Hullo! I'm Ian - seasonal booskeller here at Far From The Madding Crowd, full-time literature student up in Aberdeen (for one more year, at least...) and a writer. I've had work appear in some magazines ([Untitled] Falkirk, Suma Lima, Grass, The Attic, Meanwhile, Icarus), newspapers (Th Scotsman, The Guardian) and some more voice-y things as well (Neu Reekie, Re-Analogue, BBC Radio Scotland).
On this balmy Summer day, I thought I would share some great books that you can buy in store now:
Simon Reynolds - Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978 - 1984
A survey of the alternative music that blossomed in the aftermath of punk, Reynolds covers astonishing ground in this book: bands, independent labels, scenes, fall-outs, the little histories of the period... this is a tapestry of counterculture, one that captures the excitement and recklessness of that pop-historical moment.
Kevin Barry - There Are Little Kingdoms
As one of the most lyrical Irish writers of his generation, Kevin Barry has struck an idiosyncratic path through contemporary literature. Be it his fictionalisd account of a (literally) washed-up John Lennon, a near-future overture of gang war, or his latest novel, a moral exploration of two gangsters in Tangier, Barry himself has stated that short stories are where he excels. "There Are Little Kingdoms" shows his range and genius in the form - he captures the spirit of those middle-sized towns; too small for the metropolitan mindset, too big for mere ruralism. Arcades, trains and even ghost bureaucracy feature in these bittersweet tales.
Olga Tokarczuk - Primeval and Other Times
Olga Tokarczuk and her translator Jennifer Croft won the Man Booker International Prize last year for the ambitious "Flights", but Tokarczuk's fourth novel is compelling in its own right as well. With a fabulist tone the novel weaves an allegory for the 20th century, its global politics condensed into one rural village surveyed by an uncompromising God and his angels. Dotted with the eccentric and archetypal villagers "Primeval..." may be bleak, but also resonates over twenty years after its initial publication with mythical beauty.
Alice Oswald - Dart
Back n 2002, the now-newly appointed Oxford Professor of Poetry wrote this epic poem on the River Dart in Devon. Composed from extensive research, interviews and her own observations, this book flows effortlessly from overheard conversation to celebrations of nature to elegy to folklore - all accompanied by margin notes on place names, slang meanings and context. The voice of the river emerges as a chorus of many elements, human and aqueous and whatever else between the waves; "Dart" strikes the reader like its namesake.
Break.Up - Joanna Walsh
"I Sat Down in Grand Central Station and Wept" meets "The Lonely City" - though, really, its own beast. In recounting her travels through Europe in the wake of a relationship's end, a relationship conducted primarily over email, Walsh covers a lot of ground - thought, (non-)place, nostalgia, existence, memory, God, the Internet, travel, love... Though audacious in scope, the book never feels heavy, but light and ephemeral - a procession of tight vignettes, diaristic and prose-poetic, addressed to an enigmatic 'you'. "Break.Up" is an exhilarating work of autofiction, and certainly one of the most intellectual examples of the genre.
And if these don't seem your thing, then no fear - we have a wonderful selection of books for all kinds of readers. Or, we can order a book in for you!
Happy reading, stay hydrated, and wear plenty of sun-cream.
(Also, if you'll excuse the shameless advertising... a wee pamphlet of mine is also on sale at the shop, "Midsummer", which has all the pieces I performed at a reading in Torphicen last month (organised by this very shop). It's very cheap and less than twenty copies are still kicking around - next time you're in, feel free to pick up a copy!)