Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf ? Recent literature picks

Many people it would seem. While widely admired for her beautiful writing style, her work puzzles a lot of people – it is complex and open to liberal interpretation. Virginia Woolf thought she could involve her readers in the creative process, but not all have felt equal to the task. This interesting new book should make things easier for them.
Also on offer this month is an unexpected collection of love poems by Charles Bukowski, a humorous new play about the succession of King Charles 111, a new study of Maya Angelou and an anthology of writing about walking.

Syndetics book coverWoolf : a guide for the perplexed / Kathryn Simpson.“Virginia Woolf is one of the best-known and most influential modernist writers; an iconic figure, her image and reference to her work and life appear in the most varied of cultural sites. Her writing is, however, in many ways kaleidoscopic and has given rise to a diverse and, sometimes, conflicting body of critical work.There is much to perplex any reader approaching her writing, especially for the first time. This guide untangles some of the difficulties and perplexities that can prove a barrier to understanding the work”.(Wellington City Libraries’ catalogue note).

Syndetics book coverKing Charles III / Mike Bartlett.“Mike Bartlett’s provocative ‘future history play’ explores the people beneath the crowns, the unwritten rules of our democracy, and the conscience of Britain’s most famous family.
Queen Elizabeth II is dead. After a lifetime of waiting, her son ascends the throne. A future of power. But how to rule? The play draws on the style and structure of a Shakespearean history play, with much of the dialogue written in blank verse, a comic subplot, and even the occasional appearance of a significant ghost.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverOn love / Charles Bukowski ; edited by Abel Debritto.“Bukowski is brilliant on love–often amusing, sometimes playful, and fleetingly sweet. On Love offers deep insight into Bukowski the man and the artist; whether writing about his daughter, his lover, his friends, or his work, he is piercingly honest and poignantly reflective, using love as a prism to see the world in all its beauty and cruelty, and his own fragile place in it.”Brutally honest, flecked with humor and pathos, On Love reveals Bukowski at his most candid and affecting.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe goshawk / T.H. White ; with a foreword by Helen Macdonald.“First published in 1951, T.H. White’s memoir describes with searing honesty his attempt to train a wild goshawk, a notoriously difficult bird to master. With no previous experience and only a few hopelessly out-of-date books on falconry as a guide, he set about trying to bend the will of his young bird Gos to his own. Suffering setback after setback, the solitary and troubled White nonetheless found himself obsessively attached to the animal he hoped would one day set him free.”(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverA bus pass named desire / Christopher Matthew ; illustrations by Tony Ross.“A Bus Pass Named Desire is book of warm, witty and charming poems about everything from negotiating Tinder in your sixties to the dubious flattery of being stalked on the Internet by your old flame from the 1970s; from the dangers of the Bridge party invitation to the joys of the Senior Citizen City Break.All life – and love – is here!” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverMaya Angelou : adventurous spirit / Linda Wagner-Martin.“A comprehensive biographical and critical reading of the works of American poet and memoirist Maya Angelou (1928-2014). Linda Wagner-Martin covers all six of Angelou’s autobiographies, as well as her essay and poetry collections, while also exploring Angelou’s life as an African American in the United States, her career as stage and film performer, her thoughtful participation in the Civil Rights actions of the 1960s, and her travels abroad in Egypt, Africa, and Europe”.(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverM train / Patti Smith.Proxy Error“An unforgettable odyssey of a legendary artist. It begins in the tiny Greenwich Village cafĂ© where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft and on artistic creation. Here, too, are singular memories of Smith’s life in Michigan and the irremediable loss of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith”.(Wellington City Libraries’ catalogue note).

Syndetics book coverThe walker’s anthology / compiled by Deborah Manley.The Walker’s Anthology“Several millennia ago two people – possibly an adult and a child – walked in soft, muddy ground in the Olduvai Gorge in present day Kenya, leaving their footprints for archaeologists to discover. And, still walking, the descendants of people like these two went on to walk right across our world. Walking is as natural to us as breathing and almost every author who has ever written has had something to say on the subject.
In this fascinating anthology, Deborah Manley has drawn on writings of more than 50 literary figures from around the world.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverArtful / Ali Smith.
“Adapted from four lectures given by Ali Smith at Oxford University, Artful is a tidal wave of ideas in four thematically organised bursts of thought: ‘On Time’, ‘On Form’, ‘On Edge’ and ‘On Offer and On Reflection’.Refusing to be tied down to either fiction or the essay form, Artful is narrated by a character who is haunted – literally – by a former lover, the writer of a series of lectures about art and literature”.(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverPlaying with books : a study of the reader as child / John Morgenstern.“This ambitious study of the textual characteristics of children’s literature examines its history and stylistics, analyzes the modern conception of childhood, and dissects the rhetoric of selected children’s novels. Underlying it all is the author’s interest in children’s play and what it reveals about their nature and the literature intended for them.” (Syndetics summary.)