When Lulu Allison first contacted me about her novel, Twice The Speed Of Dark, I knew it was one I just had to read. The cover, the description and the passion of the author all drew me in, and I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour: I hope to share a review in the new year. Perhaps the description will entice you in the same way:
A mother and daughter circle each other, bound by love, separated by fatal violence.
Dismayed by the indifference she sees in the news to people who die in distant war and terror, Anna writes portraits of the victims, trying to understand the real impact of their deaths.
Meanwhile Anna’s daughter, killed by a violent boyfriend, tells her own story from the perplexing realms of death, reclaiming herself from the brutality.
Anna’s life is stifled by heartache; it is only through these acts of love for strangers that she allows herself an emotional connection to the world.
Can Anna free herself from the bondage of grief and find a connection to her daughter once more?
I’m delighted to welcome author Lulu Allison to Being Anne, to tell us a little about her Desert Island Books…
I have been mildly obsessed, at various points over my life with the radio show Desert Island Discs. On getting a book deal I even had the inglorious thought, that wow, perhaps I wasn’t too old after all to ever make it onto the show!?
In the wilder, louder, bass-playing phase of my life that was never going to result in a Desert Island Discs invite, in the Sue years, when she asked me ‘if a wave comes and takes all your discs away, which one would you save?’ I would imagine replying ‘well Sue, it would have to be The Bomber by Motörhead.’ The other seven would vary on almost an hourly basis – but that tussle, that weighing up of effect, or merit, that is the joy of it. At least four of them are still on my list today; The Bomber most definitely is still there, though the one I’d save from the waves has changed.
That one book allowance on the radio show has always been a bother. Shakespeare would be a massive bonus, and I’ve only read a few books of the bible, which is full of insane stories that it would be great to finally read in full. But ONE other book? Impossible.
If I were to be lost on a desert island here is a list of the books I would like to have with me. I will need a serious caveat, that, much like the radio version with songs, the list changes on a daily basis. There will be a number of bankers and a number that change with mood. There will be some, frankly, that make the list depending on whether I have remember to include them (I may be mildly obsessed, but that is characterised by repeated mental scratching at the idea and doesn’t stretch to remembering everything, or writing lists.)
I think because choosing a book for such an extreme circumstance makes it feel so weighty, most of my choices are books that I read years ago that have stood the test of time. Many contemporary books or recent reads have given me as much pleasure as the ones below, but how do I know that I would still love them, after months or even years? To answer that, I have not filled the list. You are allowed eight discs, and I have chosen five books, leaving three to fate. Who knows, the very next book I read, may be on the list in time.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
This is a very funny book. It is bombastic, rude, dishevelled, much like its central character, Ignatius J, Reilly. His aggravated sense of self importance, his pomposity and sloth make him an obnoxious central character, but there is a warmth to the book that keeps the humour rich and rewarding.
Middlemarch by George Elliot
Reading Middlemarch is like being in the middle of a real place, observing real lives. It is a pleasure to read and the real sense of people would be, I imagine, an antidote to loneliness.
Crossing Open Ground by Barry Lopez
I came across this book by chance some years ago, it a series of travel essays. He writes with gentle insistence on our connection to the land, the essential and abiding power of that connection, and the yearning for it when modern life makes it seem distant. These are not epic adventures of travel but soulful and thoughtful connections with the land.
Life And Fate by Vassily Grossman
A novel that sprawls, incomplete, a tangle of paths. But one of the most beautiful expressions of the human condition, our small triumphs and hideous shortcomings. It is difficult to read, if like me, names and connections between characters don’t imprint immediately (I found a family tree online that really helped!) but a wonderful, moving and beautiful book.
The Iliad by Homer
Okay, there are some dull bits when everyone lining up for a battle gets a name check and short bio. But it is a wonderful adventure, gripping, exciting, beautiful to read. I have always had a crush on Achilles, but used to say that my ideal man was the Achilles who, when offered the choice between a long and happy life with his wife (me, obvs) and family, or eternal glory and an early death on the battle field, chose the former. Make-believe, but isn’t that the glory of books?
Fascinating choices, Lulu – maybe I should draw up my own list too, just in case someone should ask…
Lulu Allison has spent most of her life as a visual artist. She attended Central St Martin’s School of Art then spent a number of years travelling and living abroad. Amongst the bar-tending and cleaning jobs, highlights of these years include: in New Zealand, playing drums for King Loser and bass for Dimmer. In Germany, making spectacle hinges in a small factory and nearly designing the new Smurfs. In Amsterdam painting a landmark mural on a four storey squat. In Fiji and California, teaching scuba diving.
After a decade of wandering, she returned to the UK, where she had two children and focused on art. She completed a fine art MA and exhibited her lens-based work and site-specific installations in group and solo shows. In 2013 what began as an art project took her into writing and she unexpectedly discovered what she should have been doing all along.
Twice the Speed of Dark is her first book. She is currently writing a second, called Wetlands.