Taking on the Machine Age – a wonderful collection over @ShinyNewBooks @PeterOwenPubs


I  have a new review up today in Shiny New Books, and it’s a lovely work by an author I’ve read since my early twenties and whom I’ve revisited in recent years – the singular and very wonderful Anna Kavan.

Kavan was a very individual author as well as a painter; despite working in relative obscurity for much of her life, she found a champion in the publisher Peter Owen. The company still puts out her books, and has just released a very marvellous collection of short writings called “Machines in the Head”. As well as a splendid selection of short fictions, it also features some non-fiction and plates of her artwork. Highly recommended, and you can read my review at Shiny here!

In pursuit of the glass girl @shinynewbooks @AnnaKavan


I have a review up on Shiny New Books today, and it’s of a stunning and memorable book – Anna Kavan’s “Ice”.

I picked up my original, rather fragile Picador edition (shown on the left) decades ago and haven’t revisited the book since. However, it’s now been reissued in a eye-catching Penguin Modern Classic (centre) and a beautiful Peter Owen Cased Classic (right), as well as a Penguin black cover classic in the USA (which I don’t have).

Reading the book during a freezing period of weather over Christmas was a sobering experience, and provided plenty of context for considering the book and Kavan’s message. To find out if I prefer one version over another, and to read my thoughts on “Ice” (it’s a long review…), you can head over to Shiny here!

The Best Laid Plans…..


Well – we all know what happens to them, don’t we?! I am notoriously bad about making reading plans and resolutions and not sticking to them, ending up following my muse. The more I think about it, the more I regard reading as an organic thing – it grows as you read, and each new volume changes your perspective on books, so inevitably you will change what you want to tackle at the moment.

Despite that, I am going to try to focus on a few particular books over the summer and *at the moment* (I say that advisedly!) this is the plan:

august reading

I have a modest four books there, and the observant amongst you might notice one is a Virago, “The Solitary Summer” by Elizabeth Von Arnim. Having recently loved her “Mr. Skeffington”, I decided this would be appropriate for the LibraryThing Virago Group‘s “All Virago, All August” event. I shan’t be doing all Virago, but I shall do as many as I can. “The Brothers Karamazov” is rather a chunkster but I will see if I can summon up the courage to attack it, as it’s Dostoevsky and rated so highly by many. I started “The Fortunes of War” a little while ago, and felt the call back to it recently, so will try to get onto the second book in the sequence, “The Spoilt City”.

And then there is Anna Kavan… I first stumbled across her work in the late 1970s/early 1980s (hard to be more precise than this after such a long time….) when I read “Ice” and “Sleep Has His House” in lovely Picador editions.”Julia and the Bazooka” is a posthumous collection of short stories, published by her loyal publishers Peter Owen, who’ve done so much to support her work. So I hope to dip into this one too.

Just to confuse things, I’m currently not reading any of those books, but these two:

current reading

I have sneakily started AV/AA early with Rebecca West – “The Harsh Voice” is a collection of four long short stories/short novellas, which I intend to read alongside the other volume. This is the lovely edition of “She” by H. Rider Haggard, kindly sent to me by Hesperus Press – for which much thanks! I am currently well into this and really, really enjoying it!

So – that’s the plan at the moment, though I’ve no doubt it will change – watch this space!

(and of course – there’s also the August Anthony Powell!)

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