Ben Wardle - not a book about Wire’s seminal album, it is a novel inspired by it. A child is abducted in a supermarket, male and female professional killers ride trains together, three girls rhumba through time, an ex-lion tamer leaves an indelible mark on a lonely woman…




Ben Wardle, Pink Flag, The Antar Press, 2012.


This is not a book about Wire’s seminal album, it is a novel inspired by it.
A child is abducted in a supermarket, male and female professional killers ride trains together, three girls rhumba through time, an ex-lion tamer leaves an indelible mark on a lonely woman…
Pink Flag mixes literary forms in a temporally fluid narrative, introducing voices and characters in a range of differing perspectives in stories of trauma, love, celebration and decimation. The 21 chapters named after the tracks on the album might seem to be separate stories, but each is subtly linked and builds toward an explosive and revealing finale.


Pink Flag started when I was looking for short story titles. I’ve always liked the stories of English authors like Ian McEwan, Roald Dahl and Graham Green and I notice that very often it is the titles that stay with me even after my terrible memory has erased the plotline: Conversation with a cupboard man, Galloping Foxley, The destructors… I was attracted to Pink Flag because, great music aside,  I liked the fact that the song titles are intriguing and oblique: even after listening to the tunes you are none the wiser as to what most of them are about. If I’d tried writing a story based on a title by, I don’t know… Buzzcocks or Marvin Gaye, it wouldn’t have had any resonance because the lyrics generally explain the title. With Wire it is different.
The first one I wrote was Feeling Called Love, which most readers have recognized as a love letter to another very well known punk album. After that I moved on to Three Girl Rhumba and it was in writing this that it first occurred to me that I could write a whole book using all 21 titles. After writing the next 6 or 7, I began to see links between characters taking place so after that I consciously started linking stories and a novel borne out of 21 self contained stories became my goal. I liked the fact that it seemed like an impossible task. Usually I hate self-imposed challenges, but for some reason this one appealed to me; perhaps because it gave me a beginning and end without me having to bother planning them.
Ending stories is always tough. So the biggest favour Wire did me is their final track on Pink Flag. After all, what could be more conclusive than I2XU?” - Ben Wardle London 2012


Ben Wardle worked in the music business for two decades before becoming an online journalist, radio presenter and teacher. He is the co-author of The Art of The LP (Sterling) and contributed to a well-known dictionary of quotations where, during one slowish day, he made up a quotation from Ernest Hemingway. When it made it into the dictionary he realised that fiction was the way forward. This is his first novel. benwardle.blogspot.hr/

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