Archive for September, 2015

This popped up in my inbox this morning, and I felt it very worthy of sharing. Steve’s posts are always exceedingly readable, but this one was extra good. Take a look, fellow readers. Take a look.

Our book today is Shakespeare, which Anthony Burgess wrote one morning in 1970 after a 40-pint evening. The morning was raw and scratchy, one imagines, and our author, not at his best, needed some task to distract him before his four-course breakfast and pick-me-up whiskey was ready. The afternoon was already planned: a TV show appearance talking about Truffaut’s cinematic legacy. And the evening was locked up as well: dash off a treatise on pornography and then attend a Jonathan Cape literary soiree and get to work on the night’s 40 pints. But all that still left the pre-breakfast window open, and hence: Shakespeare.

The Burgess Shakespeare!


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Reading My Way Into Autumn

Hello, all!

Still here, I am, silence on the blog notwithstanding. It’s been ridiculously busy, but a breathing space appears to be developing, as we’ve finished the heavy lifting-scary heights segment of our most recent home improvement project, putting on a spanking new roof.


The view from up top. (Note the little satellite dish which keeps us connected to the online world.) Still not quite sure about the roofing colour choice, but I guess we’re stuck with it now – it’s supposed to be good for forty years, and I suspect I will be long gone before it needs replacing. (At least, I sincerely hope it outlasts me, even if I live well into old age.) Next project: painting everything on the outside of the house, and installing quite a bit of new wood siding. (This new roof thing is rather like painting one thing in a room – everything else immediately looks tired and shabby.)

My reading has been mostly late at night and decidedly escapist. Re-reading the ever-amusing Margery Sharp (Cluny Brown, The Innocents, Rhododendron Pie)  and Dodie Smith (I Capture the Castle), some rather fascinating memoirs (Lucy Irvine on a desert island, Noel Streatfeild in her childhood vicarage, Edward Abbey in the Utah desert – respectively Castaway, A Vicarage Family and Desert Solitaire), the slightly shocking adult version (sex! and lots of it) of Streatfeild’s juvenile favourite Ballet Shoes, The Whicharts, Winifred Holtby’s The Land of Green Ginger, among others. I have abundant opinions on all of these, so hoping to sit down to a round-up post quite soon.

the well of loneliness radclyffe hallCurrently plugging away at Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness, and finding it so aptly named. (The heroine has just shot her beloved horse – sob! And she’s on blighted infatuation number three or four, and it’s not going at all well in her life in general on every front.)

Mary Renault famously wrote her own lesbian drama The Friendly Young Ladies in not-so-gentle mockery of Hall’s rather dreary tragedy, and I am finding myself increasingly in sympathy with Renault’s rejection of the melodrama of Hall’s portrayal of “inverts” and “the third sex”. I shall soldier on; the Great War is looming, and we’re heading off to Paris. Perhaps things will start pepping up for poor, conflicted Stephen Gordon, love life wise? (Though I rather fear not.)

I’ve been staying close to home and reading from the shelves, but an upcoming excursion into new territory (Washington and Oregon) mid September may well prove rewarding if all goes well. We’ll be travelling the back roads, so will be watching for those promising “Used Books/Vintage Books” signs which so often reward investigation. You never know what will turn up in the most unlikely places!

More soon.

Happy end-of-summer reading, everyone.

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