‘Together’: The Review

‘It’s that man again…’

The prolific Andy Gell returns…

But he was never really away…

Andy Gell follows up ‘Whatever’ with ‘Together’ – part two of his fan-fiction trilogy. All this whilst co-ordinating The 400 Remix Project, running his blog, getting published in Issue 23 of The Psychedelic Press and more…

If you are not doing so already, you can follow Andy on Twitter.


‘Together’ – The Review

‘Whatever’ opened Mr Gell’s trilogy with a play based around events at ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’ back in August 2017. If you missed it, it is still available via Amazaba. We strongly recommend it!

Now, as the paperback of ‘2023’ is published, our author on the inside of The 400 raises the stakes with a highly ambitious sequel. It would have been easy for Gell to carry on the narrative and style in the same way as the debut book. And it might have been just as well received. But graduates of The Dark Ages dare to be different…

Late last year, Andy Gell rallied for people to ‘contribute’ to his next book…

The brief was as follows:


Were you at Burn The Shard?

Were you somewhere else?

Can you recount a moment from ANY November 23rd ever?

Past or future?

Can you sum it up in 23 words?

Or several entries, each of 23 words?

Submissions should portray forward momentum, be in the third person limited point of viewoccur between 11:23 and 23:23 and be time stamped, like this:

17:23. Andy laughed at the irony of his Googlebyte sat nav offering him an alternative route to his destination, saving twenty three minutes.’

The time, 24 hour clock, hh:mm, counts as one of your 23 words.

Your strand (or strands – you can write yourself into a starring role) will be woven into the wider narrative of TOGETHER.


The call to arms worked…

Across 160 pages there are…

37 contributors

23 words in each and every paragraph

23231 words

This was clearly going to be a book unlike any other…

By invoking crowd-sourced content and the collaborative spirit of Day 2 (The Day Of The Book), an experimental piece of literature had been created. Interestingly, (and unknown to the author at the start of this quest) this alternative approach had recently been explored by someone closely affiliated to the world of The 400. That person is Alistair Fruish, author of ‘The Sentence’… ‘The book is one long sentence entirely constructed of words of one syllable, with no punctuation.’ A quite amazing synchronicity. But we are getting used to such occurrences these days.

Naturally, when you hear about the construct behind ‘Together’, certain questions arise:

Is every paragraph really 23 words long?

How does the narrative work with so many collaborators involved?

How on earth did Andy Gell manage to sew all the threads together?

Does it make any sense as a work of literature or is it just high-abstract-experimental-art?

Lets explore…


Consisting of 13 chapters, each of which covers an hour from the day of November 23rd, we are given a chronological account of events via time-stamped paragraphs. However, within that structure, the author informs us that, ‘The following events all take place between 11:23 and midnight on November 23rd, but not necessarily in the same year or in the same universe.’

Each chapter opens with an illustration from Ben Asselstine. This was very pleasing to see as I have admired Ben’s work for a while and know that he is a huge fan of The KLF. Within the illustrations are QR codes?!?!?!?!… Straight away, as with ‘Whatever’, it is apparent that we are embarking on a journey that has many layers…

As you start to progress through the pages, you are bombarded with an ever-growing cast of characters, various situations and extensive references…

TO BE CLEAR – you really need to be a member of The 400, The 99 or a huge KLF fan or to have followed last years events in order to get a full appreciation of this book. ‘Together’ really is by one of The 400 and for The 400.

At times there is very little back story to the characters but even without such references, their behaviours and actions offer intrigue and deliver micro-narratives. Many characters arise and are often just identified via a single name such as ‘Becci’ or ‘Toby’. You will soon catch yourself looking out for the appearances as they arise.

Initially, you may find yourself in a world of light chaos as if you are constantly flicking through every satellite channel available. But if you have done that – you will know that even through glimpses and snippets, you can find a story and moments to relate to…

As we center around events from November 23rd and we realise that the contributors have certain commonalities, we see a host of themes and topics arise…

The number 23

Burn The Shard

Yoko Ono

Money Burning

BANKSY

The Turner Prize

2023

Noel Edmonds

and more…

Some contributors submitted a solo entry to the project, whereas others have multiple features within the work. This is where the book comes into its own. Amongst the chaos, some order, regularity and familiarity emerge. Of particular note is the development on the ‘Whatever’ storyline as Mr Catashi returns to the fold… events from ‘Burn The Shard’ are shone a light upon… and the mysterious ‘Jarvin’ surfaces…

Despite having an army of authors, this book does not feel like it was written by a diverse number of people. Somehow, through the instructions and the collaborators reached, a collective hive-mind has synced with Andy Gell to speak as one united voice. That is quite an achievement.

Even though we have 37 contributors, each telling their own story in isolation, we do not have a disparate collection of tales that are strangers to each other. We have an intertwined collection of threads that evolve into a body of work where its sum is far greater than that of its parts.

Whilst reading ‘Together’, I often felt that it worked as a companion piece to ‘2023’ – there are similarities. Some of the writing styles follow that of The JAMs and may have been  directly inspired in some cases. But the familiarity goes further – the array of characters, the wide range of stories within a story, the extensive references to certain historic events and the rewriting of other well known ones.

Parallels to the efforts of Cauty and Drummond continue. As this website has illustrated, despite ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’ been one event and one story, there are in fact many versions, tales and accounts of the event within the over-arching story. ‘Together’ is a tribute and reflection of those magical three and a half days.

There is also plenty of humour to enjoy throughout…

Oh, and I checked many times… paragraphs really are 23 words long!

If we were in another medium, such as film, the method adopted for telling this tale would not seem so alien. We are all familiar with many films where characters surface randomly, narratives jump around and patience is required as matters unfold.

This unique project is a literary equivalent of what it must be like to view the world behind a set of CCTV monitors…

CCTV

‘Together’ truly captures the essence of The 400 and The 99. The events of August and November last year brought together a set of like minded souls. Through a combination of vision, outstanding project management, drive, creativity, ambition, hard work and community, Andy Gell has co-ordinated and created a work unlike any other. You will not see another book quite like this in 2018. The concept alone makes this a compulsory read. There is so much within the 160 pages that it is likely that you may need to revisit this novel to unearth all that it has to offer.

Drummond, Cauty, Welcome To The Dark Ages and 2023 have given birth to a bold and INNOVATIVE body of creative writing. Andy Gell is a true artist. But he is also a catalyst, inspiration and leader – as well as a great Project Manager. We are lucky to have him in our family.

So, when you venture into ‘Together’…

At times, it might feel overwhelming…

At times, it may appear to be a little chaotic…

At times, you may wonder what the fuuk is going on…

But… remember the last time you felt like that when led by an artist(s)…

You (we) went with it…

And boy was it worth it!

 

 

Together is available now via Amazaba or as part of the compilation ‘Whatever and Together’.

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