08.05.2014 | Literature | BY:

Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet. Here they recommend two fashion and one fiction title in their May reading roundup. 

Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth (Canongate, £12.99)

Gwendoline Riley, Jean Rhys and Dorothy Parker have all successfully captured that extra special, urban-woman ennui in their fiction at various points in the past and present. Their heroines drink too much, stay out late and know those heady hours of the night when you can say whatever you want and choose not to remember in the morning. With her second novel Animals Emma Jane Unsworth explores that ennui for every twenty-first century girl who’s experienced a toxic emotional mix of failure, overindulgence and disappointment.

Its premise seems conventional – call centre worker and wannabe writer Laura is 31, engaged to earnest and dreary pianist Jim, and isn’t ready to settle down yet – will they or won’t they make it to the altar? But the real story takes place in the words spoken and the rounds of drinks shared with her best friend and flatmate Tyler over several months in Manchester. Their friendship is founded on countless nights out when they either get ‘blackout-drunk’ or ‘wedding-drunk and almost dancing’ and the afternoons afterwards, when they dissect their hazy memories and drink their way through the darkest of hangovers. Together they refuse to grow up – at least in any conventional sense – and their BFF relationship is sweetly reassuring in a cynical world.

Animals looks like a New Order record, its narrative fuelled by cheap white wine, the non-logic of the always-intoxicated and the sensuously evocative language of a writer who’s been there. I tumbled along on Laura and Tyler’s crazy nights out and laughed with them (mostly), but it’s ultimately a sobering and tender read. I can imagine that right now, somewhere, staggering around Manchester are a very real Tyler and Laura with empty purses and cracks in their phones.

The Worn Archive edited by Serah-Marie McMahon with a foreword by Jane Pratt (Drawn and Quarterly, £19.99)

‘The fashion industry is riddled with problems … Worn is how I respond to that. Because why not make fashion the way I love it, celebrating the good parts rather than spending time pointing out the bad ones?’ Editor Serah-Marie in her introduction

Canadian biannual journal Worn is serious about fashion but knows how to have fun. Even if you already have every issue of the magazine via mail order you’ll want this gorgeous collection of the highlights from its first eight years in print. Every feature is as thoughtfully designed and illustrated as it is researched and written and there are pieces on fashion theory and textiles, the history of iconic garments (‘Safety Dance: How the safety pin became a revolutionary fashion accessory’), personal memoirs (‘Make Me Real: important style lessons I learned from Courtney Love’) and practical guides to doing your laundry and knotting a tie (more complicated than you might think).

Worn fashion shoots are always more about ideas than labels and for reasons of budget and practicality they often use friends who are fashion-makers rather than models. Flicking through the spreads and features makes for a satisfying reader experience because all kinds of woman are represented on its pages: that’s just what the world of Worn looks like. Here’s to eight more years of clever, provocative and fashionable thinking.

GLOSSY BOOK OF THE MONTH: Shoetopia: Contemporary Footwear by Sue Huey and Kathryn Jenny (Laurence King, £24.95) showcases the work of forty classic and upcoming international shoe designers from France, Italy, USA, Finland, Denmark, the UK and beyond. Each label’s profile is illustrated with highlights from their latest collection. It’s a riot of complicated laces, pretty bows, delicate buckles and out-there heels that shows the breadth of talent in contemporary cobbling. There’s room for some of the most iconic styles of the past few years including Prada’s fiery stilettos, Sophia Webster’s cute booties and Camilla Skovgaard’s ankle-challenging wedges.


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