On My Read-Ar

Two very exciting books were released this week. Laura van den Berg‘s new collection, I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, described as “an urgent and unsettling collection of women on the verge”. Yes please!

And I’m incredibly intrigued by Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings. “A beguiling story that proves that gothic delights and uncanny family horror can live—and even thrive—under a burning sun.” I started the audiobook, but quickly decided this one required physical reading levels of attention. Hoping to get my hands on it soon.

Once again, Backlisted Podcast contributes to my ever-growing TBR pile, by recommending The Anthill by Julianne Pachico. “An intoxicating literary ghost story told through the eyes of a young woman returning to her former homeland of Colombia to seek redemption for a past she can’t entirely remember.” Yup, yes please!

The Monster, She Wrote series by Valancourt Books is shaping up very nicely, with two forthcoming collections announced; Nightmare Flower by Elizabeth Engstrom, and The Women of Weird Tales. They also have a collection of World Horror Stories coming at the end of 2020, which looks incredibly exciting.

I backed this beautiful Women’s Prize for Fiction Journal on Unbound today. I really hope it gets enough supporters.

Pew – Catherine Lacey

Most of my brain-space this week has been taken up by Catherine Lacey’s beautiful new novel, Pew. What a book! I got through this relatively short novel in two days. I was completely transported.

Our protagonist, Pew, named for the church pew they were found in, is a seemingly mute, genderless, ageless, race-neutral being. After appearing in a church next to suburban family, the family adopt Pew, and invite them into their home. However, the insular town becomes very suspicious of Pew’s visual vagueness, projecting their prejudices onto a blank slate. As the countdown to a strange festival begins, tensions rise, and speculations on Pew’s identity increase.

The whole novel is told from Pew’s incredibly insightful perspective. I went a bit mad with the “highlight” feature on my Kindle. But this neutral, almost alien viewpoint gave me pause. Example quotes include “What a terror a body must live through. It’s a wonder there are people at all” and “Why did we think the content of a body meant anything?” Sorry, I need a minute.

The novel opens with the closing section of Ursula K. Le Guin’s perfect short story, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Now, I’m not saying that the story is necessarily required reading before diving into Pew, but it may enrich the experience. I re-read the story after finishing Pew, and noticed quite a few links. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I bet the audiobook is superb too.

Recent Reading

I raced through the audiobook of Robert Webb’s Come Again, expertly narrated by Academy Award-winner Olivia Colman. My full review is up on Goodreads, but I really enjoyed it. Fans of Nick Hornby will enjoy this one.

I finished Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove. It’s unfair to compare it to her latest collection, Orange World and Other Stories, but I can see how her genius was developing. Stand-out stories for me were Reeling for the Empire, Dougbert Shackleton’s Rules for Antarctic Tailgating, and The New Veterans. The former is especially captivating. A young Iraq war veteran visits a masseuse, who notices strange things in the veteran’s enormous back tattoo. There’s one moment especially that I keep thinking about. Click the link to read it.

I started The Lost Village by Camilla Sten this week, thanks to the ever-generous NetGalley fairy. I’m about ten percent in and we’ve already had TWO notably creepy moments. Let’s do this!

I am still reading The Good House by Tananarive Due. This is story-telling at its very best, isn’t it? I picked it up last night after a few days, and as soon as I started reading I instantly remembered everything that had already happened. It’s going to take me a while to get through it; this is not a “light” read in any sense of the word.

As well as that I’m still making my way through the audiobook of Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (love), Lisa Blower’s collection It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother, Deadendia: The Watcher’s Test by Hamish Steele (hilarious), and How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (vital). Six books on the go at once. Too much? Most definitely.

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