Rating 3 stars
How to Bring Him Back by Claire HM is a single story in the Fly on the Wall Shorts series. It follows Cait, a writer from Birmingham, as she tries to conjour up the man she wronged almost a quarter of a century earlier. Its form is that of a writer’s confessional, an attempt to shape the past into a semi-fictional narrative. It left me wondering how close Cait is to Claire HM. Continue reading
Rating 4 stars
The Lincoln Highway follows 18 year old Emmett Watson from the middle of the United States to its East Coast along the Lincoln Highway. It is June 1954, and Emmett has just been released early from an eighteen month sentence at a juvenile work farm in Kansas, due to his father dying. With an 8 year old brother, Billy, to look after, Emmett wants to leave his childhood home in Nebraska behind to start a new life somewhere else. Duchess and Woolly, two friends who have escaped from the work farm, stowing away in the boot of the car that carries Emmett home, have other ideas about that. Continue reading
Rating 5 stars
Mothlight is Adam Scovell‘s first novel and it’s pleasingly weird. It concerns the memories held by a young man of a woman he met in childhood. Later, their lives become further entwined through a shared profession and the young man becoming the woman’s carer. Walking in the landscape of North Wales is an important part of the lives of both protagonists, forming a self-referential connection between them.
The woman, Phyllis Ewans, is a lepidopterist, overlooked by her male dominated profession because she is a woman. The young man, Thomas, also researches moths. He comes to believe that Phyllis has possessed him and is haunted by her both before and after her death. Continue reading
Cathy is running the summer reading challenge that aims to clear some books off your To Read pile again this year – hooray! I’m joining in with my usual ten book goal. As a target, it worked out well for me last year, despite being fooled by some tiny old books into thinking they were short reads. I only missed my goal by one. I’m confident that I’ll hit my goal this year, though, especially since I’ve averaged a book a week so far.
The challenge runs from 1 June to 1 September and you can find out more about what’s involved in Cathy’s introductory post on 746 Books. The main rule is that the rules aren’t tightly binding. So if you choose a book and then don’t fancy it, it’s more than okay to swap it for something else. Or if you have a bit of a reading slump and your target starts to feel like a stretch, then you should feel free to recalibrate to something more realistic. As long as something gets cleared off the To Read pile, you’re golden. Continue reading
Rating 5 stars
Villager is Tom Cox’s first novel. I’m not going to call it a debut, because the author has a wealth of writing already in his back catalogue.
Cox is a writer of place. His books 21st Century Yokel and Ring the Hill explore landscape and folklore, mixed with Cox’s eye on the world and its margins. His short story collection Help the Witch marries that sense of place and love of folklore with fictions that open the door a crack to the other places hidden just behind what we experience as real.
His writing in Villager is a beautiful leap off from the coiled force present in some of the longer pieces in Help the Witch. There is folklore here, but also Bildungsroman, speculative fiction, diary writing and cultural reference points that span Mary Oliver, Mike Leigh, Oliver Postgate and Public Enemy. The story sprawls over time and place, slipping through the margins and brushing up against its own past and future. At its heart is a collection of songs written by an itinerant musician, and one ancient song in particular that echoes through the narrative. Continue reading
Back at the start of the year, Mayri at Bookforager set up a Book Bingo challenge complete with bingo card. I decided that I would give it a go.
I went to a literary event not so long ago at which the two authors talked about the risk aversion present among the major publishing houses. David Peace and Tom Benn are both published by majors, Faber & Faber and Bloomsbury respectively. It was refreshing to hear two established authors speak on a subject that has been rolling around in my brain for a while. It got me thinking, and now I’ve committed my random thoughts to the page.
Rating 4 stars
Crudo is Olivia Laing’s first novel. I read her excellent exploration of how loneliness informs art, The Lonely City, a handful of years ago and kept meaning to read more by her.
In The Lonely City, I liked the way Laing included memoir in what is, essentially, a biography of eight artists. Her first novel is a memoir of sorts, a fictional one this time. Inspired by Chris Kraus’s biography of Kathy Acker, as well as by Acker’s own approach to literature, Laing has imagined an alternative Kathy who is also partly Laing, too. Continue reading
The first Saturday in May is upon us, and here comes Six Degrees of Separation, the book meme hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
This month, to start us off, Kate has chosen a book that I haven’t read yet by a favourite author of mine.
Rating 4 stars
David Hartley’s collection Fauna gathers together twelve short stories that explore the relationship between humanity and the rest of the living world while also imagining a variety of futures that have tilted in favour of one side over the other. Continue reading