Sunday, 6 December 2009

CHRISTMAS PRESENTS ANYONE? Have a Nutshell Limited Edition Tee!

Dear Friends,

Have I ever mentioned how hard it is to fund a literary magazine nowadays? It's probably too obvious to mention. What's worth mentioning, however, is that we won't be intimidated by the unpopularity of poetry and the solitude of short stories in the world of money but we will flip our nutshell over, stick a sail in it and use it as a vessel to sail the seas of funding, starting with sartorial experimentation! Yes, that can only mean one thing: the famous Nutshell Tees are finally ready and they are:

- individually hand printed (yes, it took ages - but anything for you!)
- super limited edition - only 50 (better hurry)
- limited prints of Siobhan Maguire's legendary cover design (you can frame them if you want)
- great quality and fit: American Apparel (ooooh)
- super wearable: black print on light grey (instant chic)

And here's the second list, by buying them you will be:

- supporting your favourite literary magazine - who loves you and needs you so
- making the world a better place where magazines can exist and play trumps with each other's submissions
- becoming the owner of a real work of art, a collectible item and a piece of history
- possibly giving the best Christmas present ever
- so cooool

This is how you can buy your T-shirt for only £12 (or more if you feel generous) They come in Unisex S, M and L (sizes are on the small side) or Girl fit S and M (which are also great for kids):

-Send a cheque payable to Federica Fornasier to this address:
Nutshell Magazine, 77A Dartmouth Park Hill, London NW5 1JD

-Pay via Paypal


* * * Thank you Pandora and Daniel for modeling our tees - you look great! * * *

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


The summer has been a hugely rewarding and very busy time for everybody at Nutshell. Issue One was so well received that we were submerged by submissions, feedback and professions of love from all over the world. So now, having changed the clocks, read our fan mail, and patted ourselves on the back, we find we all have much more time to spend indoors preparing the next issue of Nutshell.

We are calling for poetry, flash fiction, short stories, poetic prose or creative non-fiction. The inspiration and main theme behind Nutshell is urban space, the city as inextinguishable source of images, sensations and ideas. We still believe in cities and therefore, with such a vast theme behind us, we ask you to send us submissions on any topic you like – because we think it's very likely a city will be lurking behind it somewhere.

***DEADLINE: 15th DECEMBER 2009, to submit and get more info visit or send us an email:***

We are also still accepting, and very much encouraging, DONATIONS – YES PLEASE! All the people behind Nutshell work as volunteers, just for the love of writing and the pleasure of sharing a great publication with the world. Unfortunately, the printers don’t – they’d rather have the cash.

You could really help us with a donation, even if it seems like a teeny amount of money. Donate via paypal on our website, send us a cheque @

Nutshell Magazine HQ
77A Dartmouth Park Hill
London NW5 1JD

or talk to the printers in person and make them an offer they cannot refuse.

Either way WATCH THIS SPACE, Facebook page and Twitter for news on readings and fundraising parties, Nutshell Limited Edition T-Shirts… and who knows what else!

Keep writing!



Dearest Nutshell Blog readers,
As you can see we have a new addition to the Nutshell Blog: the film
review. We are crazy about words and storytelling and creating amazing
imagery and therefore as well as loving poetry, fiction and beautiful
writing we also love great filmmaking. Being Nutshell in paper form we
couldn't really include film in it, but we now have this blog and we
think films and film reviews could well become a little part of it.
James Bower is a freelance writer who specialises in film. He's very
witty and writes beautifully. His favourite movie is The Apartment and
(quoting him) 'He is absolutely not a dork.'
James will review selected films that we find have a connection with
what Nutshell stands for, which are simply outstanding, or which we
find stimulating for any other reason and would like to share with
you. As usual you are more than welcome to leave your comments.


