July: On The Pile


Name: Valerie O’Riordan
Just Finished: Belted through Emily Morris’s My Shitty Twenties, a storming (and positive!) memoir about single parenthood, Sarah Hall’s new (and brilliant) collection, Madame Zero (review to follow, so check the site) and Gavin Corbett’s utterly bonkers Green Glowing Skull: think Flann O’Brien in a mash-up with Chris Adrian, Pynchon and Kelly Link, but disguised as The Three Tenors.
On The Go: Lauren Elkin’s Flaneuse, a non-fiction book about women walking the city. Early days but so far, so good.
Next Up: Either Nabokov’s The Gift (which I bought when my six year old was in utero, so it’s about time I got round to it, really) or Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, due for review on here. So many books, etc…

Name: Peter Wild
Just Finished: A big pile of comics (been behind on Saga, Providence, Sex Criminals, Walking Dead, Outcast, Ladykiller, Paper Girls, Briggs Land and Black Hammer) and a big pile of graphic novels (The Customer is Always Wrong, Palookaville 23) – am now all up to date!
On The Go: Such Small Hands by Andres Barba. Very small, very lovely looking little book that promises to be a creepy delight.
Next Up: Smile by Roddy Doyle. Always got time for a bit of Roddy.

Name: Nici West
Just Finished: The Answers by Catherine Lacey – not convinced
On The Go: The Swarm by Frank Shatzing – not usually my sort of thing but I’m gripped so far!
Next Up: The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla

Name: Daniel Carpenter
Just Finished: Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. A pretty blandly written book with a wealth of incredible, hefty ideas. I’m still not sure what to think of it overall. It spans thousands of years, half the main characters are biologically evolved sentient spiders, and there’s a great subplot about sexism that works gangbusters, but the whole thing is wrapped in dull writing, boring characters, and a languid pace. Hmmm.
On The Go: H(a)ppy by Nicola Barker. A dystopian novel from Britain’s best living writer, about the youth of the future keeping their emotions in check (and constantly monitoring the emotions of others). So far it’s wonderful, and typically Barker-esque (passing the “laughing out loud on a train” test within the first ten pages).
Next Up: You Will Grow into Them by Malcolm Devlin. The third release this year from genre publisher Unsung Stories. I love Devlin’s short fiction, and one of our other reviews did too, so this full length collection is going to be right up my street.

Name: Lucille Turner
Just Finished: The Christian Fallacy by Paul McGrane. Well, almost – it is not what you might call light reading, but absolutely worth the effort!
On The Go: That Sweet Enemy, by Robert and Isabelle Tombs – a journey into the history of the love/hate relationship that has always existed between England and France. Get a French mistress, goes the 18th century recommendation, but marry an Englishwoman. No comment.
Next Up: The Golden House by Salman Rushdie.

Name: Jim Dempsey
Just Finished: The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock. One good thing about reviewing is reading books you’d never normally choose to read. Sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise. Sometimes not. This was somewhere in between.
On The Go: The Fool’s Progress by Edward Abbey. There’s something about the summer months that makes me want to revisit Ed Abbey’s work. Maybe it’s a need to get outdoors. Abbey takes me there every time, even if it’s too wet and rainy to actually go outside.
Next Up: Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. I feel if I don’t read it soon, I’ll be left out of so many conversations with so many friends. [Me too, Jim, me too… ed.]

Name: Joe Phelan
Just Finished: The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg. A quirky off beat tale of a storyteller from the North Pole who goes in search of his soul. Absolutely brilliant.
On The Go: Kill All the Normies by Angela Nagle. Where to begin? To say this book is informative is an understatement. Explores the dark corners of the web from 4chan to the rise of the alt-right.
Next Up: The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada. A locked-room mystery, a murder which has baffled authorities for forty years.

Name: James Doyle
Just Finished: Stanley Middleton’s Valley of Decision. When David’s wife, an opera singer, goes on tour to the US it threatens their marriage. Middleton’s novels elevate the everyday, they question and test characters who “touch impossibility in an imperfect world”.
On The Go: Anna of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett. In Bennett’s Five Towns the landscape is scarred by the ugliness of industrialisation, the inhabitants’ minds are governed by the narrowness of Methodism and Anna’s father is a miser as forbidding as one created by Balzac, “yet be it said that romance is even here.”
Next Up: Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory. Revolution and religious persecution, this is what Ezra Pound meant by ‘literature is news that stays news’.

Name: Lucy Chatburn
Just Finished: Tessa Hadley – The Past. Tensions and small intrigues on a family holiday. Highly recommended by people who should know, but it was wasted on me.
On The Go: Abdelfattah Kilito – Je parle toutes les langues, mais en arabe. Essays on the complicated and sometimes controversial relationship between Arabic, its dialects, other languages (especially French) and literature. Slow going but worth the effort. (I can’t find a translation but presumably there’s one on the way.)
Next Up: Haruki Murakami – Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. All kinds of surreal.

 

 

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