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The Unsung Letter No. 27

This week, an imperfect book proves its strange, enduring worth to writer (and reader) Adrienne Celt –


There are some books that feel perfect to you, which you consume with great speed and obsessive fervor, and thrust into the hands of every person you meet. And there are some books which never feel perfect, but instead contain moments that make you think, Wait, no, or which make wild narrative jumps or forget pieces of themselves, as if shedding arms and legs and skin as they shuffle down the line towards whatever conclusion they muster. Oddly, in some rare instances the second kind of book can be better than the first kind.


Sign up for The Unsung Letter to read more, and to receive a weekly essay by a different book lover recommending an under-hyped book by a living author that may have escaped your notice, that may sing you a siren song.

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The Riff Raff Podcast


Back in May, I had the delight of meeting with The Riff Raff founders Amy Baker and Rosy Edwards and appearing at their Effra Social event (as reported here) AND while I was there, Amy and Rosy interviewed me for their podcast. It was so much fun to do and you can listen to the whole thing here.


It’s about half an hour long. and covers topics like how one writes, the oddities that come out of travelling for research, and finding your genre. I hope you enjoy.

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Not the Booker Nominations


have a lovely cat to counter this slightly needy post

It’s that time of year again – the Guardian’s Not The Booker Award, where readers can nominate and vote for the best book of the year. And my book is eligible for nomination!


All you have to do is to follow this link, sign in to the Guardian (it’s free) and leave the following ‘Nomination: Flesh of the Peach by Helen McClory’. You can add more if you like. The nominating process is open until the 30th of July. From then on, the longlist becomes a voting pool, and I’ll have more info on that nearer the time. Suffice to say, it’s not a complex process, but one that involves a popularity contest.

Please consider helping my book out, if you enjoyed it, or simply if you can – you don’t have to have read it, at this stage.

If you haven’t read the book yet, you can buy it here with free int. shipping,

Thank you so much for your time and your nominations  – and I’ll be posting again for the voting stage.

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An American Road Trip ‘Playlist’ of Books


Today you can read your way across America with me – over on Books for Women, Women’s Books:


NEW YORK CITY:  All aboard at Port Authority Bus Terminal. Find your seat and strap in. There are so many choices for the city that loves to read about itself, so I’ve gone for two…

Read more here!


Also you might have missed these two excellent reviews of Flesh of the Peach, in Scots Whay Hae and The Bottle Imp. My heart.


Additionally, some good things are brewing with both On the Edges of Vision, currently out of print after the shuttering of Queen’s Ferry Press, as well as for the nascent second collection (and the novella that goes along with it). Firm news when I have it to share.

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The Unsung Letter No. 26

This week’s letter, by writer Ali Millar, speaks directly to my flash fiction and short-short story loving heart (is there a difference between those two forms? I think so…)


The room was hot, I was nervous. That day we were examining short stories, each of us given a different one to look at, mine was short, mine was more than short, it read;


Index Entry

Christian, I’m not a

And that was it. What to say, I panicked, about four words and a title, the sheer audacity of it struck me then, and had struck me many times since. The obviousness of it, the simplicity, the I could’ve written that myself coupled with the knowledge that like all great art the simplicity is sheer artifice, the feeling that maybe I could turn similar tricks a delusion.
As usual you can sign up for The Unsung Letter here if you haven’t already. The Unsung Letter is a tinyletter in which every week a different writer/critic/book pusher sings the praises of a work (by a living author) they think is undersung. Your To Be Read pile may never diminish. Not ready to commit? Have a browse of the archive here.

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The Unsung Letter No. 25

This week’s entry is about an immigrant searching for the ‘real’ America so it feels appropriate for the day after the 4th of July. It wouldn’t be an Unsung Letter if the writer of the piece of the week, Lori Sambol Brody, didn’t do a bit of a delve into what makes this search complex and meaningful –


But this is more than a story of an affair: it is the story of Ilka becoming an American, in part under Carter’s tutelage. When they leave the Nevadan bar, Ilka is exhilarated walking down the street. She believes that Carter has conjured the town for her. Ilka herself is a blank slate, excited by her potential and who she will become. (Indeed, her last name may mean, “know nothing.”) 


As usual, if you haven’t signed up yet, please do so here (or simply check out the archive). The Unsung Letter is a weekly tinyletter in which a different writer/book pusher sings the praises of a different underbeloved book that’s still in print and by a living author. Supporting books that deserve more of an audience and, in particular, your keen eyes.

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Online Flash Fiction Workshop – #ScotLitFest

Ice Cream for Health
A ghost sign in central Edinburgh

It’s just about time for the second #ScotLitFest and I’m once again thrilled to be involved: last year Kirsty Logan and I chatted about short fiction, mythology and process with chair Sasha de Buyl-Pisco – which you can watch here. This year, I’ll be leading a flash fiction workshop on Facebook, which I am excitedly grabbing prompts for right now (the one above won’t be included, but it’s quite interesting, isn’t it? I love ghost signs). It’s taking place over one hour, 1-2pm, on Sunday the 23rd of July. More info here! Come over for a sweet creative alternative to a leisurely Sunday.


Check out the catalogue of other virtual events of #ScotLitFest – wherever you are in the world, as long as you have an internet connection, you can attend. And if you don’t have an internet connection – how are you reading this?


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