HELLO! Once again, once again: news. Welcome. We’ve got a lot to share. So much of if that I’m not even going to extend this intro any further. Let’s just hit it:
Short time left for short stories
Submissions for our annual short story competition close at the end of the month. That’s frighteningly soon. So if you have a good story, have a friend who has a good story, or a student, or relative, or anyone, please send it to us. You can access full details here. Entrance costs just £10, there’s a serious cash prize, it’s a great way to introduce your writing to Elly and me (as well as the wider world), and it’s also a great way to help us keep on keeping on.
(And please, don’t think you can’t enter if you’re feeling the pinch. You may be able to get a free entry spot if you write to us. We made available 70 free entries to low earners at the start of the competition - and, thanks to the immense generosity of a number of individuals who have donated additional entries, this has been extended to almost 100. A few of these are still available, so if you want to enter but need a fee-waiver, don’t be shy. [And to anyone else feeling flush and generous: Over the past few months we’ve received some pretty gut-wrenching letters from people who are finding that £10 hard to find. It’s shocking to realise how many people with talent are cut off from most competitions and we’re very keen to enable as many people as possible can enter... There’s a limit to what we can do ourselves, which is why we needed to stop at 70, but if anyone reading this wants to do a potentially life-changing favour for a fellow human-being, please do consider donating. Just follow this link and hit the big black button. Thank you.])
Norwich people! And also people who like to hear from very talented writers and are prepared to travel to Norwich! We’re doing an event at Waterstones at 6pm on 11 October. Alex Pheby will be there. Paul Stanbridge will be there. Paul Ewen will be there. Francis Plug might show up if he can get past security. And I’ll be there too.
We’ll be talking about modernism and experimentation, we’ll be reading from books, we’ll be drinking wine, we’ll be having fun - all the more so if you come along and help fill up the room.
(The event is part of a big tour organised by BookBlast. There are some fantastic publishers involved, so even if you can’t get to Norwich, you might find something good near you. … Have a look at their website.)
Talking of Francis Plug… LOOK OUT!
In just a few short weeks, Francis will make his triumphant return. I shan’t say too much at this stage as I’m planning to go BIG in the next newsletter. But I can tell you that working on this book has been a joy. Francis. Oh Francis. I wish you hadn’t done a pee where you did do a pee, but I still love you. Limited editions are available for pre-order here. They will be signed and winging their way to lucky people soon. Snap them up! (The lovely purple paperback will be in the store on release.)
That was the headline when the Times Literary Supplement recently reviewed Toby Litt’s Wrestliana. Equally pleasing, their eloquent reviewer Houman Barekat said: “The overriding register of this charming and soulful book is one of sanguine generosity.” Isn’t that lovely? I feel that way too. The whole review is full of insight and well worth a read. As is the book. Of course. We have some limited editions - and lovely green paperbacks - in the store. And it’s Friday, so give yourself a treat.
Oh yes! The excellent headlines keep on coming! And didn’t I tell you about Lucia?! This review in The Dublin Review Of Books is a good one. Obviously, I’m going to think that, since the reviewer likes the book and Alex’s writing almost as much as Elly and I do. But still, read it for yourself. The reviewer really understands where Alex is coming from... and... holy hell! He's a train! You’re on the tracks! Oh no! He’s going damn fast. Steam and sparks blasting into the night sky. Noise and speed. Wheels blurring. Twenty tons of heat and fury are about smash into your face...
“Skillfully rich... a careful observation of the mind’s unravelling... [Playthings]’s hybrid position between the historical and the fictional makes it all the more potent.” Oh yes. We have copies here.
Talking of the USA, Preti Taneja’s We That Are Young has also just blasted off in the land that used to be free. Here’s what they say in the Boston Globe:
“It’s a marvel that she was able to pack in so much (plot, atmosphere, social observation, you name it) while sustaining such propulsive energy over the course of nearly 500 pages, and yet she manages to the last. The overall effect is dizzying, dazzling, and ultimately convincing and immersive.”
“Taneja writes vivid, atmospheric scenes in tight, clean prose with exquisite observational detail that isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.”
We don’t have limited editions left, I’m afraid, except for the ones we’re keeping for our pension. (When they’re gone, they’re gone - so, you know, make sure you snap up the other limited edition titles in our store.) But we do have our famous and beautiful orange covers here.
We’re launching Francis Plug in London on 4 October. Venue TBC. But keep the date clear. You’ll be very welcome - and all you need to do is drop us a line if you’d like to come (not least so we can email you the location).
I know it's traditional to end these letters by complaining about Jeff Bezos and Amazon (and they sure haven’t been getting better recently), but today I’m going to try to be positive. Over on The Guardian I’ve been having a thoroughly wonderful time reading Chaucer. That’s a 600-year-old book that still hits home, can still make you coo in admiration, make you laugh in sympathy - and still feels as fresh as Zephyrus’ swete breeth. Writers are fantastic, aren’t they? It’s an honour to promote their work - and we couldn’t do it without your support. So thank you. Together, we’re doing something that might just last.
A few adverts below the goodbye where you're free to either enjoy or ignore them.
Our Galley Buddies subscription scheme offers limited editions of our books, as well as other goodies (invitations to launches and events, discounts, and other things). The scheme is really important to us. It means that our writers always have a certain number of readers (the most important thing a writer can have). It means that we get to know some of you better. And, of course, it offers us some much-needed financial padding – without which, there are times when we simply wouldn’t have got by.
We always want more Buddies. We're also very happy to arrange subscription as a gift if you're thinking of Christmas early, want to give someone a very special birthday present, or just let someone know you love them and respect them enough to give them some fine, fine writing.