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  • On Culture: Why Publishers Love Lists
    serious commercial boost to an industry that has learned over the last decade and a half to panic constantly about its chances of survival Less cynically of course lists are psychologically satisfying For semi professional readers they are surveys of the territory ahead Book blogs are booming and you can t write a serious book blog without a schedule In order to request copies in time you need to know what s coming These round ups provide a way of doing so that doesn t involve trawling through endless catalogues although it s likely that many bloggers will do that anyway For the casual reader though the celebrated man or woman in the street who likes to curl up in their armchair with a novel of a night these lists primarily promise quality control In this sense they re exactly like end of year bests only without the underlying sense of smugness if you recognize a handful of titles that you ve already read they allow you to signpost titles and covers in your mind so that when you see them in the shops several months later you know you re not taking quite such a big chance Or at least that s the idea In reality of course you re taking a huge chance but the list format makes it appear as though the real gambler is the books editor or columnist who has deemed the book worthy of anticipation Lists like this trade on the presumption of trustworthiness Believe us is the subtext This is what we do all day We can sort the wheat from the chaff Most readers I think know on some level that this promise is hollow It s only common sense no one is going to like all of the books recommended to them But the fiction of impartial judgment is so useful that we allow it to endure We rather have to otherwise we d have to do every bit of the weeding out ourselves And quite frankly long may it continue The first news story I saw when I woke up this morning was about the child that the British press has dubbed with questionable taste Jihadi Junior the next was about parental inability to monitor their offspring s electronics usage the third was about North Korea s hydrogen bomb test We live not unusually humans have always lived thus in an age of uncertainty and violence and at times despair The books we anticipate at the beginning of the year and the books we laud at the end of it sometimes in the in between months manage to unfold our state of being to us our fear our hypocrisy our humour and our joy Why shouldn t we make lists of them About Eleanor Franzen Eleanor Franzén is a London based writer and editorial assistant She blogs about books at Elle Thinks http www ellethinks wordpress com Mail Web Twitter More Posts 6 Comments comments Prev Observations on Manchester Square

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2016/01/why-publishers-love-lists/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Observations on Manchester Square, W1
    and looks up as if he can see me Rolling a cigarette in a slate grey suit Our eyes seem to catch but there s glass between us and three plants on a veranda Am I imagining it He seems to look right at me and I feel his animal stare as I sit camouflaged and watchful 16 Is this observing a kind of safari There is definitely a hierarchy of gazing like in a zoo I am enthroned on a bench in the Romanian Cultural Institute my look is legitimate it comes from the inside I m shielded and cushioned and there are snacks Whereas they on the street their returning gaze is hostile it s that of an outsider and it s a kind of provocation There s an essay about how we look at animals and the arrogance of the one way gaze It asks what do they see looking at us 17 Man s head appears in the bushes He s clipping them Just went into the park with E only accessible with a key and we sat on curved benches and looked at red geraniums There were surprisingly several people in the park who I couldn t see from my window a man on a bench observing the grass other men perhaps workers at a table Rules are displayed on laminated notices No smoking in the park No bicycles clipped to its railings So many rules E thinks the white parking lines around the edge of the square are a magic circle and in some ways the park does feel alive a sleeping creature When I left the gate sprung back as if to keep me in it doesn t like people leaving E said Like that fable about the Forest of Gline none come out but many go in I loved that verse it was so terrifying the idea of begin swallowed by a vast expanse of forest that s also a labyrinth Maybe you transfigure inside or maybe you leave by air The stones are hatching 18 I have seen so many Selfridges bags that bright flashy yellow of a sports car It wants to be seen Nature only produces such yellows in desperate circumstances The shop is dispersing itself the bags like tuffs of dandelion seeds Shoppers pollen The money coloured light that glitters here catches the laminated surface of the yellow bags its scratch free surface promising eternal sophistication 19 Funny seeing men in suits cycling on the Santander sponsored bicycles So apt the cycles declare investment The suits are tight around their shoulder blades because they are not made for exercise but only for laundered carpets of trading floors 20 Blue boater hat drifts past The woman beneath it is only a slurry of grey but the azure hat glistened in the sunlight afloat on the street as if it were a hat blown off a quiet river in Oxford The opening of a Pinter play 21 People walk past the garden and I m seeing only an excerpt of their journey it s like noting down a quotation The pavement is an established pathway it s managerial walk this way it insists And inches away behind the bushes and beyond the fence a man labours Sweeps and waters prunes the bushes I look down upon two worlds separated by an iron fence and they feel like different universes It s the condition of city living buildings create walls coinciding lives that don t always meet but graze past each other Like the backyard a small kingdom where people strut and lie and plant feeling secluded and private but there s somebody in a bikini just meters to your left sectioned off by a garden fence All the allotments the segments the illusions of solitude 22 Watching from the window I realise people still smoke A lot So many cigarettes hanging out of mouths rolled from fingers 23 I haven t seen any birds in the trees There are monkey nuts in here E crushes them out of their wooden cases that are embossed as if with fingerprints 24 Van flashes past TABLE MANNERS 25 A couple walk down the street his arm is round her They re in their early 50s and I love the way they touch each other He s slightly taller and leans an arm to curl all the way round her body cupping her shoulder and she is turned towards him squeezing his spare hand There s a slowness to their pace they ve chosen touch over speed it s so tender It reminds me I love public displays of affection I want more petting in pools more snogging on park benches We re far too civilised 26 E now stands out on the street having a cigarette She holds her baby in her arms and he plays with a necklace Arms reaching I love the way babies use their mouth as a reader everything touches lips and tongue it s a reading muscle like the eye Until they re told its not hygienic 27 Woman in a purple trench coat with a yellow bob has walked past twice I admired her purple the first time and like it less the second It s a purple verging on yellow rather than vermilion Purple is a chromatic luxury I like it rich and deep electric aubergine the kind that sets off gold that makes it flare like glowing embers 28 The litter of lunch is so immense we should all carry tin cups and a fork around army surplus So many people eat sandwiches as they walk past Neoliberal etiquette says eating while you walk is okay In fact it s necessary Woman in green jacket with greying hair tears open a cardboard sandwich box her pace does not falter 29 Another woman reads as she walks wearing bright red chinos A novel Although those trousers tell me this is an Italian so it s probably

