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The Unsung Letter No 20

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)

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Flesh of the Peach Giveaway!


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


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The Unsung Letter No. 19

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…

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Interview on For Books’ Sake and review in The Big Issue


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!

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A very short poorly clipped twitter flash essay (in response to some recent criticism of flash as a form)







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A night with the Riff Raff + upcoming plans




This post is a little late going up – I was floored by an epic London cold, which has only now receded. On the 11th of May I had the treat of taking part in the first Riff Raff meet up at the Effra Social in Brixton. Five authors took part in the lineup, reading from our new books and taking audience questions. It was a great mix of genres, from the comic real-life adventures of co-host Amy Baker, to the dreamy-sounding French novel of Fran Cooper, Paul M.M Cooper’s historical novel of poetry and love, Vanessa Potter’s stunning true story of her sudden-onset blindness and subsequent recovery. For a full read up with photos that capture the cosy atmosphere of the Effra (and links to all the works) go here. If you can get to their next event (as I wish I could as an audience member) you absolutely should. Rosy and Amy are delights, and the evening promises to be every bit as good as this first one was.



Copyright: Alice Lubbock


If you missed me when I was down storming London, there’s another chance to see me coming up, and this time with my good friend (and excellent writer and wit) Gillian Best, author of The Last Wave. You are cordially invited to Listen Softly London at The Barley Mow on Sunday the 4th of June at 7pm. Admission is free, there will be other writers, more books for sale, and I promise to scribble something interesting in your book if you ask me to.


Some sad news: my short story collection On the Edges of Vision, which won the Saltire First Book of the Year in 2015, is facing going out of print as the publisher Queen’s Ferry Press is closing its doors. It’s a hard thing to face, unexpectedly grief-filled, though I know of many other authors who have gone through this. Small indie presses, the risk takers, the ones who support what might otherwise be marginalised into silence, are always in precarious positions. I greatly hope there is life yet for my collection, but until something is sorted out, copies of the book are still being sold here, and I will bring down the handful I have to sell at Listen Softly London. If you have read and enjoyed my work, or the work of any other writer, really – support us and our presses by leaving reviews, and writing to us, and passing your battered copies on to friends and family. It’s lonely old work here, always on the precipice of the abyss. Love and appreciation to those who have put themselves so far out over it to get our words out in the world.


Still – more ahead for Flesh of the Peach. I’ll be on some podcasts discussing it (& writing process, & publishing experiences, & gun smuggling incidents & other books I love etc. etc) soon, so links will be here when I have them to share. For now – I’m off to bury myself in work and reading. Happy times.


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The Unsung Letter No. 18

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.

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