Recommended Reading 0 Comments

Recommended Reading

As impressive as it can be to read (and carry) a tome of 600 pages, many of my most loved novels are on the slight side: slim enough to slip into a handbag, to read in one sitting and re-read in a second. English class favourites like Heart of Darkness and Of Mice and Men are often cited as prime examples of the novella form, but here are some short reads you may not have heard of.

03 by Jean-Christophe Valtat

Telling of a French boy’s fleeting attraction to a retarded girl he sees at the bus stop, 03 is often so wrong that it’s right. Sometimes angsty, sometimes laboured, there are other sentences so poetic as to leave you breathless. 03 has no paragraphs, but is under 100 pages long, meaning it is best read in a single sitting.

The Black Swan by Grace Andreacchi

Bearing no relation to the film starring Natalie Portman, I am hard-pressed to say what this is about, exactly. There is a doomed love affair. There is a death in Venice. There are cathedrals, and champagne grown flat in the sun. In any case, it all comes down to the prose, which is dazzling. It can also be downloaded for free on Andreacchi’s personal website (https://sites.google.com/site/graceandreacchi/).

House of Incest by Anaïs Nin

Like wading through murky water at sunset, this is a dense, opaque yet shimmering read. If you like Rimbaud, this may appeal to you; Nin herself described it as a “woman’s season in hell.” Although the work, as a whole, has a logic of its own, it is nonlinear enough to be read like poetry, with each fragment containing seeds of beauty.

Mine-Haha, or On the Bodily Education of Young Girls by Frank Wedekind

This bizarre and haunting novella begins with the suicide of an 84-year-old woman, who leaves behind a memoir detailing her education between the ages of seven and fourteen – a militant regime of dance, music, and dramatics. Very strange and very German, Mine-Haha is, in Mariane Faithfull’s words, “a fairy tale that morphs into something far more grotesque – a psycho-sexual Expressionist fable.”

By Laura Woollett

Laura is a shiny new addition to the Voiceworks editorial committee. She recently completed honours in creative writing at the University of Melbourne.

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