Sunday 25 February 2024

An evening with Lara Pawson and Orla Owen

Here's news of next month's online gathering, the third of twelve planned for 2024. 

If you're on the guest list you'll automatically get a zoom link at 6pm on the day. If you're not on the guest list but would like to be, please leave your FULL NAME and EMAIL ADDRESS in the comments section below. And spread the word! It's free to join.

Sunday 24th March at 7pm (UK time)

Join two extraordinary writers for readings and conversation prompted by two very different books.

Lara Pawson

Lara Pawson’s Spent Light is an unclassifable novel-memoir-essay hybrid, examining the hidden lives of objects – toasters, pepper-mills, fridge-freezers, Brazilian gaucho spurs – spinning off wildly into an account of the entire world of resource extraction and forced labour and industrial murder, alongside traditions of craft, reciprocity and affection.

‘Reading Pawson you realise how obedient most writing is, constrained by squeamishness or protocol … Lara Pawson’s writing is brilliant, unnerving and shockingly alive.’
                                                                                                                – Miranda France, Times Literary Supplement

     ‘Spent Light asks us to begin the work of de-enchanting all the crap we gather around ourselves to fend off the abyss – because we’ll never manage that anyway, the book warns, the abyss is already in us. But love is too. There might be no home to be found in objects, but there’s one to be made with other people. I think, in the end, this powerful, startling book is a love letter.’
                                                                                                                 – Jennifer Hodgson

‘I’m flabbergasted by the naked determination on show here, not to say the talent. Page by page, image by image, association by association, Lara Pawson develops a picture of the world that you won’t be offered anywhere else: stark, unremitting, brilliantly formed and written.’
                                                                                                                   – M. John Harrison

‘A shocking book. Lara Pawson’s merciless and exquisite prose adorns everyday objects with the violence of history – the savage comedy by which living creatures have become broken, petrified things. I will never look at a toaster or a timer, a toenail or a squirrel, the same way again.’
                                                                                                                    – Merve Emre

Spent Light is, obviously, not comfortable reading, but it is wild, bold writing in league with perfectly clear thinking, and while disturbing it is also, in a satisfyingly dark and absurd way, comic. Shelve it with Lucy Ellmann, Miriam Toews, Jenny Offill; brilliant, disillusioned women in absolute control of glorious prose.’
                                                                                                                    – Sarah Moss, Guardian (full review here)

‘Pawson, who explored Angola’s forgotten massacre in her first book, In the Name of the People (2014), writes with a grotesque beauty. […] Pawson has created something very much her own here. It’s not fiction, it’s not non-fiction, it’s not memoir and it’s not an essay. What it is is a reminder that everything in this world is connected and that stories are everywhere, even in objects we might otherwise overlook.’
                                                                                                                    – Susie Mesure, Spectator

Order direct from CB editions here:

Orla Owen

Orla Owen's third novel Christ On A Bike was published by the award-winning Bluemoose Books on 25th January 2024.

Cerys receives an unexpected, life-changing inheritance, but there are rules attached. Three simple rules that must be followed...

Routinely unnerving, each chapter becomes progressively more uncomfortable as the source of the inheritance comes into question. The novel goes to some startlingly dark places in its exploration of free will and family ties, and what starts as a deceptively engaging light entertainment about sibling rivalry becomes a wild journey into madness, mayhem and murder.   

It's only been out for a couple of weeks so no press reviews as yet. But take a look at all the five star reviews on Goodreads! I read it in. asingle sitting and was completely immersed--a brilliant idea, brilliantly realised.

Do join Lara, Orla and myself for an hour of readings and conversation. We look forward to seeing you.

Our next gathering witll be on Sunday 21st April.

Keep the lights on, wherever you are.


Sunday 4 February 2024

An evening with Melissa McCarthy and C. D. Rose

You can watch a recording of this online gathering here:

Passcode: .F4Q6T^x

Sunday 11th February at 7pm UK time

Join us for an hour in the company of two of the very best contemporary authors who (it turns out) share a particular interest. You'll get an exclusive Zoom link at 6pm UK time. Please leave your email address at the foot of this blog if you're not already on the guest list and you'd like to join us.

Melissa McCarthy's latest book is Photo, Phyto, Proto, Nitro,  a collection of essays published by Sagging Meniscus Press)

    Photo: to do with light. 

    Phyto: plants and flowers. 

    Proto: the first, the original. 

    Nitro: it blows up.

From Troy to Hiroshima, Crimea to the nuclear Nevada desert, we make our tracks over the war-scratched globe, and when we reach a ruin or a destination we read the markings, record them using various forms of photography. Later—or much, much later—someone else in turn will try to understand our silvery traces. These are the threads that Melissa McCarthy follows, unpicks, weaves again into a nexus of light and time: the mirrored silver cells of a shark’s eyeball, sunlight glinting off the foam and sea wrack of the Aegean on flower with corpses, the silver salts of photographic paper, silver grave-treasures at Ur.

Like an archaeologist in her own strange literary landscape, McCarthy cuts through layers of history and technology to realign the dead and their images. She examines both what can be photographed and what remains always just beyond the frame, and photography itself. It’s a practice involving chemicals and the action of light. But it’s also an organising principle for literature and beyond: there are marks made—by us, on us—that we can’t yet fully see or understand, though they push on through to the surface, always re-blooming.


C. D. Rose's new novel is Walter Benjamin Stares at the Sea, published by Melville House.

Welcome to the fictional universe of C. D. Rose, whose stories seem to be set in some unidentifiable but vaguely Mitteleuropean nation, and likewise have an uncanny sense of timelessness—the time could be some cobblestoned Victorian past era, or the present, or even the future. In these 15 dreamlike tales, you’ll meet a forgotten composer who enters a nostalgic dream-world while marking time in a decaying Romanian seaport; two Russian brothers, one blind and one deaf, building an intricate model town during an interminable train ride across the steppe; a journalist whose interview with an artist turns into a dizzying roundelay of memory and image. Ghosts of the past mingle with the quiddities of modernity in a bewitching stew where lost masterpieces surface with translations in an invisible language; where image and photograph become mystically entwined, and where the very nature of reality takes on a shimmering sense of possibility and illusion.

C. D. Rose is an award-winning short-story writer, and the author of the novels The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure and Who’s Who When Everyone Is Someone Else, as well as the story collection The Blind Accordionist. He lives in Hebden Bridge.

A book that belongs on the same shelf as Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Nabokov’s Pale Fire, and several works by Zoran Zivkovic, Stanislaw Lem and David Markson.” — Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

A collection of entrancing literary fables from an underrated master of the form.