My debut poetry collection Varroa Destructor is published by 3AM Press soon (details to be announced).
I am also the author of the short story collection Everyday. It is published by Social Disease Books.
I have been anthologised here, here, here, here, and ,here.
I am also a literary critic. A selection of my essays and reviews can be found here, here, here, here and here.
I blog at SPONGE! I am contributing editor of 3:AM Magazine and The White Review. I can be found tweeting, on facebook, and at goodreads.
Here are some videos of me talking and reading (check out my hair back then!).
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
About The Canal:
"It's about boredom (of course) and the fetishisation of modern culture and violence (especially the kind of violence that is deemed by its perpetrators to have a 'just cause': terrorism is a good example of this). It is also about the Regent's Canal in London; a bench; a man; a woman; a gang of youths; secrets; commuting; work; bicycle bells; canal dredgers; technology; swans; Canada geese; coots; memory; civil aircraft; the London bombers and 9/11. But crucially it is about the man, the woman and the swan—and in particular the man's repressed desire, the woman's repressed fetishism, and the swan's ever-present beauty."
[original source: Purposely resisting all that: An interview with Lee Rourke, Dogmatika]
Reviews of The Canal:
"[...]a novel that has high ambitions and frequently – occasionally dazzlingly – reaches them. While unreservedly a novel of discourse and digression, The Canal also understands that tension and intrigue are just as important as literary devices. It's this careful balance that makes for a refreshing, memorable and powerful novel – and one that confirms Rourke as a writer of exceptional promise." Stuart Evers, The Independent [read more]
"Rourke's charming debut novel unflinchingly tackles a subject many more experienced writers might balk at: boredom. The unnamed narrator not only admits his life is a drag; he embraces banality. Finally disgusted by his inane office job, he quits and spends every morning on a bench along a London canal. There he watches waterfowl in the park and aircraft above, dredgers cleaning the water and commuters headed to and from their deathtrap jobs, and a man in an office in a building across the canal. When a mysterious young woman begins to join him on the bench, recounting strange stories and confessing lies, and a gang of thugs begins to pester him, the narrator questions the meaning of love, violence, and nature, especially after discovering that the woman has some connection with the worker across the way. A meditation on boredom's propensity to both inspire inner peace and instigate acts of terrorism, Rourke's surprisingly entertaining tale will keep readers glued to their seats." Jonathan Fullmer, BookList
"The mundane is made both beautiful and terrifying in Rourke's debut novel. The unnamed narrator quits his job and takes to a park bench where a peculiar relationship with a chilling woman develops in spite of his nihilism. She becomes his obsession and a beautifully crafted dialogue gradually reveals disturbing truths." Culture Critic
Praise for The Canal:
"A story assembled from everyday objects, unassumingly and quietly, that stuns and horrifies by increments...The Canal may look, at first glance, like a love story, but it harnesses the power of parable." John Wray, author of Lowboy, Canaan's Tongue, and The Right Hand of Sleep.
"This could be the Bartleby the Scrivener of the 21st century. A semi-detached man decides to do nothing but sit by the side of a polluted canal, cultivating the art of boredom. He is joined by a woman and in their confessional discussions, emotional contact, the natural world, and urban development are drolly skewered. Bitter but brilliant." Ronald Koltnow, Random House.
"Soon after reading the first page, I found myself easing into The Canal, getting caught up in the clear prose and some of the best dialog I've read in years. A wonderful book that is partially about trying to escape boredom, becomes a meditation on life and what is meaningful and meaningless and how those things can be frighteningly both. I'm glad I read this book. I feel like I know Lee Rourke now and I'm grateful for that." Shane Jones, author of Light Boxes, A Cake Appeared and The Failure Six.
"Lee Rourke is killing the competition right now - The Canal is further evidence of his incredible skills as a writer, a classic in the making." Tony O’Neill, author of Digging the Vein, Down and Out on Murder Mile and Sick City.
Praise for Everyday:
"Dark and seamy stuff - London from p.o.v. pigeon-in-gutter" Tom McCarthy, author of Remainder, Men in Space, Tintin and the Secret of Literature and C.
"EVERYDAY is a guide book of sorts: a dark, twisted, hysterical and macabre map of the twilight city which lurks underneath our nation's capital. This magnificent collection is living proof that the short story is alive and well and living in London". Tony O'Neill, author of Digging The Vein, Seizure Wet Dreams, Songs From the Shooting Gallery and Down and out on Murder Mile and Sick City.
"Sick, depraved and utterly mad, with no redeeming features whatsoever. I loved it". Stewart Home, author of 69 Things to do With a Dead Princess.