Saturday, 24 October 2009

James Bower reviews UP for Nutshell

Review: Up
USA, 2009, Cert U Dir. Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
96 mins. Cast: Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai, Christopher Plummer
Up is a masterpiece.
Not only that, but Up succeeds against the odds. Conceptually it’s Pixar’s weakest offering yet: It’s not about monsters, or robots, or toys. It’s about Carl Fredericksen. Carl is 78 years old with a walking frame and a house full of faded memories, primarily of his beloved wife Ellie. Ellie just died, and her loss is something that you’ll feel for the duration of the film. This is thanks to one of the greatest opening montages I have ever seen, animated or otherwise. Critics have been swooning over this one for weeks, and it’s my turn to join them. It’s the condensed life story of Carl and Ellie, from their first meeting as kids drunk on tales of ‘adventure’ to a closing image of old Carl sitting alone by a table of condolence messages. It’s the most affecting 20 minutes I’ve seen this year.
If you’ve seen a poster for Up, you know the story. Using hundreds of coloured balloons, Carl floats away in his sad little house (hey, it’s better than the Shady Oaks retirement village). But Up is not about a floating house. It’s about Carl. Carl clings to his house like a drowning man to a rock. He needs his stuff, and he has a lot of it. Photographs, scrapbooks, ornaments, furniture - it’s a chintzy museum dedicated to a life that ended when Ellie died. And he’s terrified of letting go. When Carl realises that the two of them never achieved their shared dream of adventuring in South America (his life in montage is full of mundane joys, but none of them involve what he considers to be ‘adventure’), he finds a way to get there without leaving his fully-furnished mausoleum. Did I mention that Carl is a balloon salesman?
The storytelling in Up is nothing short of masterful. Carl is painted so lovingly and with such clarity that it’s impossible not to feel for the cranky old coot. Ed Asner’s voice work is just perfect, right down to the irritated little grunts that make up half of his vocabulary. Despite himself, Carl charms not only the audience but also Russell (Jordan Nagai), a wide-eyed, slow-witted boy scout who happens to be on Carl’s porch when the house lifts off. Russell is part of a small supporting cast that also boasts a talking dog and an LSD-flavoured flamingo straight out of a Tex Avery cartoon.
At once crushingly sad and outrageously funny, Up’s laughs range from classic slapstick to a sublime musical montage set to Bizet (the whole score is first rate). One thing Up lacks is ‘zingy’ dialogue. Thank Christ! Am I the only one who’s sick to death of smart-ass zebras and neurotic penguins? Up’s delicate, honest humour is part of its irresistible charm. Equally satisfying are the action sequences, perfectly paced and choreographed and a thousand times more gripping than the cgi brain damage of the summer’s top action flicks. A briefly-glimpsed thunderstorm into which Carl and Russell accidentally drift might even out-rumble the whirling ocean maelstrom of Miyazaki’s Ponyo.
Up is visual poetry. It speaks on many different levels woven into an outstandingly complete cinematic experience. Most of Carl’s life whizzes by us in a few minutes, but you can feel the passing years as though you’re there with him, and that’s what gives the rest of the movie such a wonderful weight and texture. Carl’s hermit crab-like dependency on his house is never telegraphed; it’s just there, plain as the big round nose on his face. Russell isn’t just bumbling comic relief; he’s a real kid, and he has a sad story of his own that he can barely articulate. But Up can.
See Up as soon as possible, as many times as you can. Whimsical but not saccharine, tight but not contrived, it’s smart, it’s funny and it’s beautiful. It’s also strikingly mature. This is a kids’ movie, but not one in which everyone’s dreams come true. It’s one founded in disappointment and regret, but which then lifts this sadness into a glorious statement about the malleability of dreams. There are new ones out there that Carl just didn’t know about yet. You can tell when a film has been made with love; Up is such a film.
- James Bower

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


I have constructed the moon into a lamp

So that it can bear its days without shrinking

Like a soap, but be a head proudly shaping

Over the clouds into the white vanity it deserves

For its force. Dragging seas and women

Behind its back in a heavy bridal veil,

Horses envy its strength. Corpses

Leave sleep in their graves to hold

their hands under that lamp again,

My lamp, my kitchen lamp.

Rebecka Mustajärvi

Monday, 21 September 2009

Rebecka Sharp

Rebecka Sharp, 20, lives in London and misses America. We hope to feature some of her B&W shots in issue 2.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Buonasera Bongiorno

As many of Nutshell's readers will be aware, legendary television host Mike Bongiorno died on Tuesday. How to communicate to those unfamiliar with Italian television the scale of his talent? I take the wikipedia entry for Mike Bongiorno and I run my eye down it. Quite quickly I arrive at this: "In 1963, Umberto Eco wrote an essay entitled Fenomenologia di Mike Bongiorno in which he used advanced academic theories to shed light on Mike Bongiorno and his way of communicating. Eco held that Mike Bongiorno was so good at portraying himself as no better than average in every respect, that 100% of his audience could feel good about themselves, could feel that they were more sophisticated in some way." Let us dismiss this false start.

How well I remember Mike Bongiorno's presentation of the San Remo festival. Who better qualified to introduce popular contemporary music to a new generation than a man in his late seventies? His co-host of the night, a spritely fifty-year-old, was under the impression Madonna would accept an interview in Italian. Though immediately evident Madonna's command of Italian didn't stretch beyond 'Buonasera, San Remo', this co-host laboriously persisted with question after question to a blank and increasingly annoyed Madonna. Of course it was Mike, Mike Bongiorno who saved the day, ushering Madonna away from her tormentor with promises to 'see you back in the States' in an impressive American accent. Mike, you did good work on Italian television and will be missed.

I cannot call to mind Mike Bongiorno without seeing the faces of other outstanding Italian presenters: Maria De Filippi; Red Ronnie. Still living? Surely yes. And surely not yet so antique they're ready to present the San Remo festival. Not yet ready, so I'm saying, to step into the shoes of one Mike, Mike Bongiorno. Maria De Filippi, wife of fellow television presenter Maurizio Costanzo, a man famed for his wit, though a wit of such subtlety it ran beyond my limited language skills to appreciate. How many long Saturday afternoons did I pass with Maria and her 'Amici', Roman juveniles with emotional problems and Invicta rucksacks? I cannot now recall, nor would I wish to.

