Blog

  • 4thcoming: Tom Jackson, author of ‘Postcard from the Past’

    The 4thcoming series is all about introducing you to our authors.  If you’ve ever wondered what your favourite 4th Estate author is currently reading, listening to or what their writing ritual is, then we’ve got all those answers for you.

    Name: Tom Jackson

    Postcard from the Past

    What’s it about?

    In Postcard From The Past, Tom Jackson has gathered a collection of the funniest, weirdest and most moving real messages from the backs of old postcards.

     

    Read more…

  • 4thcoming: Michael Frank, author of ‘The Mighty Franks’

    • May 11, 2017 • Tags: , ,

    The 4thcoming series is all about introducing you to our authors.  If you’ve ever wondered what your favourite 4th Estate author is currently reading, listening to or what their writing ritual is, then we’ve got all those answers for you.

    Name: Michael Frank

    What’s it about?michael-frank-resize

    A story at once extremely strange and entirely familiar – about families, innocence, art and love. This hugely enjoyable, totally unforgettable memoir is a classic in the making. ‘My aunt called our two families the Mighty Franks. But, she said, you and I, Lovey, are a thing apart. The two of us have pulled our wagons up to a secret campsite. We know how lucky we are. We’re the most fortunate people in the world to have found each other, isn’t it so?’

    Michael Frank’s upbringing was unusual to say the least. His aunt was his father’s sister and his uncle his mother’s brother. The two couples lived blocks apart in the hills of LA, with both grandmothers in an apartment together nearby

    Read more…

  • Food From 4th: A gutsy toast by Nigel Slater

    • Apr 25, 2017 • Tags: , , , ,

    April 25

    Nigel SlaterI need something to quell my avocado-toast habit. That moment when I take an avocado, skin, stone and smash it, stir in a little olive oil, coriander and salt, then slather it on toasted sourdough. Nothing wrong with that, other than the regularity with which it replaces lunch or even dinner.

    I need something less soft and green, something with a heart, soul and balls. So today, I toast a thin slice of sourdough over which I pour olive oil, then add ‘nduja, the spreadable, spiced Italian sausage available from supermarkets and Italian grocery shops. Put it back under the grill, I then calm its chilli heat down with a thick slice of soft, chalky white goat’s curd.

    Read more…

  • On Reservoir 13

    Jon McGregor c. Dan Sinclair
    • Apr 24, 2017 • Tags: , ,

    Jon McGregor c. Dan SinclairI can’t remember when I started writing Reservoir 13. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s not always been easy. Life has often got in the way, as it has a habit of doing. None of the things that got in the way have ended up in the novel, but they’re still a part of the story.

    When I started, all I had was an image: a hundred or so people spread out across a hillside, searching for a missing child. It’s something I once saw on the news, and for years I wondered what it must have been like to have been a part of that search. How long would it have been, traipsing across the wet moorland, before you fell into everyday conversation? Who would have had to break away early, to get back and feed the cats, or milk the cows? Who was first to speculate about what they might actually find?

    I knew that among these hundred people on the hillside I would have more than enough material for a novel, but it took me a long time to find it. I wrote a short story about the day of the search for a missing girl. I worked on developing many of the characters from that story. I wondered how much I needed to know about the missing girl. But mostly I started to worry about how little I know of rural life.

    I only know the countryside as a visitor. A regular visitor, for sure – the Peak District is within easy reach – but I was acutely aware that I lacked detailed knowledge of rural life; not just factual details around farming and land management, but the smaller details of lifestyle and culture which add up to create the rhythm and tone of a place.

    Reservoir 13  I spent a week in a house built for the engineers who designed the Ladybower Reservoir, walking through the woods and hills and feeling the weight of that water everywhere. I spoke to people working for the National Park, to sheep farmers and stone-workers, to police officers, to people who had grown up there and moved away. I read guidebooks and memoirs, and I followed a lot of farmers on Twitter. I learnt about farming routines, weather patterns, the migratory habits of birds, flood management techniques.

    Which is all fine, and is what you would expect me to say. But much more than the above, I spent time in my head and I made things up. I created a fictional landscape, with fictional characters living fictional lives, using tics of vocabulary and mannerism which came not from research but from daydreams. You need research in order to keep the trust of your readers – the world you are writing about needs to be coherent, and believable – but you need invention to win their trust in the first place, and their hearts. I was falling in love with these very flawed characters I had invented, and I wanted my readers to do the same.

