Before we begin, let’s take a moment to praise the small press industry, shall we? Ever since I was in teenager I’ve had a passionate love of those little publishing houses that could. Sometimes they exist entirely in zines hand-stapled and passed out on street corners. Other times they crawl their way up to becoming tiny empires of their own, with rabid fan bases and bookstore presences to rival the big five.
No matter their size, the small publishers always like to take risks and discover those off-beat talents that the big five wouldn’t take a chance on. Here are the books that are quirky and downtrodden. Here are the books that whisper things people don’t want to hear, don’t want to talk about, don’t want to confront.
(Subscribe to The Unsung Letter if you haven’t yet – a weekly email featuring a different book lover each time singing the praises of a beloved under-loved book they think you should know)
Something recursive and delightful this week – a recommendation of a book written by one of our previous contributors to The Unsung Letter:
Outside of observing words, taking joy in them like a dedicated anthropologist might crawl the undergrowth with a magnifying glass, the stories focus on relationships, and there are a couple of unusual workplaces: a banned restaurant poaching birds in brandy and a rosette manufacturer with gothic undertones (“note: rosettes can be a choking hazard.”)
Sign up for The Unsung Letter here if you haven’t already. A bookish recommendation once a week from a different book lover every time.
This week’s Unsung Letter is heading out to subscribers now.
At school, I was never one of the cool kids. Where other girls would tackle non-uniform days with heels, tight jeans and perfectly-eyelinered scorn, I’d turn up in Reebok trainers and scruffy t-shirt, ready to just get on with it. Rebellious, I was not.
Sign up here if you haven’t already for a weekly lesser-known book recommendation from a different book lover every time. The archive is building up now, so there’s plenty to tackle.
I was very kindly sent some thoughtful questions on my writing (both flash fiction and my forthcoming novel). In it, I push The Unsung Letter, talk about my nervousness of Plath (it’s true, one day I will face it) and what I’d take if my house was burning down.
Read the full thing here.
Something a little different from the formula so far – the staff of the excellent Edinburgh bookshop Golden Hare Books give their recommendations in this week’s tinyletter!
Anything I can say about these poems feels inadequate. They brim quietly with the joy of life, reminding us that “the business of our days” is to “hold strong, hold strong and hold to praise” (‘Enough deathbed talk:’). Yet at the same time they are clear-sighted, never falling into pathos or cliché.
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If you’re in Edinburgh, go and check Golden Hare out. They’re a wonderful bookshop tucked down in Stockbridge.
Before the book is even opened one is aware of its playfulness. The original hardback defined the work as a ‘Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable’; one edition features a rebus on the cover to represent its title and used a picture of a young woman in profile above a small fish and a split peapod; the title, of course, is a phonetic skit on the five central letters of the ordered English alphabet: L-M-N-O-P.
Do you know what book Williams is referring to?
Sign up here if you haven’t yet. A different book recommendation every week by a different writer/reader/critic every time.
As it’s International Women’s Day, I’m asking Twitter for recommendations too – one woman writer, one book of theirs you love and why. Check out how it’s going here.
(the finished cover!)
(it’s all scuffy-looking in real life, which I love)
My debut novel Flesh of the Peach is now available to access on Netgalley, an online service that allows publishers to grant early access to their titles to the people who might read it and promote it to others. That means if you’r a reviewer, bookseller, librarian or journalist, you can request a title before it makes it to the shops. Here’s the link to Flesh of the Peach. Review copies have started going out, so I have thrown myself into my work in order not to think about that much at all (I still do). If you’re a bookseller and think you might like to have me read, please get in touch (hlmcclory at gmail). I’m fond of it, and I can go wherever there’s a cheap flight or bus and a friendly face at the other end waiting for me.
It’s March and still cold and grim here, so I don’t have many pictures to show you. I hope I will go outside for longer stretches, and then have something green to share. I dream of flowers. One way to fulfil the need for blooms is to follow writer Alyssa Harad’s #FlowerReport every Sunday on her Twitter feed. Flowers from all over the world, showing it’s always Spring and Summer somewhere, even if that somewhere is a vase on an indoor shelf.
As soon as I see something more than a sorrowful bent-over daffodil I’ll share it with her.
As a reminder, the book launches in Blackwell’s Edinburgh on the 25th of April. Tickets are free and available here.
Flesh of the Peach‘s pub day is the 20th of April, and you can pre-order now from Freight, which is a good way to support the press directly.
An excerpt from Flesh of the Peach appeared in 3AM Press (back before the character’s name changed) and Sundog Lit.