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).
Now available to pre-order is a book I did not expect to write: The Goldblum Variations. Here’s the cover, from 404 Ink:
The idea came from a prompt from writer Gillian Best for The Paperchain Podcast. I wrote a short, absurdist collection of microfictions for the podcast, then went on to write a whole book of them, including such chapters as:
Past Lives of Jeff Goldblum
Bingo Goldbingo (Jeff Goldblum Bingo)
Fragments of Jeff Goldblum
Checking in with Jeff Goldblum on Alternative Earths
and many more.
I promise a joyous, weird experience rich in Jeff Goldblumness. At only 40 pages, it makes the ideal stocking stuffer for Christmas too.
Pre-order it here (only £5 + £1 postage)
This week, Heather Parry brings us a book of negative spaces, nothingness, and arts funding:
There are a lot of things they don’t tell you when you become a Jobbing Writer. You know that you’re never going to be rich and that you’ll always have that chip on your shoulder about the myriad book deals that are seemingly flung at the famous—but they don’t tell you that 50% of your time will be spent waiting for a rejection and 50% of it will be writing proposals.
For the modern writer, trying to convince people to give you money is half the work. We consistently have to put forward our ideas, in the most artsy language possible, and make them seem interesting, worthwhile, and most of all, fundable.
Intrigued as to what the project might be? Read more here.
As ever, you can sign up to receive The Unsung Letter by email here – and I recommend you do. Each week, a different writer or book lover writes you an essay on a book they love which has not attracted enough attention for its brilliance.
This week, Emily Morris brings to our attention a children’s book worthy of adult readers:
I’m writing to tell you about a beautiful book I devoured in one devastating sitting. It’s a breathtakingly bleak little novel, with authentic characters, a vital message and deftly stark prose. And it’s likely to go unnoticed by the vast majority of adults, which is why I think it’s deserving of an Unsung Letter.
Read more here
Sign up to The Unsung Letter here – make sure you keep up to date with weekly, insightful, moving, and funny essays from different writers and book lovers on underpraised works by living authors. Guaranteed to boost your to-be-read pile with fresh excellence you might have otherwise missed.
The first story of Mayhem & Death (March 2018, 404 Ink) is up in Joyland today:
It was now high morning on a bright day in late March, the kind of day when the earth begins to release scents it has kept pursed all winter long, and it seems as if, finally, the year shows a little fight. Up in one of the red sandstone tenements a woman was plumping the cushions of the window-seat in an otherwise empty room. Frances: A study in sallow blotches against white, puffy, slept-in skin, pale hair knotted at the nape of her neck, a jumper tucked in heavy black folds into a red skirt, under which rumpled winter tights, no shoes. She was at that moment kneeling on the hardwood floor.
Uncharacteristically, this is a full-length short story (though, in keeping with many other of my stories, there is a tea-drinking scene). It follows Frances as she journeys from Glasgow to Mallaig to the isle of Skye and the aforementioned souterrain, carrying a dream-journal written by her daughter, entitled Mayhem & Death. The daughter is a character who reappears in the novella at the end of the collection, but you’ll have to wait until it comes out to learn how her story plays out.
Read the full story here. Tea (or other hot beverage) optional.
This week, a meaningful book for a writer making a (slightly) later start:
I was in my 30’s and had never even let anyone read anything I’d written let alone had anything published and everywhere I looked were all these debut writers in their 20’s crushing it. I was not crushing it. I was being crushed.
And then I found [redacted] and her beautiful debut novel [redacted]. A first novel by a writer in her 30’s! I wanted to yell. I’m pretty sure I did a dance. It was like a little ray of light for me. A beacon of hope when I really felt like I’d not only missed the boat but my uber had taken me to the wrong port entirely.
Read more here. (The archive’s looking grand now, isn’t it?)
Sign up for The Unsung Letter for a weekly missive from a different writer/book lover on a beloved but underhyped book by a living author. It’s free and entirely optional (and why wouldn’t you want to discover new wonders you might have missed?)
404 Ink, started by Heather McDaid and Laura Jones, are the publishing house behind the excellent essay collection Nasty Women and surreal, hilarious short story collection Hings by Chris McQueer – so I am utterly thrilled to say that they are also going to be publishing two books by me!
- My debut story collection, On the Edges of Vision, came out in 2015 and won the Saltire First Book of the Year. The press who originally published it have since shuttered, but 404 have taken it up and are going to shepherd it back into the world.
The collections are coming out in March 2018, so you’ve not too long to wait!
Here’s the full announcement from 404 Ink.
As an aside, I went for a photoshoot with 404 Ink and photographer Sinéad Grainger – the pictures she took are great and you can see a couple via the link. Here’s my favourite, and new author photo:
credit: Sinéad Grainger