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Eyepennies was the first in a new range of Novellas published by TTA Press. It is available as an e Book and in print as a paperback. The second of these novellas, Spin, is now out as E book and in print and the third, Cold Turkey, in print only as of today. (23 August 2014)
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'EYEPENNIES' IS A SONG WRITTEN AND RECORDED by Mark Linkous, an American songwriter, musician and producer, who recorded and performed five albums under the name Sparklehorse. The last of these, Dark Night of the Soul, co-written and produced with Dangermouse, saw Mark collaborate with an eclectic mix of performers and artists, including Vic Chesnutt, The Flaming Lips, and David Lynch. It was officially released, after contractual problems had caused a delay, in 2010. 'Eyepennies' appeared on the 2001 album It's a Wonderful Life, which was my first encounter with Sparklehorse's music. I saw them late in 2002 supporting Bonnie 'Prince' Billy at a gig in London. Throughout the hour long set, Mark's vocals were probably the quietest I'd ever heard at a live gig. This had the effect of causing the audience to concentrate all the more intently on his hushed, elusive lyrics, as we strove to understand the mysterious truths they allowed us to glimpse.
Some people interpreted the title of It's a Wonderful Life as an ironic riposte to those who perceived of Mark as being preoccupied with mortality, madness and the dark side of human nature, but I prefer to take him at his word. This despite his struggles with depression, addiction and the long, painful recovery from an all too close brush with death in 1996 while touring the UK to promote his first album Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot.
That Mark recovered from that, and the near loss of both legs, spoke volumes about his determination to see the rich beauty and weirdness in life. His fascination was not with death but with the simple, mundane pleasures we so often take for granted. Dogs, trees, sunshine, birds, horses, dusk; he loved motorcycles, old songs, old engines, the American south, its dark history and literature. His music and lyrics - spooky, elusive, surreal, and raw - are imbued with these things, though the songs speak to us obliquely, filtering his ideas and passions through the prism of an extraordinary life. They serve as surreal reminders of things we've forgotten, and reveal to us something of the dreams we never understood.
Mark Linkous took his own life in March 2010. That he fought on for fourteen years after his first close encounter with death is a testament to his strength and zest for life. We are left only with his eerily beautiful and haunting songs, and for that we are blessed.
I wrote this story for him.
Here are some comments on Eyepennies from Ellen Datlow, Tim Lebbon, Alison Littlewood and Stephen Volk.
"A musician emotionally scarred by a near-death experience is haunted by his past, his present and his future in this chilling, slow burn of a ghost story. Read it!" Ellen Datlow
"Mike O'Driscoll is without doubt one of our best writers. I often wish he wrote more, because when he does produce something new - such as the excellent Eyepennies - it's truly an occasion for celebration" Tim Lebbon
"A musician struggles to come to terms with his existence following a near-death experience, in a world where reality is something elusive and the darkness is always waiting. A beautifully written, evocative novella" Alison Littlewood
"A beautiful story suffused with the entangled mysteries of pain and life, as radiant as it is dark: the best kind" Stephen Volk
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