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2016/01/67421/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Izabella Scott, Author at Litro Magazine
    simply falls off the map What happened Read more Izabella Scott The author has 2 posts published in Litro Magazine Izabella Scott is a writer and editor based in London She has worked for the publisher MACK since 2012 In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Frieze Writer s Prize Website Twitter Facebook Contact Us General 44 0 20 3371 9971 info litro co uk Sales Advertising enquiries 44 0 20 3371 9971 Email Sales Magazine Editorial editor litro co uk All Online Editorial online litro co uk Book Reviews Author Interviews reviews litro co uk Film Arts Editorial arts litro co uk Litro Lab Podcast litrolab litro co uk LitroTV litrotv litro co uk Litro Listings listings litro co uk Subscribe Stockists Submissions Advertising Our Team About Litro Litro Magazine is a free short stories and creative arts magazine in print and online Providing a place for readers writers and the broader creative community to discuss various aspects of literature arts and culture through features reviews non themed fiction interviews columns and more Perfect reading for those with busy lives When the first issue of Litro was published in April 2005 the main free paper for commuters and city dwellers was the morning Metro Since then many tabloid style free sheets have joined the field like the Metro these can be skim read and quickly discarded Litro is different our central aim has always been to provide commuters and city dwellers with an inspiring thought provoking alternative that takes you places you don t normally think about when travelling around the city We believe literary magazines should not just be targeted at writers themselves or even those with a particular interest in literature instead Litro believes in reaching the general reader whether they be a commuter someone browsing in

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/author/izabella-scott/ (2016-02-15)
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  • 4500 Heartbeats an Hour: Death in a Secular Age
    home made death more visible it also removed a level of abstraction from the dead It was this level of normalcy that made mortality less frightening Mortuary workers are some of the very few people who regularly encounter death in its neutral form separate from personal grief or prurient interest Rapidly declining childhood and maternal mortality following on the heels of developments in medicine and sanitation have helped banish physical decay to the peripheries of our culture In the 17th century the satirist and Bishop of Exeter Joseph Hall could truthfully write Death borders upon our birth And our cradle stands in the grave This is evidently no longer the case in the wealthy developed world But while the dead are less visible in public spaces our interest in death has not dissipated We may no longer advertise our bereavement like the Victorians by dressing in black crepe and wearing jewellery of calcified coal but we have Facebook memorial pages execution videos and a 24 hour news cycle of repetitive tragedy It could be argued that murder mysteries CSI and Scandi noir are the memento moris of the 21st century comfortable middle class people entertained by serial killers necrophiliacs and dead children Whatever else these stories may be they are also an inducement to think about death But murder mysteries tell us little about how to manage our own mortality The memento mori had meaning because it existed inside an already coherent system Paintings of skulls and rotten fruit prompted their audience to consider the importance of salvation rather than ruminate on the expiry date of plums There is for many of us myself included no longer any equivalent cultural system from which to draw meaning about death The decline of religious observance in many Western countries has encouraged a new strain of humanist morality But a secular consideration of death has not emerged alongside this newly defined moral coda This is perhaps because humanism with its movement away from God and the afterlife has little to offer other than stoicism In Unweaving the Rainbow Richard Dawkins writes We are going to die and that makes us the lucky ones Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born We privileged few who won the lottery of birth against all odds how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred While Dawkins is clearly not a man to mince his words this is not an uncommon sentiment Death is unavoidable and life precious so why be afraid It s unrealistic to imagine our need to contend with death has vanished over time Our culture is studded with reminders that we will die Death may be an addendum but it remains a defining one in lives bracketed by absence What makes Dawkins argument difficult is less its content than its inflexibility Mortality is bound up with uncertainty and any useful consideration of death is

