Sunday 26 February 2017

Our Book of the Week this week is Maurice Gee's wonderful fantasy adventure, THE SEVERED LAND. We are giving away a useful map of the severed land (courtesy of Penguin Random House) with every book by Gee (until we run out of maps).

>> "A thoughtful, fast-paced adventure with a wonderful heroine."  Read Stella's review.

>> Maurice Gee gives a rare interview.

>> Read some other excellent books by Maurice Gee.

>> Maurice talks about writing The Halfmen of O. 

>> Watch out for Wilberforces (at least they dress well).

We have a signed copy of The Severed Land to give away (also courtesy of Penguin Random House). To go in the draw, just let us know which book by Maurice Gee is your favourite (and, if you like, why).

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Volume 12: A BOOK IN THE HAND    (25.2.17)

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff is intriguing – a novel told in two parts from the perspectives of married couple, Lancelot (Fates) and Mathilde (Furies). Kicking off, Lotto is an unruly teen sent away to school - his story is one of a popular and successful student with mother issues. Just two weeks after meeting Mathilde they are married. Estranged from the family money, Lotto (Lancelot), desperate to be a famous actor, strives in vain to be a famous actor until he has his epiphany that play-writing is for him. Mathilde, the good wife, works to bring in the cash. They are poor but happy. They have a great, exuberant circle of friends who join with them in their successes and failures, but it’s not always friendly. As Lancelot’s success grows so does their uphill climb to money and a comfortable lifestyle. But not all is as it seems. Underlying this charmed life is the estrangement from Lancelot’s family, the mystery of Mathilde’s past, Lancelot’s desire for a child (and Mathilde’s lack of interest) and, more impressively, Lancelot’s continuous need for attention and affirmation of his importance from those around him, particularly Mathilde. When Lancelot dies suddenly at 46, Mathilde is abandoned. And so begins Mathilde’s story... And from here you will be completely hooked if you weren’t already! She is a complex, intriguing character who is loving, ruthless, striking and sharp. Her furies are dazzling

{Reviewed by STELLA}

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich is a haunting debut. The novel has at its heart an act of incomprehensible violence, an act that leaves one child dead, and another missing. This single act devastates a family. Ann, our eyes and ears in this story, is the second wife of Wade, who is battling dementia. As Wade loses his memory she navigates us through his life, and that of Jenny - his first wife - and their two children, May and June. She is the keeper of the secrets, of the history of this family and all that has befallen them. Some memories she pieces together, others she re-imagines, coming to a place in her own life where she is the bearer of this sadness, the person that holds the responsibility for attempting to redeem the family, as well as herself.
Wade's dementia is a cruel genetic inheritance, one that has taken both his father and grandfather early in their lives. He feels it creeping up on him, but he is unable to delay it despite his efforts to escape from it both physically, by moving from the plains to the mountains, and mentally, by learning the piano (from the local school's music teacher, Ann), and, as it advances, his memories of the children fade but his feelings of grief and anger intensify and confuse him. An anger that shows itself in violent outbursts, often placing Ann in danger, followed by wallowing regret. 
As the story continues, Ann becomes more fully focussed on the missing child, who would now be a young woman, and the role of the mother in this tragedy. Piecing together snippets of information, day-dreaming in the truck parked beyond the house, coming across small mementos of the past, leads Ann to strike up a covert connection with Jenny. This unusual bond between the two women formed in an environment of guilt, loss and a desire for redemption is strikingly affecting. 
Rushovich's writing is rich and descriptive - the heat bears down with its itch-making insects, the snow deadens their lives, engulfing the humans who live on the mountain in a cloak of silent threat. Place, in this novel, not only acts as a catalyst for damage but is also a metaphor for the psychological landscape. The attention to small details and glimpses of perspective build a textured canvas, which both reveals and conceals. This is a novel that will stay with you, and, while gruelling in parts, although never grotesque, it is a fascinating portrayal of how people make new landscapes, both real and imagined, from their personal tragedies, and their desire to outlive their trauma. 
{Reviewed by STELLA}