Red Ronnie presented (still does I guess) an afternoon music show in which Italian teenagers would watch famous bands perform, and then submit questions to the band. One exchange I remember in particular. Following a performance by Suede of 'Beautiful Ones', which contains the line 'loved up, Doved up, hung around, stoned in a lonely town / shaking their meat to the beat,' an astute Italian girl asked Brett Anderson if the dove in that line represented the dove of peace.

Too big for afternoons only, Red also had an evening programme, during which he would tackle the main band on the show with an interview in English. During such occasions, which could be arduous affairs, I have to admit, I was always sympathetic towards Red who knew how to handle himself in a Q&A situation despite some notable revisions to the book of English grammar and syntax on his part. Alas, my sympathy was not shared by the army of Italian girls who would call the show on a routine basis to communicate to Red their opinion of his foreign language skills. But what did they know? Were any of those bilingual callers fronting a national television show? Are they now? Of course not.

We might have said to Mike Bongiorno arrivederci (or should that be a fussy arrivederla?), but young guns like Maria De Filippi and Red Ronnie survive him to carry his torch and perhaps in a decade or two, when of sufficient seniority, to present, as he did, the San Remo festival.


Ian McLachlan

Friday, 4 September 2009

So I...

...went to Italy for the late summer bank holiday to see my friends and family. BA is the only company to provide commuter friendly flights and since it was also a bank holiday weekend the tickets were a bit pricey. I had no other option so I booked them. When I checked in online I was annoyed to find I was sitting at the very front of the plane, row 3. It bothered me because in my irrational frightened mind the two ends are the ones that move the most upwards and downwards, while the middle stays nice and still. A bit like when you hold a pencil between your thumb and middle finger and make it oscillate, the middle bit stays still while the ends sway like crazy. It probably does not apply to planes really, but in my heart it does, so I was upset. It wasn’t until after the three course meal in crystal glasses and real metal cutlery that I realized that I was sitting in first class. To be honest I wasn’t quite sure of it until I asked the steward. So that was why I was sitting at the front of the plane for that flight! I should know from now on. What gave it away, though, was not the extra leg room - if you have met me you know I am perfectly comfortable with what ryanair offers in that aspect - or the fine bone china, or the metal knives (terrorists don’t fly first class, obviously); what gave it away was A: niceness and B: gold. The stewards and stewardesses checked our seatbelts were fastened ever so gently, then made sure we had just enough pinot and champagne, and always spoke to us in the sweetest voices before opening the little curtain and moving on to the rest of the plane barking orders and kicking people’s bags out of the way with deliberate nastiness. But the gold! Oh, the wonders one can only behold in first class! The women in first class might have been similar in shape and form to me but their every inch was covered in neon signs screaming MONEY. Peeping through the curtain I could see sensible grey and black jumpers and blue jeans, but next to me there was a peacock display of crimson silks and emerald green taffeta, silver leather handbags the size of parachutes (maybe the first class ladies are smarter than they seem), with solid gold lockets and chains and charms dingling at their every (bloody) move, hair blown to perfection in the softest, most precise careless waves, tans the shade of terracotta, heels that could puncture the plane floor and kill us all, and a tiny bolero cape made of cow foetus skin – charming. Needless to say they looked at me, my cheapskates-class grey top and jeans combo, my unmade-up face, and the sad, battered remains of the guardian weekend ‘Summer short story special’ magazine with disgust and contempt. What was I doing there? Why was I allowed the same niceness and salmon niçoise? Why the unneeded yet clearly undeserved extra leg room? I smiled at them politely and stuffed the unfinished miniature wine bottle in my bag before the same steward who had just thrown the horrid BA sarnies (which I kind of love) onto the inferior laps of the crappy-class passengers asked me in the sweetest voice if I was finished with the tray and if he could offer me any more olive bread or mango pavlova. I am not sure I need first class, I most certainly wouldn’t buy first class tickets deliberately, but it did feel good to be the only person there not burdened with their weight in gold and dead foetus’ skin; it made me feel good about myself and my bottom-of-career-ladder situation. And finally, it made me feel good about having to come up with more inventive ideas than a credit card to fund this magazine. I just hope those wee Nutshells out there are having a better time than my guardian supplement.


Thursday, 3 September 2009

Dear all,

Welcome to the latest addition to the Nutshell Magazine venture: the blog. This blog is our way to keep in touch and let you know that we’re still alive and well, and working hard to present you with a new edition of Nutshell very soon. After our glorious first appearance on the zine scene we received masses of excellent submissions, some great reviews, some donations and really warm words of encouragement – thank you! What we didn’t get was a big fat cheque from the Arts Council to make more Nutshells, but don’t worry: we have a plan. First of all we will continue to welcome your donations *here*, then we will miraculously multiply them by turning them into something else: our cover artist Siobhan Maguire is currently working on a design for our limited version Nutshell #1 T-Shirt! Only 100 will be printed and all funds will go towards issue two of Nutshell. So not only will you be buying a rare piece of wearable art, you’ll be producing a magazine at the same time! Imagine!

So add this page to your shortcut toolbar and stay in touch!