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2016/01/4500-heartbeats-an-hour-death-in-a-secular-age/ (2016-02-15)
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  • The Art of Making Things Happen
    stand in silence cold and alien like radiating sterility determined to break him without physical violence In a particularly poignant cube entitled Doubt we see the guards marching and Ai beside them hesitating as to whether he should fall into step take the path of least resistance and march with them But of course he doesn t because he is a born rebel because to march is to surrender and because once you ve tasted freedom it stays in your heart and no one can take it I found myself leaning against the wall of the gallery and observing how others reacted to the cubes I was particularly interested in the responses of Chinese visitors And there were many of them of all ages but particularly the young perhaps students They moved in small groups standing quietly before the introductory boards that described the brutality of Mao the shackling of speech in China the coercion of dissidents They paused before the nameless bones of an intellectual who died in one of Mao s labour camps I tried to read their faces They whispered to each other They walked slowly up the little ladders propped against the cubes and peered in through the windows watching Ai s prostrate body on his bed as if on a mortuary slab his guards long and thin leaning over him violating all his moments Sometimes they laughed nervously conferred at the footsteps of the cubes ascended again to reevaluate They moved on and saw Ai in the shower sponging his back his guards crowded in with him rigid as planks demeaning themselves more than their captive As I watched these people absorb their surroundings I asked myself whether it would be possible to walk through such an exhibition and not come away knowing that authoritarianism is wrong Can people witness the crushing of the human instinct to freedom and not come away feeling deep in their bones that it is wrong to do this to people Rational perhaps if you re a Chinese politician And expedient But wrong And this manifest wrongness matters because even as the human is a rational self serving creature it is also a moral one So can art stoke this morality in a person Will the Chinese students and tourists who attend this exhibition carry a sense of indignation home with them And can they convert others Who then convert others I think they can And tyrants agree with me Think about this if art and artists don t matter then why is it that the name Ai WeiWei cannot be typed on a Chinese computer without the whole sentence vanishing If the arts don t matter then why do tyrants burn books It isn t to keep themselves warm It s to prevent a far greater conflagration The ignition of the people An awful lot of historical ingenuity has been expended on keeping populations separated from disruptive art and ideas But now the world has a new weapon and

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2015/12/the-art-of-making-things-happen/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Harry Waight, Author at Litro Magazine
    Read more Litro Arts Culture If Life Could Write Thoughts on Boyhood by Harry Waight Harry Waight ruminates on Boyhood and how the film s links to a naturalistic tradition have divided audiences Read more Harry Waight The author has 3 posts published in Litro Magazine Harry Waight is in his twenties and spent his youth travelling around the world in pursuit of his parents He returned to England to study history at university He currently lives in London plotting to escape again In the meantime he enjoys writing about things he has read watched or heard Website Twitter Facebook Contact Us General 44 0 20 3371 9971 info litro co uk Sales Advertising enquiries 44 0 20 3371 9971 Email Sales Magazine Editorial editor litro co uk All Online Editorial online litro co uk Book Reviews Author Interviews reviews litro co uk Film Arts Editorial arts litro co uk Litro Lab Podcast litrolab litro co uk LitroTV litrotv litro co uk Litro Listings listings litro co uk Subscribe Stockists Submissions Advertising Our Team About Litro Litro Magazine is a free short stories and creative arts magazine in print and online Providing a place for readers writers and the broader creative community to discuss various aspects of literature arts and culture through features reviews non themed fiction interviews columns and more Perfect reading for those with busy lives When the first issue of Litro was published in April 2005 the main free paper for commuters and city dwellers was the morning Metro Since then many tabloid style free sheets have joined the field like the Metro these can be skim read and quickly discarded Litro is different our central aim has always been to provide commuters and city dwellers with an inspiring thought provoking alternative that takes you places you

