Mailbox Monday #6

 It's been a sad week for my family as we lost my uncle to cancer. The silver linings is that we will be able to mourn together at the funeral, but that truly is the slimmest of linings. So the song below is for him.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists. It is hosted weekly over at Mailbox Monday and every Friday they do a round-up of some of their favourite, shared reads!

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon (Merky Books, 06/05/2021)

'Vern wished to make every moment of her life a rebellion, not just against the Blessed Acres of Cain but the world in its entirety. Nothing would be spared her resistance.'

Vern, a Black woman with albinism, is hunted after escaping a religious compound, then she discovers that her body is changing and that she is developing extra-sensory powers.

Alone in the woods, she gives birth to twins and raises them away from the influence of the outside world. But something is wrong - not with them, but with her own body. It's itching, it's stronger, it's... not normal.

To understand her body's metamorphosis, Vern must investigate not just the secluded religious compound she fled but the violent history of dehumanisation, medical experimentation, and genocide that produced it. In the course of reclaiming her own darkness, Vern learns that monsters aren't just individuals, but entire histories, systems, and nations.

This book sounds beautiful but horrifying at the same time. I'll maybe need a little bit of time before I can face this one, but I feel like I will probably get a lot from it.

The Antarctica of Love by Sara Stridsberg, trans. by Deborah Bragan-Turner (Quercus Books, 30/09/2021)

"We drove through a tunnel of rain and flowers and trees and the world now was this one place, this single chamber, a grave and a coffin, a wall of trees that all would soon be dead. But first I had to die."

She has been in the world for a brief moment, a world with needs, demands and fears. Until someone decided to snuff out her life and strew the landscape with her body parts. But there are still the children, who were hers once, Valle and Solveig, taken into the care of the authorities and placed somewhere along the length of Sweden. And there are still her parents, Raksha and Ivan, roaming through Stockholm in their departed daughter's former world. And there is still the moment of death, which will never end, ever.

Because this is what happens. The first time she dies is in the forest, when her heart stops at his hands, the second time she dies is when all that is left of her is lowered into the ground, the third time will be when someone says her name for the last time on earth. She is waiting for that to happen. And as much as she wishes the voices still prattling on about her savage earthly fate would hush, she wishes one of her children would say "mum" and mean her.

Sara Stridsberg's new novel is about absolute vulnerability; about brutality, isolation and a mother's love. About what is left when everything else has gone. Antarctica of Love is a heartrending existential drama in which the characteristic blend of Stridsberg's great literary weight and her readability creates an original mix of terror and beauty, longing and black despair. A devastating story of unexpected love, tenderness and light in the total darkness.

I think my recent reading choices may have been prescient. This one will probably also be a difficult read, but it may also be a good way to face certain things! 

Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangal, trans. by Jessica Moore (Quercus Books, 13/05/20201)

Behind the ornate doors of 30, rue du Métal in Brussels, twenty students begin their apprenticeship in the art of decorative painting - that art of tricksters and counterfeiters, where each knot in a plank of wood hides a secret and every vein in a slab of marble tells a story.

Among these students are Kate, Jonas and Paula Karst. Together, during a relentless year of study, they will learn the techniques of reproducing materials in paint, whether animal, vegetable or mineral, and the intensity of their experience - the long hours in the studio, the late nights, the conversations, arguments, parties, romances - will cement a friendship that lasts long after their formal studies end.

For Paula, her initiation into the art of trompe l'œil will take her back through time, from her own childhood memories, to the ancient formations of the materials whose depiction she strives to master. And from the institute in Brussels where her studies begin, to her work on the film sets of Cinecittà, and finally the caves of Lascaux, her experiences will transcend art, gradually revealing something of her own inner world, and the secret, unspoken, unreachable desires of her heart.

A coming-of-age novel like no other: an atmospheric and highly aesthetic portrayal of love, art and craftsmanship from the acclaimed author of Birth of a Bridge and Mend the Living.
This sounds like such a beautiful book, I adore the set-up of it and it's going to make me long for the days of visiting museum and becoming obsessed with pieces of art. Also, I want to visit the caves of Lascaux so bad....

Cecily by Annie Garthwaite (Viking, 29/07/2021)

"Rebellion?"
The word is a spark. They can start a fire with it, or smother it in their fingertips.
She chooses to start a fire.

You are born high, but marry a traitor's son. You bear him twelve children, carry his cause and bury his past.

You play the game, against enemies who wish you ashes. Slowly, you rise.

You are Cecily.

But when the King who governs you proves unfit, what then?

Loyalty or treason - death may follow both. The board is set. Time to make your first move.

Told through the eyes of its greatest unseen protagonist, this astonishing debut plunges you into the blood and exhilaration of the first days of the Wars of the Roses, a war as women fight it.

Something a little different, back to my Historical Fiction! I don't know much about the Wars of the Roses, aside from its outcome, so this will be a nice introduction I hope!

Comments

  1. I'm so sorry for your loss. They all hit me hard but especially aunts and uncles. I think because I have vivid memories growing up in a large extended family who gathered often. Wonderful memories.

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  2. So sorry about your uncle. I LOVE that Sinatra song. Thanks for sharing it.

    I am intrigued by Cecily. Enjoy your week and your time with family and friends.

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  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. We lost Aunt Jan 3 days before last Christmas and Uncle Mike (her husband) 3 weeks ago. It's been hard not being able to get together to remember them but we're (the extended family) hoping to gather in summer and share our favorite stories.

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  4. I am sorry for your family loss. That song fit my father too.
    Gosh - those first two books sound rather dark.
    Enjoy all of your reading!

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  5. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your uncle. This is a hard time for you all. My condolences.

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