Something of a landmark number this week, as Anneliese Mackintosh brings us the book she wants to sing of:
[redacted] is part of the Dedalus Euro Shorts series. Apparently, this series is for ‘short European fiction which can be read from cover to cover on Euro Star or a short flight.’ Upon seeing this, I must admit, I felt slightly less queasy. At a time when the future of Europe is so uncertain, it felt reassuring to be holding a book by a publisher who appears to support cultural exchange, and the sharing of art and ideas between countries.
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Sidenote: Mackinosh’s new novel has just come out (link in the letter) and I’ve just read a good review of it over here, if you fancy learning more.
This week’s Unsung Letter comes to us from Julie Vuong, and features a multitextual Scottish novel I enjoyed very much myself. A sample from her piece:
The result is a joyously eccentric book, which revels in its faux-Victorianism, and delights in revolting and charming the reader in equal measure.
Sign up for the Unsung Letter here. The Unsung Letter is a weekly tinyletter in which a different book lover pushes an underhyped book into your consciousness. The archive is now getting up there, so make yourself a cup of tea and check it out if commitment is something you need time to consider (you won’t be sorry if you do sign up, since you can always unsubscribe anyway with anonymity and speed if fantastic book recommendations by living authors prove to be not for you).
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.
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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;
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.
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.
I happened upon this book entirely serendipitously, the way we often find the books that end up meaning the most to us. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but it was before I lived in London and while I was still working as a secondary school librarian in the Midlands. I was in there for the day and I had time to kill between whatever I had been doing and whatever I was doing next and so I ended up in Foyles browsing the gender studies section. For no particular reason that I can remember I picked up [REDACTED] and got goosebumps reading the introduction.
What was it that gave Anna James goosebumps? You’ll have to read this week’s The Unsung Letter to find out. Sign up here for a weekly letter singing the praises of an unjustly neglected and brilliant book by a living author, written by a different book lover each time.
And this week, Heather McDaid of 404 Ink brings us a graphic novel on a refugee’s journey a topic that couldn’t be more relevant in our tumultuous world:
Barroux’s style is bold, dark and striking; colour is used sparingly and pierces through in moments of hope or happiness, but then the darkness of his work becomes all-consuming as it fades slowly away. Sarah’s translation of Bessora is equally sparing – it remains focused on Alpha, his journey, and the stories of those around him as he travels further and further afield.
As usual, read the whole thing in your inbox – if you haven’t signed up, here’s the place to do it. The Unsung Letter is a weekly missive from a different book lover each time singing the praises of an undersung book by a living author.