Tag Archives: books

Flesh of the Peach – On The Night


Credit: Olga Wojtas

What a wonderful evening – thank you so much to all who came out to celebrate Flesh of the Peach last night at Blackwell’s South Bridge, and a huge thanks to Roanna for introducing Jenny Brown and myself, and for organising – and all the staff who helped out! Thanks as always to Jenny for her hard work and for chairing.


Credit: Olga Wojtas


There was a write up of the evening by Love Books Group. Check it out.



More news – I will be on BBC  Radio Scotland on the Janice Forsyth Show hosted by Edi Stark TODAY from 2.44pm, and after me 404 Ink (makers of Nasty Women and general all-round excellent women themselves).  Listen live online here, and find the archive if you miss it.



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The Unsung Letter No.3

The latest tinyletter of book recommendations for the underpraised has now gone round. This week it’s poet and writer Claire Askew writing her love of a particular Edinburgh-based poet. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so >>>>>here<<<<<

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The Unsung Letter

At the behest of some twitter enablers, I have set up a tinyletter, which, if you’re not familiar with the term, is a bit like a blog that you can subscribe to and have it come to your inbox. A lot like a blog, then. But quite popular now.


The tinyletter in question is The Unsung Letter, a response to the lack of word-of-mouth that some books receive on publication. It seems that certain books are doomed to obscurity from the start, when they really should be read and sung about and passed around and bought, and the writer of the book given a brief clap on the back to let them know that yes, their words were heard, and connected to others. SO. The Unsung Letter will be a once-weekly post from a different writer/bookentity/nanotechnologist/lover of the newly obscure, recommending a book that they think people should read. And at the bottom of the post, there will be a link to buy that book, and a bio of the post writer.


A good few good people have already volunteered to write posts, so I expect this project will be a fun and fruitful one. Here’s to singing praise for the good books. The first missive is live, and to introduce things, it’s a recommendation from me. It can only improve (but I think you will like the book I recommend)


Sign up >>>>HERE<<<<


(It’s free and only takes an email address to do)

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The Great 2015 Indie Press Preview

On the Edges of Vision has been mentioned in this gloriously long list of the year’s anticipated titles on Electric Literature. I’ve been through the list and already seen some things I definitely have to check out (that I might otherwise not have heard of). It’s a great resource for those of you looking to support small presses and find something you’d like. Or something that will melt your brain or heart, if a stronger metaphor is needed.


If you want to get more of an idea of the collection (beyond the essay on monsters that Tobias Carroll kindly links to), you can read some published pieces here on my fiction page.


What on the list catches your eye?


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New Project: Novellarama

I’ve decided that for my Endless Reads project 2015 I am going to read as many novellas as I can. Slim little pieces, tender weird harrowing classic innovative bright calloused intriguing lyrical stark books under 150 pages long (though I’d prefer around the 100 page mark). I have read shamefully few novellas, and having just written one and hoping to write more, I really ought to know the territory a little better.


To that end, I’ve started a new shelf on my Goodreads called Novellarama – if you aren’t friends with me already and you are on Goodreads, please send a request! That way you can recommend books to me (which I shall try to buy from places other than Amazon, to mildly scupper its having snaffled up Goodreads recently).


I’d love as many recommendations as you have to offer – that way I can pick and choose for a whole year. Top of the list so far are:


Four Novels, by Marguerite Duras, The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa, Toni Morrison’s Home, Ordinary Love and Good Will by Jane Smiley, a collection of novellas by Deborah Levy, and Ottessa Moshfegh’s McGlue. There are many more on the list. Donations welcome, if you happen to have them lying around (or want to swap books with me).


Novellarama will start on the 1st of January and hopefully result in a spate of equally tiny reviews for you to enjoy. If anyone else is joining in I will link to your blog periodically and peer at what you’ve enjoyed.


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More Books on My Radar – Small Press Delights

I am not allowed to buy books at the moment

I am NOT allowed to buy books at the moment.

D and I are moving flat soon, and simply now is not a good time to buy more books.

So of course, I have been seeing books I want to read EVERYWHERE and none of them are library books, of course.

Check them out:


  • Chelsea Hodsons’ chapbook Pity the Animal – Goodreads reviews Glacially cool looking, and spoken of widely with great enthusiasm (Future Tense Books)


  • Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen’s The Rabbit Back Society – I’m looking for a wintery read, and this quote on the (urgh) Amazon page really sells it – ‘[The Rabbit Back Literature Society] Mixes the small-town surrealism of Twin Peaks with the clandestine-society theme of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History’ The List. (Pushkin Press)


  • Amina Cain’s Creature – from the excellent Dorothy Press ‘Amina Cain’s Creature brings together short fictions set in the space between action and reflection, edging at times toward the quiet and contemplative, at other times toward the grotesque or unsettling.’ (Dorothy)


  • Sara Woods’ Wolf Doctors – I think the cover is really cool, and Sara is too, from what I have seen of her on various social media platforms. Poetry, strangeness and heart. (Artifice Books)



Any I’m missing? All of them, I’m missing them all. Ach, well. For now.

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Slow readery

The last month has seen me finish reading a total of one (1!) book, and a novella-length one at that. But! I have been reading a book so slow and murky that there was no way for me to read anything else, or to skim (which I never do anyway), a book that reads like a prose poem, and is constructed in ‘episodes’ like a TV show. That book is Beyond This Point Are Monsters by Roxanne Carter, and I suspect I will struggle to finish it by the end of this new month of ours.


But is there anything wrong in reading slow? I keep a total of my ‘Endless Reads’, a remnant from a project I started in 2012 to encourage me to read more. I would often take long breaks between books, my imagination satisfied by its stint in a fictional world to the point where I did not feel the need to read, not when there were so many other distractions around. Then laziness, inevitably, or frustration because I didn’t know which book to turn to next, amid hype and the pressures to read those classics I have not yet turned my hand to. But I had become frustrated with my inaction. I love books, love reading, so what was I doing except standing empty handed, poorer for not pushing myself?


In that first year of Endless Reads, I read forty-four books, which may not sound a lot to some people (I have seen ferocious lists of well over a hundred and fifty for some reviewers) but to me, it was too many.  I was reviewing most of the titles, either here or on PANK, and feeling so tired out, unable to fully immerse myself in the music and texture of the words, in the explorations the authors were undertaking. The year after, I read twenty-one books, and felt ashamed. But why?


I will come out now and say it: I am a slow reader. I’m dedicated, and I like to savour what I’m reading, but I just can’t knock back a book a week and live well, and appreciate the text. Books read quickly become a net and the fish of my comprehension are all very small and swim through, panicked, while the rest of me struggles, getting an idea of what is going on but not really appreciating the knots and seaweedy accouterments.


I’m always going to feel that slight ruefulness. Asking myself if one book is too few and if the other book still being read, that prose-poem circling and circling itself, is ‘above my reading level’.  But there is no one to censure me. I am subject to no law regarding how many books read make me a good literary citizen. And if I am pushed to the limit and wear myself out going further, the pleasures and challenges of reading diminish. So I grant myself permission to read slowly. To read endlessly but at a glacier’s pace if the pressure of life demands I do so. Deep channels will cut just the same as if a torrent of reading came sweeping through. I won’t suggest the ‘slow readery’ movement for everyone. But for me, now, it’s the only way I can seem to thrive.


Metaphors, metaphors. But I wonder how it is for you, if you’ve ever kept numbers – or just titles, to remind yourself of times and locations you read such-and-such? Or if you’d never keep a list, or if you religiously do, and eye the totals of others with envy or respect?



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