anna-marie

About: Co-editor and co-founder of Pamflet //

Review: Her Brilliant Career by Rachel Cooke

Her Brilliant Career

Her Brilliant Career

It might seem like this autumn’s been full of over-hyped, disappointing books, but there are still plenty of less flashy little wonders out there and Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties Observer writer Rachel Cooke’s first book – is definitely one of them. In ten neat essays on some unconventional and highly successful British women of the 1950s, she sets out to suggest that our ideas about life for women during that stuffy grey decade could do with a rethink. Her chosen subjects (she admits that she had trouble getting her ‘poor heroines’ down to just ten ‘they were too many, not too few’) aren’t only artsy writer types – instead they come from various backgrounds including law, architecture and film and show what women could and really were doing work-wise before the ‘revolution’ of the 1960s. Read More…


Review: MADONNA NYC 83 by Richard Corman

On the cover of a magazine (book)

On the cover of a magazine (book)

‘Early in May 1983, I got a call from my mother, Cis Corman. She was casting Scorsese’s new film, The Last Temptation of Christ and she’d just auditioned a woman I really had to photograph. “She’s an original! I’ve never met anyone like her!’ … The woman was Madonna, and the part she’d auditioned for was the Virgin Mary.’ American photographer Richard Corman‘s introduction to Madonna NYC 83, a new (and MDNA-approved) book cataloging his encounter/collaboration with the queen of pop which is published this week.

I will never get tired of looking at old Madonna pix and within a month of her madgesty launching her latest creative/hype/humanitarian project, Art for FreedomMNYC83 is a reminder of why and how she became famous in the first place – her moves, her face, her style and her attitude. Even after 30 years her flirtatious joy, brazen ambition, clutch of cultural references (give Boy George his hat back) and raw NYC nothing-to-lose-ness are still as fresh and as challenging as ever in Corman’s photgraphs. Here are some of my favourites… Read More…


Pamf-LIT: Beatrice Hitchman

Bristol-based Beatrice Hitchman‘s gorgeous and mysterious Paris-set debut Petit Mort was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2013 and compared to Angela Carter and Sarah Waters by critics. Its 1910s film world setting will be brought to life on BBC Radio 4’s 15 Minute Drama this week and next. 

Beatrice Hitchman (Credit: Sarah Lee)

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WOW on the Southbank // International Day of the Girl

Friday 11 October marked the third International Day of the Girl. The team behind the Southbank Centre’s WOW (Women of the World) Festival celebrated the occasion by hosting an early morning speed-mentoring session on the nearby London Eye, connecting mentors from a range of professional backgrounds with school-aged mentees. The first WOW Festival was in 2011 and it’s happened each year since then, celebrating the achievements of girls and women over a long weekend of talks, debates, discussions and ideas-sharing to coincide with International Women’s Day in March.

I got involved in the event after I attended a planning meeting (‘think-in’!) and talk by ridiculously inspiring SC Artistic Director Jude Kelly for next year’s WOW Festival. A few weeks after the meeting I was emailed with a speed-mentoring invitation to which I immediately replied YES.

WOW badge

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What is IT?

Phoebe’s eye – in tribute to Alexa’s eye on the cover of IT

September is officially the beginning of Christmas in book world. It’s the month when lots of books get unleashed onto the autumn in the hope that they’ll find homes on gift lists in advance of the present-giving season. And this year Alexa Chung’s ‘debut’, IT is one of them.

Alexa’s style is untouchable (in spite of the copyists). She knows what to wear and when and she always looks her very best, but IT – neither memoir nor getting-dressed guide nor glossy coffee table book - might test even her most ardent follower’s loyalty. We love her for her great taste and hip dry wit but how does that translate from the internet/red carpets/TV into a hardback book format?

After a big announcement from Penguin about buying the rights to the book in October 2012, there really seemed to be something to get excited about. (My thoughts that day>>> I LOVE Alexa’s tweets!! And a book-length version of her tweets with some new pictures in between? Wow. >>> ok maybe slightly exaggerated thoughts). Books should always be the confirmation of the author/subject’s frowny worthiness and permanence where there’s otherwise only vague tweets and grainy ‘gramz. However, almost a year on from that urgent-email-to-friends-inducing headline, comes IT itself.

Seemingly coaxed out of her by the editor over email and the blank pages in between filled in with internet snaps, IT challenges the very idea of what a book is supposed to be. Yes IT looks very lovely with its matt pink cover, and is not unreasonably priced (at £16.99 and discounted everywhere). It’s just rather disappointing that there’s not more to it. Looking back at the two volumes that it’s probably closest to in audience if not actual content/reading pleasure – Luella’s Guide to English Style and Kira Jolliffe and Bay Garnett’s Cheap Date – IT becomes an even bigger missed opportunity. Shouldn’t a book tell a story, reveal something you don’t already know, inspire curiosity, laughter, disapproval – anything?

The only things I thought while flicking through are, ‘Oh, the letters are really big’ and ‘Who are all these people in the photographs?’ Perhaps captions are really uncool. Or they didn’t have time? Or Alexa and her editor must have assumed that you, the reader, wouldn’t need captions because you follow her online and therefore will know who everyone is. Presumably the people in all the pictures have names which start with @ and don’t have capital letters too, like my friends.

After my quick flick through I realised that my name might begin with A but it doesn’t begin with @ and I am just maybe slightly/16 years too old for IT. But what of the Vogue, Style and Guardian covers Alexa did to promote this book and the serious writing career that she may or may not want. She seems to be plagued by a self-consciousness that means she can’t take anything seriously – great Russian novelists, eyeliner, feminism – but sadly you can’t see her ironic raised eyebrow while you’re reading a book and it just reads like it’s been written in a hurry. Obviously, like the sucker for a pretty dress I am, I’ll give her many more chances to disappoint me in the future. But I won’t be lending anyone the book – I don’t have it anymore.


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