Michelle Bailat-Jones writes this week’s Unsung Letter on a book with shades of Barbara Comyns (one of my favourite writers):
[redacted] tells the story of a peculiar family—nine children, two parents—living in a large house on the outskirts of a small city. In many respects, they are an experiment, a utopia created by the parents according to very specific rules. The greatest of which is their near complete isolation from anyone else excepting a weekly trip to the library. While this house and family can be considered a utopia, it is one without a moving force; it has turned inward and become frozen.
Read the full thing here – and sign up to receive The Unsung Letter here. Each week brings a different writer/book lover on an underhyped book that might just change your life.
Small reminder – if you’d like, you can buy my pamphlet The Goldblum Variations here for £5. It’s a book of absurdist micros on a celebrity/plurality of worlds/beings. It would make a charming stocking stuffer for someone who would like an excuse to be off reading by themselves (or someone who likes to read stuff aloud to others – it’s short and sweet). You can check out reviews and add it to your Goodreads list, if that’s the kind of thing you do here.
From 404’s lit magazine launch at Summerhall
Ahead of the (by the way excellent) launch of 404’s 3rd edition of their magazine (on the theme of Power – available here) event hosts Interrobang interviewed me and other performers Ross McLeary, Siobhan Shields and Kaite Welsh. Click through to see what I’d like for a superpower and my favourite song with the word “power” in it.
I also got to see The Goldblum Variations in the flesh for the first time (as well as hearing some fab surreal stories, hanging out with good folk and buying myself some 404 merch and copy of the Hings B-sides). Fantastic!
This week, Jonatha Kottler asks a very interesting question:
So, when I was given the opportunity to write for this project, I decided to ask myself the question, “If I could go back in time and give my younger self one book, what would it be?” It was a brain puzzle that gave me a few flashes into my past – would fourteen-year-old me have benefitted from reading The Yellow Wallpaper or would it have been too far over my head? Would The Handmaid’s Tale have had any more impact on me if I had read it earlier?
Read more here.
Sign up for The Unsung Letter here (why haven’t you already? Book essays weekly, charm and discovery – take a risk, you can easily unsubscribe if you change your mind)
Earlier in the week The Unsung Letter’s Christmas Showcase went out. It may have been too overstuffed, as Tinyletter seems to have struggled with this one. However! You can read it all here.
Another reminder if you are looking for some kind of stocking stuffer, The Goldblum Variation is available for £5 here. It’s also on Goodreads, so you can check out readers reviews here.
Just in time to help with any festive gift-giving, here’s a bumper Unsung Letter, highlighting the contributors of this year, and letting you know what they’ve been up to since their letters were published. The spirit of the letter itself is to highlight living writers with books you can read, so in the showcase you’ll find handy links to works and stories, along with plenty of seasonal gifs to make you feel cosy (even if outside it’s dismal. Or sunny)
Read the whole thing here (bring a warm beverage, it’s a long one)
Or sign up here for The Unsung Letter, a weekly missive on an underpraised book by a living author, written by a writer/book lover each time.
This week’s letter is from Aliya Whiteley, on a powerful book with a trauma at the centre, and what it has taught her about bravery in writing:
A ballet dancer – an evocative profession, with outward grace and inner strength, and connotations of control, of beauty – is abducted, chained, made into a sexual object. The dancer thinks, as time passes in a new reality:
Did I bring this upon myself? I flaunted my body. I invited attention through my profession. I wanted people to look at me.
This week, Naomi Frisby of the excellent The Writes of Woman gives her recommendation:
Recently, I’ve found myself championing experimental fiction written by women. There are two reasons for this: one, it’s a genre where I think women are producing the most interesting and innovative work and two, if you looked to mainstream coverage of experimental fiction written by women you might believe it begins and ends with Eimear McBride.
Why, I wonder, does experimental fiction by women go largely ignored?
Read the full letter here. Subscribe here for a weekly missive by a different writer on an underpraised book that deserves a wider audience than the quiet of the void. Stay tuned for a giant Christmas Unsung Letter in the coming weeks (once I get to it – it’s huge!)
Obligatory reminder in the run-up to the festive season – you can buy The Goldblum Variations for £5 here – it’s a collection of Jeff Goldblum stories. Perfect stocking filler/surprise placemat for the Jeff Goldblum appreciator in your life (or anyone who likes absurdist fun). Also if you’d like to get my novel Flesh of the Peach on its rapidly-dwindling print run, you can buy it here (worldwide free shipping) or from your local indie bookshop.
This week’s Unsung Letter is from Helena Roots, on an intense book satirising relationships with food, American culture, and other bodies:
I have a tendency, particularly as the days shorten and the cold tightens its grip, to reach for books that warp my own ideas of normality. If I go off-radar in the Autumn and Winter months, and I often do, chances are I’m wrapped up in a blanket, being chewed up and spat out by books just like this.
Read more here…
Subscribe to The Unsung Letter to receive a weekly essay by a different writer / book lover on a book they think is underbeloved and worthy of praise. The archive is available too, if you’d like to have a browse.
Side note: Vol 1. Brooklyn wrote a piece on the rising popularity of Jeff Goldblum and covered my small book which you can pre-order for early December if you haven’t already for the modest sum of £5 (via the link to 404 included in the article).