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GIVING NEW LIFE TO OLD BOOKS
Backlisted, the literary podcast presented by John Mitchinson and Andy Miller.
California: a town of dark bars and lunchrooms, cheap hotels and farm labourers scratching a living. When two men meet in the Lido Gym - the ex-boxer Billy Tully and the novice Ernie Munger - their brief sparring session sets a fateful story in motion, initiating young Munger into the "company of men" and luring Tully back into training. Fat City is a vivid novel of defiance and struggle, of the potent promise of the good life and the desperation and drink that waylay those whom it eludes. This acclaimed American classic tells of their anxieties and hopes, their loves and losses, and the ephemeral glory of the fight.
One of the first things ninety-two-year-old Marian Leatherby overhears when she is given an ornate hearing trumpet is her family plotting to commit her to an institution. Soon, she finds herself trapped in a sinister retirement home, where the elderly must inhabit buildings shaped like igloos and birthday cakes, endure twisted religious preaching and eat in a canteen overlooked by the mysterious portrait of a leering Abbess. But when another resident secretly hands Marian a book recounding the life of the Abbess, a joyous and brilliantly surreal adventure begins to unfold. Written in the early 1960s, The Hearing Trumpet remains one of the most original and inspirational of all fantastic novels.
Delving into the memoirs of those who both loved and hated him most, Burning Man follows Lawrence from the peninsular underworld of Cornwall in 1915 to post-war Italy to the mountains of New Mexico, and traces the author's footsteps through the pages of his lesser known work.
Wilson's triptych of biographical tales present a complex, courageous and often comic fugitive, careering around a world in the grip of apocalypse, in search of utopia; and, in bringing the true Lawrence into sharp focus, shows how he speaks to us now more than ever
True creativity, the making of a thing which has not been in the world previously, is originality by definition. But while many claim to crave originality, they feel an obscure revulsion when confronted with it. The really new is uncomfortable and disturbing. Repetition of the familiar is preferred. The hailing of old ideas as original lowers the standard for invention and robs most creative people of the drive to do anything interesting, let alone seek out the universe of originality which is waiting, drumming its fingers, wondering why nobody calls. This is a book for all those who care not for the fashionable simulacra of the media creative, but for an understanding of the hard road to true originality. Part manual, part history of ideas, part manifesto - this a unique experimental journey around the outer limits of our culture.
First published in 1979, Sleepless Nights is a unique collage of fiction and memoir, letters and essays, portraits and dreams. It is more than the story of a life: it is Elizabeth Hardwick's experience of womanhood in the twentieth century. Escaping her childhood home of Kentucky, the narrator arrives at a bohemian hotel in Manhattan filled with 'drunks, actors, gamblers ... love and alcohol and clothes on the floor.' Here begin the erotic affairs and dinner parties, the abortions and heartbreaks, the friendships and 'people I have buried'. Here are luminous sketches of characters she has met that illuminate the era's racism, sexism, and poverty. Above all, here is prose blurring into poetry, language to lose - and perhaps to find - yourself in. Society tries to write these lives before they are lived. It does not always succeed.
The rediscovered classic: an unforgettable memoir by a trailblazing Guyanese woman in post-war London, introduced by Bernardine Evaristo.
Being denied teaching jobs due to the colour bar. Working in an office amidst the East End's bombsites. Serving as a lady's maid to an Empire-loving aristocrat. Raising two children in suburbia. Becoming one of the first black headteachers in Britain.
In 1952, Beryl Gilroy moved from British Guiana to London. Her new life wasn't what she had expected - but her belief in the power of education resulted in a revolutionary career. Black Teacher, her memoir, is a rediscovered classic: not only a rare first-hand insight into the Windrush generation, but a testament to how one woman's dignity, ambition and spirit transcended her era.
After the war, cynical veteran Dix Steele has moved to L.A., a city terrified by a strangler preying on young women. Bumping into an old friend, now a detective working on the case, Dix is thrilled by closely following the progress of the police. And meeting his new neighbour, sultry and beautiful actress Laurel Gray, brings even more excitement into his life. But the strangler is still prowling the streets - and Laurel may be in more danger than she realises...
In a Lonely Place was adapted for film in 1950, with Humphrey Bogart as Dix Steele.
The critic HRF Keating chose The Expendable Man as one of his Crime & Mystery: The 100 Best Books. ‘A late addition to the thirteen crime stories Dorothy B Hughes wrote with great success in one prolific spell between 1940 and 1952,’ it was, in his view, her best book. But it is far more than a crime novel. Just as her earlier books had engaged with the political issues of the 1940s – the legacy of the Depression, and the struggles against fascism and rascism – so The Expendable Man, published in 1963 during Kennedy’s presidency and set in Arizona, evokes the emerging social, racial and moral tensions of the time.
Gladys and Annie Barnes are impoverished sisters who have seen better times. They live in a modest cottage in the backstreets of Highate with Mr Fisher, a mild but eccentric old man living secretively in the attic above them. Their quiet lives are thrown into confusion when a new landlord takes over, a dreaded and unscrupulous 'rackman'. He installs his wife in part of the cottages in the hope that there she will recover from an unspecified malady. With a mounting sense of fear, Gladys and Annie become convinced she is possessed by an evil spirit...
The Fortnight in September by RC Sherriff was first published in September 1931. It was glowingly reviewed: ‘A lovely novel,’ declared the Daily Telegraph, ‘a little masterpiece’ wrote the Sunday Express. In America the Saturday Review of Literature thought that ‘nothing since Dickens has come closer to giving between covers the intrinsic spirit of England.’ The Spectator reviewer said: ‘There is more simple human goodness and understanding in this book than in anything I have read for years... Once more, the author of Journey’s End has enriched our lives.’