Quick book picks for January

We’ve all remembered that time continues to pass and prepared to blame a different numbered year for our troubles, so now it’s time for more books. The usual random mixture with some modern folk tradition reimagining, dystopian gangster noir, a painful story of trauma, and a biography of Mary Shelley for the anniversary of Frankenstein’s publication.

  • Swansong by Kerry Andrew – A lyrical novel about a twentysomething escaping to the Highlands from London which combines folk tradition and modern issues.
  • This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel – A novel about a big family in which the youngest child is transgender, and how they all keep secrets and try to make their lives work.
  • The Earlie King & the Kid in Yellow by Danny Denton – A literary dystopian noir set in an always raining Dublin, in which a boy steals a baby amidst gang war.
  • In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein by Fiona Sampson – A biography of Mary Shelley that tries to look beyond the picture usually painted of her, whilst also doing a bit of questioning the cultural idea of Frankenstein itself as a novel.
  • Peach by Emma Glass – Short and visceral story of a girl who has been assaulted, shown with immediacy through her perspective.

Peach by Emma Glass

Dark, poetic prose: Peach by Emma Glass

Peach is a visceral book about a girl who has been assaulted, written in an unforgettably immediate style. Peach comes home bloody and plagued by the smell of meat, but her parents are too preoccupied with their new baby to ask the right questions. She goes to college to see her boyfriend Green, but still nothing is right. Her body is wrong. Glass uses a distinctive style written in sharp immediacy to show Peach’s thoughts and actions after she is attacked.

This short novel is an exercise in darkly poetic prose that takes a difficult subject and inhabits the trauma of the experience. At times it is so visceral that it is painful to read and its depiction of the aftermath of sexual assault and the mental processes of the main character mean that any reader needs to be aware of this content before reading, but it is also carefully done, with a skilful use of minimal words and descriptions of physical sensations and sounds. It has similarities to books like Eimear McBride’s The Lesser Bohemians, but far more condensed, focused on detail and spanning a short space of time. Every word feels like an attack or relief in this impressively written book that depicts a terrible subject in an emotive and haunting way.