Don't Try This at Home by Bette O'Callaghan
Loki's Dragon-Breath Chap Shop

Don't Try This at Home by Bette O'Callaghan

Regular price £12.50

Don't Try This at Home by Bette O'Callaghan (Loki's Dragon-Breath Chap Shop / 2020)

‘Please circle around as a brilliant, brutal flame, an elegant, fierce golden-throat breathes her spell over us once more then takes off into the night, making the streets her catwalk for the last time. Nous aimons Bette.’ {Denise Prince}

There is nobody quite like Bette O’Callaghan. I first met her when she was in her fifties: we shared the spoken word circuit in London for some years. I have such strong memories of a tall, skinny, chainsmoking poet and performer who always looked ridiculously stylish. She took no prisoners either in life or in her work: it’s an overused term, but she really is uncompromising. I remember one scene in nineties London: we were performing in the café at Borders bookshop on Oxford Street (memorably on the same bill as John Cooper Clarke). It was an official gig, but the café was also open to its normal quiet bookish-type customers. Bette was belting put a poem about how she hadn’t had sex for five years and a timid sales assistant came over to ask if she could possibly tone it down a bit, in terms of both content and noise level. The look of disdain she received in return would give Joan Crawford a run for her money, and then the performance carried on regardless.

I love her.

Her poetry is beautiful, brutal and brilliant. If you’re looking for an easy comparison, think Bukowski or maybe Lenny Bruce… Or any hard-boiled noir author. But in truth, there is no comparison: think of another female author, now in her seventies, who writes about love (or often the lack of it), sex, boredom and impending death with such ferocity and truth. I’ll save you the trouble: there isn’t one. Add to this the fact that this author has lived a life, and spills it all over page after page for us to see, and then throw in some killer heels and the best outfits of all time and you have the whole package, right here.
Bette should be so much widely known than she is. Why she isn’t can be endlessly debated in terms of class, gender and so on, but let’s not go there. Just enjoy. {Review by Suzy Prince}

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