The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner    {Reviewed by THOMAS}
Whereas it may not be certain whose hatred of poetry is greater, that of the poetically unattuned or that of the poet, it is clear, to Lerner at least, whose hatred of poetry is more instrumental to the writing of poetry.* Lerner, an accomplished poet (and novelist), posits that it is the failure of poetry to actualise its intentions that perfects, or at least gives shape to, or at least conveys some intimation of, those intentions - for poetry to convey something unconveyable - the very precision, or at least potential, or attempted, precision of its failure succeeding in defining, or, at best, clearing, a space in which unwordable experience may dance or move or do whatever it is that it does that cannot be caught with a word. The dislike of ordinary readers is nothing to the dislike of poets for actual poems, those blunt clumsy masses upon which sparks are struck and edges sharpened, those necessarily failed attempts to embed virtual poems, if such things may be thought of as poems, in the actual common muck of words. To progress by contrary motion, to locate a threshold by being unable to cross it, to point with a limp finger at a target in the dark, to squeeze brine from a bag of unknown contents, these are deeper functions of poetry, and the hatred of poetry espoused by Lerner is a symptom of either enthusiasm of compulsion, burden or useful luggage (who can tell?), clearing space for love. Through the spine of his essay,  which blossoms with ambivalences and ambiguities, Lerner has threaded the poem 'Poetry' by Marianne Moore:
I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers that there is in it after all, a place for the genuine.


*Or maybe not so clear. 

Inland by Gerald Murnane    {Reviewed by THOMAS}
“There are other worlds, but they’re all in this one,” wrote Paul Eluard, quoted by Murnane (in a slightly different translation) in Inland. The multiplicity and porosity of identity, not only of personage but also of occurrence and of place (the overarching (or underarching?) predominator of Murnane’s writing), destabilises received notions of ‘the novel’ and deprives the reader of the tools traditionally used to work on text whilst keeping it at a safe, ‘practical’ distance. Instead, in a world in which “each thing is at least two things”, in what Murnane elsewhere calls the ‘image world’, the image, usually, in Murnane’s case, deeply saturated with old longing, is the determinant, its expected anchors or referents plunging through so many layers of fiction and memory (so to call them) that the distinctions between these are dissolved, the resonating image, that which is (mis)taken for an impression but which is more the last upon which both fiction and actuality receive a form, retained at least for the duration of contact but more often sufficiently long to be cupped together with other fictional and actual layers similarly impressed, is what both shapes the text and disavows the possibility of shape. Inland begins with a Hungarian writer who has been written by another writer who appears to be some written version of Murnane, telling the reader that he is anticipating his translator (for whom he yearns romantically (there is contradictory evidence as to whether they have never met or have shared a past)) reading what he is writing, thus, since it is implied that we are reading the text as purportedly translated by the said translator, adding another layer to the cocoon of text which stifles the postulated Murnane in his very attempts to make contact with the world beyond himself. During the course of the book, the layers of obfuscation are wound away, a process during which Murnane abandons (for good) fiction as usually understood, and replaces it with a multileveled examination of the nature and behaviour and mutability of memory, an examination of the potency of an image over time. Wound in the centre of this book and revealed towards the end is what the narrator (the purported Murnane (a constructed personage just like any other)) ‘remembers’ of his twelve-year-old self, of his undeclared love for a “girl from Bendigo Street”, who, according to a mutual friend, liked him “very much”, the closest the narrator gets to actual contact with a fellow person, though he is aware that each of them was almost certainly perceiving and relating primarily to someone in the image world rather than an actual person. Murnane continued his examination of the relationship between images, memory and ‘reality’, and into the way in which text reaches out to and yet pushes further away the world inhabited by others, in Barley Patch and A Million Windows. Apart from all this, and in fact necessitated by all this, or at least indistinguishable from all this, Murnane writes beautiful, exquisitely pedantic, sad, subtly barbed and often very funny sentences, and I might well agree with him when he stated in a recent interview, “My sentences are the best-shaped of any sentences written by any writer of fiction in the English language during my lifetime. The previous sentence is a fair average sample of my prose", even though the ironic valency of his statement is highly uncertain.

