On The Pile: November

Name: Valerie O’Riordan
Just Finished: Way More Than Luck, Ben Wilkinson. Superb poetry collection – an exploration of depression and anxiety, long-distance running, family, love and football. (And I’m not just saying this because Ben’s a friend – he’s a right talented bastard.) I also just read Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster, which left me cold – literary heresy, right? *ducks*
On The Go: Milkman, Anna Burns. This year’s Booker winner. The first two pages are great; high hopes for the rest!
Next Up: A reread of Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It for work – it’s a brutal one, but an important one.

Name: Lucy Chatburn
Just Finished: Elizabeth Strout, My Name is Lucy Barton. A complex mother-daughter relationship narrated by the survivor of a horrible childhood. Really really liked it.
On The Go: Kate Atkinson, Life after Life. A baby girl is born, dies, is born again, has another go. Repeat etc. So far it’s all a bit confusing… 
Next Up: Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke.

Name: Dan Carpenter
Just Finished: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. A young adult fantasy which takes difficult themes of slavery, colonialism, and racism, and filters them through an alternate Nigeria. Adeyemi’s book is astonishingly good, taking the well worn tropes of the YA genre and playing with them. There’s a melodramatic romance at the centre of it, yes, but it’s not what you expect. The characters are interesting, and the set pieces truly exciting. This book belongs alongside Harry Potter and His Dark Materials as something really rather special.
On The Go: Aickman’s Heirs by various. Undertow Publications have a great track record in anthologies, and this old Shirley Jackson award nominated title from a few years ago boasts stories from top weird writers like Nina Allan, Helen Marshall, and John Langan. So far, so brilliant.
Next Up: XX by Angela Chadwick. Feminist dystopias are in right now and a lot of the resulting books have been absolutely brilliant (The Power, Vox, Red Clocks, Sweet Fruit, Sour Land). Chadwick’s is purportedly one of the standouts, a world in which women no longer need men to have children. I cannot wait. 

Name: Jackie Law
Just Finished: Shadows on the Tundra by Dalia Grinkevičiutė (translated by Delija Valiukenas). A memoir of survival in a Siberian Gulag starting with the author’s deportation from Lithuania when she was fourteen years old. A disturbing but vital read. 
On The Go: The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen (translated by David Hackston). Just started this but after a few searing reads wanted something lighter. Hoping a page-turning thriller will provide entertainment. I have a backlog of books from the publisher, Orenda, and this one is getting good reviews.
Next Up: Liminal by Bee Lewis. Described as Gothic fantasia – whatever that means. It’s from Salt Publishing so I’m trusting it will be worth reading. 

Name: Joe Phelan
Just Finished: Austral by Paul McAuley. A near future ecological thriller set in Antarctica. Climate change, corrupt politicians and flagrant disregard for the environment. Ripped through this, an excellent read.
On The Go: This is the Ritual by Rob Doyle. A collection of short stories populated by writers and other individuals on the edge of society. Echoes of Paul Bowles. Please read everyone.
Next Up: Down to the Sea in Ships by Horatio Clare. Writer Horatio Clare travels the oceans aboard container ships. He records the sights and sounds and people he encounters.   

Name: James Doyle
Just Finished: William Trevor, Mrs Eckdorf at O’Neill’s Hotel. A photographer visits a decayed Dublin hotel: “Despite a nicely groomed exterior I have a heart like everyone else.” The observation and cutting exactness of Trevor’s short stories given a more gothic tone in this novel.
On The Go: Harris’s Requiem by Stanley Middleton. By a considerable distance this is the best of Middleton’s 45 novels. A musician composes a requiem for his father and all “the defenceless harried by authority”. Middleton’s typical dourness becomes a native Existentialism, and reminds you that he started publishing in the wake of the Angry Young Men (and was still publishing novels fifty years later alongside Zadie Smith).
Next Up: Maigret’s Mistake by Georges Simenon. A young prostitute is killed while the rest of Paris goes about its daily life: “it was still raining on this world of stone, brick and concrete through which wove dark figures and umbrellas.”

Name: Peter Wild
Just Finished: Hazards of Time Travel, my very first Joyce Carol Oates
On The Go: Beastie Boys Book! Been looking forward to this one for a while. Reading the actual book (full of photographs) and the audiobook (featuring readers as various as Amy Poehler, Jarvis Cocker, Kim Gordon, Steve Buscemi, Kelly Reichardt, Ben Stiller and dozens and dozens of others) in tandem. So much fun…
Next Up: 6 volumes of Swamp Thing, constituting Alan Moore’s entire run. An early Christmas treat to myself!!!

Name: Carola Huttmann
Just Finished: Possession, by A.S. Byatt. This ‘feels’ as though it could be historical fiction, but is mainly invented. Set in the 1980s and the Victorian era, the characters of both periods draw you into their stories. Byatt’s inspiration was allegedly John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman.  
On The Go: Painter to the King, by Amy Sackville. Historical fiction based on the life of Diego Velázques. Very atmospheric with a strong sense of place and period. The heat and dirty streets of Madrid practically jump off the page.
Next Up: Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver. After ‘discovering’ this author after she won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010 with The Lacuna and reading everything she’s written, the wait for her latest novel has felt like a long one. I can’t wait to get started.  

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