Reviews: Looking For A Kiss

‘Not content with releasing just one contender for book of the year in the form of Disorderly Magic and Other Disturbances via Far West Press, Richard Cabut has gone and done it again with the publication of a brand-new edition of his future classic novel set in the heady 1980s in London and New York, Looking for a Kiss… a beautifully executed period piece brought to life as a modern masterpiece, which incidentally and rightfully so has garnered such positive reaction across the board that there is a film adaptation in the works.’
Eighth Day magazine.

‘In this edition’s new introduction, Richard Cabut says, “This is fiction as a drift of music, as a dream – which is how it’s perhaps best to think of, and where to leave the characters: forever young dreamers wrapped in reverie in London Town”. A dream of a book, Looking for a Kiss is a must read.’
Steven Long, The Crack magazine.

‘I love Looking for a Kiss – it reminds me of Jean Luc Godard after having had a fix,’
Sylvie Selig, artist, Lyon Biennale 2022

‘I love this book. It smells beautiful. It’s a great kisser. I want you to love it too. So, I think you should order one last drink, chat this book up and walk it home in the early morning light. And when this book asks you what you’re looking for then you must tell it. Just hold it in your hands and whisper softly that you’re looking for a kiss… If Looking for a Kiss was a girl or boy you fancied you’d call it wasted in that nocturnal glam, beautiful narcotic night-creature way. It’s got charisma. It’s a cool as fuck, beautiful mutant. It hangs out in the margins, in those places where you really shouldn’t go but can’t resist, the dives and hangouts, the squats and squalid beds, ripe with demi-monde atmospheres and fever-dreams… You go to live in Richard Cabut’s universe, possibly against your better judgment. You behave with reckless abandon, you become a dreamer with a broken heart, you make mistakes, just like the characters in the book… The words and the narrative pop with sex and drugs and alcohol, emotional anarchy and ecstatic day-glo derangement…’
Jeff Young, author.

‘A wild, Time Tunnel ride back to that formative time, when punk was metamorphosing into something else, a philosophy somewhere between anarchy and magic that had yet to be properly defined… Humorous, wise and immaculately suave, this master magician of words has gifted you…’
Cathi Unsworth, author.

‘Looking for a kiss is the post-punk classic,’
Programme notes for the Brockley and Lewisham Literary Festival, 2022.

‘Totally fabulous and restores my belief in brilliant, subversive subcultures books still being the active source of our imaginative capital. It’s superb in its occupation of alternative realities. An absolute marvel and the writing is just fantastic. Post-cool invites post-punk in the drenched lysergic prism of a novel of addictive transgressions redeemed throughout by the lyrical arc of a prose that elicits lost futures in the defiant present. With Camden as its subcultures locative, and its green canal the novel’s pineal gland, Robert and Marlene alienated and unknowable to each other in altered states witness each other’s blurred emotions with a philosophic acuity that both stings and leaves astute marks on their dystopian histories. Saturated colour altered states and it’s brilliant. It’s one of those rare books that brings – via the lyrical arc of prose – lost present lost futures in the defiant present. The characters witness each other’s blurred emotions with a philosophic acuity that both stings and leaves astute marks on their dystopian histories. You can’t physically meet yourself in the future, but Looking for a Kiss takes you as close as you’ll get to disjunctive time-travel. A brilliant, upending book in which punk was, in effect, a way of stopping your past from becoming your future,’’
Jeremy Reed, author and poet.

‘A Jarmanesque journey in Vivienne Westwood heels, to love’s shrine. In no other book could you find Adam Ant and Chris Marker; Richard’s lanced love of language is a caterwaul, roar and laugh at the strange turns of fate. Cabut is of the city and more. He strives to write through it. His lines are as urban as the Soho Cafes he prowls. In the shadow of Jarman, and the forever fried Bacon, seeking sensation and the kiss of the cool and the cowed. The indulgent days stoke alarm, not just in the street, but in the souls Cabut describes,’
David Erdos, International Times.

‘It’s not post punk, but Proust punk,’
Johny Brown, Resonance FM radio host and vocalist with the Band of Holy Joy

‘The bleak post-punk 1980s. Cabut nails down the Camden street names  that can often bring the pain of long lost hangovers and dope paranoia. His sharp confessional and Gaussian blurred fiction (un) romance can sometimes be unsettling for someone who knew, like I do, the intimidation of Agar Grove, and who doesn’t want to time travel back to its Murray Street misery with its corner pub and washeteria. Reading this novel sometimes felt like I was dreaming a nightmare together with the writer and the descriptions are often too real to take, but if you were born after the punk rock wars this is an ideal guide to the mood and flavour of that sick mess of time of passer-by destruction and dustbin flowers. As far as I am concerned this is a crucial account of the post- Pistols punk era from an actual WRITER,’
PT Madden, artist (who, notably, was at the very first Sex Pistols concert, St Martin’s College of Art, London, November 6th 1975), The Common Breath.

