On the Pile: May 2020

Name: Valerie O’Riordan
Just Read: Kirsty Gunn’s Infidelities – Sarah Hall-esque short stories, though without the magical element – and Geoff Ryman’s 253, a masterclass in snappy characterisation.
On the Go: On the final pages of Edith Pearlman’s Honeydew: outstanding stories. She’s as good as Munro but people don’t talk about her.
Next Up: Nicole Flattery’s Show Them A Good Time, to keep with shorts for a while.

Name: Chris Oleson
Just Read: James Salter, Light Years. Not enough adjectives in my rhetorical holster to capture how much I loved the prose of this novel.
On the Go: Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Maybe not quite living up to its hype, still a compelling story and beautiful writing.
Next Up: And I’m celebrating the 90th birthday of one of my favorite authors by rereading John Barth’s The Floating Opera.

Name: Pete Wild
Just Read: Alligator & Other Stories by Dina Alzayat.
On The Go: Minor Detail by Adania Shibli.
Next Up: The Captain and the Glory by Dave Eggers.

Name: Jackie Law
Just Read: A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong. Concise and well written history offering many ideas to ponder. In a time of great change and fear for the future, this provided me with a much needed hopeful outlook. A recommended read in these uncertain times.
On the Go: Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor. Picked this up as I expected light hearted and amusing. Started slow but fine. Then, after a rather unsettling scene in a park, am wondering if I should continue. I’ll give it to page 100 and decide.
Next Up: To be honest, who knows. I’m picking next reads at random and struggling to connect with fiction. Maybe The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves, or Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty. I’ve also got a poetry pamphlet – Depth Charge by Chris Emery – that I’ll read before publication mid June.

Name: Carola Huttmann
Just Read: Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth is an exploration of a mother and daughter relationship one hot summer, the secrets they have, and what happens when the daughter’s best friend goes missing.
On the Go: The Binding by Bridget Collins. Books are dangerous things when they hide memories. A sumptuously gothic 18th-century tale of morality, gay love and identity.
Next Up: Like many people, I’m using the Coronavirus lockdown to acquaint myself with some of the novels I’ve been meaning to read for years, but have not got around to until now. The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath is one of these. Originally published in 1963 under a pseudonym, it’s Plath’s only novel and is largely autobiographical with numerous references to events and people in her own life.

Name: James Doyle
Just Read: Deirdre Madden’s Molly Fox’s Birthday. A playwright spends a week in the home of her friend, and renowned actress, Molly Fox. She deliberates on how we come to know, and understand, another person and comes back to the question: “All I ever wanted was to be myself. Who am I? Who am I?”
On the Go: Collected Short Stories by Dermot Healy. Several of these stories are among the best, in a competitive field, Irish stories of recent decades. All of Healy’s stories immerse the reader in “the riotous, melancholy music” of his language and the complexity of a violent time.
Next Up: Philip Larkin’s A Girl in Winter. First published in 1947, this has a new topicality in 2020: “Life had to be carried on, in no matter what circumscribed way; even though one went no further than the window-seat, there was plenty to be done indoors, saved for such time as this.”

Name: Lucy Chatburn
Just Read: Paul Collier – The Future of Capitalism. Since I’m not an economist, it’s likely that I got the wrong end of the stick, but it sounded a lot like the author would rather return to 1950 than face the future.
On the Go: Virginie Despentes – Vernon Subutex III. The final installment in this madcap trilogy. Review to follow.
Next Up: Madeline Miller – Circe.

Name: Amy Riddell
Just Read: The Mystery of Henri Pick by David Foenkinos. Sam Taylor’s translation of this French novel was my new title purchase for this month, and I couldn’t recommend it enough. It’s drily funny, and whimsical in a way that calls back to older French literature.
On the Go: Orlando by Virginia Woolf. This will be my first ever Woolf novel, which might be why I’m procrastinating on reading it. What if I don’t like it? Will I get kicked out of the literary community?
Next Up: Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez. I missed out on this debut last month, which sounds gorgeous. Very excited to read this one.





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