Harper Lee and the Chamber of Secrets, or whatever it’s called, may have stolen the publishing headlines this summer but Comma Press have got some other ideas for seasonal reading. Here’s what we’ll be devouring on our sun-loungers…
Poppy Murray – Temporary Rights Assistant
Peculiarly, this summer, I seem to have compiled my own reading list, yet haven’t actually managed to book a holiday. However, whether I’ll be reading in the garden, or on a cabana in Southern France, I’ll make sure I have Don DeLillo’s White Noise (Viking, 1985) in hand. White Noise is a performative novel, in which DeLillo focuses on Jack Gladney, a University Professor with a spirited fear of death and his struggle to exist in a world domineered by media overflow. It is undoubtedly radical in its thinking and offers a harrowing snapshot of post-modern American life and the white noise that it emits. I will also be making sure I read Alejandro Zamba’s My Documents (Faber Factory Plus, 2015, translated by Megan McDowell), which is a small collection of stories that dazzlingly depicts Chilean life before and after Pinochet. Giving the reader an insight into what it means to be Chilean in today’s society. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even end up reading it in Chile…
I am half way through the Penguin Modern Classics new translation of Francoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse (Penguin Modern Classics 2013, translated by Heather Lloyd). Sagan only wrote ‘Bonjour Tristesse’ when she was 18, which is an incredible achievement. ‘A Certain Smile’, the second novella in the book still awaits. The decadent lounging by the pool, casinos and riches of Cannes, the complicated love affairs, the settings of the Cote d’Azur and the south of France are all pretty desirable for this summer, considering I will be spending mine in rainy Manchester.
I’ll also be reading some of the travel writing of Will Ferguson, particularly Hokkaido Highway Blues (Canongate, 2003), which accounts his journey hitch-hiking across Japan (to travel in Japan is one of my dreams). Also sat on my shelf is Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw (Vintage Canada, 2005), which is Ferguson’s book on his travels in North Canada. I’m looking forward to this one too, as some of my family lived there. Seeing as I can’t visit these places this summer, I’m looking forward to going in my head instead.
Jim Hinks- Digital Editor (and who is dead busy with MacGuffin so forgive the brevity!)
All similarly English and macabre:
Robert Aickman – Dark Entries
Catherine Storr – Cold Marble and other Ghost Stories
M John Harrison – Things That Never Happen
Sarah Hunt- Engagement Manager
I’ve looked forward to the publication of the first choice for this list for so long that I’m almost apprehensive to start reading it! But next week I’ll be off to the Outer Hebrides for a drizzly but scenic, whisky-fuelled camping trip and I can finally settle in for what I know will be a remarkable reading experience. Dasa Drndic is a very special writer, and her last novel, Trieste (Maclehose Press, translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac), shook me up for weeks afterwards. I hadn’t felt so confounded, moved and darkly entertained since reading Austerlitz by WG Sebald (Random House, 2001, translated by Anthea Bell). Her latest, Leica Format (Maclehose Press, 2013, translated by Celia Hawkesworth) promises more beautifully crafted documentary history and superbly complex storytelling. I’ve never read a Maclehose Press book I didn’t love so I feel I’m in safe hands!
Secondly, I’m going to indulge in some (probably justified) lefty paranoia and read my favourite political pundit’s latest book about data privacy. It has a typically over-cooked super-long title (something I always notice about trade non-fiction in the States!) They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy (Nation Books, 2015) but I’m really looking forward to hearing Bob Scheer’s dulcet tones in my head (I’m a devoted follower of his appearances on various podcasts) as I learn about how scared of the NSA we should all be.
Oh, and a recent Twitter conversation with Will from Deep Vellum, and one of their translators, George Henson, has me planning my autumn reading already- Sergio Pitol’s The Art of Flight (translated by George Henson, Deep Vellum, March 2015)
Daisy-Marketing and Production Assistant
What Money Can’t Buy – Michael Sandel. As the title suggests, this is a book about money and capitalism. Michael Sandel is a politics professor, and his perspective on the economy is smart and often funny. I’m interested in what money can’t buy, and how we can preserve these moral and civic values. This isn’t really light holiday reading, but it’s definitely prevalent in the holiday season when everyone is jetting off around the world and spending all their money (including me)!
And for my second choice: Anyone who has seen the popular Steve McQueen film adaptation will know that 12 Years a Slave is based on a memoir by Solomon Northup, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South of the USA back in the 19th century. It was originally published in 1853, and has since be re-issued several times. The text is now public domain.