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

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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!

An elegy for Russian poets – Khodasevich at @ShinyNewBooks @CoumbiaUP @Ruslibrary

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I have a new review up at Shiny New Books today, and it’s of another book in the marvellous Russian Library series from Columbia University Press. “Necropolis” is by Vladislav Khodasevich, whom I’ve touched upon briefly on the Ramblings before. I have a collection of his poetry I picked up at Judd Books in London, and of course he was married to the wonderful author Nina Berberova.

Necropolis

“Necropolis”, however, is a prose work from a poet; a memoir of the authors and artists Khodasevich had known, it’s a compelling piece of work which memorialises many Silver Age poets (and others) who were lost during the Russian Revolution and its aftermath. It also inadvertantly reveals much about Khodasevich himself and it really is an excellent book. You can read my full review over at Shiny New Books! 😀

Exploring modern Japanese literature with the Red Circle Minis @shinynewbooks @TeamRedCircle

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You might recall that amongst the images of piles of books I shared recently on the Ramblings, there was one featuring three attractive and slim volumes of Japanese literature. These are the Red Circle Minis, and they’re the result of a fascinating new initiative from Red Circle Authors. The latter is a venture which refuses to be categorised – website, publisher, agent, promoter, general cheerleader for Japanese writing; all of these could be used to describe Red Circle!

The Red Circle Minis

Co-founded by Richard Nathan and Koji Chikatan, Red Circle Authors has an impressive website with all manner of resources for anyone wanting to explore Japanese literature. The Minis are the first three editions in a planned series – bite-sized, beautifully produced pieces of fiction ideal for a quick literary fix. The range of subject matter covered is already wide, taking in AI issues, the psychology of searching for missing children and the curse of TV celebrity.

I’ve written more extensively about the Red Circle venture for Shiny New Books here; and I cover the first three Minis in more detail here. The Red Circle Minis were a joy and delight to read, so do have a look at my Shiny New Books pieces and check out Red Circle – I’m very much looking forward to seeing what titles appear next! 😀

“Selfies” on Shiny New Books! @shinynewbooks @LesFugitives #sylvieweil

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I recently reviewed a rather lovely and thought-provoking book which had turned up unexpectedly on my doorstep. “Selfies”, by Sylvie Weil, takes a very intriguing look at the art of self-portraiture which is a lot less new-fangled than you might think!

I’m pleased to say that a slightly revised version of my review is up at Shiny New Books today. I can’t recommend the book highly enough and if you’re interested in fascinating writing which blurs the lines between memoir and art, whilst taking a look at the way women portray themselves, then this could be the book for you! My Shiny review is here – do take a look! 😀

In celebration of a seminal Beat figure @shinynewbooks @FaberBooks #Ferlinghetti

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I have a new review up at Shiny New Books today, and it’s a work I was very keen to read – “Little Boy” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

The author is perhaps best known for his seminal role in the promotion of the Beat Generation writers, and for his famous San Francisco bookshop “City Lights” (which I’ve never visited, but my brother has….) Ferlinghetti passed his century in March and this poetic, stream of consciousness memoir was published to mark his birthday. It’s an exhilarating and individual ride, and you can read my full review here.

A rediscovered and prescient book…. @shinynewbooks @KateHandheld

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I have a review up at Shiny New Books today, and it’s of a work that turned out to be remarkably prescient as well as being MIA for a century – “What Not” by Rose Macaulay.

Despite owning several Macaulay volumes in lovely green Virago Modern Classics, I’m not sure I’ve ever read one of her books – so this welcome reissue by the excellent Handheld Press was timely and a great way to be introduced to this unfairly neglected author.

And “What Not” is a marvellous satirical read, with an array of hypocritical politicians who seem very, very modern. There’s romance and comedy and an underlying thread of some very complex issues – so a thought-provoking work that predates many of the ideas of Huxley and Orwell. Plus it’s a very pretty book… 😀

I highly recommend the book, and you can read my review here. And in the meantime, these are my lovely Greens – I really do need to pick up one of these soon!

Failed plots and a tragic end – The Race to Save the Romanovs @shinynewbooks

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I really am maintaining the reputation of being Shiny New Books’ unofficial Russian correspondent! So it was a given that I would be the obvious choice to review a fat new volume from Helen Rappaport which takes a look at the fate of the last Russian royal family – in particular, the various plots that were hatched to rescue the hapless Romanovs and save them from the hands of the Bolsheviks.

It’s an intriguing book, although I did have some reservations. If I’m honest, I’ve struggled with previous attempts to read Rappaport’s books as I sensed a bias – which is something I don’t like to see in a historian; I prefer an objective look at things. Also, this is one of a series of books she’s written on the subject and I did feel that it didn’t warrant a whole big volume; her research (which actually seemed to be undertaken by numerous people all over the world on her behalf) would have been better presented in a scholarly journal rather than a work of popular history. And the way that the new discoveries are signposted  in the text by an italicised paragraph *did* jar a lot.

Nevertheless, this is a pretty and well presented volume, with some fascinating photos. I think you need to know a reasonable amount about the historical period to really get the most out of the book, and you can read my full review here on Shiny!

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