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Anti-racist book sales surge in US and Britain after George Floyd killing

https://www.theguardian.com/world/raceplay episode download
3 juin, par Alison Flood[ —]

Books by authors including Reni Eddo-Lodge, Ibram X Kendi and Robin DiAngelo are selling out on both sides of the Atlantic

Books tackling racism and white supremacy by authors including Reni Eddo-Lodge, Ijeoma Oluo and Layla F Saad are selling out in Britain in the wake of eight days of protests in the US over the police killing of George Floyd.

Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race is the bestselling book on Amazon in the UK, where it is listed as temporarily out of stock. The award-winning title, which was first published in 2017, has also made this week’s paperback nonfiction charts from Nielsen BookScan. Saad’s Me and White Supremacy – subtitled How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World – is at No 5 in Amazon’s UK charts, and also out of stock, as is Akala’s Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, at No 7.

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Unknown Hemingway short story Pursuit As Happiness published

3 juin, par Alison Flood[ —]

Autobiographical tale tells of hunt for ‘the biggest goddam marlin that ever swam in the ocean’ and has strong echoes of The Old Man and the Sea

An unknown short story by Ernest Hemingway, recounting a hunt for a huge marlin, which echoes the narrative of The Old Man and the Sea, has been published for the first time.

Pursuit As Happiness, published in this week’s issue of the New Yorker, follows the narrator on a fishing trip in search of “the biggest goddam marlin that ever swam in the ocean”. One day, “the water so clear and in so close that you could see the shoals in the mouth of the harbor ten fathoms deep”, he and his friends hook one – although the trip isn’t, eventually, as successful as they might like.

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Top 10 four-dimensional novels | Mark Blacklock

https://www.theguardian.com/books/josephconradplay episode download
3 juin, par Mark Blacklock[ —]

A conceptual adventure first embarked on in the 19th century has inspired daring fiction from authors including HG Wells, Kurt Vonnegut and Madeleine L’Engle

What is the fourth dimension? This was the question English polymath Charles Howard Hinton attempted to answer in an essay first published in 1880, a generation before Einstein plotted time on the w axis. Hinton speculated a spatial fourth dimension, inspired by n-dimensional geometry, and imagined how humans might experience or imagine a space extended in an extra dimension they could not see.

Hinton’s speculations, published as Scientific Romances, influenced HG Wells and the development of pulp science fiction in the 20th century. His work even interested writers such as Henry James, Joseph Conrad and Mary Butts, and continues to have parallel lives in new-age philosophies that imagine multiple dimensions of spiritual existence, and in contemporary popular SF, where hyperdrives power spaceships, the four-dimensional tesseract is an infinity stone and time travellers continue to hop between multiple dimensions.

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What Is the Grass by Mark Doty review – Walt Whitman and me

https://www.theguardian.com/books/autobiography-and-memoirplay episode download
3 juin, par Abhrajyoti Chakraborty[ —]

From visions of a shadowy spirit to memories of love and loss … a contemporary US poet pays tribute to the persistent presence of Whitman

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself”: Walt Whitman lived by the unforgettable opening lines of his collection of poems, Leaves of Grass. When the book was first published in 1855, many of the anonymous reviews were later found to have been written by Whitman himself. “An American bard at last!” one of them declared.

The confidence was remarkable, coming from a Brooklyn boy who had gone to school only until the age of 11, and had, in the years before publication, worked through a series of unstable jobs as a schoolteacher, a typesetter, a carpenter and a journalist. But the 12 poems in the first edition of Leaves of Grass lived up to their hype. They seemed to have emerged from a sensibility steeped in “long dumb” and forbidden voices, breaking free, with their plainspeak, their cascading clauses and subclauses, from the older constraints of diction, metre and rhyme. Whitman perceived US democracy itself as a literary undertaking, capable of absorbing anything and everything, projecting its “barbaric yawp to the rooftops of the world”.

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The Seduction by Joanna Briscoe review – therapist v family

3 juin, par Lara Feigel[ —]

In this macabre fairground ride of a novel, an analyst becomes an interloper

Joanna Briscoe’s fifth novel opens with Beth spending a restless night on her therapist’s couch. She has abandoned her husband and child, seduced by the “promise of life as life was meant to be led, at its rawest and most frightening and most beautiful”. The novel takes us backwards, revealing the peculiar, dreamlike sequence of events that got her to this point, and forwards, showing her frantically restaking her claims on her own life.

