As we approach the dizzy heights of high summer, Team Repeater have assembled some of their favourite recent reads for you to peruse through the heatwave; from backlist bangers to outstanding new releases from presses including Pluto Press, Faber, And Other Stories, Cipher Press, Sticky Fingers Press, and more.
Tariq Goddard, Editorial
My Life In The Sunshine, by Nabil Ayers (Random House USA)
A brave and reflective memoir on how the author can recognise someone they think they know in themselves, in this case Nabil’s absent father, the musician Roy Ayers, and how far this innate adumbration can be validated without confirmation or encouragement from the source.
The Experience Of God, by David Bentley Hart (Yale University Press)
With patient self restraint, the author suggests that the rational foundations of atheism are anything but that, and that far from being childish wishful thinking, a belief in God is consistent with the evidence of our sense and thorough ontological enquiry.
Fifty Forgotten Books, by RB Russell (And Other Stories)
The author is a fan and publisher of weird and supernatural fiction, but this is not so much the story of the “forgotten books”, as of the forgotten shops and booksellers he purchased the titles from, a history of the pre-internet epoch, and of places that seem to disappear behind him never to be seen again.
Christiana Spens, Publicity
Bad Behaviour by Mary Gaitskill (Penguin Books)
This classic collection of short stories, first published in 1988, tells of a series of encounters between complex, repressed and yet always somehow needy characters, swayed by desire, longing and dislocation in New York. Often very funny in her exacting, ruthless observations of the inner lives of her subjects, Gaitskill never loses a real sense of connection and the strange tragedy of shared delusions and destructiveness amongst her people. What emerges, story by story, is an increasingly heartbreaking exploration of the frailty and disillusionment of ordinary people, for all their individual sense of being unusual or misfits, or on the outside in some way. I found it truly compulsive and the beginning of a hopefully long journey into Gaitskill’s work.
Send Nudes by Saba Sams (Bloomsbury Publishing)
I have to say that I was attracted to the cover first of all, and the title, too – but the stories within did not disappoint. At times brutal, somewhat melancholic, and outlining the world of young girls in heightened, sometimes jarring ways, this was a collection that reminded me of Emma Cline’s The Girls, and the lyrics of dark pop songs. It’s perfect beach or park reading, capturing the griminess and urgency of summer, and leaving phrases, and a real sense of unease, that will echo for weeks.
The Instant by Amy Liptrot (Canongate)
In Liptrot’s second memoir, following the brilliant success of The Outrun, her book about recovery from alcoholism set on Orkney, Liptrot tells a story of her life in Berlin following that period, and her struggles with loneliness, aimlessness, and attempts to be connected to other people through the strange and disorientating worlds of ‘expat life’ and the Internet. Grounded with observations of the natural world, from the moon cycles to new birds, to a quest to see a racoon, her slight new book captures displacement, rootlessness, and a confused attempt to be free in the world, conflicted with the deep desire for nothing less than true love. Exposing the sheer futility of this search at times, her vulnerability and careful watching of the world and its weirdness is very moving.
Elinor Potts, Marketing
Limbic, by Peter Scalpello (Cipher Press)
Peter Scalpello’s debut poetry collection from Queer press Cipher is, as an audience member at a recent event at London’s ‘Common Press’ bookshop described, pretty bloody punk. Using the full breadth of the page, Scalpello’s poetry tussles with labels and identity markers which can, somewhat paradoxically, limit and liberate us from our essential intangible sexual desires. Dealing with substance abuse, reckoning developmental memories, and falling in love, Limbic is everything at once.
Stag’s Leap, by Sharon Olds (Cape Poetry)
An uncomfortably honest excavation of the rawest of human feelings. Expect searing, therapeutic musings on the disintegration of love and the emotional debris of fallouts in poems such as ‘Not Quiet Enough’, ‘Known to Be Left’, ‘Pain I Did Not’ where we move through the phases of grieving and the coping mechanisms which provide salvation from difficulties. Stag’s Leap is more than a poetry collection about divorce, it places painful human emotion on a silver plate. We dine with a cold glass of water, consoled that hope and growth will always prevail through the most desperate times.
FDBNHLLLTTFPLAGIARISM, an anthology featuring. Wes Knowler, Nick Lynch, Lydia Sviatoslavsky, Jessa Mockridge, Miriam Webster, Priyanuj, Alice Musgrove, Meech Boakye, Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay, Lou Collins, Ed Burrel, Lily Frances, Donna Marcus Duke, Kerith Manderson-Galvin, & Gloria (Sticky Fingers Press)
Sticky Fingers is an intra-dependant feminist collective overseen by the writer-designer-editors, Kaiya Warea and Sophie Paul. SF’s newest anthology on plagiarism is in their own words; “fragile, disorienting, naive, hesitant, loving, lusting, lusting, leaking, trembling, terrifying, fucking, plagiarism.” Restless, formless and stubbornly multifaceted, FDBNHLLLTTFPLAGIARISM is a lively chorus of unapologetic pilferers and they don’t care who knows.
Josh Turner, Production and Editorial
Conquest of the Useless, by Werner Herzog (Ecco Press)
Herzog’s diary from the making of his 1982 epic Fitzcarraldo is unbelievable, tragic, cruel, farcical, poignant and hilarious in equal measure. Featuring Klaus Kinski, life-threatening injuries, near-death experiences, a taxi-driving Mick Jagger, plane crashes, moments of utter and profound sadness, and a desperate attempt to pull two wooden ships over a giant mountain, Conquest of the Useless is a story of relentless perseverance in the pursuit of realising an artistic vision.
Devil House, by John Darnielle (MCD)
A weird metafictional horror about true crime, personal mythology, satanic cults and the power of storytelling, Devil House is my favourite of Darnielle’s novels yet. The entire book is an elaborate puzzle for both the reader and its protagonist, Gage Chandler, a true crime writer researching an occult murder in a small California town that leads to all kind of weird and occult places.
Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism, by Amelia Horgan (Pluto Press)
Lost in Work is the book to read about why work makes us miserable and what we can do about it. In exposing the absurdities of work under neoliberalism and showing us why taking control of our workplaces will make things better for all of us, the essays that make up Lost in Work are really important, especially at a time when work is getting worse and worse for all of us.
Katie King, Publicity
Only Cowgirls Get The Blues, by Tom Robbins (Corgi Books)
Out of print and I am sticking this here because there are so many amazing covers for this book. Perhaps it’s really only about the cover for me because a lot of the content is problematic so best if you don’t take it too seriously (and I’m not convinced you are supposed to).
Unexhausted Time, Emily Berry (Faber Poetry)
Notable for Repeater but not the reason I chose; one of the poems reconfigures an interview from The Wire by Mark Fisher and the artist Burial. Another is an honest portrayal of an awkward situation like those we are all often and equally having. The collection made me want to mull over, think, write, draw and speak. Enjoy.
From What Is to What If, by Rob Hopkins (Chelsea Green)
I am convinced this will be one of the most important books I’ll have read this year. I bought it at the end of the Design Museum’s Waste Age show. I think it should serve businesses and communities as a blueprint to what is possible and is a testimony to the beautiful, magical and healing things we can do with our respective communities. Imagination surely IS one of the most important assets we have as humans especially when it comes to approaching coexisting in society and most importantly climate change.