Lots and lots to catch up on!
Firstly, Sebastian Barry’s ‘Days Without End’, which won the Costa Book Award. I’m quite intrigued as it doesn’t sound like my usual cup of tea: Pulling together the American War of Independence, native American history and the relationships of gay men, it sounds like a heady brew, but the consistently excellent reviews say otherwise…
A while ago I wrote about Marghanita Laski’ wonderful ‘The Victorian Chaise Longue’ and last week I came across this lovely Persephone edition of ‘Little Boy Lost’. Not sure exactly what it’s about but if it’s half as good as ‘Chaise Longue’ it should be a pretty good read.
Next, the wonderful Gwendoline Riley. I’ve loved all her books and this is probably her finest. I’ll post a review shortly: a tiny masterpiece!
‘Chelsea Girls’ by Eileen Miles is something I saw in Waterstones and knew I had to read it: First published in 1994, it promises ‘…an audacious and singular voice made vivid and immediate in lyrical language, Chelseas Girls weaves together memories of Myles’ 1960’s Catholic upbringing with an alcoholic father, a volatile adolescence, unabashed ‘lesbianity’, and riotous pursuit of survival as a poet in 1970s and 1980s New York.’
A couple more queer books next: ‘Gender Outlaw: on men, women and the rest of is’, a trans manifesto from 1994 by the activist Kate Bornstein and then ‘The End of Eddy’, a novel describing the violent working class upbringing of a gay man in northern France. Apparently it shocked and intrigued France and became a bestseller over there.
And…another Muriel Spark. Just after Christmas I read Spark’s ‘Symposium‘- a sinister ‘la ronde’ of dinner parties and just desserts – and remembered just why I liked her in the first place.
Karl Geary’s ‘Montpelier Parade’ sounds like a pretty romantic piece, sitting alongside a pretty crime piece, Ian Sansom’s ‘Essex Poison’, the fourth in his ‘County Guides’ crime series. I LOVE these books, the adventures of Swanton Morley, ‘the People’s Professor’, who sets off around the counties of England with his glamourous daughter Miriam and Spanish Civil War veteran Stephen Sefton to encapsulate the nature of the English people, county by county. Unfortunately, in each county they stumble across rather more sinister activities than expected. Silly, intriguing, these aren’t for your hardcore mystery reader, but as a bit of frothy fun, they are GREAT.
Next, a novel for this year’s Mallorcan holiday: ‘A Broken Mirror’ by Merce Rodoreda. First published in 1962, this is a Catalan classic this details the lives of a family from Barcelona from the 1870s to the Spanish Civil War.
And finally, ‘The Doll’s Alphabet’ by Camilla Grudova, of which Nicola Barker has written, ‘Imagine a world in which the Brother’s Grimm were two exquisite back eyed twin sisters in torn stockings and handstitched velvet dresses. Knowing, baroque, perfect, daring, clever, fastidious, Camilla Grudova is Angela Carter’s natural inheritor…’