This is familiar territory for Briscoe. In her work, successful upper middle-class London lives are interrupted by sudden rushes of transgressive desire. Seducers tap into hidden vulnerabilities, exposing and manipulating ever-increasing levels of need. Sleep With Me followed a love triangle created when a young French woman invades the marriage of a literary editor and academic living in Bloomsbury. Now she portrays another happy, creative marriage (Beth is a well-known artist, Sol a photographer) threatened by an interloper: Beth’s boundary-transgressing therapist, Tamara Bywater.

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Do the work: an anti-racist reading list | Layla F Saad

https://www.theguardian.com/world/raceplay episode download
3 juin, par Layla F Saad[ —]

What will happen after this news cycle is over and social media posts about diversity die down? Layla F Saad chooses books to fortify a long-term struggle

Every black person I know right now is exhausted. They are exhausted by the two pandemics disproportionately hurting and killing black people: Covid-19 and white supremacy. Covid-19 is a new sickness that hopefully we’ll soon find a cure for, or at least learn to live with. But white supremacy is a disease as old as time, for which we’ve been waiting generations to see a cure.

As we mourn and seek justice for the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop and Tony McDade (to name but a few), many black people such as myself are wondering: what will happen when the news cycle is over, the social justice memes are no longer posted, and the declarations for inclusivity, diversity and “doing the work” have died down? What happens when white people, momentarily awoken from the comfortable slumber of white privilege by this moment of unignorable protest, go back to sleep? How do we actually create an anti-racist world and rid ourselves of this sickness and system of white supremacy, when the people who benefit from it are not showing up to do the work?

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The Mystery of Charles Dickens by AN Wilson review – a great writer's dark side

https://www.theguardian.com/books/biographyplay episode download
3 juin, par John Mullan[ —]

Was Dickens’s fiction shaped by the nastiness he never consciously acknowledged? A sprightly retelling of a well-known narrative

Near the end of The Mystery of Charles Dickens, AN Wilson quotes at length from a letter written by Philip Larkin to his lover Monica Jones. The poet has just reread Great Expectations, and is reflecting on the novelist’s attention-seeking tricks: “Say what you like about Dickens as an entertainer, he cannot be considered a real writer at all; not a real novelist.” It is a version of a complaint that has been made many times about Dickens the mere “entertainer”. “His is the garish, gaslit, melodramatic barn … where the yokels gape.” Yet, at the end of all his sentences of critical deprecation, Larkin’s final reflex is equally familiar: “However, I much enjoyed G.E. & may try another soon.”

Those with high literary standards have often enjoyed Dickens against their better judgment. In The Mystery of Charles Dickens, Wilson sides with the gaping yokels. He confesses the he has read Dickens with “obsessive rapture” since his childhood, but had to overcome the presumption, later educated into him, that his writing was insufficiently deep or sophisticated. “The death of Paul Dombey is so schmaltzy that we simply refuse to be moved, but then, damn it, we read and the tears well down our cheeks.” For Wilson, Dickens is an irresistible performer. One chapter of his book is devoted to “The Mystery of the Public Readings”, in which Dickens drove himself to near collapse (and made huge amounts of money) by touring America as well as Britain to perform readings from his work. In 1869, he had a stroke on stage in Chester, but still refused to stop the readings, partly because of the money but mostly because he was addicted to the instant responsiveness of his audience.

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Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens is our reading group book for June

2 juin, par Sam Jordison[ —]

Running to more than 800 pages, with some 50 significant characters, this is a big book in every way – there is certain to be a lot to entertain us

Our Mutual Friend has won the vote and will be our Charles Dickens book for June. And it’s a big one. 

The 14th and final complete novel that Dickens wrote was originally released in 20 monthly volumes between May 1864 and November 1865. My edition is more than 800 pages long. It contains 50 or so lavishly described characters – not to mention endless rich descriptions of 1860s London, its poverty and corruption, its complex financial structures, its fashions and absurdities. Judging by what I’ve read so far, it’s also funny, angry and brilliant. It’s going to be well worth our time – even if it takes up quite a bit of it.

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Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?

1er juin, par Guardian readers and Sam Jordison[ —]

Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of them

Welcome to this week’s blogpost. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from the last week.

Lockdown has persuaded goodyorkshirelass to lift Carol Shields’ Mary Swann from the shelves:

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Poem of the week: Poem by Paul Bailey

1er juin, par Carol Rumens[ —]

A simply spoken meditation on the presence of death throughout a life is told with unpretentious wit

Poem

My last of days was there to contemplate
when words absconded from me
as long ago as Nineteen-forty-one.
I must have heard the nurses talk of death.

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