I'm very happy to be reading from Hotel, and talking with one of my favourite writers, Claire-Louise Bennett, the author of Pond, about her book, and mine, at the LRB Bookshop on Tuesday 17th November.
My small collection of pornographic fairy tales is published today.
It's cheap & there's lots of sex in it.
Ellie Broughton of The Erotic Review says: "like The Bloody Chamber after a couple of gins... swollen with surreal eroticism and a weird, lavish imagination."
Claire Lowdon at The Times Literary Supplement called Grow A Pair, "a collection of hilarious, nimbly interlinked “fairy tales about sex”. It reminded me of Nicholson Baker’s House of Holes, only Walsh’s book is shorter (a good thing in this case), dirtier and even funnier."
Julian Gough: "Joanna Walsh is one of the funniest, most subversive writers out there. "Grow A Pair" rocks... Grow a Pair has the delicious, deadpan lunacy of some prime JG Ballard, but sexier & funnier... I attended the launch. One of the funniest readings I've ever been at."
LitHub: "A sense of play runs throughout the stories in Grow a Pair, which deal in numerous fairy-tale archetypes: mysterious forests, witches causing mischief, and the malleability of flesh."
LA Review of Books: "love child of Harry Mathews’s Singular Pleasures and Amelia Gray’s AM/PM... The stories are... peculiar and deeply queer, a mix of penetration and frottage, and set in a kingdom where sex is a unit of understanding; foregone conclusion and miracle both... beneath its surreal, explicit skin, it is an astute exploration of the many permutations and complications of desire."
Sydney Review of Books: "The Girl and the Penis-Bush fuses two rarely communicative strains of writing: blue collar minimalism with the sexually phantasmagoric... Walsh takes that most familiar of short story endings – the Carveresque meaning-laden moment left unresolved – and overhauls it wholly, renovating clichés and genre... Polyamorous fuckfests abound, but no-one seems very happy... there’s an invention here – fizzing, liberated – that traces a path back home (once lost at sea, now on foot via a detour to the Penis-Bush). This short book contains the only useful message a good writer and engaged reader need to hear: there are more stories to come."
Dubravka Ugresic said "It's excellent, light, funny, all in all: tiny book -- a great read!"
Naomi Frisby of The Writes of Women: "It’s a confident collection, satisfying in terms of its links between stories as characters paths cross at different points. It’s also highly entertaining as well as being smart and thoughtful."
You can buy the book at all the usual places, or order it direct from the publisher.
You can also read one of the stories for free at Berfrois.
For review copies, or just copies (if you can't find one locally), here's the contact.
The TLS says, of Grow A Pair's excellent publisher, Readux: Ambition aside, everything about Readux Books is small-scale. The Berlin-based publisher only came into being two years ago; since then it has brought out Just twenty books, in five series of four. The books themselves are pocket-sized ("teeny", as the website has it), no more than 10,000 words long, and "affordable: about the same amount you'd pay for a fancy cup of coffee". The publisher's intention, it seems, is to make them appear as unthreatening as possible, something you'd pick up on impulse Just as you might spend your loose change on a chocolate bar; certainly, the books themselves, decked out in gorgeous tissue-paper shades of pink, green and blue, are as tempting as confectionery. But don't be fooled: for all their pretty packaging and digestible dimensions, these are serious books: attentive, cerebral and bold.
Dorothy is an extraordinary publisher; producing only two books a year, it punches far above its weight, consistently championing exciting and innovative new writing. I'd like to give many thanks to Danielle Dutton and Martin Riker, who run the press, and who are both brilliant.
Vertigo: starred review at Kirkus: "sentences that can make your heart stop. A feat of language".
Flavorwire 50 best Independent Books of 2015: "One of the English-language debuts of the year."
LA Times: "Renata Adler's "Speedboat" with a faster engine... "Vertigo" reads with the exhilarating speed and concentrated force of a poetry collection. Each word seems carefully weighed and prodded for sound, taste, touch... The stories are delicate, but they leave a strong impression, a lasting sense of detachment colliding with feeling, a heady destabilization."
The Believer's Best Books of 2015: "Supple, floating stories that unfold like memories almost too painful to recall in an affectless voice that can be digressive or disarmingly direct but which is ultimately devastating."
Electric Lit: "The stories in Walsh’s Vertigo are equally strange and edgy. She’s a flâneur who’s just as capable of representing the exterior and interior wreckage with equal precision. She takes on big ideas—partnership, loneliness, femininity, etc.—through the vibrant minutiae of contemporary experience."
Flavourwire's 33 Must-read books: "Walsh’s Vertigo may redistribute the possibilities of contemporary fiction, especially if it meets with the wider audience her work demands."
Vol. 1 Brooklyn: "Do you like your fiction difficult to pin down and stunningly written?"
Darcie Dennigan at The Rumpus: "It feels so good to see Walsh jam open the lexicon—and with such dry wit."
Chicago Tribune: " the stories in "Vertigo" inject new life into the short-story form. Walsh takes language to liminal spaces, describing reality — or, more profoundly, what we perceive to be our reality — in fresh ways. The effect is like zero gravity: both dizzying and dazzling."
