A little night music

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Indy Lifestyle Online
`Allnighter' is the new collection from the trendy imprint, Pulp Fiction. But does the writing by some of the complete unknowns leave a lasting impression?

Offerings from Elaine Palmer's one-woman, north London publishing phenomenon, Pulp Fiction, are now awaited with an almost unhealthy eagerness. After five compilations of some of the best, new urban writing around - quasi- themed books that have helped hoist the reputations of Jeff Noon, Alistair Gentry and many others - it might be expected that the latest imprint, devoted to staying up way beyond bedtime, would be the icing on the cake. Allnighter, edited by Michael River, boasts the trademark typographical intensity (every page has text leaping off it in different ways), and the familiar feel of writers who are connected to their subject matter as much by their experience as by their imagination. But giving some of the collection's complete unknowns a try-out is not necessarily rewarded: there are quite a few pieces here that merely give a chemically induced grin, wave their hands in the air to a techno beat and leave no lasting impression.

Inevitably, the half dozen writers chosen to showcase Allnighter at the ICA on Wednesday include a couple who have taken this fairly predictable route to describing nightlife. In the context of the reading, which boasts live backing, that shouldn't prove a turn-off. The event is worth attending, anyway, to see the novelist Iain Sinclair reading his weird photo-sex piece, "Living with Raptors", as well as unveiling a film project he has undertaken with Chris Petit. It's just a shame some of the more startling work (which doesn't always comply with the remit) won't get an airing - particularly Nicholas Blincoe's tale of a man with no nose and Alistair Gentry's examination of the emotional repercussions of a late-night car crash.

Another ICA event worth checking out: tomorrow the "Hell Hound on My Trail" brings in a clutch of writers celebrating "the nature of odyssey", including Barry MacSweeney reading from his confession, The Book of Demons, and Gael Turnbull and Helen MacDonald reciting their poetry. In between there'll be films on the Irish poet Brian Coffey, the surrealist David Gascoyne (by Sinclair and Petit again) and the radical gunslinger poet Ed Dorn.

Hell Hound on my Trail Sun 7.30pm, pounds 2.50; Nite-Lite Wed 9.30pm, pounds 3 London SW1 (0171-930 3647)