3 Books Weekly #25: Featuring novelist Matthew De Abaitua
09.00, Friday 19 Aug 2016 Link to this post
The following was first posted on the 3 Books Weekly email newsletter and has since been archived here. The intro is from Lisa Ritchie.
I’m stupendously excited to welcome author and university lecturer Matthew De Abaitua to 3 Books Weekly! Matthew’s work includes the mind-bending sci-fi novel The Red Men, which was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. (A personal favourite, it was recommended to me and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve recommended it other people!)
In tiny vending machine bookshop news, this week I did a test called ‘Will it Vend’. (Maybe there’s a YouTube series in that.) All the items passed with flying colours, hurrah! So this week we’re vending some non-book products thanks to our friends at Machines Room. We’ve got Sugru, an instrument making kit from Technology Will Save Us and some marvellous robots from The Crafty Robot - they’re super cute!
Over to Matthew. Happy Friday!
#1. Seize the Day (Penguin Modern Classics), by Saul Bellow
I always carry an early collection of Saul Bellow’s short stories in my bag. His prose is hot with the street and a yearning for transcendence; if I only have a few minutes to read then I’ll study a paragraph of his to follow how he develops his thought or description. Of his novels, Seize the Day is the one I re-read. It’s short and potent, the story of Tommy Wilhelm, who is taking account of his failings in early middle age. It’s devastating on masculine self-delusion and deeply moving on the human condition, all set on the oppressive steaming New York street of Broadway.
#2. Ubik (S.F. MASTERWORKS), by Philip K. Dick
Stanislaw Lem, the Nobel Prize-winning author of Solaris, declared Ubik to be Philip K Dick’s masterpiece. The narrative pull of the novel comes from its nested realities. You never know quite which world you are in, and then Dick pulls the fabric of space and time from under your feet. I read Ubik and Dick’s Valis while writing my first novel The Red Men. Ubik taught me that flipping the reader’s reality was far more compelling than violence.
#3. The Dispossessed, by Ursula Le Guin
A novel that imagines an anarchist society, how it would work on a granular level, and what it would feel like; how such a worldview would alter the people inhabiting it. The Dispossessed of the title are the anarchists who have abandoned a lush unequal capitalist planet for an arid moon. Life on the moon is hard but through collective effort they make it habitable. Le Guin picks up the story of their society a few hundred years after its inception, and follows the journey of their lead scientist back to the planet his ancestors left behind. I put this novel on the reading list for the creative writing science fiction course I teach at the University of Essex. Some students have been blown away by it. They’ve never encountered such a convincing alternative society.