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/author/harry-waight/ (2016-02-15)
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  • A Sting In Her Tail: The Wasp at Trafalgar Studios
    business transaction but every so often Donnelly would look up and there would be an old fear in her eyes Something we know happened to Heather at school and Carla was responsible for it From the beginning you suspect the business transaction won t stay strictly business Even so the first turn that the plot takes is a bit of a shock The second and even the third start to feel a bit melodramatic and the scene of exposition where we at last learn what happened between the two women at school is only managed as a long monologue which you could if you were being uncharitable call an info dump The way that Heather chooses to process her adolescent trauma frankly stretches credibility It s all the more impressive then that Donnelly and Buring keep up the audience s sense of investment in the proceedings They re both magnetic impossible to take your eyes off of the staging no doubt helps since even audience members in the back row are no more than three yards from the action A magnificent tension keeps the second half of the play humming Even when you know that the melodrama is ramping up the unpredictability of it keeps you on your seat Equally to Lloyd Malcom s credit The Wasp is full of genuinely funny moments Heather s calm description of her husband Simon which turns inexorably into a full on rant is delivered with such virtuosic rage that it nearly brought the house down When she has to lug an unconscious Carla into a chair the long minutes of silence as she pants and gasps are both terrifying what is she going to do and gloriously absurd physical comedy The humour is dark and dry but the fact that it s punctuated with moments of real horror elevates it to a complex disturbing experience Expect to walk out of the theatre feeling drained challenged and oddly invigorated The Wasp continues at Trafalgar Studio 2 until Jan 16 Tickets are available from 15 About Eleanor Franzen Eleanor Franzén is a London based writer and editorial assistant She blogs about books at Elle Thinks http www ellethinks wordpress com Mail Web Twitter More Posts 6 Comments comments Prev This Film Is Gay Portrayals of Non Hetero People in Film Next The Art of Making Things Happen Related Posts Once Upon a Wartime at the Imperial War Museum A Monster Fed By Money Frieze Art Fair 2013 I Confess Leslie Jamison at the London Review Bookshop Litro TV Recent Posts Bringing Up Baby In the Night Time Before the Sun Rises at the Gate Theatre True Love in Los Angeles A R BY ANY OTHER NAME The Echo Travelling in Fiji The Litro Blog View Archive 11th February 2016 Litro 149 The Love issue Letter from the Editor By Eric Akoto Love we spend our lives craving it in one form or another searching for it and talking about it Its meaning is felt more

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2015/12/67349/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Litro Q & A: Steph Cha
    bang out a manuscript in a year but I am there more or less I ve had to arrange everything else in my life to accommodate my writing life About Litro Online Mail Web More Posts 713 Comments comments Prev Author Q A Attica Locke Next Litro interview Hsin Wang Related Posts Stanisław Lem Sci Fi Master Ah Birmingham HR Litro TV Recent Posts Bringing Up Baby In the Night Time Before the Sun Rises at the Gate Theatre True Love in Los Angeles A R BY ANY OTHER NAME The Echo Travelling in Fiji The Litro Blog View Archive 11th February 2016 Litro 149 The Love issue Letter from the Editor By Eric Akoto Love we spend our lives craving it in one form or another searching for it and talking about it Its meaning is felt more than it is clearly expressed Some call it the greatest virtue Continue reading 9th December 2015 Litro 148 The Going Home issue Letter from the Editor By Eric Akoto This month in Litro 148 we explore the notion of what Going Home means to us Is it a familiar physical space A refuge A feeling A state of mind Or is home actually to be found in another human being maybe your partner your parents How do you know when you have found it Continue reading Contact Us General 44 0 20 3371 9971 info litro co uk Sales Advertising enquiries 44 0 20 3371 9971 Email Sales Magazine Editorial editor litro co uk All Online Editorial online litro co uk Book Reviews Author Interviews reviews litro co uk Film Arts Editorial arts litro co uk Litro Lab Podcast litrolab litro co uk LitroTV litrotv litro co uk Litro Listings listings litro co uk Subscribe Stockists Submissions Advertising Our Team About

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2015/12/litro-q-steph-cha/ (2016-02-15)
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