Karl Smith on new literature from books on stalking, muscley birds and penguins in peril this week
Welcome to the Desert of the Real(ly good reading material)
SORT-OF-ART-BOOK OF THE WEEK: Muscley Bird by Callum Abbott & Kristine Bumeistere [Hato Press]
I found this in my local bookshop, of all places (you probably don’t realise how weird that is – its biggest sellers are train books): it’s an odd beast, billed by its publishers as a zine, but I’m calling it a sort-of-art-book. It has the weight and feel of a somewhat disturbed child’s exercise book in terms of its binding and even more so when you open the thing. Muscley Bird is electric pink on the outside, and contains something akin to what you might get if you asked a spritely four year old to draw fireworks happening inside mummy and daddy on its pages. It’s likely to divide people: if you pick up one of the 25 copies of this that actually exist, 25% of the people who you show it to will think it’s brilliant. The other 75% will think you’re a tit. I’m not sure which is right.
NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE WEEK: Give Me Everything You Have – On Being Stalked by James Lasdun [Jonathan Cape]
Stalking makes for good entertainment: films, novels, poetry – the whole shebang. It speaks to something basic in all of us, I think. At some point in their life I’d wager that most people have had “that feeling” of being followed, or taken a shine to a stranger themselves a la Michael Fassbender in Shame. (No? You filthy liar.) But outside of fiction, stalking isn’t glamorous: It’s an ugly business that destroys lives, a fact to which James Lusden can and does attest to with painful clarity and familiarity – but also with a bloody good sense of humour, all things considered.
CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE WEEK: Penguin In Peril by Helen Hancocks [Templar]
As a “grown up” – imagine those scare quotes as emphatically as you can – I don’t often find my self discussing children’s books. Very rarely am I asked “Hey, read any good books for kids lately?” more’s the pity. My esteemed colleague Mr. Hammond having opened the floodgates however, I’d like to point you in the direction of Penguin In Peril by one Helen Hancocks. Yes, it’s for children but there’s something oddly zeitgesity about it in an age when cats abound en mass on the internet and penguins follow suit on our televisions. It’s about a gang of rather unpleasant cats who, presumably having watched too much Attenborough, plot to steal a penguin from the zoo and use him as their personal fish-procurer. Sure, it isn’t Proust – it’s a picture book, it doesn't have to be.
MAG OF THE WEEK: PURPLE Magazine
Purple is a many-layered thing: a noun, an adjective, a verb and a really odd word to say when you actually think about the way it sounds and the shapes you have to screw your mouth in to. It’s also a really good magazine that shares the amorphousness of the word its self. The latest issue (19) also has a book by Ryan McGinley and a new essay by Slavoj Žižek, titled ‘Welcome to the Spiritual Kingdom of the Animals’. I don’t know what more you’d want really, you ungrateful bastards.