We had a lovely - and very informative - time last Tuesday evening at the London Review Bookshop in Bury Street. It was one of those evenings that make me want to move back to London NOW.
We spent about an hour and a half in the erudite company of Andrew Whitehead, one of the co-editors of London Fictions, and three of the authors who have contributed to the book: Cathi Unsworth, Lisa Gee and Rachel Lichtenstein - three very different personalities and writing styles!
London Fictions is a book about our monster of a capital published by the small press Five Leaves. Twenty-six contemporary writers write about writers who write about London!
To my shame, I have realised that I haven't read any of the books on the list! I expect London Fictions to make me want to pick up some of them.
The always captivating Cathi Unsworth has written about the L-shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks, set in West London in the 60s - and she got quite a shock when she was told that the author was actually in the room with us! The very dynamic Lisa Gee talked about Zadie Smith's ode to the controversial issue of multiculturalism, White Teeth, and Rachel Lichtenstein about Simon Blumenfeld's Jew Boy set in the East End of the 1930s - without any notes!
There is a lovely accompanying website, London Fictions, where you can read even more contributions - and get in touch if you wish to contribute to the project yourself! As a collector of vintage books, I love the section with the vintage cover artworks!
I am looking forward to reading London Fictions, as my fourth book will be entirely set in contemporary London and will deal with the ever accelerating changes I have observed since I moved to the capital back in 1998.
I wish to write about the high rise towers of glass and metal that seem to be sprouting out of the ground at an accelerating pace whilst the old buildings, sandwiched between the glittering tower blocks, stubbornly stay put, the only witnesses to the history of the city.
I will also try and capture the uneasy relationship between the glossy corporate face of the city and a murkier, mysterious, edgy underbelly - imagined or real.
By the time I start working on the book - I still have to publish two other ones before I settle down to write that one - London will have further evolved and developed beyond recognition. Who knows what I will find...
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