Buy the paperback (£12.50)
Imprint: Triarchy Press (triarchy fiction)
216pp. ~ 15.3 x 23 cm (8" x 5") ~ Paperback
Tags: Situationism, mythogeography, psychogeography, drift, dérive.
"Since [Alice] landed on my doormat, I have found every possible excuse to creep away and read it. I should probably have waited until I'd finished it, but at 3/4 of the way through my own 'fugue' I'm bursting to say how beautiful, bewildering and breathtaking it is. I don't want it to end...maybe it never does..."
Katie Villa on Facebook
“I recommend disappearing, as I have over the last few nights, through this particular looking-glass. This is a funny, sad, touching, horrifying, hopeful and riveting read about a child walking Mytho-geographical terrain to find their Dad. You may well find reflections of your selves in these pages, because this is a book about Everything. Thank you Phil Smith”
Helen Bee on Facebook
Read an extract from The Foreword by Bradley Garrett
Read Chapters 1 and 2 of the novel
About Phil Smith
Other books by Phil Smith
Other Triarchy Fiction Titles:
The novel draws on the author's longtime exploration of psychogeography, Situationism, drift and dérive, and fleshes out his practice of mythogeography through the curious mind of a young girl exploring the gaps between her parents' respective worlds and her own; between the city that she sees and the one that she finds when she walks out into it; between the layers of possible experience.
It's a quite remarkable journey for anyone interested in those subjects, in what it's like to upgrade (whether as an adolescent or as an adult), or in the tears in the fabric of things that we mostly manage to ignore.
Alice's Dérives in Devonshire
Phil Smith, author of Mythogeography, On Walking and the Counter-Tourism books, member of Exeter-based Wrights & Sites, well-known as Crabman, drifter and walker/performer and prolific playwright has written an extraordinary first novel.
In Alice's Dérives in Devonshire, he embodies in a modern fairy tale his preoccupations with the inner and outer worlds of psychogeography - bringing them together to describe the possibilities that offer themselves up to us when we live and walk and dream without our usual blinkers. As he says elsewhere:
At its simplest, Mythogeography is a way of walking, thinking and visiting a place on many levels at the same time. Anyone can do it. You can do it. Walking becomes a performance, walkers become performers and the route becomes their co-star.
In a city, for example, walkers become aware of their urban home as a site, a forum, a playground and a stage: all there to enjoy, understand and provoke on multiple levels:
The levels of the city are reflected back in the many levels of the walker - the public and the private, fact and dream, admissible and inadmissible, forgotten and remembered, past and future.
Alice's Dérives in Devonshire follows a nine-year-old girl (Alice) as she does just that, walking her way into the layered and muddy underbelly of Devonshire, urban and rural:
"Can a city fall to bits one day and put itself back together the next?
I think so, but I am crazy. So why should you believe me? Dad says it’s OK to be mad. Bad is the problem.
And the city is bad. I saw its badness. For one day its glass was everywhere like broken teeth after a fight between lions and sharks. Big buildings leaning on each other like drunk dinosaurs. The new shopping centre was a cave full of smoke. And everyone was frightened of each other.
But I wasn’t frightened. I could see that between the pieces of glass were shining gaps. And in the biggest building were passageways and tunnels and I could see that that was the good city. The city of holes and caves. Between the bad was the good, but only if you knew that before you looked.
A little while later – I’m not sure how long because that was when I was ill again – the bigger cities burned for real; life had a really bad dream. By then, though, I knew that the cities were always ruins, no matter what they looked like. And that you had to know how to see fire to find warmth."
So Alice's dérives begin. Her Dad, though a fireman, occupies a world-of-dream somewhere between here and madness and inspires her exquisitely chronicled wanderings. Her mum, though a 'cynical cyclist' who looks after people who are ill in their minds, occupies a world-of-fact where the cooking gets done and the ladder to the loft is always pulled up for safety.
As her Dad disappears into a sort of derangement, Alice sets out to look for him, first with Mandy and her brother and a list of ideas. They meet Mister Everything Binns and an old man with a large red head in a church and explore the woods, a remarkable hotel and the underside of the city.
But as her pursuit of her Dad leads Alice into deeper confusion she finds she has to set out on foot on her own, into the hill, into the underchalk, to find Wally Eager and Mister Binns and the Merry Men again.
This is a book for urban explorers, imaginative walkers, ambulant youngsters, difficult drifters, artists of the path less travelled, mythogeographers, psychogeographers, situationists and all the restless.
“I just finished reading Alice's Dérives in Devonshire - what a great story! I spent several lovely hours in the disappeared world, invisible, 'being marked on a different map'. Thanks so much!”