“If you’re not interested in the past, the future won’t be interested in you.” Michael Schmidt and Carcanet’s Jubilee

I spoke to the director of Carcanet Press, Michael Schmidt, about the history of the award-winning, internationally renowned poetry press. We divulged Shakespeare, the English language as a space for allowing poetry to flourish, and importance of the past as well as the future in poetry writing and publishig.

The interview was for the Yorkshire Times and you can read the rest of it here.

Carcanet 50 Banner
Image: Carcanet
Michael Schmidt. Photo by Ben Schmidt
Michael Schmidt Photo: Ben Schmidt

 

Review: Something Like Breathing by Angela Readman

“The attraction of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series was in seeing her two protagonists, Lenù and Lila, almost inextricably bound up in one another’s early lives. In Angela Readman’s Something Like Breathing it is instead two girls negotiating their youth, not necessarily involved, but proximate and observant to each other with the distance becoming the captivating element of their story.”

Angela Readman has published poetry (The Book of Tides: Nine Arches Press) and short stories (Don’t Try This at Home) but this is her first novel (the latter these are both from Sheffield-based publisher And Other Stories). Her writing hints towards themes from Angela Carter and Alice Oswald which makes for a debut that transcends its simple-seeming narrative of two teenage girls living on a Scottish Island.

To see what else I thought about the novel, head over to Full Stop.

something like breathing angela readman cover
Image: And Other Stories

Review: Ducks,Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann

I reviewed the book that seems to have been on everybody’s Twitter feed recently: Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann (published by Galley Beggars in the UK and Biblioasis in the United States). It’s been exciting to witness debates about fiction as a form as Ellmann’s novel, rejected by the major publishers, steamrolled onto the Booker Prize shortlist. Writing for the Cleveland Review of Books, I wrote:

Interestingly, the ‘organizational guru’ Marie Kondo, who famously tells people to only retain that which gives us ‘joy,’ is referenced by the narrator, and it’s at this point that you realize what the novel is, in some sense, about. The narrator’s mind in Ducks  retains all that which causes her pain and sadness – as well as joy – and it’s not always a choice, not always a pleasant narrative that we can tell to and about ourselves, about those choices and about future choices, that allow us to master them.

Press here to read the full review. 

Life Sentence: On Lucy Ellmann's "Ducks, Newburyport"
Image: Biblioasis

Review: A Trio of Horror Novellas from Dead Ink Books

On Full Stop I wrote about a trio of Horror novellas from the independent publisher based in Liverpool, Dead Ink. The books are apparently reissues of books published by the Eden Book Society – a select, subscription book service formed in 1919 – but much like the horror genre itself, there’s more to these books appearance than meets the eye.

“Holt House, in a similar way to Bates Motel, is rendered as a place (you might say “complex”) that is not physically, but psychologically entrapping and when we think of Norman, locked, not just in the gaze of his mother, but his own need to gaze on somebody else, do we not see powerful riff on the idea of “haunted”? Being haunted to satisfy the need of your mother, or quell the crushing insecurity over your status, here’s a display on how the mind brings us back to gaze on that which we’ve been missing in our lives.”

Read the review here.

Photo: Dead Ink Books