Category Archives: the unsung letter

The Unsung Letter No. 56

This week, a lesser-known book by an author well-known author, one that charts the way a closeted character can try to grieve the loss of her partner:

 

Just as secret as her relationship with Cara had been, Pen is then forced into a hidden widowhood, unable and reluctant to grieve in public. ‘Funny word, that,’ she asks, ‘why did “hood” added to nouns make them into states of being?

 

Read the full letter here. And as ever, sign up to receive The Unsung Letter weekly in your inbox – an essay by a different writer or book lover singing the praises of an undersung work by a living author.

 

PS – no Brazilian residency updates today, other than to say here that it rained all day, and all day it rained, and at night the frogs sang, and I rested, read, worked, and spoke late into the night with other artists on the nature of criticism and the art and wider culture(s) of Brazil.

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The Unsung Letter No. 53

Emma Flint brings us this week’s Unsung Letter:

 

I can’t remember how I came across [redacted], but I know I was in my mid-twenties, trying to write, and trying to work out what I was going to do with my life. [redacted]’s writing offered an escape from all of this angst, and a kind of validation of my own scribblings about my childhood: it was okay to write about scabbed knees, about naked Barbie dolls, about the horrors of having your hair washed in the bath by your mother.

 

Read more here

 

As ever, you can subscribe to The Unsung Letter to get a weekly missive from a different writer/book lover on a book (by a living author) that’s missed the hype train and is worthy of your consideration. Unsure whether you’re ready to commit or not? Read the archive here.

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The Unsung Letter No. 52

This week’s Unsung Letter marks a year of the existence of The Unsung Letter, and just to be contrary goes against something of what The Unsung Letter is to do – champion living writers. This week’s writer is no longer living, but Lesley McDowell makes a case for keeping hold of her writing, saving it from oblivion – a worthy mission for a neglected, recently deceased woman writer:

 

I got to know [redacted]  herself over the years. She told me that [redacted] despite rave reviews in all the broadsheets, had failed to sell, and major book chains were reluctant to stock her further work. She turned to tiny publishers who could support titles like [redacted] and [redacted] but they didn’t have the resources to publicise them as much as they needed, and when she died in January of last year, there were only a handful of obituaries. A handful of obituaries – for a writer whose first work was published in the 1960s, and who produced work every decade up to the Noughties, more than thirty books in total.

 

I know you are intrigued – the full piece is over here. As ever, sign up to receive The Unsung Letter straight to your inbox, and each week you’ll get an essay by a book lover on a neglected but brilliant book by a living writer. Except this week, this week is special.

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The Unsung Letter No. 51

The second catch-up post of the week brings Natalie Fergie, with a novel with its eye on another novel:

 

I first read Letters to Alice by Fay Weldon just after it was published. At the time I was wading my way through Mansfield Park, and looking for a side-read that would give it some context. It’s very much a Marmite book. You either love it or you hate it. Alice is 18, is studying English Literature in London, and aspires to be a novelist. She thinks Jane Austen is an irrelevance. Her Aunt Fay (yes), lives in Cairns, Australia and writes to her niece about Austen, arguing that she and her work should not be dismissed so easily…

 

Read the full thing here, and as ever, you can sign up for The Unsung Letter here, for a weekly missive on a book by a living author that may have missed the hype train.

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The Unsung Letter No. 50

Apologies for the delay on this – I was travelling in the US, and though I managed to post the Unsung Letters for the last two weeks, I didn’t have the time for putting links on the blog – so, here I am to rectify that.

 

Nicole Brandon writes, tantalisingly in The Unsung Letter No. 50:

 

It was September 2016, it was noon on a sunny day, and I’d just spent my entire day’s food budget on a book by a writer I’d never read, drawn by an artist I hadn’t heard of, featuring a superhero who disillusioned me about the medium, and named for a gang of space pirates I couldn’t care less about.

 

Read the full thing here, and as ever, you can sign up for The Unsung Letter here, for a weekly missive on a book by a living author that may have missed the hype train.

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The Unsung Letter No.49

The last Unsung Letter before Christmas is on a book that has become, for our writer (Juliet Swann), a personal classic:

 

On one last tour of the shelves, a slim, advanced reading copy with a plain cover, broken spine and well-thumbed pages gravitated towards my fingers. I began to re-read and knew, instantly, that this was my unsung letter. I tumbled back into the pages for a glorious two-day binge; I stroked the pages; photographed key passages, because even this error strewn, spine cracked item felt too precious to mark up; and I fell in love again with the characters, the landscape, the words, the beauty.

 

Aren’t you curious? Read her piece here.

As always, The Unsung Letter is a weekly missive from a different writer/book lover on a neglected book by a living author. Sign up here or read the whole archive here.

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The Unsung Letter No. 48

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.

 

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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.

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