Stanley Donwood is the pen name of English artist Dan Rickwood. Donwood is known for his close association with the British rock group Radiohead, having created all their album and poster art. Aside from his work for Radiohead, Donwood also maintains his own website, Slowly Downward, where short stories and various other writings are published. His first short story collection, Slowly Downward, was published in 2005.

Short Story Collections

Household Worms
(Tangent Books, 2011)

reviewed by Sara Crowley

Slowly Downward
(Tangent Books, 2005)

Interview with Stanley Donwood

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Stanley Donwood:  I think that they were written between 2001 and 2007. I haven’t written anything for about five years and I did a book before Household Worms (called Slowly Downward) that first came out just before The War Against Terror started, so I think I wrote these stories within those six years. I’m not saying that they took six years to write though. I’d have to be a really slow speller to have taken that long to write so little.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

SD: Not as far as I can remember. I’m not sure why I wrote them at all. Except one; I wrote Wage Packet when I found a bundle of little square wage packets in the stationery shop in town, and I wrote that one so I could print it out as a little square book, put it in the envelopes and send it to people I knew. The rest of them I have no clear memory about.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

SD: I included everything I had, and left the order up to Ambrose Blimfield, who also designed and typeset the book. He invented the term "invisible publishing", the idea of which is to make books so inconsequential that people don’t even notice that they’re reading them.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

SD: Everything from religious texts to tabloid exposés to a sufficient number to jump off in order to be certain of dying on impact.

TSR: Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?

SD: No way. It’s kind of a spooky idea, no? Like a malevolent spectre at your shoulder.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

SD:  What do you reckon?

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

SD: It definitely makes me feel better than I would if they weren’t buying them. Are they buying them? I can easily imagine my books in a dusty unregarded box in a warehouse somewhere outside Swindon where they would sojourn briefly before being pulped. I heard that much of the M25’s road surface is composed partly of shredded books and crushed glass.

TSR: What are you working on now?

SD: I’ve made a ridiculously long linocut of Los Angeles being destroyed by fire, flood and meteor storm (in a quasi-mediaeval style) and I’m exhibiting that among many other linoleum-based artworks in the city of Los Angeles itself. That’s at the end of April so I’m working really hard and really should be doing that instead of doing this. But I’m quite enjoying this, typing answers to questions whilst drinking many cups of tea.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

SD: I read Snowfall by Elizabeth Walter and a collection of supernatural tales by Algernon Blackwood and Last Evenings on Earth by Roberto Bolaño. I started an anthology called Best American Nonrequired Reading but I left it on a train, I think.
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Find out what other authors, from Aimee Bender to Sana Krasikov, said about their collections, what the word "story" means to them, and how it feels to know that people are buying your books! More interviews >>>