Monday, September 28, 2009

Twin Powers

In the second half of the 19th century, Londoners enjoyed a form of recreation that today might seem grisly: a Sunday stroll through one of the vast graveyards beyond the city center. The new burial grounds were established to move ­corpses out of the metropolitan churchyards, where they had contaminated the groundwater; these cemeteries were at once gardens, social centers and museums of statuary, a sort of theme park bristling with monuments to lost loves and individual hubris. They ultimately bore the same message one might hear in church: No matter how we try, our human endeavors end in death. It was not uncommon to find a family picnicking among the headstones.
- Susann Cokal, The New York Times

Read the rest of the review here.

read an excerpt here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Holy Grail of the Unconscious

This is a story about a nearly 100-year-old book, bound in red leather, which has spent the last quarter century secreted away in a bank vault in Switzerland. The book is big and heavy and its spine is etched with gold letters that say “Liber Novus,” which is Latin for “New Book.” Its pages are made from thick cream-colored parchment and filled with paintings of otherworldly creatures and handwritten dialogues with gods and devils. If you didn’t know the book’s vintage, you might confuse it for a lost medieval tome.

And yet between the book’s heavy covers, a very modern story unfolds. It goes as follows: Man skids into midlife and loses his soul. Man goes looking for soul. After a lot of instructive hardship and adventure — taking place entirely in his head — he finds it again.

Some people feel that nobody should read the book, and some feel that everybody should read it. The truth is, nobody really knows. Most of what has been said about the book — what it is, what it means — is the product of guesswork, because from the time it was begun in 1914 in a smallish town in Switzerland, it seems that only about two dozen people have managed to read or even have much of a look at it.

- Sara Corbett, The New York Times

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The 19 Best Read-Aloud Books for All Ages

We all know that reading out loud to your child is the best thing you can do; if the psychologists (and my mother) are to be believed, it’s the only foolproof way to make sure your kid grows up to be a productive — not to mention brilliant — member of society, instead of an indigent criminal lying unconscious in a gutter somewhere. But when you just can’t face the 999th reading of Maisy the Mouse — or even better-known classics (your Where The Wild Things Are, your Alexander and the Terrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day), or when the soul of your child is crying out for something finer (or just a little more involved) here’s a list of great books sure to fit the bill. Some are famous, some less so — but all guaranteed to stoke a child’s imagination and development. Whether they’ll fall asleep is another story — it all depends on delivery.

Rachel Shukert

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Familiar Cast of Fighters in a Final Battle for the Soul of the Earth

The flood referred to by the title of Margaret Atwood’s new novel isn’t the biblical deluge, sent by God to wipe out wickedness and sin, but a waterless one: an uncommon pandemic that cannot be contained by “biotools and bleach,” and that sweeps “through the air as if on wings,” burning “through cities like fire, spreading germ-ridden mobs, terror and butchery.” This flood has killed millions upon millions, and electrical, digital and industrial systems are failing, as their human keepers die.

In “The Year of the Flood” we are transported to a world that is part Hieronymus Bosch, part “A Clockwork Orange.” “Total breakdown” is upon the land, and a private security firm named CorpsSeCorps has seized power, taking control where the local police forces have collapsed from lack of financing. The Corps people not only use brutal tactics like Internal Rendition to enforce their will, but they are also conducting sinister experiments, monkeying with human and animal genetics and creating strange new mutant species.

- Michiko Kakutani, New York Times Online

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pornography and prejudice: Jane Austen's dirty talk is a sweet affair

There are some predictable smirks, but a show imagining the novelist's work with an explicit playwright is surprisingly sweet and witty.

What is this inescapable desire we have to mess around with Jane Austen? The poor woman has been through the mill of late, with the literary world seeing Elizabeth Bennet contending with the undead in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and the Dashwoods about to take on tentacled sea creatures in Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Meanwhile, onscreen, Elton John's Rocket Pictures is working on Pride and Predator.

So far be it for theatre to miss out. Fresh from a run on the Edinburgh fringe, Jane Austen's Guide to Pornography arrived at Battersea's Theatre 503 last week with an all-male cast and not a little innuendo. Steve Dawson's piece pitches a gay pornographic playwright, tired of only churning out one-liners and sex, up against Austen herself, who is near death, bored with her stories and "awaking screaming at the thought of another Mr Darcy". The pair look for inspiration from each other: Jane wants a bit of raunch in her new novel, Brett the playwright wants to inject true love into his writing.

There are some predictably nudge-nudge elements – ooh, let's make Jane Austen say "enormous cock", that'll be hilarious – but it actually works pretty well, particularly when Jane and Brett are squabbling over storyline ideas. It's silly, but it's also funny: "No one has ever fainted in my novels except for Emma, and that was the only one and not because she met this 'Dick' person," Jane tells Brett firmly. The burgeoning romance between the two actors/characters dreamt up by Jane and Brett is sweetly believable, ending with a clever twist on the "Marianne sprains her ankle" scene from Sense and Sensibility. Perhaps the mention of felching – "it sounds frightfully Mediterranean," says Jane – will get the Jane Austen Society up in arms, but the play is actually a very affectionate portrait of the author, so I hope not.

- Alison Flood,

Read the rest of the post here.

Warning: cheesy pic

Last night Pulp Books got a pat on the back and a cool certificate.

Out of more than 10 500 nominations, Pulp was one of the 30 finalists at the 702 Small Business Awards.

Cheese aside, it was awesome ( :

Thanks to everyone who made it possible!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Many Faces of JM Coetzee

'How can you be a great writer if you are just an ordinary little man?' asks a character in JM Coetzee's new book Summertime. This unsparing, autobiographical novel continues the intimate conversation the Nobel laureate has been having with a series of alter-egos in his work. James Meek listens in.

At some point during the past couple of years, an eminent South African writer now living in Australia wrote this dismissive appraisal of John Maxwell Coetzee's Ĺ“uvre: "In general, I would say that his work lacks ambition. The control of the elements is too tight. Nowhere do you get a feeling of a writer deforming his medium in order to say what has never been said before, which is to me the mark of great writing. Too cool, too neat, I would say. Too easy. Too lacking in passion."

Even when a writer has achieved international fame and won the biggest trophies - the Nobel and two Booker prizes, in Coetzee's case - a bad review can't be easy to stomach. Harder if it is not just your book that is criticised, but the premise on which you have built your life: namely, that you can, must and should write. Worse still, if the reviewer impugns your character along with your novels.

It sounds hurtful, and perhaps it is, although the novelist who wrote it was JM Coetzee. The bad meta-review of Coetzee comes out of the mouth of one of the characters in Coetzee's new book, Summertime, which is about Coetzee. Summertime is full of harsh reviews of Coetzee by Coetzee, of Coetzee the writer and Coetzee the man.

The critics are four women, all once loved by "John Coetzee", the Coetzee character, three of them loving him back, in different ways. Another says: "... to my mind, a talent for words is not enough if you want to be a great writer. You have also to be a great man. And he was not a great man. He was a little man, an unimportant little man ... How can you be a great writer if you are just an ordinary little man?"

- James Meek,

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Pulp Books has been nominated for the 702 Small Business Awards, hooray!

Thanks to all my loyal and fabulous customers, you guys are the best.