New things in lit from James Smythe, Clancy Sigal, Curtis White and Karl Ove Knausgaard
POETRY DOUBLE-HEADER OF THE WEEK: Clinic Poetry & Stop Sharpening Your Knives
Clinic and Stop Sharpening Your Knives are two of the best poetry publications knocking around at the moment – slick and inspired but uncontrived, with contributions from all over the shop. Clinic III and S/S/Y/K 5 are both imminent as I write this, with work from some of the most interesting poets you’ve never heard of. And some you have.
LITERARY BOOK OF THE WEEK: Hemingway Lives! – Clancy Sigal [OR Books]
The poet Wallace Stevens once punched Ernest Hemingway in the face and, so the story goes, broke his hand on Hem’s mighty jaw. If that’s not a case for ‘Why reading Ernest Hemingway matters today’ then I really don’t know what is, but Sigal’s book has a few other reasons if you still need them. This one’s a must have for fans of shagging, fighting and literature. And fans of shagging, fighting literature.
SCIENCE BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Science Delusion – Curtis White [Melville House]
Yeah, okay, it’s not “really” a science book. (Despite the title, it’s also not a twatty Dawkins-esque polemic, either.) It’s a book that wanders, sometimes aimlessly, between science and philosophy. Where science now seems to rule absolute, White proposes open debate and free thought. I don’t really see how that can be a bad thing.
SCI-FI BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Machine – James Smythe [Blue Door]
Billing a book as a ‘Frankenstein for the 21st Century’ is a big shout. Not least of all because Shelley’s haunting masterpiece is as relevant today as it was almost 200 years ago. (Death, women’s rights, all that jazz – still kicking around, I think.) Smythe has a good crack at it though and, with his particular flair for speculative fiction, cooks up something pretty extraordinary that even Walter White would envy.
BIOGRAPHY OF THE WEEK: A Man in Love – Karl Ove Knausgaard [Harvil Secker/Vintage]
Karl Ove Knausgaard is a peculiar sensation: more people seem to have read part one of his “My Struggle” series (thumbs up to whoever okay’d that, by the way), A Death in the Family, than have actually read any of his other work. For a dyed-in-the-wool literary autobiography of a character no one really knows, that’s pretty rare. But Knaus is a magician of the mundane, and the story of his curious love/hate relationship with writing, continued in the second installment, is more interesting than most novels you’ll read this year. Ego-driven? Yes. Self-absorbed? Completely. Narcissistic? Totally. But it’s fucking brilliant.
NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK OF THE WEEK: Insect Theatre – Tim Edgar; Hugh Raffles [Black Dog]
If you don’t like bugs then this probably isn’t for you. If you do, then you’ve hit the jizzing jackpot, mate. Insect Theatre is a real spectacle; some brilliant macro photography and a great piece of writing that really sheds a new light on the peculiar majesty of that thing you’re about to tread on. Right now. STOP!
FILM PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK OF THE WEEK: Steve Schapiro. Taxi Driver – Paul Duncan/Steve Schapiro [Taschen]
Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is probably, nay definitely, one of the most iconic films of all time. It set a precedent for late twentieth century cinematography and portrayal of psychopathy. Yeah, this book’s got all the bits you know, but it also has a bunch of never-before-seen images that take you a whole lot further down the rabbit hole. If that’s somewhere you want to go. “I have to clean the cum off the back seat. Some nights, I clean off the blood” – hallmark of a good weekend, I reckon.