Monday, 30 October 2017

№ 12 reading list ... from the Land of Ideas

№ 12 reading list | Ayobami Adebayo, Peter Hedges, Isambard Wilkinson  · Lisa Hjalt


My № 12 reading list was supposed to appear on the blog in September - that stack of books looks good, doesn't it? - but I got busy packing. As in moving, to Germany. Ich bin ein Bremer! Not quite a declaration carrying the weight of Kennedy's Ich bin ein Berliner ... except for us, the family. We are settling in our new home and exploring our surroundings. My first task was arranging the books and creating a reading nook, and then, to feel more at home, setting up the kitchen and making the first Friday pizzas. Bremen has many cafés and restaurants and everywhere I have been the atmosphere has been the way I like it, relaxed and unpretentious. I have already visited two bookshops in the centre but no library, yet. Because of the move the time for reading has been somewhat limited, but I have finished the first two works on the list and I'm well into a few others. Three publishers provided books for the list, for which I'm grateful: Canongate [1], Eland Books [2] and Fox, Finch & Tepper [3]. I will be reviewing these three books on the blog later.

№ 12 reading list:
· South and West: From a Notebook  by Joan Didion
· Stay with Me  by Ayobami Adebayo [1]
· Travels in a Dervish Cloak  by Isambard Wilkinson [2]
· What's Eating Gilbert Grape  by Peter Hedges [3]
· The Unwomanly Face of War  by Svetlana Alexievich
· Autumn  by Ali Smith
· Hitch-22: A Memoir  by Christopher Hitchens
· How Fiction Works  by James Wood
· Against Interpretation and Other Essays  by Susan Sontag


Usually there are a few library books on my reading lists but this time the books are all mine. A dear friend in Iceland gave me a generous Waterstones gift card on my birthday, which I used to purchase the works of Didion, Sontag, Wood and Alexievich (if you're following on Instagram you may have noticed). Later I was viewing the works of the late Christopher Hitchens in a bookshop when I spotted his memoir, which had escaped me - so glad I bought it. Reading Autumn by Smith felt right this autumn and something tells me I will be reading her new one, Winter, this coming winter. I also have my eyes on some new Icelandic titles that I would like to feature on the blog. And then there is a new publication this autumn that I'm very exited about: Patti Smith's latest, Devotion. She is such a wonderful writer.
№ 12 reading list | Ayobami Adebayo, Peter Hedges, Isambard Wilkinson  · Lisa Hjalt


The three works to be reviewed later:

The 'fiercely independent' Canongate is the publisher of Stay with Me, the debut novel of Ayobami Adebayo, a young Nigerian author who I can only hope is working on another fiction. Without giving away the plot the synopsis reads: 'Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything - arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, appeals to God. But when her relatives insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal and despair.' The book was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.

The focus of Fox, Finch & Tepper is to publish 'literary fiction titles with a strong sense of place that have already been published and that deserve resurrection.' What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges is a perfect example. I had only seen and enjoyed the film, starring Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio and Juliette Lewis, but how wonderful it feels to read the book. Hedges's writing style is pure delight.

Eland Books - 'keeping the best of travel writing alive' - recently published Travels in a Dervish Cloak by Isambard Wilkinson. He first visited Pakistan as a teenager and during the War on Terror he worked there as a foreign correspondent. I waited for a proper Wi-fi connection in our new home before starting this book because I wanted to be able to look up things and places. That is what good travelling writing makes you want to do. I believe Wilkinson will teach me a lot about Pakistan and its culture.

Bis bald!


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Schuyler Samperton Textiles

Schuyler Samperton Textiles, designs, patterns: Nellcote, Cordoba, Celandine · Lisa Hjalt


The world of textile design got richer this year when Schuyler Samperton, a Los Angeles–based interior designer, took the plunge and introduced her own fabric collection under the name of Schuyler Samperton Textiles. With the launch of the fabric line, a dream came true for Samperton, who has been collecting textiles since her teenage years. The word stunning describes my first impression of her collection, which exists of eight fabrics made of 100% linen, available in various colourways. For two months I have been admiring the details of her patterns and asking myself, Where do I even begin to share this beauty?

Schuyler Samperton Textiles, design: Nellcote petunia
Nellcote/Petunia by Schuyler Samperton Textiles

You may have seen some of the fabrics by Schuyler Samperton Textiles on my Instagram account this summer, but for the first blog post I landed on the Nellcote/Apricot in a leading role, a bohemian pattern that to me depicts a certain playfulness. (The detail above shows the colour Petunia.)

The Nellcote/Apricot is the fabric and colour I would like to use for a cushion or two in our new living room, after we have purchased a new sofa - I'm moving soon, about to start packing! I have been playing with ideas and every time this is the pattern that feels right, plus its colours match well with the textiles I already have and the ones I have my eyes on.

Schuyler Samperton Textiles, design: Doshi persimmonSchuyler Samperton Textiles, designs: Nellcote, Caledonia, Celandine · Lisa Hjalt

Left: The Doshi fabric in Persimmon. Right: In foreground, Nellcote/Apricot; top, Caledonia/Mandarin; bottom-left, Celandine/Sunset

Of the eight designs, the Doshi fabric is the one with a loosely printed pattern, a simple botanical motif. You can easily use any of its five colourways to draw out another colour, resulting in a beautifully decorated space. For this post I chose the Doshi/Persimmon but I also have a crush on a blue version, Doshi/Lake. The floral fabric also seen in my image above is Celandine/Sunset.

