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Beckett on the Beach

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“If the beach is the one at the start of The Seventh Seal,” what 3:AM‘s editors are reading this summer:

Andrew Stevens: Max Décharné‘s landmark study of rockabilly A Rocket in My Pocket and finally getting hold of C by Tom McCarthy. Oh, and naturally Richard by Ben Myers and The Canal by Lee Rourke are under a pile of papers somewhere…

Steve Finbow: Read so far: Douglas Coupland The Gum Thief, Glen Duncan A Day and A Night and A Day, Jon McGregor Even the Dogs, William Boyd Ordinary Thunderstorms, Geoff Dyer Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, Aska Mochizuki Spinning Tropics. Currently reading Under the Dome by Stephen King. Plan to read in next few weeks God Bless America by Mark SaFranko, The Canal by Lee Rourke, Siberian Education by Nicolai Lilin, Loups-Garous by Natsuhiko Kyogoku, C by Tom McCarthy, Coma by Pierre Guyotat, Blood’s A Rover by James Ellroy, Self-Portrait Abroad by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Generation A by Douglas Coupland.

Max Dunbar: Have just finished James Shapiro‘s excellent Contested Will, which looks at Shakespeare conspiracy theories – a seemingly marginal subject that has big reach and insight. Just ordered John Keegan‘s The American Civil War – I know nothing about the US civil war beyond Flashman’s American adventures so this will be new terrain for me. Finally, I want to get hold of Alan Warner‘s The Stars in the Bright Sky, his sequel to The Sopranos.

Susan Tomaselli: I’m looking forward to David Means‘ new short story collection (The Spot), but I’m currently revisiting The Secret Goldfish. Finally getting around to reading The 42nd Parallel, 1919 and The Big Money (aka U.S.A. Trilogy) by John Dos Passos (I’ve borrowed the individual volumes, with illustrations by Reginald Marsh, from a friend) and I’ll dip into The Letters of Samuel Beckett Volume 1, 1929–1940.

Colin Herd: The summer seems as good a time as any to tackle a long, bulky book so I’ll be trying to plow through Joshua Cohen‘s Witz. If that gets too expansive and large, I’ll ping off to the other side of the spectrum, replace my sun-glasses with my magnifying glass and get to grips with Robert Walser‘s Microscripts- the stories he wrote while in Waldau sanitorium on tiny strips of paper and card, crime-novel covers, calendars, etc.- which New Directions have brought out in a beautiful edition, reproducing the original texts. I am currently half-way through Alix’s Journal by Alix Cleo Roubaud, the under-appreciated photographer who was married to the poet and novelist Jacques Roubaud until her death from a pulmonary embolism in 1983, aged 31. It’s a treat to have available her lively, idiosyncratic use of language (she blended English and French) alongside her equally idiosyncratic and personal photographs. After that, I’ll be reading Sweet Sweat the 1931 novel by the Belgian artist Justine Frank which was rediscovered by the artist Roee Rosen and came out last year. Hope to have time for Roger Bristow‘s overdue biography of the Scottish artists Robert Colquhoun and MacBryde, The Last Bohemians: The Two Roberts. It promises to be a dream biography, filled with wild parties, famous artists and outrageous anecdotes. But on the serious side, Bristow’s well-researched book should trigger a reassessment of the work of these under-rated artists.

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Andrew Gallix: I have just started re-reading Tom McCarthy‘s extraordinary new novel, C. I will also try to squeeze Stewart Home‘s Blood Rites of the Bourgeoisie, Lee Rourke‘s The Canal, Marc-Edouard Nabe‘s L’Homme qui arrêta d’écrire and David ShieldsReality Hunger into my suitcase.

Utahna Faith: I’m reading Françoise Sagan novels in French. Also reading (not in French) a lot about peak oil and energy alternatives, and about gardening and growing food. Things are very anti-beach around here, as the beaches are punctuated with globs of oil.

Alan Kelly: My summer reads so far: Richard by Ben Myers, Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker, Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates, Micka by Frances Kay, The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce, The Leaping by Tom Fletcher, The City & The City by China Mieville, Dandy in the Underworld by Sebastian Horsley, The Bride Stripped Bare by Rachel Kendall, Bull Running for Girls by Allyson Bird and Dog Blood by David Moody. What I want to read: Sick City by Tony O’ Neill, Blonde on a Stick by Conrad Williams and The Canal by Lee Rourke.

Karl Whitney: This summer I’m going to be reading: Carey McWilliams, Southern California: An Island on the Land, a portion of which (about how Los Angeles secured its water supply) inspired Robert Towne to write Chinatown. To supplement McWilliams’ book, I’ll also read Marc Reisner‘s Cadillac Desert: The American West & its Disappearing Water. I’ll also be reading Verso‘s reissue of Marshall Berman‘s All That Is Solid Melts into Air. The account of the traumatic construction of the Cross-Bronx Expressway in Berman’s book brings me on to the biography of the man who sanctioned the construction of the expressway: Robert Moses. The biography of Robert Moses, Robert A. Caro‘s The Power Broker sits on my shelf, and I intend to read as much as I can of its 1200-odd pages this summer. New Directions have just published a collection of late Henry Miller essays, originally published in chapbooks by the Capra Press. Collected under the title Sextet, I’ll be reading them soon. I’ll follow this up with Miller’s account of his road-trips around America, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare. Finally, I’ll be re-reading Paul Fournel‘s peerless cycling memoir, The Need for the Bike. In this brief book, Fournel, a member of the Oulipo group of writers – and a keen cyclist – recounts memories of bikes past, of painful crashes and of characters met along the road. In this book, Fournel communicates, perhaps more completely than any other writer, the experience of cycling.

Darran Anderson: Due to a combination of a sickly constitution, the infernal North Sea haar and a flat that resembles Hitler’s bunker, I’ve seen little of this mythical thing they call summer. The following are my recommendations for ideal beach reading, if the beach is the one at the start of The Seventh Seal: rereading my favourite book, Peter Conrad‘s biography of the 20th Century Modern Times, Modern Places, Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream by Sue Prideaux, Bertolt Brecht‘s poems (‘Of Poor B.B.’ and ‘Pirate Jenny’ especially), Ibsen‘s creepy as fuck Ghosts and When We Dead Awaken. Gave up on Gravity’s Rainbow (Thomas Pynchon) but finished Atlas Shrugged, which left me convinced that Ayn Rand should have been burned as a witch. Berg by Ann Quin, Anthony Cronin‘s The Life of Riley, Lee Rourke‘s The Canal and Greil MarcusLipstick Traces, all brilliant. As a former teenage Manics fan, Ben MyersRichard, is a genuinely beautiful, compassionate book that I hope gets the recognition it deserves. Tom Leonard‘s selected works Outside the Narrative, a zip file of Zenith by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell, the SMiLE of comic books. Above all, Antoine de Saint-Expery‘s fantastic Wind, Sand and Stars and Night Flight and the criminally forgotten Bruno Schulz‘s Street of Crocodiles. Starting to read Jenni Fagan‘s The Panopticon, Walter Benjamin‘s Arcades Project and as much Harlan Ellison as possible.

First posted: Thursday, July 22nd, 2010.

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