PAMFLET X TWIN: NOVEMBER

18.11.2014 | Literature | BY:

There aren’t many bloggers who have successfully made the transition from pixels to print – too often something gets lost in translation – but Sasha Wilkins aka Liberty London Girl has more than pulled it off with her first book, Friends, Food, Family (Quadrille Books, £18.99). Ostensibly a recipe book, it’s also an elegant and insightful guide to living well packed with lists of the best foodie spots and flower markets around the world, tips for throwing a stress-free cocktail party and the ultimate dinner party playlist.

But first, the food: there are simple recipes for kitchen beginners which require a handful of ingredients and the most basic culinary skills, then for more confident cooks there are some serious showstoppers, such as a spectacular triple-layer lemon cake. Each recipe has a highly personal flavour – these are dishes Sasha has cooked countless times for her nearest and dearest in kitchens all over the world, so she knows they work on every level.

Through her witty, wise prose, the Delia of the digital age delivers the message of good food – it nourishes the soul as much as the stomach and should give joy to the creator as well as the consumer. Whether you’re a fan of the Liberty London Girl blog and want to explore the LLG world further or are simply looking for a reliable cookbook packed with foolproof recipes that will comfort and impress in equal measure, Friends, Food, Family will fast become a kitchen shelf stalwart.

Lily King’s Euphoria (Picador, £13.99) is a compelling novel inspired by the life of the anthropologist Margaret Mead, her husband and a colleague during their time studying the tribes in New Guinea. The three main characters have complicated, intense relationships which are skilfully rendered against a beautiful, dangerous landscape that is as powerful a presence as the people living in it. The story of an all-too-typical love triangle in an extraordinary setting unfolds through often contradictory accounts from the characters’ different perspectives, building up a multi-layered narrative that reveals much about these intelligent, egotistical personalities. But the most tantalising aspect of this story is wondering just how much was drawn from fact and how much was the inspiration of the author’s imagination.

Not that Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned has been one of the most anticipated books of 2014 and it was worth the wait. Wrapped in a seventies-throwback dust jacket and finished with dreamy endpapers which look pretty from far away and reveal a mosaic of tacky girl-stuff close up, here is Lena Dunham, let loose.

If you’ve already seen Girls, Tiny Furniture and the rest, this book of lists and essays is testament to how consistently Lena has mined her own experiences for her screen fictions. That blurred interexchange between memoir and storytelling is what makes her work so authentic and resonant – and the content of these essays so familiar. There’s not much here to surprise the fan, including the fact that she’s just as amusing on the page as on TV. However, this goes much further than the average confessional narrative. Indeed, ‘I live in a world that is almost compulsively free of secrets’ she states at one point, comparing her relaxed attitude towards privacy to others’ reticence.

Our heroine might not feel very glamourous most of the time, but for the English kind-of-girl reader, her world is ridiculously fabulous. She grew up in SoHo, NYC, vacationed in idyllic summer camps and holiday homes and hung out with artists and wannabes. In that glamorous world Lena might have been the weird girl, the outcast, the morbidly obsessive teen but that otherness has made her an open-minded, fair and funny observer.

The most tantalising and entertaining chapters of Not that Kind of Girl are where Lena takes a break from her mostly polite, professional persona and unleashes her inner anger. In one she addresses (names have been changed) her many detractors in a series of unsent emails and in another she reveals that she hopes she’ll live to 80 so that she can legally expose all the sexist ‘sunshine stealers’ who’ve treated her badly in Hollywood (they’ll all be dead by then).

Furies: A Poetry Anthology of Women Warriors (For Books’ Sake, £10) edited by Eve Lacey (all profits from the collection will go to Rape Crisis England & Wales) is a brilliant anthology of verse inspired by women warriors from the internet’s finest lady books journal For Books’ Sake. Featuring contributions on Betty Draper, Sylvia Plath and more, this is a vital and powerful outpouring of page-rage.

Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet. 

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Pamflet X Twin: New Season Reading

24.09.2014 | Literature | BY:

The new season starts with two nostalgic style-story anthologies from Sheila Heti, Emily Shivack and friends in Pamflet’s September reading roundup.

Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton (Particular Books, £24) includes contributions from 639 women and feels like a companion American volume to one of our favourite books of all time, Luella’s Guide to English Style. Like Luella’s book, it’s a beautiful object, which is apt given the subject matter. Naturally I skipped straight to the famous names’ contributions first – friend-of-Pamflet Tavi Gevinson and voice of her/a generation Lena Dunham.

Tavi gives her thoughts on colours and their meanings and confirms what I always said of navy blue “it’s the best color for a peacoat”, while Lena Dunham solemnly pronounces “I just won’t go there with a gaucho pant…it feels like a rejection of everything great about having lady legs.” Amen sister. Zosia Mamet recreates authentic fashion mag poses from every decade in a black unitard which is brilliant. And Kim Gordon talks about her stage style and modelling for Saint Laurent Paris – this book is basically like eavesdropping on the cool girls’ table at the world’s most awesome party.

Despite the plush paper and sharp finish, Women in Clothes has an endearingly zine-y feel. There are whimsical illustrations, photocopied hands wearing rings, beautiful photographs of deconstructed garments, changing room selfies, anecdotes, essays, poems and transcriptions from Skype chats.

There’s a sweet repeated feature throughout the book called ‘compliments’ which is just that – transcriptions of overheard conversations between women where one is paying the other a compliment!

It’s immediately inclusive, like being a part of a loud, drunken conversation among close friends where everyone’s shouting over each other but you all understand exactly what you’re talking about because it’s shared and true and good.

I LOVE how all the amazing intelligent stylish women in this book, plus the likes of Mindy Kaling are claiming fashion as their own and proudly defending it and celebrating it – refusing to be intimidated either by the dictatorial glossy mags who want to shame you into feeling you can’t participate in brittle beautiful Planet Fashion, or the puritan killjoys who seem to think we should just slouch around in sackcloth because anything more pleasurable or pretty is superficial and stupid.

If anyone ever bleats on at you about how fashion and clothes don’t matter (not that this tends to happen in real life, just in the Guardian comments section) just wordlessly hand them this book and walk away.

Worn Stories is the result of a four-year project by New Yorker Emily Spivack (Princeton Architectural Press, £15.99), a teacher and a blogger who’s been collecting first person accounts of clothes from their owners. From the starting point of a visit to a garment factory in her introduction, she contrasts the mass-production mechanisms behind contemporary clothing manufacture with our personal experiences of choosing outfits and the context we ourselves give our wearables.

We all have a favourite item with a ton of memories woven into its history like a pattern. Here some famous and not-so-famous personalities share their own stories alongside photographs of their items hanging lonely and unworn. These are objects invested with much special significance and whether they’ve been worn once or worn-out, patched together these mini sartorial memoirs make a fitting tribute to the contributors’ wardrobe favourites. Hearing about LCD Soundsystem’s Pat Mahoney’s stage costume, Simon Doonan’s cycling shorts, Piper Kerman’s court suit, Greta Gerwig’s crush’s old shirt will have you searching through your cupboards for your own worn stories.

Print: Fashion, Interiors, Art by Simon Clarke (Laurence King, £30) is our glossy book of the month. Lushly coated in a wraparound jacket of hazy florals, this is an up-to-date guide to current print trends and a cutting edge sourcebook for eye-catching and innovative design and digital patterns.

Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet. 

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Chick flick

16.03.2011 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

Some statistics are calculated to make blood boil. For the women behind London’s Bird’s Eye View Film Festival in particular, it’s the fact that only six per cent of directors and twelve per cent of screenwriters are women. But instead of getting mad, Bird’s Eye View is getting even.

Following a host of screenings and events featuring prominent women in the film industry, this year’s festival is closing with the UK première of a film that socks it to the boys.

Tiny Furniture is the award winning début of 24-year-old writer-director-actor Lena Dunham. Wryly autobiographical, Dunham plays 22-year-old Aura, a film graduate going through a quarter life crisis after returning home to her artist-mother’s TriBeCa loft. According to Lena, it’s about a girl in transition and the women who love her: “I set out to tell an honest story that incorporated aspects of my own life, but knew my life had parallels with many others”. Shot in her own home on a minimal budget and with her family as co-stars; Dunham’s film is a stirring call to arms.

Tiny Furniture closes the Birds Eye View Film Festival, at BFI Southbank on 17th March.
birds-eye-view.co.uk

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