Some other time I would like to feature the Caledonia design in more detail on the blog. It's the floral fabric with the butterfly in my image above, in the colour Mandarin. This fabric also has a bird motif.
Schuyler Samperton Textiles, designs: Nellcote, Cordoba, Celandine · Lisa Hjalt


Another Schuyler Samperton design I'm fond of using in my new home is the Cordoba fabric with a paisley motif, seen folded in the colour Spice in my image above, and in detail below (also spotted in Indigo under the ceramic vase). I have yet to decide between the Cordoba/Spice and Cordoba/Dahlia.

I will be featuring more fabrics later. In the meantime you can view the full range of fabrics on the website of Schuyler Samperton Textiles, where you will also find a list of showrooms.

Schuyler Samperton Textiles, design: Cordoba spice
Cordoba/Spice by Schuyler Samperton Textiles

A few years back I featured the work of Schuyler Samperton on the blog. The suzani lovers out there may perhaps remember this particular post where, among others, I shared an image of a West Hollywood bedroom (scroll down), belonging to a residence she designed. She studied art history and decorative arts at Trinity College, NYU and Parsons School of Design, and for four years she worked for American interior designer Michael S. Smith. Her interior design projects are accessible online. Throughout September I will be adding some of my favourite Schuyler Samperton spaces to the Lunch & Latte Tumblr page.


Textile and interior designer Schuyler Samperton and her dog. © Schuyler Samperton Textiles/Alexandre Jaras


Sunday, 23 July 2017

№ 11 reading list | Middle Eastern and crime fiction

№ 11 reading list | Middle Eastern and crime fiction · Lisa Hjalt
№ 11 reading list | Arundhati Roy and my Persian cat · Lisa Hjalt


Sunday morning coffee, a new reading list and Gilead by novelist Marilynne Robinson. Take my word for it, it's an excellent start of the day. July hasn't finished and already I'm presenting a new list, the second in one month. The reason is simple: there were many short books on the last one. The new list has a taste of the Middle East. For years I have wanted to read Palace Walk, the first book in the Cairo trilogy by Egyptian author and Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz. Another first for me is the Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen. A fellow lover of literature on Instagram recommended her second novel Waking Lions (translated from Hebrew by Sondra Silverston) and gave three reasons: 1) It takes place in Beersheba (Beer-Sheva), which, according to him, is unheard of in Israeli literature. 2) It's the perfect setting for the characters, living on the margins of society. 3) The story sheds some light on racism in Israel; it revolves around Eritrean and Sudanese refugees. I was sold and luckily my library had a copy when I picked up the new novel by Arundhati Roy.

№ 11 reading list:
· The Ministry of Utmost Happiness  by Arundhati Roy
· Palace Walk  by Naguib Mahfouz
· Waking Lions  by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
· The Black Prince  by Iris Murdoch
· Gilead  by Marilynne Robinson
· So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighbourhood  by Patrick Modiano
· The Redbreast  by Jo Nesbø
· Instead of a Letter  by Diana Athill
· Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls  by David Sedaris


I am still reading Jigsaw by Sybille Bedford that was on my last reading list but I have already finished The Redbreast by the Norwegian Jo Nesbø on the new one. At some point this third book about Detective Harry Hole (the first in the Oslo series) became a page-turner and I couldn't put it down. Crime fiction isn't exactly my go-to genre but occasionally I have read everything available by a particular crime author (mainly the Nordic authors; it all started many years ago with the Icelander Arnaldur Indridason and his Detective Erlendur). Nesbø's Harry Hole is an interesting character and I intend to see what happens in Nemesis, the next book in the series.

I have started Sedaris's book but I had to stop reading it before bedtime because my son, who likes to read with me, was unable to concentrate on his book because of me laughing. This is tears-running-down-your-face laughter. I tried to stifle it but it didn't work. Sedaris is, simply put, dangerously funny and I cannot wait to pick up his Diaries. Marilynne Robinson is an author I'm revisiting; I read Home when we lived in Luxembourg. I don't understand why it has taken me so long to pick up Gilead (both books take place in the same period and town, also her work Lila). The prose of Gilead is beautiful; no wonder it brought her the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005.
№ 11 reading list | Middle Eastern and crime fiction · Lisa Hjalt


I would like to finish with a quote by author Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) that I have already shared on Instagram and wanted to keep on the blog as well. Asked about her method of composition in an interview that appeared in the summer 1990 issue of The Paris Review, Murdoch replied:
Well, I think it is important to make a plan before you write the first sentence. Some people think one should write, George woke up and knew that something terrible had happened yesterday, and then see what happens. I plan the whole thing in detail before I begin. I have a general scheme and lots of notes. Every chapter is planned. Every conversation is planned. This is, of course, a primary stage, and very frightening because you've committed yourself at this point ... [Moving on to the second stage.] The deep things that the work is about declare themselves and connect. Somehow things fly together and generate other things, and characters invent other characters, as if they were all doing it themselves. (Issue 115, Summer 1990)