It's been 5 months since An Unreliable Guide to London was released. Since it contains so many great writers that you might be interested in reading further, we thought we'd get an update from most of them to make it easy for you track their movements. Literary movements, obviously. We've not weirdos.Read More
Sometimes game recognises game.
Here's our top picks for reading on your holidays this summer. Or for just reading anyway. In winter. Or whatever. Just books that have come out recently alright?
Gary has gone in all short and sweet on his nominations, whereas Kit has gone gushy. Kind of like in real life, only Gary is massive and not very sweet at all.
Meatspace is a wonderful book. It's funny – like proper funny – the sort of funny that makes read lines out loud to whoever is in proximity and highfiving them afterwards. It's also utterly contemporary. I personally have a hard time reading books that are set more than twenty years before the time they are written. It's irrational, probably. But it's a real pleasure to read a novel that is in tune with right now.
Shukla explores social media and it's impact on our offline lives with wit, verve and some great characters. Kitab is the narrator of Meatspace but it is his brother in the book, Aziz who may well be one of my favourite literary characters of recent years. I basically want him as my own brother. I could just add the 'ab' to my name I guess. In fact since Kitab's nickname is shortened to Kit and Aziz would sometimes address him as Kit... well, I think that just compounded my infatuation.
Meatspace can be read as a light beach read if you want; it's flows fast and strong. But it has depth. If you want to read this late into the night, when thoughts are like fizzing skittles in your mind, you'll have plenty to think about. [KC]
I loved this book. It was straight up fun. It's piss-taking, satirical, absurd, farcical and has a brilliant narrative voice. Ann-Marie is a great anti-hero. She is a mess but in all the best ways, convinced that love will save her despite much evidence to the contrary. The book really takes off when she meets an old school feminist in Stephanie who wants to sort of save her. Their interactions and dialogues are fantastic, satirising feminism without demeaning it, mocking idealism without undermining it.
I found the characters, though stretched for satirical reasons believable and somewhat sypathetic. I feel like I've met them in some form throughout my early 20s/art college life. It's a London book, granted, which can sometimes alienate readers but its drunken, hedonistic, woozy narrative would fit in any city.
However, the fact that some parts of the book take place around my neighbourhood mean I'm completely smitten.I've already given my copy away, bought a new copy, then given that one away. I'll probably go and buy another one in the future. [KC]
Neil Gaiman reprises the Sandman series twenty-five years on from its debut. The worry was always: a) has Gaiman still got it, and b) is this necessary? I'm only two issues in, but the answer is a) most definitely and b) I could read the Sandman forever. Beautiful art from JH Williams III and amazing cover art as usual from Dave McKean. [GB]
Salena's big collection. The one everyone who has ever seen her live have wanted to buy after a gig but haven't been able to because it hasn't been published until this summer. I'm a big fan of Salena's - like a lot of people I know. We even published a short story of hers in our anthology Connecting Nothing with Something. This collection is an cave of poetic wonders. From my favourite Live-Godden piece, I Want Love ('I want to clip love's toenails') to the Gil Scott Heron tribute poem When I Heard The Man ('it's like wetting the whistle but making no tune') there is gold embedded deep in this book.
Salena is a poet with a big soul, generous with her all her emotions. Her language flits between warm, fighty, dreaming, slapped and tickled. There are enough poems in here for this to be the only collection you buy in 2014 (apart from Chimene Suleyman's Outside Looking On, obviously)
Big shouts have to go to fellow small press Burning Eye Books for publishing the collection, going to show – once again – that the good shit is happening where the good people run things. [KC]
Kind of a Riddley Walker for the Anglo-Saxon generation. Paul Kingsnorth's novel charting the fates of a bunch of guerrilla fighters fighting the Norman invaders of 1066, written in an Old English 'shadow tongue' is one of the most original novels I've read in years, and delves into the problem of Englishness without ever being patriotic. Beorn angland beorn. [GB]
I hadn't read or heard any of Yrsa's poetry until our Late Night Literary Salon at Stoke Newington Literary Festival in June. Safe to say, after hearing her read I wanted to get hold of her new collection Bone (her previous On Snakes and Other Stories was published by our friends at 3:AM Press) straight away.
Yrsa's language exudes aches and pains, both the postitive and negative kind. Her poems are simple, they contain truths and lyricism that elevate them to a place of beauty ('Do not thin yourself, be vast. You do not bring the ocean to a river'). I was bewitched with the collection as a whole, each poem flowed well into the next and I read the whole thing in one sitting. This is very rare for me to do. I have revisited it since and again, like Zoe Pilger's book, passed it on and ordered another copy.
I'm pretty broke now, to be quite honest. Books are an expensive habit. [KC]
Last Saturday we went to Hastings to do a Connecting Nothing with Something reading at the Roomz in St Leonards.
Salena Godden, our briny siren hosted the night with me, Chris Watson, Sam Berkson and Gareth Rees of Influx reading. We were also joined by Emily Lloyd, the legendary actress from the film Wish You Were Here reading from her memoir.
Hastings features heavily in Connecting Nothing, as one of the original cinque ports its connection to Dover, Sandwich, Folkestone and the like is as old as the castle on the west hill. It's a town experiencing similar changes to Margate; a much lauded new art gallery, an influx of artists and "creatives" to the town, new cafes and auxiliary services. But to me, Hastings felt very different to the east coast of Kent this time I visited. Maybe it's come alive from the fiction and poetry we edited for the book, perhaps the changes are more gradual than in Kent, or it might just be that sea was dead calm and the gulls a little more laid back.
There was still very much a sense that this town is on the fringes, but purposefully so. There's a sense that Hastings wants to be the alternative (but not necessarily 'alternative'), a refuge for weird and wonderful, a place where you can be whatever you want so long as it isn't pretentious or highfaluting. I'm loathe to romanticise dead-beatness, as I grew up in a deadbeat part of Kent and couldn't wait to leave, but... there is a certain charm to Hastings dead-beatery, wearing it on its sleeve rather than pretending it doesn't exist, unlike other places on the south east coast. Our event was attended well, the drinking was solid and dependable, the crowd increasingly raucous as the night went on - and yet... due to commitments on the Sunday morning, I had to get the last train to London at 22:10.
I was disappointed to leave, aware that perhaps the 'drinking town with a fishing problem' was about to come alive at night and reveal itself to me. The deadbeat transformed into a hedonistic quest for liquored enlightenment - or perhaps I've just read too much of Salena's work. Salena's fictional Hastings is a seductive place and her writing is so powerful that her version of Hastings is now my version of Hastings. My disappointment at leaving was compounded by the emergence of a video late last night of the remainder of the night - a lurid, psychedelic smash of Gary and our Hastings-based writer Gareth extending the night through to the morning. The 'official' video of the evening, the readings at the Roomz seemed a little more urbane by comparison.
But I will return to Hastings soon, it had been too long and my crazy golf score card didn't look too hot this time. I also didn't visit the Jerwood, walk up either hill, pub crawl the old town or watch the catch come in. The sea was eerily calm last weekend, but the next time I'm down I want it violently crashing and the winter rain to be lashing and...
Who am I kidding? I can't demand anything from Hastings - it does what it wants to and I can only take part on its terms.
But what great terms they are.
- Kit Caless
Two videos below of stark contrast, first our sober readings, second the maverick jaunt of the drink possessed.