Hello there. This is Bookish, a podcast in which writers are forced to have conversations.
Chapter One: The Rain And Slugs Howled Around Us…
…in which I find myself in Preston with Jenn Ashworth. Jenn is a novelist, a childhood friend, and an ex-Mormon. We discuss lost novels, lost teenagers, what it’s like to be from the North, and the terrifying things Latter-Day-Saint-folk get up to. You can listen to it here or you can download it on iTunes.
Who Is Jenn?
There’s no sense in sticking a parasol in this cocktail. Jenn writes books which are dark, bleak and claustrophobic. A Kind of Intimacy, her first novel, recounts the wildly unreliable memoirs of a morbidly obese woman as she becomes increasingly obsessed with her neighbours. Her second, Cold Light – from which you get to hear Jenn read at the end of this episode – describes the lies, anxieties and secrets that dominate the lives of a group of teenage girls in a Preston in the 1990’s. Despite this grim subject matter she (and her books) are very funny. Her third book, this time viewing a day in the life of a Mormon family in Chorley, is on its way.
Should they be unavailable from your friendly local bookshop, you can buy Jenn’s first two books, A Kind of Intimacy and Cold Light, from Amazon. If you’d like to know more about her you can visit her website or even follow her on Twitter.
Some of the books we mention:
Pale Fire – a 1962 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, ostensibly a poem, the story is related through the extensive commentary footnotes which make up most of the book.
On The Road – Jack Kerouac’s famous story from 1957 describes two men wandering around America acting as though they’re the first people to ever have fun.
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel of angst and depression.
Paper Swallows and ‘The Balloon Book’ – two unpublished books by Jenn Ashworth. ‘The Balloon Book’, a 90,000 word document, was on a laptop taken during a break-in at Jenn’s house.
The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro’s 1995 novel, described at the time as having ‘invented its own category of badness’.
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