The Memory of the Air

The Memory of the Air is a novella in monologue form from the Belgian woman of letters, Caroline Lamarche. First published by Gallimard in 2014 as La mémoire de l’air, the English language edition is translated by Katherine Gregor for Héloïse Press.

The narrator of The Memory of the Air is unnamed. She begins by telling us about a dream she had. In it, the body of a dead woman is lying at the bottom of a ravine. Across the rest of the book, the narrator tries to reach that woman by recalling her past and how it has led her to where she is now as a woman.

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Lee Miller and Surrealism in Britain

Lee Miller and Surrealism in Britain is a scholarly tome from the team at the Hepworth Wakefield. Written to accompany an exhibition there in 2018, which I didn’t see, it attempts to position the photographer Lee Miller at the heart of the British surrealist movement in the 1930s and 1940s.

I can’t remember where I first encountered Miller’s photography. It was in an exhibition many years ago. I recall seeing solarised images she had made in collaboration with Man Ray alongside the photographs she took as a war correspondent during and at the end of the Second World War. I bought a postcard of her image ‘Portrait of Space’, depicting a landscape seen through a torn piece of netting with an empty picture frame hovering over the sky, because it made me think of Magritte. I was drawn by the framing and lighting of her images, that borrowed from the world of fashion she had experienced as a model and that also had a theatrical feel to them.

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Saving Lucia

When I plucked Saving Lucia from my To Read pile, I wasn’t expecting another time travelling novel that takes imagination and rethinks reality. I also wasn’t expecting such a slim book to be so dense with ideas and feelings.

The Lucia of the title of Anna Vaught’s book is the daughter of James Joyce, incarcerated in St Andrew’s Hospital for Mental Diseases in Northampton in 1953. One of her fellow residents is the Honourable Violet Gibson, daughter of a Lord Chancellor of Ireland and famous for her attempted assassination attempt on Benito Mussolini. Violet makes it the work of her last few years to save Lucia from the pain of life in a psychiatric institution.

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This Time Tomorrow

I reserved This Time Tomorrow at the library back in August and it came up for collection last week. It crossed my radar thanks to Jeanne’s review at Necromancy Never Pays and how she described the character development and story arc.

It’s a time travel story, but a very specific form of time travel, where the traveller always goes back to the same moment in their past before returning to their present. A sort of revisiting the action embedded and refracted in memory to see it from a different angle and see if a change might be made. It made for a nice fit with the last book I read and the thoughts that presented on memory.

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A Pale View of Hills

A Pale View of Hills concerns Etsuko, a Japanese woman living in England, and the story of her past in Nagasaki. It opens with a visit from her daughter, Niki, and a conversation about her older daughter, Niki’s half-sister Keiko. This conversation triggers a memory for Etsuko of when she was pregnant with Keiko and developed a friendship with a strange, independent woman living in a run down old cottage with her young daughter.

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The Good Journal Issue One

June 2018 seems such a long time ago. So much has changed, so much hasn’t. The Good Journal launched in June 2018, to build on the success of The Good Immigrant and provide British writers of colour with a showcase for their work. Unlike The Good Immigrant, issue one of The Good Journal has a mix of fiction and nonfiction. The writers are a mix, as well, of established and never published before.

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Keeper is the debut novel by Jessica Moor, published in 2020. It tells the story of Katie Straw, who works in a women’s refuge, and flicks between time periods labelled Then and Now. The plot explores violence against women and girls. Moor herself has worked in the violence against women and girls sector. Her experiences inform her narrative.

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