This week’s Unsung Letter is from 404 Ink’s Laura Jones, and is as much a rec for an unusual novella (brought out by Dead Ink) as it is a letter of love to indie publishing:
In recommending new books and authors to friends, I find myself telling the story of how I discovered said book whether that context was requested or not. Often I find I need to know how a book journeyed into existence and into the hands of the reader. How many hands has it passed through? How many mouths passed on the word? Was it a clever marketing campaign? Or has the book stood on its own?
The Unsung Letter is a weekly letter featuring one new(ish) under-hyped book, sung to the rafters by a different writer/poet/critic/book-pusher every time. Sign up here (and read the ever-growing archive for further delights)
Fancy a free book?
Freight are very kindly offering **two copies** of Flesh of the Peach through a giveaway on Goodreads.
*****Click here to enter*****
Tell your friends/colleagues/particularly bookish cats nearby who might also like a free book!
The giveaway ends on the 13th of June, and is open across the English speaking world.
“Flesh of the Peach is both a gripping re-imagining of the traditional American road trip and a character examination whose deep focus is testament to the author’s forensic detailing and abiding humanity” – The Skinny
This week’s Unsung Letter, written by Angelica Jade Bastién, is on a poetry collection that cuts deep, and on the image of the madwoman on celluloid and the page:
A few years ago a feeling I’ve had for a while crystallized into a theory I’ve come to call The Ophelia Factor. As an Afro-Latina with bipolar disorder since my early teens I have been devouring the stories and work of women who share this struggle. These women contain multitudes. They’re celluloid mavens like Marilyn Monroe in how she’s framed by photographer Eve Arnold and writer Truman Capote. They’re noir sirens like the diabolical femme fatale Gene Tierney played in the 1945 Technicolor Leave Her to Heaven. They’re genius wordsmiths like Sylvia Plath, perhaps the foremost image in modern times of a woman undone by her own mind. What unites these women beyond their mental illnesses are a concoction of curious factors. They’re young, beautiful, and white. So often the stories of mentally ill women are flattened into tragedies in which they aren’t the architect of their own destinies. Instead they’re cautionary tales.
Sign up to read the letter here. A different writer/critic/book lover sings the praises of a different undersung work each time. Warning: your to be read pile may grow exponentially after you sign up…
The Big Issue review of Flesh of the Peach (illustration by Dom McKenzie)
Later today the Unsung Letter of the week will go out, but for now – I’m very chuffed to see Nicola Balkind’s lovely review of Flesh of the Peach in the Big Issue the other day, next to Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag (which I’ve also been hearing positive things about). I’m putting it up now since the issue after this one is now out, so I won’t be discouraging anyone who wants to read the review from not buying a copy (in case you don’t know, the Big Issue is a magazine that supports homeless people by allowing them to pay for the magazines and sell them on to make some money and support themselves).
Also: I was interviewed for the A Room of One’s Own segment on the For Books’ Sake podcast by Rebecca Smith. You can listen to the whole thing here (the main theme of this episode is ‘escape’). It’s not long, just about the length of a cup of tea (or coffee). And yes, as I write this, my situation is as described!
A recommendation this week of something a little different – a long poem in translation, brought to our attention by Ariell Cacciola:
It is a poem that hungrily gnaws on the antithetical senses of despair and sly humor. I couldn’t hazard a guess how many times I’ve read it (both the original and the translation) and I argue that you don’t even need to know the original German to understand the ricochet of language and anguish, the rubbery sense of voice that tugs the reader back and forth. I was lucky enough to have seen excerpts read publicly by both poet and translator, hearing the sound of each word and the relation to the next and then some.
Not signed up yet to The Unsung Letter? There’s now an archive of 17 letters, each by a different writer/critic/book lover, singing the praises of an undersung work. Sign up here.