Thursday 23 February 2017

(Just click through to find out more (and to purchase or reserve the books))

The Evenings by Gerard Reve      $33
"The funniest, most exhilarating novel about boredom ever written. If The Evenings had appeared in English in the 1950s, it would have become every bit as much a classic as On the Road and The Catcher in the Rye." - Herman Koch

Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen         $26
Two protagonists (both named Joshua Cohen) orbit each other's fates in a novel about pretty much everything. 
"Joshua Cohen's novel Book of Numbers reads as if Philip Roth's work were fired into David Foster Wallace's inside the Hadron particle collider. Book of Numbers is more impressive than all but a few novels published so far this decade." - The New York Times 
"A hugely ambitious novel set in the high-tech world of now. It is a verbal high-wire act, daring in its tones and textures: clever, poetic, fast-moving, deeply playful, filled with jokes, savvy about machines, wise about people, dazzling and engrossing." - Colm Toibin, Guardian
The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen      $35
Eight stories from the author of the remarkable (and Pulitzer Prize-winning) The Sympathizer, each dealing with the experiences of immigrants straddling two worlds: those in their homeland and those in the societies in which they find themselves welcome, unwelcome or ignored. What can be healed and what cannot?
"The Refugees comes at a time when Americans are being forced to reckon with what their country is becoming. It's hard not to feel for Nguyen's characters, many of whom have been dealt an unfathomably bad hand. But Nguyen never asks the reader to pity them; he wants us only to see them as human beings. And because of his wonderful writing, it's impossible not to do so. It's an urgent, wonderful collection." - NPR
Age of Anger: A history of the present by Pankaj Mishra     $40
How can we explain, let alone remedy, the wave of paranoia, racism, nationalism and mysongeny that is sweeping the world and manifesting as reactionary government, violence and demagoguery? Mishra shows how disaffection has wide roots in our economic and social structures. 
"Urgent, profound and extraordinarily timely. Throws light on our contemporary predicament, when the neglected and dispossessed of the world have suddenly risen up to transform the world we thought we knew." - John Banville
It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis      $28
A vain, outlandish, anti-immigrant, fear-mongering demagogue runs for President of the United States - and wins. Lewis's 1935 novel is suddenly incredibly relevant. 
"Eerily prescient." - Guardian
"One of the most important books ever produced in the United States." - New Yorker
Browse: The world in bookshops edited by Henry Hitchings      $33
Fifteen authors from around the world (including Ali Smith, Dorthe Nors, Yiyun Li, Ian Sansom, Juan Gabriel Vasquez, Daniel Kehlmann, Elif Shafak, Iain Sinclair and Pankaj Mishra) tell their stories of the importance to bookshops to them and to society. 
Idaho by Emily Ruskovich         $37
How does a horrific act resonate along the lines of love and memory that link (and divide) a family? What changes, what endures? What can be recovered, and what must be constructed? 
"That an act of brutality inspires storytelling as beautiful as this is reason enough for this novel to stand out from the crowd. To discover the sheer exquisiteness of Ruskovich’s prose is an unforeseen added bonus. There’s a rare, rich plangent quality to her sentences, as present in the spaces between the words, in what’s not said, as much as in what is articulated." - Independent 
>> An interview with Ruskovich.
And the Weak Suffer What They Must? Europe, austerity and the threat to global stability by Yanis Varoufakis         $28
The former Greek finance minister and "rock star of Europe's anti-austerity uprising" (Telegraph) shows that the roots of European economic collapse run deeper than officially acknowledged or addressed. Is the European Union a financial pyramid scheme? Are international fiscal practices structurally flawed? 

Granta 138: Journeys edited by Sigrid Rausing         $28
Is travel writing dead? What are the ethics of writing about a place you visit only briefly and view with the eyes of an outsider?

Includes Geoff Dyer, Edna O'Brien, Emily Berry, Robert Macfarlane and Pico Iyer. 
The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook by Selena Hage      $55
The author of the excellent The Lebanese Kitchen widens her scope to present 150 dishes from a region steeped in traditional vegetarian recipes. 
How to Survive a Plague: The story of how activists and scientists tamed AIDS by David France      $40
15.8 million people taking anti-AIDS drugs today are alive thanks to a de facto collaboration between social activists and medical scientists.
"Epoch-making: the whole social and scientific history of AIDS, brilliantly told. Informative, entertaining, suspenseful, moving, and personal." - Edmund White
"A contemplation not so only of an epidemic of illness but also of an epidemic of resilience." - Andrew Solomon

