Going to a far off beach or to the park on your lunch hour, this reading list has everything – from sexy fairy tales to Tumblr
Summer reading: hm. Do you want to know about the books on my bedside table beside the massive ugly fan, or the books I’d like to put in a bag and take to some impossible beach a thousand miles away? I’m not sure which list is more truly ‘summer reading.’ There’s the summer we wish for and the summer we get. In a perfect world I would read lighthearted books written by young women that were funny and cute and matched me, my funny cute summer self. In the world that is, most things that are rich and good are sad and old. But not all. Some wonderful things have been published so far this year, and you need to make sure that you have them in your sweaty grip before autumn comes to claim us. Here, for your summer self – as you are or as you wish to be – is a mid-year reading list.
JENNY ZHANG, 'HOW IT FEELS,' POETRY 2015
Jenny Zhang’s piece in the latest issue of Poetry is the most perfect treatment of Tracey Emin’s work I have ever read. It isn’t all about Emin, it’s mostly about Zhang. Which is how it gets so deep into the hot heart of Emin’s work. It gets to communicate the thundering power Emin’s self-disclosure take on when you see them in real life, because the essay is itself a torrent of disclosures organised around oblique themes and non-oblique bodies.
JESSICA HOPPER, THE FIRST COLLECTION OF CRITICISM BY A LIVING FEMALE ROCK CRITIC
A lot of the reason why you should buy and read this book is right there in the title. It is a collection of criticism, but The Pitchfork editor never comes close to the dry and creaky style you might associate with reviewing. Instead, Hopper’s volume takes in the punk zine scene, R. Kelly, Van Morrison, and much more. A compendium to treasure told by an unusually distinctive voice.
KIMMY WALTERS, UPTALK
Last week we interviewed Kimmy Walters, young poet extraordinaire and composer of the excellent @Horse_ebooks RT poems. Consider this another vote of endorsement for her new volume of poetry, Uptalk: it will surely be one of the verse offerings of the year.
ANGELA CARTER, THE BLOODY CHAMBER 75TH BIRTHDAY EDITION
Of course, The Bloody Chamber is not new. Carter’s collection of grisly and sexualised fairy-tales was first published in 1979. This year, however, marks 75 years since Carter’s birth and therefore serves as the perfect excuse to publish a special Penguin Classics Deluxe anniversary edition with a new introduction by Kelly Link. Blood, romance, and card-playing animals: surely nothing is more beach-appropriate.
LEON NEYFAKH, THE NEXT NEXT LEVEL
Neyfakh’s biography of his friend, the intense rapper who goes by Juiceboxxx, is really a story about passion, never quite getting famous, and the meaning that lies at the margins of culture. What drives those obsessed with their art, and what makes other people obsessed with them? Is it even art if nobody buys the records? These questions and more make for a portrait of an artist with a difference.
PATRICK MODIANO, SUSPENDED SENTENCES
Ah yes, the Nobel Prize winner nobody had heard of. Suspended Sentences is a new volume of three novellas by Modiano, each wearing deeper into the French writer’s favourite groove: memory, place, the old self. They are gentle but rather shattering in the end. A very good place to start for the curious reader, and a book to make you glad that he won.
JAMIE ATTENBERG, ST MAIZIE
Attenberg's latest is the fictional diary of a real movie theatre hostess in jazz age New York. The book is an unusually successful exercise in nostalgia, mixed with social realism. There's something interesting here – why are readers and writers turning back to the New York of E.L. Doctorow, and away from the PoMo contemporary grit of Siri Hustvedt or Jennifer Egan?
CLEMANTINE WAMARIYA, 'EVERYTHING IS YOURS, EVERYTHING IS NOT YOURS,' MATTER
I’m sure that somebody will convince Clemantine Wamariya to turn this into a book eventually, if they haven’t already, but until that time make sure that you have read this memoir piece. In it, Wamariya describes her and her sister’s escape from Rwanda, their long journey ever-lengthened by changing destinations and, ultimately, the strange sense of self that awaited them both in the United States. Not to be missed.
This small-run journal is brand new: Issue 1, “The New Black,” just came out. There are a few horror zines out there, but this one seems truly stylish. Its editors describe it as positioned “somewhere between Hammer Horror Schlock and The Shock of the New,” aiming to shed “a fresh, contemporary perspective on a much-maligned genre.” Issue 1 contains work by M. Kitchell, Gary J Shipley, Michael Cisco, and Brian Evenson. I don’t see why summer should be any less horror-filled than any other season.
You can’t take this one to the beach, but let us admit now that much of the remainder of summer will be spent prone, laptops on laps. Reading bad tumblrs is an piteously widespread form of self-abuse, so let’s stop it right here. Why do it to yourself. Don’t do it to yourself. Stop what you’re doing and make sure you follow glyphs, then go back to enjoying the sunburn or ants or whatever.