Book 1, Ducks, Newburyport, Lucy Ellmann
Before I got up I read pages 803 – 856 of Ducks, Newburyport. This is such a wonderful book. A place to be both lost and adrift in sweet recognition. I felt so much for teenager Stacy, her clumsy, scary courage, her sullen and awkward groping for her adult self. It is a fine portrayal, both of the girl and the relationship between mother and teenage daughter. It dropped a pin, a yes this, of recognition – a tender examination of the awkward and ferocious and loving misalignments that I remember from parenting my own teenage girls. Ducks, Newburyport thoroughly deserves its place on the Booker long-list and in my view would be a worthy winner.
Book 2, The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times, Xan Brooks
I’ve received the book I ordered from Salt publishing. I’ve always believed in putting my money where my mouth is when it comes to independent creators – maybe it’s that old punk ethos. And it’s no good dismissing the market-driven limitations of the mainstream unless you actively support the alternatives. I am dead chuffed that due to an annual subscription to Galley Beggar, my name is in the back of my copy of Ducks, Newburyport. Salt sporadically use #justonebook on twitter, asking people to buy direct from them (though honestly they’re a great publisher so it’s more like #justonemorebook.) It is a good feeling to be able to support valiant publishers and at the same time get hold of great books, in this instance, The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times:
“Summer 1923: the modern world. Orphaned Lucy Marsh climbs into the back of an old army truck and is whisked off to the woods north of London – a land haunted by the past, where lost souls and monsters conceal themselves in the trees.”
Book 3 and 4, The Plot Against America, Philip Roth, The Railway Navvies, Terry Coleman
I went out to get a piece of fabric and to walk and write. I bought these two books in a charity shop on Lewes Road. I’ve never read Philip Roth, simply by happenstance – but recently I think I was in danger of falling into a ‘boring old White Men of the Cannon’ prejudice that pushed me away from certain writers, so I decided to put that right.
← And would you just look at this for a blurb!
Book 5, my own, Salt Lick
I think I’ve finally nailed a section of my book Salt Lick (about 14,000 words, not just the paragraph on the left) that has been giving me a great deal of difficulty. I have been searching for the skill and confidence to write as I would want to read – it’s difficult. It seems that I am ok at paragraphs but stumble over longer stretches – the plot, for me the least enticing part of the work, somehow inserts itself, without me noticing how, as a REASON for the writing and I find it clogging up the path. It’s as though in having found the construction of a plot difficult, I then try to prove that it does hang together. It’s crude and clunky. This section was particularly prone as there are big changes and a lot of time passes, and I don’t want it to be too long. But this is my second book, I still feel I am new to writing and overcoming that tendency is surely a part of the apprenticeship. Today I felt like I am finally getting it into fluid shape.
Book 6, Collections of the Royal Castle of Wawel
Another charity shop book, this one I am using to make collages. For this project, I take photographs of the plates then make images digitally and print them small enough to paste onto some rounds of wood I was given two years ago in a plastic bag. They will go in an Open House exhibition in the lovely home of a print artist in Newhaven. There is a quality to older book plates that I really love, the tonality of the backgrounds, the slight flatness. The medallions are also for sale in my Etsy shop, Seventy Seven Seas. I’ll be interested to see if people like them.