Dostoyevsky Wannabe

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Monday, August 28, 2017
Vitamins and Minerals

Dostoyevsky Wannabe Future Classics: Bertie Marshall

“You’re the nastiest of the punk boys, those who know who dead pirates are…”
Kathy Acker on Bertie Marshall

“”The memoirs take their place in that lineage of ‘outsider memoirs’ including the writing of Quentin Crisp and Jean Genet’s The Thief’s Journal”
Michael Bracewell on Bertie Marshall’s memoir Berlin Bromley

Coming spring, 2018

Dostoyevsky Wannabe will be publishing Bertie ‘Berlin’ Marshall’s new novel The Peeler and believe me it’s the talk of the DW Switchboard.

Here’s the blurb:

… a middle aged writer ‘MONTY’ a metaphysical pessimist under going an existential crisis, while house sitting a Sutton place apartment on New York city’s upper east side, in the late 1990s. And then there’s PETE, Monty’s muse and obsession and ‘peeler’.

The Peeler is a vicious, acerbic, psychotic portrait of a writer’s dismantled psyche.

Spring, 2018 is nowhere near however and since we know and demand that all Dostoyevsky Wannabe readers are rabidly impatient, we felt like you should buy and take a look at Nowhere Slow by Bertie Marshall and other Bertie Marshall books (BUY THEM ALL).

From the inside flap of Nowhere Slow

“Facebook can sometimes be like Pandora’s Box.

After an absence of sixteen years, out of touch, lost in space and time, my friend and muse Pete Clark sent me a friend request.  I, in London, he in Toledo, Ohio. I was sitting in a little internet café, drinking a crappy black coffee, when his handsome face popped up ” PETEEE !!!”

I wailed at the screen, the café fell silent . His timing was impeccable, his was the face I needed to see at that time. I was recovering from a bout of very bad health.

I started writing in notebooks at the end of my teenage years, poems, monologues, short stories, mad rants about mad boys, bits of which ended up in a memoir I published a few years back. I write and write, but only seem to get published once a decade.

So my problem was publishers. The lid to Pandora’s box opened again and Simon Strong, who had published PSYCHOBOYS, my debut novel, (just before my thirty seventh birthday, back in 1997) was now in Australia and working as part of The Leda Tape Organization.

“Great to be in touch again, Bertie!”

“Yeah Simon, great! Even better because I’ve got a book that could do with publishing”

“Great, we’re looking for stuff so send it on” blah, blah, blah.

The manuscript I sent was a novel (not included here) then Simon had the bright idea to do a collection of my writings from the last twenty years.  Looking at them all together in NOWHERE SLOW, from the poems, to the novella SEVEN HURTS about William Burroughs and up to PETE’S UNDERPANTS and then back to PSYCHOBOYS, I’m thinking perhaps all the writing is one long book, but I’m not sure and even if I was, I wouldn’t say, anything, definitive.”

More about Bertie Marshall

If you don’t know the story of Bertie Marshall then we’re afraid that you don’t keep up with the right kind of news. Here are a few bits and pieces, think of it as a primer, to save you from being embarrassed in front of your cooler friends.

Bertie Marshall on his experiences with Kathy Acker:

“Kathy was the last of the ‘punks’ in her attitude…a pirate. I knew her the last three years of her life. She came to read at a spoken word club in Brighton, where I worked as a PA. We instantly hit it off, she loved my ‘history’ and as I had just started thinking about publishing work , she told me to DIY, send out copies of the work, known as chap books in the U.S. and that way people get to know the work. So I typed up stuff and my boyfriend typeset and printed it and we sent them out. It wasn’t vanity publishing it was more lo- fi than that, but it got me the attention of Dennis Cooper and Ira Silverberg of Grove Press in New York City. Kathy just encouraged me to take some action really, not to wait around for the publishing industry to take notice, they’re only concerned with commerce and not quality of work. And I like her work for its intelligence and experimental quality. She was constantly, with every new book pushing and destroying expectations. You see, she was very ‘punky'”

— from 3am Magazine, 2001

Michael Bracewell reviewing Berlin Bromley:

“Marshall chose the name Berlin in homage to the world of Weimar decadence of the film Cabaret, released in 1972. But there was a wider cast of iconic figures upon whom his new identity was fixated, including Patti Smith, Judy Garland, Nico, Jean Cocteau and the New York Dolls. Presiding over them was Warhol himself – the artist who had once encouraged emotionally fragile and drug-dependent outsiders to believe in themselves as the “superstars” of his tortuous movies.”

‘The Quentin Crisp of 1970s suburbia’, 2006

TimeOut on Bertie Marshall:

“…Punk was always a little queer, and Bertie was the boy who gave it a face (smeared in make-up, naturally). …Unlike many of his punk contemporaries, Bertie neither rose to stardom (a la Siouxsie) nor faded to complete obscurity (a la Sue Catwoman). Instead he ploughed a peculiarly queer path, popping up as a performance artist in the 80s and as a novelist in the 90s. As alter-ego Kim, Bertie was one of the first performers to deconstruct the traditional drag act, back in the days before Kiki and Herb and The Divine David made gay cabaret terrorism an artform. Lauded by the likes of Dennis Cooper and Kathy Acker, his novel Psychoboys enjoyed cult success in 1997. …His story is often sad and would seem painfully tragic if it weren’t for the complete lack of self-pity”.

–quoted in ‘Punk was always a little queer’, Time Out

Berlin with Jordan, 1977.

Next Steps

Ok, we understand that you have your hands full reading all the Dostoyevsky Wannabe books and so you should be but what you must do next is go to Bertie’s Amazon page and buy ALL of his books in preparation for The Peeler. 

Further Info

Bertie will be reading at (and has a pamphlet in) ‘The Critic as Artist’ exhibiton (curated by Michael Bracewell and Andrew Hunt) at Reading International. More info on that:


Posted by: Richard Brammer