I'm reading Ducks, Newburyport, by Lucy Ellmann, and am really enjoying the challenge of a 1000-page Ulysses-style novel made up of just a few lengthy sentences. I love the way it almost cheekily demands concentration – as if saying, can you manage to focus on something for more than five minutes?
I've been reading it for about six months but am determined to finish it! With its myriad facts, thoughts, song lyrics, worries, film plots, dreams and other memorabilia, it feels like it's asking questions about the world of information overload we live in. And I also love heroines who bake cake.
I've just finished Ferenc Karinthy's novel Metropole, which I found in someone's bookshelf. It was written in 1970 but struck me as one of those timeless books that feels eternally relevant. It's about a man who finds himself in a city where he can't speak or understand the language or customs, nor can he make himself understood. His increasingly desperate attempts to decipher the language and escape the city give it a Kafkaesque spirit, but it's also very poignant.
Another wonderful book about exile I recently read is Jhumpa Lahiri's memoir In Other Words. She wrote the book in Italian and as well as being about her infatuation with the Italian language, it's also an exploration of who she is in Italian. She's a brilliant writer in English, but it's been amazing discovering this very different version of her. The bareness of the writing makes you feel like you're getting straight to her heart.
I'm enjoying the calm and weight that poems bring at the end of the day. I think I sleep better after a poem or two. Jane Arthur's Craven is beautifully written and yet feels so effortless, as if the words just slipped out of her. I feel like I'm catching a glimpse of fleeting worlds. There's a breadth and depth to these poems that make everything else fall away.
Susanna Gendall's debut novel, The Disinvent Movement (VUP, $30) is out now.