"Everyday is Lee Rourke's first collection of short stories for tipped publisher Social Disease and is a work deserving of any reader's attention. A disparate set united by boredom, ennui and a London backdrop, leading light of the self-styled Off-Beat Generation Rourke stakes his claim as heir apparent to greats such as Ballard, Joyce or Houellebecq. In these dark-hearted insights explored with supreme finesse, he succeeds in writing arguably the first believable London book of the decade." Ben Myers, The Guardian, author of The Book of Fuck and Richard: A Novel.
"EVERYDAY is an essential read for misanthropes, alcoholics and slubberdegullians." Dazed and Confused.
"Everyday marks an exciting debut. Glibly humorous and with a big, blackened heart, Rourke is a leading light of 'The Off-Beat Generation' . . . Here he delivers a stunning collection charting the tormented lives of everyday misanthropes." ShortList Magazine.
"So this is what EVERYDAY is, then. Not Dubliners but Londoners; a Dostoevskyan tale of Poor Folk; a proletarian classic inflected with a modern(ist) sense of absurdity in all its comic and tragic reverberations. A book of outsiders, from outside hegemonic culture; tales from the margins; a drama of superfluous men and women. Sometimes they have literally been made redundant, which is what they have always been anyway." Ellis Sharp, author of Walthamstow Central, The Dump, Aria Fritta.
"Rourke portrays a London strung between mysterious history and bland modernity . . . He peoples his brief fictions with happy-slapping teenagers, office juniors miserable to the point of hallucination, murderous amateur psychogeographers and even, in his most visceral illustration of capitalism's sharp-end, a putrefying corpse performing as a lapdancer. These misfits, cynics and disappointed dreamers don't show the reader much of a good time, and yet somehow you feel enlivened for having crossed their path." Chris Power, BBC Online.
"Rourke's stories are dense with authentic London detail - only someone who regularly takes the 38 bus can understand why it might be appropriate to set a story on it - and manage to be at once bleak and jaunty." John O'Connell, Time Out (London).
"The people in his stories float in and out of each other's lives, via a chain of bad dates and brief sexual liaisons, wine-misted meetings in bars. Events frequently turn violent, even - on one occasion - murderous. People snap, they break up, they break down, they break out, or at least, they try to. London has a strong hold, its grip is tight. A common theme is the chucking in of a dead end job, of people reaching their snapping point, hitting their limits and walking away. It's a familiar urban impulse, to just stop. Or, alternatively, to keep going - and going - to break free of the grind, to ride the tube to the end of line, to hop off the bus at a stop that's not yours [...] Rourke's writing is brisk, fresh and supremely readable." Natasha Tripney, RSB.
"That sense of Chekhovian boredom (where a conversation "is becoming a bore;" dinner "rouses in me nothing but boredom and irritation;" "you could die of boredom;" "sheer boredom;" "his life is dull, nothing interests him;" "life is a snare and a delusion;"), the "continuous shifting and shuffling" through everyday life, and an indifference ("philosophers and sages are said to be indifferent. It isn't true. Indifference is paralysis of the soul, premature death") permeates these fragments of Rourke's. Admittedly it is hardly original, yet this writer, by looking at the pavement and writing from the point-of-view of the pigeons, has crafted miniature masterpieces, made all the more captivating for his enduring fascination with repetition." Susan Tomaselli, Dogmatika.
"Both contemporary and nostalgic, EVERYDAY peers beneath the surface of life in the capital and around it, documenting every moment that passes and unflinching in despair at what it finds. This is a celebration of the banal, avoiding the pretension of the modern novel". A. Stevens, Editor, 3AM Magazine.
"Each of these engaging stories is maked by strong beginnings and endings, he never lets them fade into oblivion. Ultimately, behind the darkness there is a sense of values and a desire for the truth, which in my view makes these stories so much more meaningful than simply urban 'fragments'. This is truly excellent writing." Adian Graham.
"The near Zen-like obsessiveness with which Everyday catalogues the mundane and the pointless occasionally threatens to overwhelm; the sheer volume of failed redemptions and missed opportunities is almost too much to absorb. This too, is surely deliberate; for Everyday is very much a novel of London, in thrall to a monolithic, uncompromising vision of the capital. The city is meticulously observed." Andrew Fleming, 3AM Magazine.
"As the most prominent literary prize in the UK, the Booker should draw attention to works that interrupt mere craftsmanship as they seek more than "a good plot" and "finely tuned sentences". Though not a novel (and thereby ineligible), Lee Rourke's own EVERYDAY is an admirable example of a writer going in the opposite direction to the Man Booker." Stephen Mitchelmore, This Space.
"Everyday is a series of short stories or ‘fragments’ that consider the run of the mill moments in human existence. Everyday doesn’t tell grand stories about great love affairs or tragedies, but instead considers the daily activities of a group of bored individuals. Which is not to say the stories are boring. Some of them are wickedly funny, others poignant, and a few deeply disturbing." Lisa Glass, Vulpes Libris.