Best Book of 1926: Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel
His is a force more penetrative than all the bogus machismo of Hemingway.
Best Book of 2010: Mr Chartwell, by Rebecca Hunt
‘Hunt writes with brio, the visceral often blooming into the mystical.’
First Sentence: Javier Zamora
‘Immigration has become a physical thing, like a tumor inside us, between us.’
‘Two women appeared embracing two of a kind – that is each woman held onto a globular lamp base that had luster.’
The Beauty and the Bat
‘I knew who she was well enough, by then – a competent woman in earnest who didn’t like me.’
Winnie and the Innocence of the World
‘This is how I became Winnie’s clandestine, outcast and utterly powerless guardian angel.’
‘Your promise has been extracted like the cow-horned remains of molars long-soused in a Diet Coke marinade.’
The Mountain Road
‘Funeral homes are always cold. There were pine benches in lines like a church. They had been varnished recently and there was that heady smell. It reminded me of my father’s boat, the wheelhouse brightwork newly touched up. It was the smell of childhood.’
The Beacon & The Bane
‘In spite of my pining and missing, neither man seemed fully formed and I felt a little lonely in the presence of both.’
Eight pieces in imitation of Thomas A. Clark
‘what it is about the earth / that it won’t absorb the stream’
Reading Comprehension: Text No. 2
‘Which of the following famous phrases best reflects the meaning of the text?’
‘Climate change, I realise, is already here. Not the drama of it, not yet, but in the mundane.’
Best Book of 1984: Amalgamemnon
Joanna Walsh on why Christine Brooke-Rose's Amalgamemnon is the best book of 1984.
Best Book of 1970: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
Why Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid is the best book of 1970.
To the Ocean
‘At the desk they said they encouraged guests not to walk, but she was determined’
Five Things Right Now: Joanna Walsh
Joanna Walsh shares five things she’s reading, watching and thinking about.
‘After all, they were landlady and tenant; what right did he have to meddle?’
‘There was a time in my life when I lived in hotels. Around this time, the time I did not spend in hotels was time I did not live.’
‘For us, discomfort is a hard feeling. / Almost as hard as hate. / Almost as hard as fear.’
Evie Wyld | Five Things Right Now
Evie Wyld shares five things she’s reading, watching and thinking about.
‘And now that he is body-less, / he speaks through us. / You could say. Although / I myself have not caught / a Pope.’
She had already imagined it all, so much so that when she finally did see him, she felt unable to speak.
A Thousand Splendid Stuns
‘More important than anything else that fateful year was the life-defining transcendence of Peter Gabriel.’
‘We are nearing the conclusion of this anatomy. / We are strung between the point of ending, and / the point of having started.’
Poor Lucky Kolyvanova
‘The red girls’ school stood opposite a grey boys’ school, built five years after it as if to proclaim the rational symmetry of the world.’
Life and Breasts
‘My reminder of mortality came in early 2010, and I found the narrative that followed raw but completely engrossing. For the present, but only for the present, it is behind me.’