PAMFLET X TWIN: From The Streets of Bloomsbury to Streetstyle…

07.04.2014 | Literature | BY:

Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Here they discuss the April releases, trends and going’s on in the literary world worth knowing about. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet.

‘X or Y: which is which?’ begins X vs Y: A Culture War, A Love Story (Abrams Image, £11.99) by New York-based sisters and writers Eve and Leonora Epstein. They suggest that you choose between ‘DM boots and foam footwear’ if you’re not sure where you belong (particularly if you were born in the ‘grey area’ between 1979-1984). This dip-in and out-able scrapbook of 90s and 00s nostalgia is also a memoir of intergenerational sisterhood and reads like the very best blogs: deeply personal, witty and full of pleasing references. Packed with cute infographics, tables and helpful graphs charting the defining pop cultural moments of our times, this is a reminder of everything that’s great about generation grey.

I’ve been cycling around London long enough to know that pencil skirts are for walking-to-work days only, I don’t care about helmet hair and I still have a lot of time for a good bike book. The Girls’ Bicycle Handbook by Cyclechic’s Caz Nicklin (Quercus, £14.99) which is practical, thorough and filled with bike-love is the first one I’d unreservedly recommend to all would-be cyclists. There are handy how-to guides, advice on what to wear, lists of what kit you actually need and interviews with every hip bike lady on the scene. The clear layout means that you can quickly find the relevant bits to your riding needs and it even answers potentially embarrassing questions we all need the answers to such as ‘can I cycle with pets?’ and ‘what about wearing heels?’ TGBH should be the final persuader for anyone who’s teetering on the brink of riderdom.

Amazing Babes: A Picture Book for Kids and Adults by Eliza Sarlos and Grace Lee (Scribe, £12.99) is a hardback you’ll nobly buy as a gift for the child in your life and want to keep for yourself. It might look like a pretty picture book with cool alt-celebs in (see the portraits of Tavi, Kathleen Hanna and Malala) but that façade masks the fact that it’s really a dressed-up feminist-indoctrination tool for schoolchildren.

And now for something delicious: The Bloomsbury Cookbook by Jans Ondaatje Rolls (Thames & Hudson, £24.95) is the literary equivalent of a fantasy dinner party with the writers, poets, painters and philosophers who comprised the Bloomsbury Set. Even if you think you know everything there is to know about this bohemian bunch – Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, E.M. Forster, Dora Carrington and Lytton Strachey among others – Rolls’ book offers a completely fresh insight into their characters and appetites – both gastronomic and otherwise.

Through recipes used by individuals in the group, photographs, illustrations and extracts from letters, she brings to life that fascinating, vibrant world and its creative inhabitants who were so determined to throw off the stuffy restrictions of Victorian society in every aspect of their lives, from their relationships to the work they produced and the food they served.

From reading their novels and memoirs about the Bloomsbury set, I’ve always had a vague impression that they were a rather earnest lot but the beauty of this book is it’s given me a totally different understanding of these complex personalities. They were the foodies of their day and although most of them didn’t actually cook (until after the First World War, anyway), they loved to eat. They championed exotic ingredients like garlic and avocados and loved nothing more than to engage in stimulating, intense conversation over ‘lingering breakfasts’ and ‘painting lunches’. From the anecdotes in this book it sounds like they would have been fabulous company.

I’ve been dipping into the various chapters of The Bloomsbury Cookbook and it’s inspired me to try out a few of the recipes and revisit some of my favourite novels, from Mrs Dalloway to A Passage To India. Oh and every penny of the profits are being donated by the author to the Charleston Trust which looks after Vanessa Bell’s house, Charleston – an incredibly generous gesture. So by buying this beautiful book, you’re also helping preserve a piece of our cultural heritage for years to come.

Glossy book of the month: 100 Ideas that Changed Street Style by Josh Sims (Laurence King, £19.95) is the latest volume in the essential 100 Ideas graphic/art/design series. Each idea gets its own double-spread, capturing the subcultures that have inspired what we’ve worn over the decades and joining the style dots from concept to market stall to wardrobe to catwalk. It’s the kind of book you can get lost in so start with your favourite street styles (ganguro, androgyny, rave: they’re all here) and see where they take you.

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