Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Shane Levene, the Writer who Shits on Publishers' Desks

Shane Levene, the Writer who Shits on Publishers’ Desks

It’s time I did a bit of propaganda for a unique writer whose words put mine to shame, for inspiring me to start my own blog.
Actually, it was my good friend and fellow artist, Helena Godwin, who first suggested blogging, and I was probably quite offensive and rude to her at the time. As I remember, I said something along the lines of ‘Hmph. I ain’t putting my stuff out there for free; I want publishing.’ And left it at that.

I never thought I’d end up ‘blogging’; blagging, maybe, but blogging? What? I hated the word for starters. Whoever came up with that word sure put me off sharing any of my precious words with the www.coms of this world. I wanted quids in and I wanted them now. Then. Twenty years ago.

Call me what you want, but I didn’t even know Shane’s page was a ‘blog’. When I came across it a while back, the screen glistening in opaque, rainbow patterns as my spunk splashed over his lovely photo, specifically the lit tip of his cigarette, I was hooked.

Okay seriously now, I can’t produce spunk, and I couldn’t actually see his photo at the time, reading as I was on my shitty mobile version, but his words resounded with me, straight to the gut. It was his post ‘The Sinner’s Eye – The Culture of the Needle’ which first hooked me. I’d never before identified with someone so strongly in the apparent weirdness of my mentality:

‘As it killed me, so it saved my life’

…Hell, yeah.

Before reading this I’d been called all manner of things by all manner of people for my belief that IV heroin saved my life. ‘You have to stop justifying your using thoughts’ ‘Good excuse to relapse’ ‘Fuckin lying junkie’ ‘All you fuckin drug addicts do is make excuses’ et cetera. Ad nauseum. Not that it matters ‘what people think’, but reading certain phrases in Shane’s Memoires was like reading my own thoughts:

‘And more than that I enjoyed the marks I was imposing on myself. It was a thrill, and finally I had some visible mark for the invisible pain I was trying to tame.’

And my god it felt good to have someone tell me, through beautifully written prose, it’s okay, that’s normal: I felt that too.
I don’t have the mis/fortune to be able to read Shane’s work from the perspective of someone who never had an IV heroin habit, but it’s not just about identification: it’s a bloody good read for saints and sinners alike, and if it’s blood and injection fetishism you’re looking for, don’t be disappointed that he covers so much more than just the ins and outs of the pin. Moreover, his work is important not purely on a literary level, but does much to de-stigmatise, demystify and ultimately challenge the way addicts are treated in society:

‘In it the addict has found a means to show a hurt or trauma that is not expressible in words.’

 It is a vehicle for change. Well, that’s a nice thought. Let’s hope I’m right. Addiction is, after all, the new leprosy. And Shane has the cure for the bell-sellers.

And like heroin itself, reading Shane’s Memoires is both therapeutic and addictive. Despite its apparently bleak edge, it’s feel-good literature. That’s the writer’s job, after all, to make the reader feel good. Nothing better than a good book that you can’t put down. Shane Levene has a talent that is rare in contemporary literature. His metaphysical, ethereal imagery transports the reader into his world, where the page becomes a cerebral cinema:

‘It was one of those rare occasions where the people were scarier than the shadows they cast.’

One night or morning, in the insomniac hours, I wrote Shane a fake review, and I meant it, because he truly is one of the best writers I have ever read. Here’s my fake review. Okay, why call it fake? I’ll become a reviewer now, as the blogosphere allows me to do so (fuck sake, I still hate that word, ‘blog’)

Shane Levene’s words cut cold as the pin which slices skin and snags virgin mainline, and suave as the plunger pushes home; sharp, satisfying and deep enough to sting with acidic wit…and always, but always leaving his reader wanting more…like coming home…

So, I decided to start putting my writing out there too. Because I’m sick of being productive yet unproductive, and because I like Shane’s concept of Shitting on Publishers’ Desks. Why lick the arses of publishers only for one’s hard-written words to remain housebound? My words have cabin fever. They feel better now they’re sneaking out: here’s their elixir. 
So thanks for the inspiration, Shane. May you outlive the cut’n’paste archivist publishers by many years.