A Zero-Sum Game by Eduardo Rabasa         $33

"Rabasa's novel is built much like the sprawling housing complex it portrays: a complex but self-contained set of ideas populated by funny and frightening characters. Rabasa has crafted an Orwellian satire of low-level bureaucrats, urban dreamers, and political power." - Publishers Weekly
>> Zero sum games explained (but aren't all games zero sum games when seen in a wide enough context?).
The Best American Nonrequired Reading, 2016 edited and introduced by Rachel Kusher       $30
Selected by (intelligent, engaged) secondary school students for (intelligent, engaged) secondary school students. Includes Jesse Ball, Marilynne Robinson, Adrian Tomine, Dana Spiotta and several interesting writers you haven't yet discovered. 
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller      $37
Did Ingrid kill herself? Was Gil a charming womaniser or a monster? Will Flora be able to lay the ghosts of her past to rest? How does miscommunication between people close to each other make love an obstacle to understanding as much as it is a bond? 
“Swimming Lessons has all the observational touches that show Fuller to be a serious novelist with an acute awareness of the nuances and patterns of human speech and behaviour." - Guardian
“Claire Fuller has captured love in its fullest form, nursed on betrayal and regret and guilt. Swimming Lessons is so smoothly, beautifully written. The human failures here are heartbreaking." - David Vann
The Disappearance of Emile Zola: Love, literature and the Dreyfus case by Michael Rosen       $37
In January 1898 the newspaper l'Aurore published 'J'accuse', an open letter from Zola accusing the French government of anti-Semitism in the treatment and unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus. The letter was successful in provoking the government to sue Zola for libel, thus reopening the Dreyfus case, and, following his conviction and to avoid jail, Zola fled to London, where he continued to defend Dreyfus until his death from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a blocked chimney. Rosen fills in all the details and the colour.  
The Attention Merchants: From the daily newspaper to social media, how our time and attention is harvested and sold by Tim Wu        $37
"I couldn't put this fascinating book down. Gripping from page one with its insight, vivid writing, and panoramic sweep,it is also a book of urgent importance, revealing how our preeminent industries work to fleece our consciousness rather than help us cultivate it." - Amy Chua
"A profoundly important book. Attention itself has become the currency of the information age, and, as Wu meticulously and eloquently demonstrates, we allow it to be bought and sold at our peril." - James Gleick
>> Who is creating your reality?

Free sampler (courtesy of Scribner & Simon & Schuster) with every book purchase until stock runs out (either of samplers or of books). 

Saturday 18 February 2017

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Volume 11: PAPER WEIGHTS   (18.2.17)

Our book of the week this week is THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE by Lara Pawson.

Lara Pawson was for some years a journalist for the BBC and other media during the civil wars in Angola, and on the Ivory Coast. In this book, her experiences of societies in trauma, and her idealism for making the 'truth' known, are fragmented (as memory is always fragmented) and mixed with memory fragments of her childhood and of her relationships with the various people she encountered before, during and after the period of heightened awareness provided by war.

"Lara Pawson’s lucid, sudden and subtle memoir unpicks the spirals of memory, politics, violence, to trace the boundaries and crossing points of gender and race identity." – Joanna Walsh

>> Read Thomas's review

>> An interview with the author

>> We're featuring the publications of CB Editions, who published this book. 

>> Lara Pawson and some other CB Editions authors read at Shakespeare and Company, Paris

>> Pawson's book In the Name of the People, on Angola's 1977 forgotten massacre. She talks about this here

>> She also has a blog.

Women in Clothes: Why we wear what we wear by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton and 639 others    {Reveiwed by STELLA}
This is a fascinating book about the philosophical, practical and emotional connections we have with what we wear. This book is jam-packed with interesting ideas, photographic essays, explorations of personal collections, candid discussions and intriguing questions and responses. This unique project is unexpected and familiar by turns, sating your desire for intelligent conversations about clothes, as well as being a visual gem. From Mae Pang's safety pin collection (there are numerous collections - white canvas sneakers bobby pins, navy blazers, hand-made print frocks) to Miranda July's 'Thirty-Six Women' dressing project, this is a must for those who love clothes, who appreciate the place of objects in our psychological life and are intrigued by collecting.

