Vade Mecum

Vade Mecum

Essays, Reviews & Interviews

A collection of highly-informed essays offering fresh perspectives on cutting-edge writers, musicians and filmmakers.


Vade Mecum brings together Richard Skinner’s best essays, reviews and interviews from 1992-2014. There are close critical engagements with writers (Kazuo Ishiguro, Italo Calvino, Shakespeare’s The Tempest) and composers (Erik Satie, Iannis Xenakis, Luc Ferrari), meditations on films and filmmakers (Antonioni, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Chinatown) and idiosyncratic reflections on Werner Herzog’s Of Walking in Ice and Steely Dan.


'The British writer Richard Skinner has found new inputs in Erik Satie's creation in his dual/double narrative ‘The Mirror’. From the mundane to the imaginary, without adding anything, you just follow the stream of impressions, the silences that occur and the freedom in the small and simple ... through the feat of dissolving the real contours, Skinner manages to get the dream architecture to emerge, not unlike Satie's cartoon fantasies of Gothic cathedrals and hidden schemes.' ~ Magnus Haglund, GöteborgsPosten

'These novellas are two meditations on life. They resonate in the reader's imagination in truly memorable ways, often for what is left unsaid. We carry away the sense of two rich lives: from the perspective of one life yet to be lived and another that has been fully and truly lived.' ~ Dermot Bolger, Sunday Business Post

'There are tinges of the uncanny, strains of the gothic, to both stories. In each there are corridors and locked doors it would be best not to pry into. Skinner’s prose has the strangely contradictory quality of being so clear and crystalline that you feel it must be hiding something. It’s an effect that is, like the settings of both these highly unusual tales, creepingly claustrophobic.' ~ Lucy Daniel, Telegraph

'The story [of The Mirror] trickles out daintily at first before building to a torrent; Skinner’s elegant prose is restrained and increasingly hypnotic. These two narratives are linked by one eternal question: why are we here?' ~ Alexander Gilmour, Financial Times

'Bucking the trend for bulky, sweeping narratives, Skinner has produced two tightly crafted novellas with a dreamlike quality ... Two absorbing meditations on art and identity with a common thread: obsessive dedication to a calling and its effects, self-destructive or creative.' Book of the Week ~ Juanita Coulson, The Lady

Richard Skinner
Richard Skinner I am a published author of three novels (all Faber & Faber), a poetry collection and a poetry pamphlet (both Smokestack) and two books of no...
Wandering Who? The by Gilad Atzmon

Wandering Who? The

A study of Jewish identity politics

Gilad Atzmon

Infinite Music by Adam Harper

Infinite Music

Imagining the Next Millennium of Human Music-Making

Adam Harper

Anti-Matter by Ben Jeffery


Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism

Ben Jeffery

Strangled by Phil Knight


Identity, Status, Structure and The Stranglers

Phil Knight

Melancology by Scott Wilson


Black Metal Theory and Ecology

Scott Wilson

Pop Grenade by Matthew Collin

Pop Grenade

From Public Enemy to Pussy Riot - Dispatches from Musical Frontlines

Matthew Collin

Gathering of Promises, A by Ben Graham

Gathering of Promises, A

The Battle for Texas's Psychedelic Music, from The 13th Floor Elevators to The Black Angels and Beyond

Ben Graham

Why are Animals Funny? by EDA Collective

Why are Animals Funny?

Everyday Analysis - Volume 1

EDA Collective

Colloquium: Sound Art and Music by Thomas Gardner, Salomé Voegelin

Colloquium: Sound Art and Music

Thomas Gardner
Salomé Voegelin