit, dark ethos, apocalyptic bombast, puckish surrealism or even its opening lines, the best opening lines of any fiction in the history of writing, but the fact it compresses the thousand strengths and thousand weaknesses of our most eccentric, wilful, retiring and yet conspicuous literary figure into an extremely neat 30,000 words."
- Rhys Hughes in ZENE


"A stunning addition to Des's work ... a landmark event, both in Des's writing and in literature in general. It tells the story of John Bello; his dreams; his friends, his unusual childhood; his innocence challenged and retained, all set against the surreal backdrop of a destructive conflict that may remind the reader of the remote Orwellian wars of 1984 ... If you have not read Des Lewis before, prepare to be initiated into a new dimension."
- Tim Lebbon from introduction to AGRA ASKA

"Lewis' 1st novella offers night read of genre-bridge 2 far...enuf 2 boggle Kafka & blanch Lovecraft...Say what may abt DFL but truly he's Merlin of Brit-Lit."
- Dragon's Breath

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des
Posted on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 03:39 am:   

Ah, just had permission to quote following passage about Agra Aska - a comment which was written nearly a year ago. This was a new reader in early 2003 who won the book as a prize in one of my competitions!

"I have not read a great deal of your work before but was amazed by the novella. I have never come across such a densely allusive style before and
was amazed by it. A lot of modern fiction tends to read like a pitch for some projected movie version but Agra Aska could only ever be a novel. I also admire and envy the way you deploy humour without whimsy and surrealist techniques without compromising the integrity of the world
you have created."

I was very proud of that.
des
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Forrest
Posted on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 07:23 pm:   

So where can we find this gem anymore, Des?
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des
Posted on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 10:41 pm:   

You can't, I'm afraid, Forrest - the last one I gave away as a wedding present! (Well, I've got one edition of it).
des
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des
Posted on Monday, February 16, 2004 - 08:50 am:   

As I've just started this thread, I googlised 'agra aska' for (I think) the first time, and I discover that it is mentioned on BBR's catalogue here:
http://www.bbr-online.com/directory/9901.shtml
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Tamar
Posted on Monday, February 16, 2004 - 02:14 pm:   

"Agra Aska could only ever be a novel."

Higher praise a novel could not have.

Tamar
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Rhys
Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 02:49 am:   

That's a rather sweeping statement, Tamar! What I liked most about AGRA ASKA is that being "only ever a novel" is just one of the things it could only ever be...

(Sorry: I couldn't resist that!)
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des
Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 07:09 am:   

That's a bit abstruse, Rhys. Too clever for me!

A bit sweeping, also, your 1998 comment that 'Agra Aska' has "the best opening lines of any fiction in the history of writing".

True, of course! (Unless something has replaced it on this score in your eyes?)
des
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des
Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 09:18 am:   

BTW, my first published story in 1986 (Padgett Weggs) was inspired by a specific part of 'Agra Aska'.
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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 02:05 am:   

Yes, but I like being sweeping! And I just had to get some sort of revenge for being rebuffed about Kafka's 'Metamorphosis'. I dislike being rebuffed! Tee hee!

Besides, I also believe that your statement that my statement was "a bit sweeping" is a bit sweeping.

I also believe that your claim that 'Padgett Weggs' is based on a specific part of AGRA ASKA is too general.

Ha!
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Tamar
Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 10:07 am:   

You're very combative, Rhys. If we ever meet I'll bring my boxing gloves!
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des
Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 02:27 pm:   

The image of Tamar with boxing gloves is the most striking one ever concocted on these Boards!

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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 02:57 am:   

Be careful... I float like a bee and... er, sting like a butterfly!
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S. D. Tullis
Posted on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 04:53 pm:   

Des, I just finished reacquainting myself with this fine novella, and I feel hard put as ever to penetrate its various strata of meaning, metaphor, and megazan-something-or-other. I can't hope to express my awe any more eloquently than has already been done by Rhys and others, and at best can only venerate from afar the uncanny gestalt of the thing. One point of contention I share with Rhys is the idea that Agra Aska could only ever be a novel. If that were true, the same assertion could almost be made of your entire oeuvre. Sometimes I felt I perceived, not unpleasantly, as much disconnectedness as connectedness between the pieces, just as many of your ostensibly unrelated stories, appearing in quite disparate small press venues, share the same characters but in seemingly parallel universes. I got the same overall impression from Agra Aska, and began to realize just how this could be seen not only as your first novel(la) and seminal conceptual wellspring, but also as your very first collection of short short-shorts. John Bello—and, if I'm not mistaken, Ervin Turner—both continuing to exist in various guises outside the confines of this book are examples. This is all assuming, of course, that I'm not talking out the wrong end. Thanks again for sharing this bizarre vision of the world with the world.
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des
Posted on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 04:43 am:   

