What We're Reading 

Hidden gems, hot favourites, slow burners and the odd guest columnist.

I come to praise the Paris Review not to bury it

 - Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Stephanie: Lately I've been reading Multiples: An Anthology of Stories in an Assortment of Languages and Literary Styles (2012 & 2013), 'edited in one language' by Adam Thirlwell. It's a book of translated short stories, but it's unlike any book I've ever seen. Each story goes through a Chinese-whisper-like series of at least four translations, each translation following from the other without reference to the 'original'. For example, a story by Kierkegaard is translated from the 'original' Danish into English by Clancy Martin; Martin's English version is then translated into Dutch by Cees Nooteboom; Nooteboom's version is translated back into English by J.M. Coetzee, then into French, English again (Sheila Heti), and finally into Swedish. I read the three different English versions of Kierkegaard's story and loved the feeling of distorted déjà vu. This book celebrates the multiplicity of language and 'politely frazzles' the whole category of the 'original'. 

Jack: Gleaners, I come to praise the Paris Review, not bury it. Not that I loved the London Review of Books less, but that I loved the Paris Review more. Censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge, but does not the Paris Review table of contents give cause to rejoice? Then follow me, and give audience, friends, to this lettered journal, published four times yearly, as the seasons prescribe. It will inflame you; steal away your hearts. If any, speak, for those I have offended. I pause only for the next issue. With this I depart, grateful you have allow'd me a lend of your ears-and not o'ershot myself to tell you of it.

Roger: I've just watched one night after another, with great  daily  anticipation, the first six episodes of the BBC series Blandings, based  on the wonderfully funny P. G. Wodehouse novels set at Blandings Castle. Lovingly created and superbly acted with Jennifer Saunders as Lady Constance and Timothy Spall as Lord Emsworth, this entry into the idyllic world of Blandings Castle does Wodehouse and the BBC proud.

Andrew: Tracey Thorn was the darling of a fairly particular indie/jazz crowd in the eighties, as the vocalist of a moderately successful pop group Everything But The Girl. After trundling along for the best part of a decade with a certain degree of niche success, she and her partner Ben suddenly found a bona fide enduring 'global stardom' in the early nineties when a track from one of their albums is remixed by an American dance producer (totally unexpectedly, and months after its initial release); and goes on to sell in the millions-albeit to a totally new audience with no previous connection to or empathy with their earlier work or ethos. Which makes for quite a narrative. Thorn's memoir not only has the best title for a book in quite some time, but is also startlingly well written. It is a wry and superbly self-aware account of celebrity, fame and the British music industry by one of the era's most perceptive and sensitive female figures.