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).
Just a moment ago, my copies of Flesh of the Peach arrived, bringing with them a sleety snowfall against the windows.
I’m overwhelmed by how pretty this thing is. the cover is scuffed, doodle-y, but that’s all part of the book itself. Ah! You could, if you were so inclined, pre-order the book directly from Freight right now. The launch will take place on the 25th of April, at Blackwell’s Bookshop on South Bridge in Edinburgh (I will be making up a Facebook invitation nearer the time) at which there will be wine and possibly snacks (and definitely both at the afterparty).
I’m in the process of arranging readings for the book elsewhere, and have some big ones to announce (again, a little nearer their dates). Copies of the novel are going out for review. You can add the book to your Goodreads TBR.
If you’d like to hear me read anywhere, and have suggestions, please get in touch. I’m about on Twitter, trying not to let my heart fly out of my chest.
A few days ago I finished the first full-length draft of Villain Miriam (which began life as a 12,700 word novella). Here it is all printed out at 67,700 words. It’ll be a fair bit shorter when I’m done (savage edits planned). I’ll retype the ms from scratch too I think, a tip I’ve seen elsewhere and think might give a fresh perspective.
This is how Villain Miriam begins (at the moment). This is how it continues: lots of tinkering, lots of red pen. Getting as much done as I can before the novel edits come in for Flesh of the Peach.
The sun is shining, and I’m off for tea and biscuits. The year finally, at last, finally, feels like it is starting.
My Writer-in-Residency continues to surprise me – who knew I’d actually complete this sprawling, messy essay on The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan and How The Light Gets In by M.J. Hyland? And on a Monday too. Which is why I’m giving this a wee post of its own. Do read the two novels if you have not – I’m not generally in favour of choosing novels based on character alone, but Anais Hendricks and Lou Conner are like bright red lightening, so. Here’s a taster of my essay:
There’s something therefore about the energy of a good book about a smart bad girl. Something sharp and high pitched in it, that unsettles, rips the cover out from under the cutlery – and as fiction, capable of multifarious realities, endless return and all possibilities, leaves the plates suspended between disarray and quivering stillness for the duration of reading. Because if a bad girl seems to be urges, seems to be a force – what then of a bad girl who appears to have the intelligence to choose to be this way. What about a bad girl stabilised for the moment in print. And specifically here, bad girl lit that focuses on the girl herself, her inner life, that seeks not to moralise but purely, impurely tell.
It’s probably bad form to write a review entirely composed of quotations from this book.
But – that’s my immediate urge. READ MORE…
My flash fiction, ‘What She Would Spend Her Money On‘ is up on the brand new Sundog Lit:
She would get huge slabs of carcass from best-beloved cattle. Smooth marbled flesh. She would hang these in a specially prepared cellar and frighten herself with their bodies and pungency in the dark. She would buy up old china tea sets, the kind so thin they seem unwell and you fear to hold them…
This flash is from my work in progress, Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts. There’s plenty of other delights over there – I know I’ll be digging in as a reward for this afternoon’s work on said ms. My story, Boy Cyclops is still story of the week on Smokelong Quarterly, if you want to read more:
I met my friend the cyclops for a drink at a downbeat cocktail bar with damp green walls and mismatched furniture. We went all sorts of places together. Today, he was buying. He’d recently come into some suspect fortune. He was playing tarot on the table nearest the aquarium.
This is just a wee short post of hooray (hence the title): The Rejectionist, that clever, funny, passionate (and until today, anonymous) writer has a book coming out! All Our Pretty Songs, a retelling of the Orpheus and Euridice myth set in 1990s Seattle.
It couldn’t have happened to a nicer lady.
I might not have mentioned but I took a joint degree in English Lit and Classical Studies. Kilea was a modeled on the characters (though not the wild plot of) the Aethiopika, which is a later Ancient Greek novel about love and shipwrecks and identity crises, and which you should probably read this version of that tale (along with all the other novels and wonderfully elusive fragments of Ancient Greek writing) alongside the old myths while you are waiting for The Rejectionist’s novel to come out.
So all in all I’m so happy her work has been recognised AND doubly pleased an adaptation of the fertile imaginative landscape of the Ancient world is going to be heading my way as soon as I can order it.