This week’s Unsung Letter gets graphic with a Hollywood horror inspired double feature of graphic novels, presented by Ever Dundas:
Autumn is the time of year I gravitate towards comics, in large part because the comics I read are usually horror; they suit the shifting melancholy light, the smell of decay and burning wood, the early dusk. It’s been my autumn ritual to re-read the Charles Burns oeuvre ever since I first came across his work via Black Hole’s stunning art, brilliant depiction of messed up teendom, and lashings of body horror. Black Hole is Burns’ most famous, so I’m going to give a little love to one of his other comics [redacted]
Find out which graphic novels Dundas has picked here
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This week in The Unsung Letter Ryan Vance speaks on a novel of memory and a kind of unseeing:
When reading, all I experience is the printed form of words on the page in front of me, and I find it difficult to totally lose myself in fictional worlds so familiar to our own. So you can keep your meandering realism, your airport thrillers, your meticulous historical memoirs. Give me something so unlikely it sounds ridiculous, even demented, if not outright impossible. Give me something unimaginable. Because for me, literally everything is.
Read more here, and subscribe to The Unsung Letter if you have not yet – the letters are on a different book in print by a living author and by a different book lover/critic every time. You won’t want to miss a one, as each brings its own joys and unexpected emotional connections, and of course another contender for your to-be-read pile.
Despite several Booker nominations, and other awards, she doesn’t nearly get enough praise. Her most recent novel, [redacted] was a dystopian novel, a concise history of Paraguayan guitarist Agustin Barrios, and an experiment in structure and layout, and yet it feels like it’s gone under the radar somewhat. Yet she doesn’t feel like a cult novelist either (Booker nominations will do that I suppose). Her books couldn’t be more different from one another (her last three have been a romantic comedy, a (non-fictional) novel about an Indian guru, and a dystopian sci-fi), and I wonder if that has something to do with it. People don’t know what they’re going to get from her.
A mysteriously much-accoladed but oddly under-the-radar novelist gets The Unsung treatment this week by Daniel Carpenter. Check the whole thing out here, and sign up here for a weekly missive by a different writer/book lover on an underpraised work by a living author.
As sometimes happens when I am fiddling with links early in the morning, I put the wrong book in the buy-here link (though I think possibly you should buy and read that too?) so here’s where to get the book mentioned in the letter (no peeking until you’ve read that first)
I am a Word. I am a Word in Shelley Jackson’s short story ‘Skin’, published on the bodies of 2095 volunteers. You applied and, if accepted, you were sent a word that you had to have tattooed anywhere on your body apart from on a body part that happened to match the word you had been sent. For me – my word was ‘After’ – that wasn’t an issue, and so I got my first (and probably last) tattoo. I had volunteered because…
With this strong intro to this week’s Unsung Letter by Nicholas Royle hanging tantalisingly before you, I urge you to keep reading here and subscribe here so you’ll never miss another Unsung Letter, a weekly missive by a different book lover on an underpraised book by a living author.
This week a bookseller brings us his favourite – a famous author’s more obscure book:
It’s a long novel and I would have been happier for it to be much longer. I don’t want to tell you too much about what happens in it, but of course [redacted] experiences a few fortunes and some dismal lows. Throughout it all though, [redacted]’s calm acceptance of a bleak and hardly tolerable world remains a constant.
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This week’s Unsung Letter is by Jonathan Gibbs, on a book with a relatable character blundering her way through the world:
So [redacted] is a comedy about a person having a breakdown, but it’s also a serious enquiry into the assumptions that drive our (most of our) ordinary lives, and about what happens if you question those assumptions, if you step off the carousel.
Read the letter here, and make sure to subscribe to the Unsung Letter for a weekly missive on an undersung book deserving of your attention, and written by a different book lover / writer / critic each time.
This week’s letter is from the delightful Hayley Webster, on a stylish and funny book (and why funny writing is unfairly underloved in general):
There is something about encountering a female narrative that reads like she could step out of the book and talk with you that is affecting when you read so much, and also when you write, but have never managed anything with such wit or grace.
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