    And those interruptions I mentioned? They were many. There were three young children. There was illness. My marriage ended. My father died. These are things that happen to people. We get through. But there were long stretches of time when I couldn’t get back to my desk, and each time I finally got back, I saw the novel in a new light. This was a good thing, in the long run. But I wish it hadn’t taken so long. I wish my father had been able to read it. He taught me a lot; not about writing, but about hearing people’s stories. He worked as a parish vicar, and had a gift for listening to people from all backgrounds, a gift which I’m still working to learn.

    Reservoir 13 is about what happens when a girl goes missing, yes; but it’s mostly about what happens afterwards, for a long time afterwards, while a community has to carry on living their lives. As with my previous novels (perhaps If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things in particular), it’s at heart a collection of stories about people moving through life in their own imperfect ways. It took a lot to write, and I can’t quite believe I’ve finished it. If people enjoy reading it even half as much as I enjoyed writing it, then I’ll be in luck.

    Words by Jon McGregor.
    Reservoir 13 is out now.

    Subscribe to the 4th Estate podcast.

      If you enjoyed this, try:

      Living in Distopia by Luke Kennard

      The Making of Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars by Miranda Emmerson

    • Cover Reveal: Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

      • Apr 21, 2017 •

      Cover

      This month we’re excited to reveal the cover for Jeff Vandermeer’s new novel Borne. From the award-winning author comes this simultaneously harrowing, dark, dangerous, funny and uplifting story.

      “Am I a person?” Borne asks Rachel, in extremis. “Yes, you are a person,” Rachel tells him. “But like a person, you can be a weapon, too.”

      109273-fc3d-1

      ‘Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy was an ever-creeping map of the apocalypse; with Borne he continues his investigation into the malevolent grace of the world, and it’s a thorough marvel.’ Colson Whitehead

      Borne will be published on the 15th June 2017.

      Subscribe to the 4th Estate podcast.

      • 4thcoming: Lucy Hughes-Hallett, author of ‘Peculiar Ground’

        • Apr 21, 2017 • Tags: , ,

        Peculiar Ground

        The 4thcoming series is all about introducing you to our authors.  If you’ve ever wondered what your favourite 4th Estate author is currently reading, listening to or what their writing ritual is, then we’ve got all those answers for you.

        Name: Lucy Hughes-Hallett

        What’s it about? It is the 17th century and a wall is being built around a great house. Wychwood is an enclosed world, its ornamental lakes and majestic avenues planned by Mr Norris, landscape-maker. A world where everyone has something to hide after decades of civil war, where dissidents shelter in the forest, lovers linger in secret gardens, and migrants, fleeing the plague, are turned away from the gate.

        Three centuries later, another wall goes up overnight, dividing Berlin, while at Wychwood, over one hot, languorous weekend, erotic entanglements are shadowed by news of historic change. A little girl, Nell, observes all. Nell grows up and Wychwood is invaded. There is a pop festival by the lake, a TV crew in the dining room and a Great Storm brewing. As the Berlin wall comes down, a fatwa signals a different ideological faultline and a refugee seeks safety in Wychwood.

        Read more…

      • Brindisa recipe for Mother’s Day

        Menestra de verduras often served in littles bowls in fashionable Madrid bars, but probabaly the best I have ever had was made for me by Raul Domingo, when I stayed with him and his family in the city. Raul is a history lecturer, his wife, Carmen, a photographer, lecturer and archivist, and their student daughter Livia is a jazz and classical violinist. The shelves of their home groan with incredible books and the walls are covered in extraordinary paintings, and when it comes to food, Raul is in charge of the kitchen and his cooking is excellent. While I was writing up recipe notes he brought me a Madrid tapa of fine crisps and escabeche mussels (see page 111) and then a little bowlful of this light, delicious, nutritious menestra.

        Read more…

      • Plot 29: A Memoir

        • Mar 23, 2017 •

        Allan JenkinsIt starts in June, my journal of the year of digging. The timing was important to me. I wanted warmth and light, green growth, new life as I started to unearth my own. My memoir would be the story of an old man growing food and flowers in honour of the old man who took him in as a child. My book would be dedicated to Dudley, my foster father, the man who taught me to grow, gave me a pocket sized piece of garden and a packet of seed. There would be new potatoes like we dug for Lilian, my foster mum, half a hour before lunch. There would be blackberries we gathered through our Devon lanes. There would be peas that tasted like safety. There would be loving memories.

        Read more…