‘A stunning, tour-de-force. Beautiful prose. Dragged me over coals but soothed me with balm,’
Paul T Kirk (Akatombo)

‘Like a bitter sweet Coltrane solo crashing into Einstürzende Neubauten. Books like Looking for a Kiss are a flare in the dark. I can’t remember a more memorable clutch of individuals stalking the pages of a book in a very long time. Some of the scenes leave one almost afflicted with PTSD. I thought I was beyond being shaken by the written word – shocked by anything new exciting and original. The book has the same erotic/ violent suspense as Knife in the Water,’
Malcolm Paul, Expat Press.

‘Looking for a Kiss is a brilliant piece of contingent alchemy. To label Cabut’s novel as a punk novel would be to limit its scope as a piece of writing. There are rich seams of insight. How does experience become torn away from the idea? Looking for a Kiss – descendant of the Decadents… The sex scenes celebrate punk’s belief in sensation and are pants down the sexiest I’ve ever read… beauty where beauty needs no frame of reference. The energy… brings to mind the élan vital of Bergson and AN Whitehead’s suggestion that creativity is the one universal of universals in the cosmos. The … aesthetic of punk took the pre-given communication of signs and made them materially vital… this too is at the heart of Cabut’s approach… It is a book that uses the process of creating fiction to open onto a glimpse of what it  means to seek meaning through a culture with feeling at the centre… LFAK is not like any other novelistic exploration of punk you will ever read… a punk Tristram Shandy. Looking for a Kiss is a brilliant piece of contingent alchemy because Cabut realised the nihilist stylists had forgotten how meaning comes from feeling,’ Mikey Georgeson, singer with David Devant and His Spirit Wife, writer, and educator, Le Document (Book of the Month).

‘A drug-fuelled beat/punk, love/hate story. Like (say) Kerouac, it’s shot through with sadness. Not just the comedown, but the inability to bridge the gulf between the enlightened moment of Beatitude, and the bleak surroundings you exist in the rest of the time,’ Paul Gorman, editor, Into the Gyre.

‘A remarkable eyewitness account from the powerful nihilistic undertow in the wake of punk. If punk as a movement was a single shattering blow, the trick was to resurface, remake/remodel and refuse to be trapped in awe of its hypnotic negativity. LSD was one tool that could be applied with care and consciousness, allowing the author the freedom to zoom in and out, time-travel, and explore the beat bombed world in which we found ourselves at the end of the 80s. I couldn’t put this book down and pretty much read it in two or three sessions, savouring the ideas swirling around my head in between,’ Elspeth Cherry, Goodreads.

‘Robert and Marlene are the star-crossed angel headed hipster types tripping their lawless way around the streets of post-punk London. Looking for a Kiss is a riot, this raucous call to arms has all the faded grandeur and doomed affectation of your fave rockstar idols,’ Ben Robinson, artist and writer, Goodreads.

Looking for a Kiss is the read of the year. It is truly an exceptional book.

A great book. Original. Packed full of images/reflections /ideas – raw emotions.

‘Like a prize fighter pacing his bout. Relentless pacing then bam beautifully placed jabs that send you reeling. Upper cuts /kidney punches and the hay makers.

‘I love and understand the characters, Robert and Marlene  – they don’t need the services of Relate they need a visit from the ‘Son of Sam’. Suicide bombers in The House of Love. It’s a great experience. Not a comfortable one. Like an early Polanski film. It has the same erotic/violent suspense as Knife in the Water.‘ Malcolm Paul, writer.

‘Cabut’s writing is as sharp as any that I’ve read… his deep commitment to artistic freedom is one that I feel spiritually aligned with… Looking for a Kiss is, in my mind, a masterpiece… collapsing temporal sensations in a manner evocative of the postmodern condition, seeking transcendent meaning within punk, acid, sex, speed and living squalor in Camden. Totally blew my mind and ranks among my favourite works of fiction over the last couple of years,’ Adam Lehrer, author.

