Luminous Books is the weekly purveyor of fine fiction, philosophy, art and curiosities. As director and host of their regular literary events, Louisa Bailey also happens to be the book buyer for the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and curates collections for several other cultural stopping places. In this week’s Bookshelf, she presents her own list of references and a rather lovely looking shelf…
Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight James Attlee
I have a preoccupation with the moon, our nearest reminder of the age and enormity of the universe and a constant source of inspiration for scientists, artists, writers and musicians throughout the centuries. Atlee’s nocturnal travelogue seeks out places in which one can experience true moonlight away from contemporary society’s saturation in artificial light. The search for this lost encounter leads to deserts, seas and through art and literature looking at the transformative, rather than revealing, quality of moonlight. I have amassed a number of books on the moon, studies in space travel, flight, the planets and stars. Luminous Books hosts an annual ‘moon night’ involving this collection alongside artwork, music and films on a lunar theme.
A Moveable Feast Ernest Hemingway
I bought this book with the intention of selling it on then discovered an original Foyles book stamp on the inside cover which made it indispensable to me. It now sits on my shelf alongside Sylvia Beach and The Lost Generation, Ulysses, books by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and other contemporaries of Hemingway who were part of the vibrant literary scene in 1920s Paris so fascinatingly described in the sketches and anecdotal accounts that make up A Moveable Feast. The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, also on this shelf, gives an engaging account of the remarkable work of Sylvia Beach in establishing the celebrated Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris and bravely fighting for the publication of works, at the time contested and facing banning orders, which are now considered some of the most important books in literary history (such as James Joyce’s Ulysses first published by Beach in Paris, 1922.)
Strange Attractor Journal Four Ed. Mark Pilkington
The latest in the Strange Attractor Journals “celebrating unpopular culture.” These anthologies are treasure troves for curious minds, bringing together the writing and experiences of specialists in strange, neglected and esoteric cultural themes. Journal Four includes essays on spinning with spider’s silk, the fourth dimension, underworlds, Victorian science and many more oddly fascinating subjects and figures. Alongside the journal, Strange Attractor publishes an eclectic collection of books and hosts a series of equally unique and mind altering events!
Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva. Ed. Mattia Denisse
A compendium of writing on time, space, matter and the immaterial appropriated from the title of Joseph Priestly’s18th Century experiments which led to the discovery of oxygen. The publication accompanies an exhibition of the same name of the subtle 16mm silent films of João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva exploring the visual poetry of simple phenomena as a way to describe the essential workings of all things. The publication splices Jorge Luis Borges with Plato, H.G. Wells and Fernando Pessoa to form a spider’s web of thoughts. I dip into this book often, finding articulation for my approach to objects and inspiring ways of looking. A fantastic description of skimming stones, for example, changes the experience to a unique encounter with primordial time – “the silent time of stones.”
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter Carson McCullers
I am reading this book at the moment following on from research for a Southern Gothic themed event earlier in the year at Luminous Books. Carson McCullers is one of the most important female writers in the Southern Gothic genre of the 20th Century. Her novels and poetry are perceptive and intimate studies in love and loneliness, separation and spiritual isolation against the backdrop of dusty American small towns of the Deep South. McCullers is attentive to the lives of misfits, outsiders and social recluses and slowly describes a certain delicate difficulty in attempting to express desires, the various failings and rare moments of clarity in making human connections.