SDT, thanks - very gratifying - especially after all the years since Agra Aska first emerged. It certainly was the touchstone (or blame!) for all my later stuff!
des
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des
Posted on Sunday, February 29, 2004 - 12:24 am:   

And, in view of SDT's comments above regarding the seeming time-and-space 'diaspora' of the DF Lewis 'novel', he and some others may be interested in reading my obscure story here:
http://www.dowse.com/storyville-anth/stories/storydfl.html

Published some years ago in an outlet called Strix.
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S. D. Tullis
Posted on Tuesday, March 02, 2004 - 07:30 pm:   

"Only in hindsight, presumably when Charles was dead, would the reading public begin to reconcile the leviathan of his work, thus cohering the disparate widespread elements into a composite whole; gaining an organic gestalt of plot from the broadcast kaleidoscope of printed appearances. Why Charles wrote most of his stories in the first person singular was, supposedly, because he was one."

You'd have thought that I'd read the above before my posting of 2/27. Lovely story, Des. Thanks for directing us to it.
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des
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 03:15 am:   

Has anyone got a copy of 'Agra Aska' I can buy off them? des
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Rick Bennett
Posted on Friday, February 25, 2005 - 01:11 pm:   

I think i have a few left in my old collection somewhere Des that i can send you :-) Well after all i did publish it ;-)
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des
Posted on Friday, February 25, 2005 - 01:16 pm:   

hey, Rick, thanks. I'll be in touch straightwaway.
des
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Rick Bennett
Posted on Sunday, February 27, 2005 - 05:30 am:   

It doesn't seem that long ago since I published it and my Unreal Dreams magazine. But things have changed so much in that time, who'd think i'd get married, move to ireland and recently become a father. Certainly not me :-p

well i think i still have the disks somewhere?

have you ever thought of releasing it as a PDF book for people to download?
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des
Posted on Sunday, February 27, 2005 - 05:59 am:   

Rick, food for thought - but if it's ever re-published, I'd like it to be on paper.

And thanks for publishing it in the first place. I wrote it in the early- to mid-eighties (although it wasn't published by you till 1998) and it has the credit (blame?) of inspiring/influencing my short work from 1986 onward (if an author can inspire himself!?).

des
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des
Posted on Sunday, February 27, 2005 - 07:51 am:   

Sorry, Rick, I forgot to give you congratulations on your marriage and fatherhood.

Whereabouts in Ireland are you?
des
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Rick Bennett
Posted on Monday, February 28, 2005 - 03:09 am:   

i'm living in Dublin now. I'm still writing, but jumped ship to hardboiled fantasy with a book with a publisher at the moment, not sure whats happening with it yet, only time will tell.

Well there's a publisher in america who are printing back-to-back novellas, i'll try and find the details for you. But i think i read it on www.dragonpage.com, not 100% sure tho.
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des
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 02:23 pm:   

I am just reading 'Never Let Me Go' by Kazuo Ishiguro (his latest novel) and it reminds me very much of the feel and theme of 'Agra Aska' (which was written originally in 1984 and published in the Small Press as a novella in 1998).

But that is purely coincidental because only a handful of people have read 'Agra Aska'!

des
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des
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 07:25 am:   

Re above much earlier discussion, I announce that my 1998-published (1984-written) novella AGRA ASKA is now on the internet for publication-on-reading purposes.
Link from first paragraph here:
http://www.nymous.esmartbiz.com/



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des
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 11:46 am:   

Read what Simon Clark, Rhys Hughes, Tim Lebbon and Peter Tennant said about 'Agra Aska' in 1998 here:
http://tinyurl.com/qzrr6

Agra Aska now on the net as part of the publication-on-reading-scheme.

I'm possibly quite mad but, on the other hand, I feel sane!
des :-)
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Dflewis
Junior Member
Username: Dflewis

Post Number: 401
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Friday, October 29, 2010 - 07:45 am:   

AGRA ASKA has just been republished:
http://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/agra-aska-re-published/

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