Check out Shane Levene’s writing at



  1. Vee.. Thank you so much for commenting on my poems, it means so much .. and yes I will order you a book ..I have wanted to read your stuff after your message on FB but didn't know how to find you, I hope to take a good read in the next few days.. Take care. Ps, I love Shane's writing too xx

  2. Hey Ruth,
    Thanks for getting back to me :)
    My email is gravedigginunderthemancyway@gmail.com
    It's funny, isn't it, now I've started this first 'blag' how these first few comments put a big, daft smile on my face...as my mom used to say "small things please small minds"...
    Hee hee, I just thought, "I'll take a little peek" and there was your comment, bless ya...
    silly really, but it means a lot, so thank you.
    Well thanks for taking the time to have a read, and welcome. I hope you enjoy my words. Yeah, Shane's a bloody good writer, he should be in print for sure.
    Have a beautiful day whatever you're doing,
    Vee X

  3. Yup .. each comment is like a little gift to a writer.. phew I am glad i left a couple more before I read this post again.. giggle.. or the pressure would have got to me..
    I have ordered my books a few at authors discount if you would still like one, let me know as soon as you can as its first come first served and they are going fast much to my delight and amazement after that tho they will be available on Amazon.
    I don't know if you are US or Uk postage to US will be £4.95 and UK £2 book is £12.99 exactly what I paid for it .. I am doing this for my friends as a thank you .. hoping they will then spread the word.
    Please do not feel obliged but message me your details on FB if you want one xx
    Loving your blog.. I hate the word too.. and sometimes hate telling people that I have one as they dismiss before reading. xx

    Ps why don't you get rid of the word verification as it puts people off I did and never really get any spam xx

  4. Hey again Ruth,
    Hahahaha, no pressure at all, I haven't looked at my facebook yet today...
    But incidentally and randomly, someone suddenly left a comment on one of my facebook notes which I was saving to put on here, thinking that my notes were private...now that was funny...
    So the whole time I have been writing really dark, shady poetry about heroin and addiction and fuck knows what else, people have been able to see them and not commented...until one brave soul had the decency to boldly step into the realm and...well now I know all the squishy soft folk I have on there know who I am...awwwwwww
    Well, certainly a good way to find out who your friends are by mistake! X

  5. That guy's nothing special... I could write better stuff than him if I put my mind to it. I emailed him once and the ignorant shitbag never even had the decency to reply... I hate people like that. X

  6. Ooooh, Mr. Memoires,
    How dare you have the audacity to offend such a prominent figure of respectable society, innit? There will be wars over this! You mark my turds!

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  8. Had to delete that last comment because I am utterly stupid,lol.

    I do believe Shane to be one of "the greats" of our time, but don't underestimate yourself. Thank you for choosing to share your story.

    And on a side note. IV opiates saved my life too. In a perfect world there would be doctors and clinics that could prescribe opaites not just for physical pain but for emotional as well. I know I am truly a better person with them. But I was forced to get clean. Anyhow, keep on writing!

  9. I too love Shane's writing. Its is through his page that I ended up here and I am really enjoying reading your blog ( I don't like that word either!) also. People think we junkies are all illiterate and stupid and it's nice to see people like yourself and Shane proving them wrong. With Love, Gina. xx

  10. Hey Carrion Doll,
    So So So Sorry I've been neglecting this blag horribly, and only just found your comment. My sincerest apologies, really. That was bad of me. There's been so much going on in my life I've just not posted for so long. I have some new writings which I will post soon. Maybe I'll even get back into blogging. When |I was homeless, I don't know why, I'd post regularly. Now I've been housed properly, I've become lazy with my posts.
    Oh, but in an ideal world, there would be no pain. But then again, there's something perverse in human nature, I think, that draws people to pain.
    Thanks for your lovely comments, I enjoy your blog too when I get a chance to read.
    Vee X

  11. Hey Gina,
    Apologies to you too, hey, at least I found your comment now, and thank you for your kind words. Yes, there have been many, many junkie authors, poets, artists, musicians over the years. Junkie's a strange word; Shane writes interesting stuff on this topic, you may have read it.
    I had to change the settings on here so I don't think you'll be able to comment as 'anonymous' any more. It was because I was getting overwhelmed with regular sexcam spam, so missing genuine readers' comments. I wanted to keep it open for anyone to comment and may change it back in a month or so. In the meantime, if you did want to write on here, the system will let you if you have a gmail account. Sorry for the inconvenience, it annoys me too.
    Vee X

  12. Hey Shane,
    I know, he's been very rude recently and missed a couple of emails. But it's ok, just so long as you're well, is all that matters. I do worry, just drop us a line to let me know you're safe and well,
    Love&long life,
    Vee X