It has been said that moths are drawn to burning candles because they confuse flames with the light of the moon. Moths, after all, use moonlight to navigate a path through darkness, but light from elsewhere reliably drags them off-course. The result is a split in perceptions.
One of the main characters in Alan Trotter’s Muscle is called ______. Quirky? Cute? Clever — or too clever by half? Your knee-jerk response to that name will tell you a lot about whether or not you’re ready for Muscle.
The tolerance threshold is four pages. Read just the first four pages of Ashleigh Young’s Can You Tolerate This? and you’ll know the terms on which to press forward.
What is Jott, exactly? It’s the title of the new novel by Sam Thompson, of course, but it’s also the title of a novel within the novel and an all-purpose allusion to the spirit of “the Beckettian”: the double consonants at the end of the word call to mind some of Samuel Beckett’s best-known characters — Hamm, Krapp — and the whole word is an echo of the names of both Watt, from Watt (1953), and his demanding employer Mr. Knott. Open the novel and you’ll find Beckett there between the covers, too.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a short story by Helen McClory so distinctive, but without fail you’ll know it when you find yourself reading one.
“Constellation” is the word that kept popping up in media coverage of Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights (trans. Jennifer Croft) earlier this year, especially after the novel won the Man Booker International Prize. Flights is narrated by a middle-aged Polish woman who leads an unashamedly itinerant lifestyle, a wanderer whose “energy derives from movement — from the shuddering of buses, the rumble of planes, trains’ and ferries’ rocking” — and her story is interspersed with depictions of other people in similar states of perpetual transit.
Paperback, £7.99 plus postage(UK: £1.99, International: £4.99).Pre-order this book now! Michael Conley’s collection of short stories, Flare and Falter, will be published by Splice on July 30 and is available for pre-order now. It’s a collection with an unusual genesis. One of Michael’s stories was shortlisted for the 2016 Manchester Writing Competition. It seemed…