To the New Year, untouched and still possible

Hello, dear readers, It is time to leave this year behind. Let’s look back over the books we’ve read in 2017 and pick our favourites. But first, some Stats (If you prefer, you can skip the stats and jump to my best reads ;)) According to Goodreads, this year I’ve read 110 books, comprising a total of 28.431…

She was still her own indomitable self,

Dear Willa, A Lost Lady (1923) is a story drenched in melancholy. A short-lived world is coming of age and, caught in its remaking, its inhabitants seem to be constantly circumscribing a void and falling through to the other side. They are not so much losing themselves in its changing, as they are disclosing to…

Willa Cather

Willa Sibert Cather (December 7, 1873– April 24, 1947) was an American write. She graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and, in 1896, moved to Pittsburgh to work for the women’s magazine Home Monthly. She also worked as high school English teacher, as drama critic for the Pittsburgh Leader, and as contributor of poetry and short…

She has done for me at last, Rachel my torment

Dear Daphne, In My Cousin Rachel (1951), you build up tension, chapter after chapter, by unravelling the personality of the eponymous character in all its complexity and ambiguity: as if it were a game of hide-and-seek, where we follow a clue, only to have it undermined a few steps ahead; much like a dog, running…

Strange can be quite normal

Dear Samanta, Your novel Fever Dream (2017), translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell (Distanca de Rescate, 2014) takes the form of a conversation between a woman and a boy, going back and forth between past and present, in a fragmented series of flashbacks. It also reads like a confession of guilt, and a nightmare….

Samanta Schweblin

Samanta Schweblin (1978) is an Argentinian writer. She studied Image and Sound at the University of Buenos Aires. Since 2012, Schweblin lives in Berlin. Awards In 2010, she was chosen by Granta as one of the best young writers in Spanish; Shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017, for the book  Fever Dream (2017). Books In…

A year in first lines | 2017

Hey, you, Yes, you. Do you feel like playing a game? This is an idea that started with The Indextrious Reader, and I first saw it on Beyond Eden Rock. “Take the first line of each month’s post over the past year and see what it tells you about your blogging year.” Here is what…

I’ll describe my insanity through a sudden insight

Dear Christine, Do you know that feeling we have when we know where a book was going, and we know it could have worked – but it simply didn’t? I feel that about your novel Incest (2017) translated by Tess Lewis (L’Incest, 1999). Trying to be experimental while never giving up control over what the experiment…

Christine Angot

Christine Angot (born 7 February 1959) is a French writer. She was brought up by her single-parent mother. She went to university in Rheims, specialising in English and Law, but dropped out after a year to pursue her writing career. Books In English Incest, 2017, tr. Tess Lewis, 160 p. Novels in French Vu du ciel (1990) Not to…

Oh we can afford very well to laugh at their ideas

Dear Jane, Ok, I confess: I’ve violated your correspondence, and I did it more than once. In my defence, though, I have to say that your letters read almost as if they were begging me to open them. Read me, you seem to be writing. I am here, too. Jane Carlyle: Newly Selected Letters (2004),…

Jane Welsh Carlyle

Jane Welsh Carlyle (née Jane Baillie Welsh, 14 January 1801 – 21 April 1866) was a Scottish letter writer. As a child, she was given private tuition at home, and later attended a school in Edinburgh. In 1826, she married the essayist Thomas Carlyle. From 1840 until her death in 1866, Jane had a long lasting relationship with fellow writer…

To show our scorn of pretending life’s a safe business

Dear Sylvia, Lolly Willowes (1926) is a satirical comedy of manners centred on an unmarried woman who suddenly decides to escape the claustrophobic domestic role her family tries to force on her. Funnily enough, the means she will use to fight against her family are no less morally equivocal than the life they were trying to…