This Week In Books

cutting_front_web_2(above) Jelle Martens Words by Billie Jenkins

The Haunted Life, Jack Kerouac

It would not be a stretch to suggest that Jack Kerouac started thousands of journeys, for a thousand readers at least must have taken to heart the freedom of his stories and gone on to start their own. It is hard to read his most famous work, On The Road, without a pang of desire to live the life better travelled; to see more horizons, see more friends, and be drunker. It is a peculiar fact that this latest offering, dubbed ‘the lost work’, eluded public release all these years because it was lost in the back of New York Taxi. It seems fitting that there was a long journey involved in getting it to us seventy years later. It is also peculiar that these anomalies that give so much excitement will become less with time, the age of technology makes the losing of your only, hand-written draft look a little quaint. This is bad for people like us who romanticise, but maybe better for the struggling writers who spent months of anguish drawing up their paperwork. Written when Kerouac was 22, the story documents the coming of age of a college track star. Brought to your bookshelves by it’s own long journey it embodies one of those strange and wonderful curiosities of life, like Kerouac himself.

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What else were reading this week

The Society of the Crossed Keys, Stefan Zweig

Touched by the tender final scenes of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel we hunted around to find the origins of such touching events. We didn’t have to look far, conveniently they’ve released a volume of ‘teaser’ shorts written by the man who inspired the film. So far they have offered the delicate passion we hoped for. Intellectually stimulating these short stories, interviews and biographic snippets capture the intellectual but melancholic mood of Europe between the wars.

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One you might have missed

Cutting Edges: Contemporary Collage

An immaculate collection of the best, and most interesting collage artists. A superb illustration of how collage has evolved into a clean and powerful art form in its own right, rather than the preserve of sketchbooks and political movements.

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And one we won’t be reading

The City of Devi, Manil Suri

Suri has just won the Guardian’s bad sex award for a threesome set in Mumbia under nuclear threat. The offending passage includes this arousing tease’The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands – only Karun’s body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice’

Our personal favourite, was nominee Rupert Thomason for his novel Secrecy.’I kissed the soft bristles in the hollow of her armpit, then I kissed the smaller hollow of her clavicle. I moved up to her mouth, which smelled of ripe melon. Not the wound-red Tuscan watermelon, but the pale-green variety I had bought in Naples once, and which had grown, so I was told, on the wild coast of Barbaria.’ We’ll be off watermelon for a week then.

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