Sydney Review of Books: " Vertigo is a slim but deadly volume... In Vertigo, one marvels at times not at the craft nor the prose nor even the book’s intellection – though all are present in quantities rare for the often feverishly anti-intellectual bent of much contemporary fiction – but the voice. Voice. Something that unnerves. Something – a presence – that if too much time is granted it will only unsettles us further."
Jeff VanderMeer's best books of 2015 at Electric Literature: "I can’t stop quoting Walsh because her sentences are so excellent, and because all of her stories are constructed solely from excellent sentences."
Flavorwire 10 Must-read books for October: "Walsh’s writing is visual, clear-eyed, a kind of mix (somehow) of Marie NDiaye and Elena Ferrante. Years from now when you’re still reading her work, you’ll remember that you started here."
“her stories reveal a psychological landscape lightly spooked by loneliness, jealousy and alienation.” New York Times
Don'tdoitmag: "Walsh is one of the most important writers today in terms of exploring the gap between the possibilities and actualities of female experience, and what it means to navigate that gap. To me she is therapeutic: heartfelt but poised, cynical but not hard."
Left-bank Books: "The stories in Vertigo are linked by speaker and can be read like a novel, but each stands alone as an example of just how many boundaries the short form can push in a few pages... A mind-blowing must-read."
I'm delighted to say that Hotel is published in the US today.
Many, many thanks to Bloomsbury's excellent editors, designers, publicists, production department, indexers & those people with the spreadsheets. Also, personal thanks to Lauren Elkin, Deborah Levy, Sharon Kivland, Lisa Appignanesi, Isabella Streffen, Toby Ferris, Tristan Burke, Richard Barnett, Olivia Laing, & Brian Dillon.
Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick: "It's a knock out. Completely engaging, juicy and dry - such a great book."
Sydney Review of Books: "It feels like something you want to endlessly quote: sharp, knowing, casually erudite... there is power and an affecting gravitas in what Walsh does with detail. The actual operates in the book as lonely gesture, deprived of the clammy self-revelation that a lesser writer might emphasise in a desperate bid to hold the reader’s attention. Instead, we sift the fragments through other fragments: as sharp as her riffs on Freud and Heidegger are (and she’s calmly mocking and irreverent at times too, which helps) what a reader truly returns to is a more open, personal writing... It’s a formal victory, an accurate rendering of a scattered emotional state."
RM220: "Hotel is successful because at first you think you’re going to see hotels in a new way, but then you also see home, and then marriage, in new ways. That surprising twist—where shining light on one thing illuminates another—is excellent."
Darcie Dennigan at The Rumpus: "there’s more linguistic play in here, more aphorisms you want to copy onto a postcard and send to your unhappiest smart friend."
The Paris Review on Hotel:"a slim, sharp meditation on hotels and desire."
Jonathan Ellis at the TLS: an "experiment with the form of memoir by failing to include the 'Life-writing' we normally expect. [She] write[s] about life by writing about writing."
The Literary Hub: "shifts from the deeply personal to the abstract and intellectual and back again... compelling, impressive."
The New Statesman: "It is elliptical and associative, moving like quicksilver from one thing to the next... This is bold, risky writing, but Walsh is deft with fluidity...I loved Hotel and would read it again for the pleasure of its playful linguistic slips (not all of them Freudian) and jokes."
Hellogiggles: "a gorgeously jolty narrative you’ll quickly eat right up".
Glasgow Review of Books: "Alongside the intelligent analysis and playful structure, Joanna Walsh captures something innately surreal and peculiar about hotels."
Barnes and Noble: "At its center is the idea of what makes something — or someone — a home."
Publisher's Weekly on Hotel: "A strange, probing book all the more affecting for eschewing easy resolution."
Simon Savidge,Savidgereads: "It is bonkers, yet somehow it works."
Jay Merril: "Hotel continues playful, inventive and enchanting right to the end, making for a rewarding thought provoking read. I wholeheartedly recommend it."
Sofia Samatar: " I feel like you're doing something important with these pieces: loneliness, gathering places, reflective surfaces, the work of shining."
Dontdoitmag: "itineracy, spaciality, and depression... lapidary."
Minor Literatures: "One of the singular joys in Walsh’s prose is how she questions and twists language systems until familiar words and expressions become uncanny, portals to a stranger world."
LA Review of Books: "Ultimately the lesson resides in this combination of intimacy and distance, of narrative lack and narrative fantasy, as constituted by the hotel."
Mask Magazine: "There is rigor in this book-length conversation among herself, philosophers, writers, actors, and directors, but there is also wonder. Reading Walsh has a certain child’s pleasure of being let loose in a new terrain to press buttons, open room doors, and dig through cabinet drawers without supervision."
Open Democracy: "Hotel is a clever little book that packs a punch, and Walsh is a writer whose sparse prose and contained voice endlessly surprises.:
I'll add more press as it arrives... If you'd like to review the book, please email me and I'll put you in touch with Bloomsbury for a review copy (hit the 'About' button at the top of right sidebar for my email address).
Hotel will be published in the UK on 5th November.
On 8th December I'll be reading from Hotel and talking with Deborah Levy about the book, and about her writing, at The Freud Museum in London. Info here - please come.
I'll post info about other readings etc, very soon.