‘Looking for a Kiss journeys through acid, pop art and teenage perversity. Cabut’s skill is in making this journey and the thoughts to go with it as shocking and fascinating as they are. Cabut’s descriptions of tripping are the best we have read this side of Julian Cope’s Head On autobiography,’ Banjo, Louder than War.

‘There’s a style and real classiness to Cabut’s writing, as he portrays outcasts and outsiders with distinct charm, that brought to mind Jean Genet; maybe it’s the way he’s able to shovel the shit off certain aspects of life to reveal the stunning jewels hidden underneath. … a feast of romance, chaos and frustration. We are forced to admit that we are all wearing masks, just some more obvious than others, ‘ Thomas Moore, author.

‘Speed, sex and failure – that is quite magnificent!’ @philthenoize65, Instagram.

‘This is a book that constantly defies expectations and whose structure and motifs work in subtle ways. The Eighties cling to Seventies punk and Sixties pop art and to a future that’s just another spot in a spiralling non-time, temporal and spatial borders blurred,’ Ian Taylor, Amazon.

‘Beginning with a description of an acid trip and the first glimpses of a malfunctioning relationship, the reader expects a straightforward tragi-comic account of domestic disintegration, a sexed-up Withnail & I in a Camden that has passed from the late sixties to the mid-eighties, only for the book to follow the inspiration of another film, Jubilee, as it travels back and forth through past, present and future. The narrative is then fractured further through ‘apparent’ digressions into the central character’s separate writings, from a review of an exhibition to various cultural commentaries, along with a New York sojourn with a relic of Warhol’s Factory that, like all the other digressions, provides another broken-mirror reflection on the present and future actualities and potentialities back home. A thrilling trip.’ – Ian Harris, Amazon comment.

‘I loved the book and can vouch for its authenticity. No-one comes out of it unscathed. And yet I admired the mad courage of the participants – trying and frequently failing to find their place in a world that was confusingly indifferent to them. There aren’t many accounts of that strange time [post punk] that feel right, but this does,’ Jonathan

Brooker, writer.

‘This book reminds me more of US post-punk writing than of UK or European equivalents… Kathy Acker… Richard Hell… this book is raw, cold, desperate, fucked up,’ Michael Gratzke, academic.

‘Adrift in 1980s post punk London – inspired,’ Jonas Ranssøn, art professional.

‘Had to take it a page or two at a time because the intensity and rawness was both too much to take, and too much to miss any bit of its power. It is an existential triumph,’ Tony D, Ripped & Torn.

‘So I read @richard.cabut’s very brilliant #lookingforakiss yesterday afternoon. Aside from a style reminiscent of Burroughs, Pyncheon and even Woolf, it’s a masterly study in characterisation. Whilst Robert is my new sex symbol who made me want to read Guy Debord in bed (with him), Marlene could be a life-long obsession (from afar). What a brilliantly wrought character she is – living a disembodied, meta- embodied, paranoiac, alienated, absorbed, annoying existence. In spite of this, I laughed out loud many times and felt lots of empathy for this pair of lost souls. The narrative is visceral, brutal, funny and so, so smart. The lack of millennial sensibility was like a shot of adrenaline (or should that be speed?),’ @starryveck99, academic.

‘The novel reminded me of a more hopeful Big Sur. At times raw and visceral, at others poetic and evocative. It’s a brilliant book. It is infinitely quotable , it’s amusing and contains some excellent poetical descriptions. I liked it stylistically, I liked the story, I loved the whole shebang! Cabut mentions films I dig, writers I dig, and I particularly resonate with his ‘Beat’ vibes. It reminds of Barry Gifford and Patti Smith too.

I enjoyed that it was meta, the representations of drug taking are very realistic. I feel like I’d get on with the protagonist – his predilection for Dm, his lapsed Catholicism, his interest in the occult, his political leanings, his relationship with booze, and artistically – which adds him to a list a list of characters I’ve related to, created by the likes of Kerouac, Kafka and Hesse,’ Michael John Hulley ll, writer and artist.

‘Looking for a Kiss has been described as being post punk and pop art but, really, I think its author has moved beyond any such confines or definitions. Having said that, set at the start of the 80s, the book describes perfectly the almost overwhelming crises – personal and cultural – that had to be faced at the end of the 70s, and of the punk era. Looking for a Kiss is cool, clever, magical, literary and very, very exciting – the author has found his distinctive voice and train of thought/ideas – it’s a novel of insight, wild characterisation, and statement,’ Gregory Hesse, photographer.

‘I can honestly say it wasn’t like anything else I’ve ever read,’ Torpedo the Ark.