Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Many things Milne

Issue 3 of Shiny New Books had not one, not two, but three posts about A.A. Milne & family - and I'd really encourage you to go and read them all.

Curiously enough, none of them are actually reviews of books by A.A. Milne himself (as in the books weren't by him... neither were the reviews, but that is perhaps less surprising.)

I reviewed a long-term favourite, which I re-read as Bello have just reprinted it - Ann Thwaite's brilliant, award-winning biography A.A. Milne: His Life. Review here.

Another long-term favourite is Christopher (Robin) Milne's The Path Through the Trees, the middle of his autobiographical trilogy - so it's not so much about being Christopher Robin as it is about fighting in WW2 and opening a bookshop, but I love it. Claire (The Captive Reader) reviewed Bello's reprint here.

And then I put together Five Fascinating Facts about A.A. Milne.

Let me know which Milne books you've read, or would like to read!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Glow by Ned Beauman

I don't often read new novels... but, when I do, they're by authors on Granta's Best Young Authors list. In Issue 1 of Shiny New Books I reviewed and interviewed Helen Oyeyemi; in Issue 2, I have done the same with Ned Beauman.

Following on from loving his first two novels (Boxer, Beetle and The Teleportation Accident), I also really liked his third, Glow; review over at Shiny New Books. As before, you wouldn't have thought I'd enjoy the book by looking at its ingredients - sex, drugs, and clubbing, basically, but with virtual reality twists - but Beauman is such an imaginative and inventive writer that it works.

He kindly agreed to do a quick Q&A too. Do go and have a look!

Saturday, 19 July 2014


Sorry for an unannounced disappearance! I've been in London since Thursday attending The Space Between conference, which was absolutely wonderful (albeit extremely hot - I had to make a lunchtime trip to buy t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops as I couldn't face the idea of wearing conference clothes in the evenings). Such lovely, fascinating people, and easily my favourite bit of academia - and the bit I can cling onto!

I gave a paper called 'Let Other Pens Treat of Sex': Metamorphosis, Marriage, and the Middlebrow, talking about David Garnett's Lady Into Fox and Ronald Fraser's Flower Phantoms in relation to changing ideas about women's sexuality in 1920s marriage - and it was very well received, I'm pleased to say.

I also bought a fair few books... will report back on those soon!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

One of the best books I've read this year is My Salinger Year, Joanna Rakoff's memoir of working in a literary agency in the 1990s. I was sold by the description when Bloomsbury emailed me (thanks for the review copy, Bloomsbury!) but it might have languished on my shelves unread if Victoria, my Shiny New Books co-editor hadn't enthused about it.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I have not one, not two, but three My Salinger Year links!

1.) I've reviewed it over at Vulpes Libris today.

2.) Victoria reviewed it at Shiny New Books.

3.) Best for last - Victoria interview Joanna Rakoff for Shiny New Books, and I think it's the best thing we've had there yet. Great questions, thoughtful answers - definitely go and read it!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Listener by Tove Jansson

It's no secret that I love Tove Jansson, and I was pleased to get the chance to read the latest collection of her work from Sort Of Books; a new translation (by Thomas Teal) of her first collection for adults, The Listener (1971).

I read it for Shiny New Books; my review is here. You can also win a copy - along with the other editors' favourites from their sections - by entering the competition on the homepage. And then have a browse!

It feels a bit lazy to be pointing to my reviews elsewhere, but then I remember that I still spent time writing them... probably more time, as I do more double-checking etc. for SNB reviews! And I hope that regular SIAB readers still have fun looking at those reviews.

Song for a Sunday

Happy Sunday, everyone. I'll be spending much of it writing a conference paper, as I've been silly and left it til late in the day... but that isn't a good reason to mope when you can be reliving your teenage years with a slice of All Saints. This song, I argue, is underratedly classy.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Charlotte Mew and Her Friends by Penelope Fitzgerald

46. Charlotte Mew and Her Friends by Penelope Fitzgerald

The first of my reviews I'm going to point towards, over at Shiny New Books, was the most unexpected treat. Indeed, it's going on my 50 Books list - which is coming towards a close now, and that makes me nervous. (What if I read something superlatively brilliant just after putting the 50th book on the list?)

I had thought Penelope Fitzgerald was already represented, as I've loved The Bookshop and At Freddie's - but apparently neither quite made the list. Charlotte Mew and Her Friends is a little more outside the box - being a biography of a turn-of-the-century poet - but has just as wide an appeal, honest. It's one of the few biographies I've read where the subject mattered less than the writer - not ostentatiously in the writing, but in my response to it.

Do head over to my Shiny New Books review for the complete picture...