I’ve read none of the paperbacks in this second part of April’s preview which I’m kicking off with Patrick Gale’s Take Nothing with You set in 1970s Weston-Super-Mare where ten-year-old Eustace finds a passion for the cello when his mother signs him up for lessons with a glamorous teacher. Lessons of another kind are learned when Eustace enrols on a holiday course in Scotland, apparently. ‘Drawing in part on his own boyhood, Patrick Gale’s new novel explores a collision between childish hero-worship and extremely messy adult love lives’ according to the blurb. I’ve long been a fan of Gale’s writing, going right back to The Aerodynamics of Pork in the ‘80s.
S. K. Perry’s Let Me Be Like Water is also set in a British seaside town, this time Brighton where Holly is hoping to escape the loss of her boyfriend. There she meets Frank, a retired magician with his own grief to bear. ‘A moving and powerful debut, Let Me Be Like Water is a book about the humdrum and extraordinariness of everyday life; of lost and new connections; of loneliness and friendship’ say the publishers which may not sound particularly original but Perry’s a poet so I’m hoping for some lyrical writing.
Death is also the theme of Laura Lindstedt’s Oneiron but from the other side of the divide. Seven women meet in an undefined, timeless white space. None of them are known to each other, none of them remember what has happened to them. Together they try to fathom who they are and what they did in their past lives. ‘Deftly playing with genres from essay to poetry, Oneiron is an astonishing work that explores the question of what follows death and delves deep into the lives and experiences of seven unforgettable women’ say the publishers. This one’s here purely out of curiosity. Could be wonderful, could be dire but definitely worth investigating.
Ceridwen Dovey’s In the Garden of the Fugitives examines a past life, too, as Vita is catapulted back twenty years when she answers an email from the man who funded her university scholarship. ‘Profoundly addictive and unsettling, In the Garden of the Fugitives examines the complex power structures between men and women, between the powerful and the voiceless. Ceridwen Dovey takes us deep into the heart of a dangerous game, where there are always two sides to every story’ say the publishers promisingly although I’m much more persuaded by Kate’s review at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
My final paperback choice for April is The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories edited by Jay Rubin, known to many as one of Haruki Murakami’s translators. ‘Ranging over myth, horror, love, nature, modern life, a diabolical painting, a cow with a human face and a woman who turns into sugar, The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories is filled with fear, charm, beauty and comedy’ according to the blurb which promises to include stories from names unfamiliar to many of us as well as well-known Japanese writers such as Akutagawa, Murakami, Mishima and Kawabata. I’m looking forward to exploring this one.
That’s it for April. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you be interested. If you’d like to catch up with the first part of the month’s paperback preview it’s here, and new titles are here.