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.
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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?
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Here’s a taste of this week’s letter, written by David J. Loehr:
I grew up in a house filled with books, raised by two English majors, one of whom taught at the college level for years. And while other children might have had fairy tales for bedtime stories, I always requested stories from my mother’s years as a professor—they weren’t all academic stories, but they were all funny.
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After a noisy life as a daughter, a wife, and a feminist writer, Sara Maitland discovered—gradually, and with no little surprise—that what she wanted more than anything else was solitude and silence. A Book of Silence tells the story of her growing hunger, her pursuit of a life of silence, and her joyous attainment of it.
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The fourth Unsung Letter is now out to subscribers. This week it was written by Andrew Male:
Davidson is attune to the specific emotional poetry of his world; dark afternoons, slow evenings, lucent midnights, and that that eerie border territory between the harvest and the back end of the year, where distances grow deeper and a deceptive autumnal sunlight illuminates banal frosted landscapes with an hallucinatory brightness.
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In other, non-letter news, this year continues. This year, a whirlwind, both in the political sphere (of which I need not tell you) and personally. D and I came back from Christmas in America, strove through January ( which is as everyone knows one of the months we should just spend in hibernation like Moomins) flathunting and dealing with travails and the bitter cold. This past week we went on a long-ago holiday to Athens:
then on the way back I fainted on the plane and later in the queue for border control and had to be pushed through the airport in a wheelchair. I’m fine now – it was food poisoning meeting exhaustion, we think – and after a day in bed, it was moving day. I’m writing this in our new rental flat, in a pale blue-green room that makes me think of the sea. Nothing is particularly well organised at the moment, but outside there is a tiny garden with a bench and a greenhouse. I’m going to put up a bird feeder and sit out with a book when it’s not so raw.
Soon, quite soon, my debut novel Flesh of the Peach comes out. I had word today that my 6 copies are being sent to me today. Ah! There’s a book launch to come and I’ll make an announcement about that very shortly. I’ve to organise contact with several bookshops who might be amenable to my reading there. It all seems so far off from now. In April it will be Spring, even here in Scotland. Not warm really, but there will be flowers out, and more birds, and the world opening up its shutters, wincing and taking deep breaths.
For now though, the work.