December: On The Pile

Name: Lucille Turner
Just Finished: Educated by Tara Westover which was an absolutely cracking read. I couldn’t put it down. Incredibly moving.
On The Go: Sal by Mick Kitson – A story of survival and running away. Sounds like what I’m doing for Christmas.
Next Up: The Journey of the Magi by T S Eliot. I know it will only take me ten minutes to read, but we do have to leave time for eggnog.

Name: Joe Phelan
Just Finished: Ice by Anna Kavan. A mysterious love affair set against a world wide natural disaster and the breakdown of national governments. A truly haunting book.
On The Go: You Should Come With Me Now by M. John Harrison. A selection of short stories and fragments from a wonderfully imaginative writer.
Next Up: The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald. Fact and fiction merge in this story of memory and sorrow.

Name: Jackie Law
Just Finished: Why Stuff Matters by Jen Waldo. A story of avarice and ageing. A well constructed, thought-provoking tale that other readers may find amusing. For me the greed and sense of entitlement portrayed were too recognisable not to be dispiriting. Also On The Bright Side by Hendrik Groen. Written in the form of a journal this is a poignant yet witty account of life in a care home for the elderly.
On The Go: Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon – another story with aged protagonists. Not read enough yet to give much of a verdict but I loved the author’s debut. My high hopes for this are being met so far.
Next Up: The Stone Tide by Gareth E. Rees. A story of how people make the place and the place makes the person – about the stories we tell to make sense of the world. This is a new offering from Influx Press whose eclectic books I have always enjoyed.

Name: Tamim Sadikali
Just Finished: The World Goes On by László Krasznahorkai. Dense – at times, unreadable. There’s a fine line between being ‘…one of the great inventors of new forms’, as the front cover boasts, and losing your reader through over-experimentation. And this collection is on the wrong side of that line. (Ed: review coming soon…)
On The Go: Viz Annual 2018: The Jester’s Shoes. Gutter humourists, or the finest exponents of the British ‘up yours!’ for thirty-plus years. They should be giants.
Next Up: Letti Park by Judith Hermann. New short fiction from the author of Alice.

Name: James Doyle
Just Finished: 1933 Was a Bad Year by John Fante. Dom  Molise is growing up during the Great Depression with dreams of becoming a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs: “A man can bear up under any temporary crisis if he has faith in the future.” Fante, Charles Bukowski’s inspiration, writes tender, moving sentences that strip life into moments of emotional honesty and realisation.
On The Go: Elizabeth Taylor’s Palladian. Cassandra is a young governess for the Vanbrughs, a family whose members are isolated from each other, and discovers that life means “not a moment for any of the thoughts I meant to have.”
Next Up: Jay McInerney, Bright, Precious Days. The conclusion of McInerney’s trilogy about the Calloway family, New York before and after 9-11 and changing literary life in the twenty-first century.

Name: Peter Wild
Just Finished: Bernard MacLaverty’s Midwinter Break. Beautiful and heartbreaking. Review to coincide with the paperback in January.
On The Go: Collusion (How Russia helped Trump win the White House) by Luke Harding. Bracing stuff.
Next Up: Monograph by Chris Ware. Can’t wait!

Name: Dan Carpenter
Just Finished: The Outrun by Amy Liptrott. A damn good piece of landscape writing and an excellent memoir about addiction. Liptrott’s depiction of the Orkney Islands in all their brutal, beautiful detail is compelling, but it’s her battle with alcoholism and her recovery that kept me rapt throughout.
On The Go: October by China Mieville. It’s Christmas so what better time of year to read about the Russian Revolution as written by one of weird fiction’s (and England’s) finest authors. Mieville writes non fiction like the best of them – his essays at the front of Verso’s edition of Utopia were a massive highlight – and this promises to be an excellent read.
Next Up: American Supernatural Tales by various. Edited by Guillermo del Toro this edition features everyone from Poe, King, Jackson, Bradbury, and Lovecraft. I’ve been holding off for a truly chilling month before delving in. Very excited to revisit some of my favourite tales.

Name: Valerie O’Riordan
Just Finished: Justin Cronin’s post-apocalyptic vampire trilogy – The Passage, The Twelve and City of Mirrors. I really liked the first one and didn’t think the other two quite lived up to it (the characterisation felt a lot more rounded and complex in The Passage) but all three were decent page turners.
On The Go: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. I’ve been really slow with this and I don’t know why; it’s gorgeously written.
Next Up: Nabokov’s The Gift? Because I’ve been muttering to myself that ‘I’ll read it next’ for the past twelve months? We’ll see.

Name: Lucy Chatburn
Just Finished: Kat Arney, Herding Hemingway’s Cats: Understanding how our Genes Work. Fascinating, although more challenging than most pop science books. The main takeaway seems to be ‘it’s complicated’.
On The Go: Rose Tremain, The Gustav Sonata, which I started reading to broaden my horizons, so it’s a bonus to agree with the reviewer who called it ‘a perfect novel’.
Next Up: Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life. Wish me luck…

 

 

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