Sheila Heti's How Should a Person Be? - in parts memoir, in turns fiction - is both a delightfully indulgent and a searingly cynical exploration of herself. Heti, in her late 20s, is struggling to write, has become disenchanted with her marriage and life in general, and keeps asking herself how she should be. It's almost as if around the next corner she expects to find the elusive 'answer'. As she records her best friend Margaux's thoughts and feelings, and their conversations, the book becomes a chaotic journey of self-discovery. There are some vicious portrayals here of friends, acquaintances and her social circle, and some delightful moments of honest and enduring relationships. This is strange, brave and hilarious novel. 
{Reviewed by STELLA}

Rachel Kushner's ability to take a large difficult subject and make it personal, meaningful and funny appeals to me a lot. In Telex from Cuba the voices of her young protagonists, children looking on as mayhem descends, are vital and honest. This novel is a delicious insight into Cuba pre-Castro revolution; it is a Cuba financially dominated by American companies and their company men, by corrupt officials and a military dictatorship, a Cuba of one-up-manship and power games that ultimately turn in on themselves. It is also very funny - Kushner sends up the rebels, the Americans and the Cuban businessmen with aplomb, and yet it is also a tragedy on many levels - the son who is disenchanted, who joins the rebels in the jungle but in later years lives an uncomprehendingly conservative life in middle America; the teen who is Cuban-born but American, always looking from the outside, who yearns for what is missing; the girl who sees the injustice but is powerless; the complicated lives of paternalistic overseers who neither belong in their adopted country nor in their native one. The concepts of colonialism (cultural and financial), cheap labour, power struggle, political manipulation, corruption and class are played out convincingly within this novel. Kushner takes Cuba and her array of misfits and gives us a novel lush with description, full of violence and pleasure, and wonderfully absorbing. 
 {Reviewed by STELLA}

The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla Grudova     {Reviewed by THOMAS}
As surreal and "
beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella" (to use words written in anticipation by le Comte de Lautréamont (with particular emphasis with reference to this collection upon the sewing machine)), Grodova's stories, full of baroque detail worn via patina to a thinness that makes them dangerously sharp to handle, take place in a world governed by strange customs, where significance is found in odd conjunctions, where obsessions assume the fatal ordinariness of custom, where only misfits approach normal, and where childhood is the conduit of immense threat, to children, parents and to wider society. All that is riven will henceforth continue to diverge, but Grodova's stories, lying on an axis of mitteleuropean flavour somewhere between Grimm's tales and accounts of Soviet privations, and on another axis somewhere between the stories of Angela Carter (pleasantly close to these) and  those of Ben Marcus, have as much delight (and even hope) in them as they do despair, for, after all, with an imagination as fertile (and a hand as steady) as Grudova's, anything could happen (not only the dreadful).
>> Read 'Unstitching'.
>> The author's playlist for the book.
>> Posing.


Glaxo by Hernan Ronsino    {Reviewed by THOMAS}
Told from four different viewpoints and in four different decades, the story of both the effects of and the contributory factors to a murder does no so much unfold as fold in and in upon itself, becoming increasingly claustrophobic, despite the beautifully spare and open prose and the pampas setting, until it closes in upon the pivotal act itself, which causes all the previously read sections to shift and realign and reveal their significance. The mechanism is so well-oiled and precisely wrought that the great weights of economic change and the political turbulence of the 1950s (including of the León Suarez massacre) swing just out of sight. When the train tracks are torn up in the 1970s, the Glaxo pharmaceutical factory continues to loom above the town and above the novel, out of sight, a shadow across the text.

What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund    {Reviewed by THOMAS}
Peter Mendelsund has designed some of the best book covers of recent years, and one of the reasons that they are so successful is that they arise from his careful reading of the texts. In this book, which reminds me of Ways of Seeing and The Medium is the Massage in its interplay of image and text giving an appealingly light touch to a heavy subject, he is particularly interested in the visual effects of reading. These visual effects are non-optical and comprise mental images fished into awareness by the ‘unseen’ black hooks of text; they are the fictional correlative of the visual effects fished into awareness by ‘actual’ optical stimulation. I suppose a difference between reading text and reading actuality is that when reading text the scope of our awareness has been set for us by the authority of the author (our surrogate self), whereas actuality is undifferentiated and incomprehensibly overstimulative and the necessary repression of stimuli in the reading of it is dependent on personality, conditioning, socialisation and practicality. Emphasising that he is interested in the experience of reading rather than the memory of reading (if such a distinction can be sensibly made), Mendelsund treats in depth an aspect of what I would call ‘the problem of detail’: what is the role of the reader in ‘completing’ the text? Whereas the reader’s ‘actual’ experiences of course inform and colour their reading of detail, I’m not sure I entirely agree with Mendelsund’s opinion that when reading we ‘flesh out’ characters in our imagining of them or place them in ‘familiar’ contexts – while we are reading we may well also indulge in such extra-textual self-massage, but I don’t think that this is the reading itself. 

