Touched started out as four large sheets of paper drawn on with pencil while writing a novel about childhood friendships and how those early connections shape the types of relationships we go on to have later in life. I used the freehand lines and illustrations to try and access memories that were lurking below the surface. Memories of childhood fumbling, adolescent touch, lessons in desire and the forms it takes.
The large sheets were then cut into quarters and bound together to make a book, at which point I started using colour pencils, looking for the shapes in the unplanned lines, trying to piece images together, finding pleasure in colour and colouring in, giving shape to guilt and shame, rage and bewilderment.
The original artist’s book can be seen here. The single copy was then scanned and digitised, and a smaller A5 copy has been printed in a limited edition of 250, copies of which can be ordered via this link (€15, includes int’l postage).
Mark is a novel loosely based on the life of the painter Mark Gertler, interwoven with the story of an Israeli writer living in London, haunted by his experience of a brutal war in Lebanon and the death he witnessed there.
The story is told during the last months of Mark Gertler’s life as he recalls his relationship with the painter Dora Carrington, and his friendships with Ottoline Morrell, members of the Bloomsbury Group, and with Eddie Marsh, Winston Churchill’s private secretary.
The narrator, in his fascination with the deceased artist, travels to Sitges, Paris, Brighton, and to the sanatoria where Gertler spent many months as his body succumbed to the ravages of tuberculosis. Aided in his research by his lover, Gabriel, the narrator discovers the whereabouts of Gertler’s son in West London. As the story moves towards the devastating end of the artist’s life, the writer will eventually reveal what he witnessed during the war in Lebanon.
Mark is told through a series of sketches from an ex-soldier’s life and the life of one of the great British painters of the 20th Century. It is a story of the artist’s battle for recognition and financial independence and how those struggles impact the artist and the people around them.
Kiss and Tell Press, 2021 234 pages, £12, $18, €15
Alone with a Man in a Room is a collection of fiction and creative-nonfiction stories and essays written and published in various anthologies and journals over the past 20 years. Pieces about love, obsession, promiscuity, paranoia, and desire set in bedrooms, hotels, bathhouses, and public parks, in London, Tel Aviv, New York, and Sitges.
from the Introduction: Many of these pieces have been with me for so long I can’t remember whether they’re fact or fiction. Most are probably a combination of the two. I remember the time and place of their conception: those sweltering afternoons in London writing in an overgrown Abney Park Cemetery, a trip to Lille for writing and sex, the holiday in Almería on my way to Fundación Valparaíso for a writing retreat. Some pieces have been incomplete for so long, they’ll remain in a state of becoming forever. This book is a love letter to London and Tel Aviv, a stock-taking of work that has accumulated over the past twenty years. It’s a farewell card and a thank-you note, a restrospective of stories and essays written in the first twenty years of this new century. (Shaun Levin, Madrid 2021)
For the past few years I’ve wanted to write the story of what it’s like to live with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a chronic condition that has shaped my life for 35 years. The graphic novel feels like the most appropriate form to show what it’s like to live with a disability that’s easy to hide, yet one that takes its toll on the spirit and the practicalities of day-to-day living.
The working title is Why I Don’t Visit You, capturing some of the complexity behind a simple invitation from a friend to come and visit, and highlighting the most challenging part of living with a bowel condition: travel, getting from A to B!
I’m creating the graphic novel in sections. Each section is a zine. The first three parts are currently complete and can be purchased through this link.
An exploration of the stories hidden in photographs. Seventeen short lyrical pieces (accompanied by the photographs that inspired them) draw meaning and memories from captured moments in time based on images revisited from a childhood in South Africa and an adolescence in Israel. Snapshots of The Boy is a meditation on love, memory and sexual awakening, and a riff on the lasting presence of the boy in the life of the grown man.
A man sets out to visit Isaac Rosenberg’s grave just as his relationship back home in London is falling apart. Travelling by train through Northern France, getting lost in the heavy rain outside Arras trying to locate the cemetery, the man tells his own story and the story of Rosenberg’s last days through a series of anecdotes, impressions and thoughts. This story is an exploration of infidelity and allegiance, to the living and to the dead. Isaac Rosenberg’s Journey to Arras: A Meditation is an elegiac prose poem, homage to a visionary poet and a meditation on the nature of war and hope.
Isaac Rosenberg’s Journey to Arras is part biography and part autobiography, a story faithful to the conflicting powers of fact and the imagination.
£5, Cecil Woolf, 2008
the book is part of the War Poets Series produced by Cecil Woolf Publishing
An affair between two men in London begins in an internet chatroom and takes them further into love than either could have imagined. A disturbingly honest and intensely erotic work, Seven Sweet Things is as much an exploration of love as it is the lovers’ exploration of the city. Shifting between hidden archaeological mysteries in London and a fantastical stay in an old house in Yorkshire, and between Clissold Park in North London and Roslyn Glen in Scotland, where the narrator gets invited to prepare extravagant desserts for an aristocratic family, the landscape is always love. Seven Sweet Things is a reminder that each time we fall in love, we re-invent our codes, our values, and our sources of inspiration.
In every chapter there is a moment to take your breath away with its simplicity, its originality, its honesty (Time Out, London)
a sumptuous and deeply personal feast of a book (Gay Times)
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Publication date: 2012
The new edition of Seven Sweet Things (with a new Prologue) was published in 2012. You can order a signed copy here. Seven Sweet Things is also available to order from Amazon, or on Amazon Kindle.
The stories in A Year of Two Summers introduce us to an array of characters as they negotiate identity, migration, belonging, and the things that get lost in translation. A new recruit fantasises about a fellow soldier during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon; a young gay man experiments with cross-dressing; a father worries about protecting his son during the bombing of Tel Aviv; a South African woman and her Syrian boyfriend tiptoe around each other as they look after their unexpected baby. These stories keep alive the elements of both Jewish and gay traditions of storytelling. The are lyrical and unflinching, nostalgic and pragmatic.
A Year of Two Summers won an Arts Council of England Writers Award when it was still a work in progress.
Set alongside “Bathers 1917-18” by the artist Mark Gertler, the story “Trees at a Sanatorium” was written specifically for this publication. It is a meditation on landscape and the importance of intimacy in artistic creation. The story was written while visiting places where Gertler stayed, from the sanatorium at Banchory in Scotland, to Catalonia, Paris and the gardens at Garsington Manor in Oxfordshire.
This is the first of The Nobile Folios series – monographic explorations of 20th- and 21st-century works of art – published by Sylph Editions. Another story based on Mark Gertler’s life won the Moment Short Fiction Prize.