Our Books Division Manager Martin Shaw, takes us through the highlights for June, including new books from Richard Ford and Enrique Vila-Matas.
The last time I was in London I was staying near Marchmont St, a little local shopping strip near Russell Square, where I would see an intriguing shopfront: ‘The School of Life’. I later discovered that it offered a range of evening classes ‘to help people form useful insights around the big themes in life’ (and also, I might add, one-on-one ‘bibliotherapy’ sessions, matching particular books with particular interests/dreams/concerns. A book doctor, anyone?).
Now these folk have published a series of books addressing ‘how to live’, with contributors ranging from Alain de Botton (How To Think More About Sex) to our very own John Armstrong (How To Worry Less About Money).
Continuing the self-help theme, Augusten Burroughs brings us surely the longest title of this month’s new release batch: This is How: Help for the Self: Proven Treatment to Overcome Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Old and Young Alike. A man with his fair share of life experience behind him, its chapters range from ‘How To Finish Your Drink’ to perhaps my favourite: ‘How To Remain Unhealed’.
Some interesting polemical works are also a feature this June. I’m expecting a few VCs’s feathers to fly upon the release of Richard Hil’s Whackademia: An insiders account of the troubled university.
And Anthony Loewenstein and Jeff Sparrow have edited a collection of essays on the continuing relevance of the left tradition in contemporary politics, disillusionment with the Labor Party notwithstanding: Left Turn, which features authors including Christos Tsiolkas and Larissa Behrendt. From the blurb: ‘They do not all agree with each other; they do not present a complete package or a consistent manifesto. But they do open some windows in Australian public life and let some much needed fresh air in.’
As for fiction, the offerings are substantial: a ‘modern fairytale’ of the contemporary UK from Martin Amis, Lionel Asbo; Richard Ford’s long-awaited new novel Canada; and Michael Frayn’s delicious farce Skios.
My pick though would be the wonderful Enrique Vila-Matas’s Dublinesque, about a Spanish publisher prone to anxiety attacks – fuelled by giving up alcohol and concern for the future of the book (a near-lethal combination I agree!), and his visit to the Dublin of Joyce and Beckett, where he possibly sights the writerly genius he has spent his entire career searching for...