Thursday 16 February 2017

Featured publisher: CB Editions

CB Editions have published some of my favourite books of the last several years, so I feel somewhat bereft to learn that Charles Boyle, who runs the press entirely by himself, is 'retiring' and not taking on any new titles. {Thomas}

Make a reading discovery with any one of this selection from our shelves (click through for our reviews (and more)):

Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine by Diane Williams
Diane Williams’ short, energetic, hugely disorienting short stories pass as sal volatile through the fug of relationships, defamiliarising the ordinary elements of everyday lives to expose the sad, ludicrous, hopeless topographies of what passes for existence. So much is left unsaid in these stories that they act as foci for the immense unseen weight of their contexts, precisely activating pressure-points on the reader’s sensibilities. These are some of the finest stories you will read.

This is the Place to Be by Lara Pawson
What do you report when you become uncertain of the facts, of the notion of truth and of the purpose of writing? By constantly looking outwards, Pawson has conjured a portrait of the person who looks outwards, and a remarkable depiction of the act of looking outwards.

Mildew by Paulette Jonguitud
Despite the great psychological weight carried in this book it is written very lightly and directly, with a sharp pen and not a wasted word, and the damp claustrophobia of the narrator’s mind is perfectly expressed, as is the release she (sort of) experiences as the mould or fungus becomes a symptom and externalises whatever it is that it is a symptom of.

Eve Out of her Ruins by Ananda Devi  (published with Les Fugitives)
"Eve out of Her Ruins is a spare, traumatic and enriching novel, a rich and subtle depiction of young lives that are being lived under, and in some instances contributing to, terrible social, cultural and economic duress. Devi confronts us with instances of great pain and suffering, yet seldom without  embracing the redemptive qualities of attentiveness, spirit, beauty. This is a novel that can take you to fathomless depths. Its artistry is such that you are unlikely to close it feeling ruined." - The National

by the same author by Jack Robinson
This is a book about what books are, how they touch upon our lives and how our lives touch upon them (and upon each other because of them). The book is charming without being cloying, joyful whilst remaining critical, brief yet universal, profound yet light, pellucid whilst wary of the devotion we direct towards these portable vectors of something made by a stranger yet somehow integral to ourselves.

Things to Make and Break by May-Lan Tan
The eleven stories in this book seem preoccupied with ‘the body problem’, which is not a problem but a number of interrelating problems or potentials clustered around the disjunction between the kinds of relationships had by bodies and the kinds of relationships had by their correlated minds. Minds and bodies are subject here to differing momentums, and one bears the other away before the two can coalesce. Tan is concerned also with the interchangeability of persons, and with the contortion of persons, physically or psychologically, that enables this interchangeability. The stories have a raw elegance and precision and are full of intense and sometimes surprising images which give them a very realistic texture.

Only Joking by Gabriel Josipovici
"Only Joking has the light heart which can be revealed at the further end of a literary career. The great success of Josipovici’s technique here is that not only is the effect like that of watching something between an Ealing comedy and a very sparky and accessible French nouvelle vague film, but it also sharpens our own responses to the layers of deceit going on. Frivolous or not, it is a complete pleasure." – Nicholas Lezard, Guardian 

The 5 Simple Machines by Todd McEwen
"The stories in this book offer a rare kind of humour: it is not only a matter of verbal deftness – a word, or a comma, popping up unexpectedly – but of intelligence, lightly applied. These stories manage to be unflaggingly funny, yet never wearisome: the tonal control is complete. And the deeper message is that laughter is a cure." – Nicholas Lezard, Guardian 

Killing Auntie, And other work by Andrzej Bursa
"Dead at 25 in 1957, the Polish postwar firebrand Andrzej Bursa acquired a reputation as a quick-burning, existentially tormented rebel: a literary James Dean of the Stalinist era. This selection of his quirky, darkly witty work does indeed summon the shades of Beckett or Kafka from time to time. Everyday life slips into scenes of fantasy or horror, yet Bursa’s dark humour and deadpan satire keep utter bleakness at bay. Some will think of Dostoyevsky when it comes to the snuffed-out relative in the novella; read to the end and you hear something like Joe Orton’s wicked cackle too." – Boyd Tonkin, Independent 

Visit the CB Editions website.

Monday 13 February 2017

Our Book of the Week this week is Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop.

We have a lovely hardcover copy to give away, courtesy of
Gecko Press. To go in the draw, just tell us your favourite book by Cowley and/or Bishop.