A review of M Train by Patti Smith

Smith would have us believe that is a book about nothing. She opens it with a phrase from a dream that haunts her: “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.” Those of us who recognise her intense grief, and the determination to capture these experiences in poetic prose, will disagree that this is a book about nothing. Perhaps it’s a book where “nothing” happens: it becomes something.

An interview with Billie Bond

The author of And Then There Was One: A Memoir of My Survival of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse and Mental Illness talks about her new book, about her inspirations, the messages in her book, favourite authors, about the programs she works for, on how it feels to be published, advice for people grappling with similar issues, and lots more.

A review of La De Da De by Battles

Battles hasn’t been the same without Tyondai Braxton. As much is obvious when you listen to Tyondai’s 2009 Central Market, a haunting homage to Stravinsky’s Ballet Petrushka and the 2008 market crash, beside Battles’ 2011 album, a year after he left, Gloss Drop. Their first album, Mirrored, showed quirkiness that demanded serious attention. More Aubrey Plaza than Zooey Deschanel. Now Battles returns with La Di Da Di, an album as benign as its name, hovering between considerable monotony and death throes.

An interview with Julie Barton

The author of Dog Medicine talks about her book, the writing process, on examining her life, the novel she wrote before Dog Medicine, on writing as therapy, on her dog Bunker and how he saved her, on writing about pain, her other pets, her work-in-progress, and lots more.

A review of A Regicide by Alain Robbe-Grillet

A Regicide For a novel written in 1947, half-heartedly revised in 1957 and finally published in France in 1978, A Regicide is a disconcertingly contemporary read. Moreover, it is possible to place your finger on exactly why this is so: Robbe-Grillet’s frequent descriptions of nature, of plants and insects and coastline, as fragile and precarious: that’s what strikes home. The island kingdom where an assassination (imagined? actual?) is played out is battened by tempests, beset by drought. Seasons are awry.

A review of Review of Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit by Susan Swartwout

From Louisiana to Honduras, Susan Swartwout covers much ground in her poetry collection, Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit. The collection is billed as a gothic take on Southern culture, and in some aspects it is, but there is more here than meets the eyes or first reading. The collection also tells a family’s history and the impact of this on the life of the individual who tells it.

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante

The four novels making up the “Neapolitan” quartet follow the entwined lives of Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo Carracci, from elementary school in the 1950s to Lila’s disappearance at age sixty. The Story of the Lost Child, the fourth and final volume, presents Elena and Lila in mid-life, both back in their crime-ridden impoverished neighbourhood. Their friendship, never harmonious, continues to go up and down until a tragedy and a sad aftermath change things.

A Conversation with Jackie Copleton

The author of A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding talks about her new novel, about her interest in Nagasaki, about why she chose to explore this history through the lens of a family, about her research and what surprised her, about her novel’s structure, about the challenges of creating a character whose time and culture are so different, about the use of Japanese words, her title’s meaning, about how the lessons learned from that time resonate in our current political climate, and lots more.