Books

Penguin Little Black Classics

I bought some of these tiny 80th anniversary Penguin books the other day. Each book is around 50 pages long, and has short stories, poems or extracts from writers from around the world. The perfect size to keep in a bag for spare moment reading. There are 80 different ones to choose from, and each one costs a bargain 80p. In picking the books, I went for authors I had never heard of, or writers like Cavafy I’d heard of but never checked out. Hopefully I’ll discover something I really like. The full list of titles can be seen here.... Read More...

Not gate-crashing a funeral

I actually attended this funeral/memorial for children's writer Diana Wynne Jones over 2 years ago. I had meant to write about it for a long time, but I didn't want to write anything without having the programme of speakers from the event to hand, and it stubbornly disappeared until recently when I had a big clear out of papers (and faded with some print rubbed off after 2 years), so here it is.... Read More...

A baker’s dozen of books

1) Operation Mincemeat- Ben Macintyre 2) The Pyramid- Ismail Kadare 3) The Mirror Maker- Primo Levi 4) The Third Miss Symons- F.M. Mayor 5) The Making of the British Landscape- Francis Pryor 6) The Years of Rice and Salt- Kim Stanley Robinson 7) The Moving Toyshop- Edmund Crispin 8) Travels with a Typewriter- Michael Frayn 9) Mail Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads- Kirk Demarais 10) How to Build a Girl- Caitlin Moran 11) Fannie’s Last Supper- Chris Kimball 12) The Gallery of Regrettable Food- James Lileks 
13) A Winter Book- Tove Jansson... Read More...

Professor Knatschke

My university library had a massive stack of printing industry annuals from the 1890s through to the 20s. I always enjoyed looking through them because the illustrations and articles they chose to showcase new printing technologies were often really odd, and were good to photocopy for collages and zines. Next to them on the shelf was a strange little book called Professor Knatschke. It's a comedy book written and illustrated in 1912 by Alsatian satirist Jean-Jacques Waltz, aka Hansi, about a clueless German professor and his daughter's trip to Paris, mocking both the French and the Germans (but mostly the Germans) in a more innocent pre-WW1 pre-Nazi era. I always really liked the illustrations (and Elsa K's obsession with making gifts embroidered with "inspiring" mottoes) , and now it's available free online as a copyright-free ebook.... Read More...

Books, books and more books

At one point I was writing brief reviews on here with my thoughts about various books I’d been reading. I’ve got out of the habit of doing that, and meant to get back in to it. I’ve been keeping track of my reading on Goodreads for years, but a listing and a star rating doesn’t feel like enough. I thought it would be too much to do the whole of this year’s reading, so here’s the last few months of books.... Read More...

Bacchae prints for sale

I still have a couple of these 22x25 cm / 8.5x9.5" risograph prints based on the Bacchae by Euripedes left. The text says "ἔμαρψα τόνδ᾽ ἄνευ βρόχων λέοντος ἀγροτέρου νέον ἶνιν ὡς ὁρᾶν πάρα." which means "I caught this young lion by myself, without a trap". Pentheus' mother, having run off into the woods with Dionysus to be a maenad, kills her son in a frenzy because she thinks he's a lion, and then parades his head around the stage boasting about the lion she's killed. That old plot cliché.... Read More...

The Phantom Tollbooth

I recently watched this documentary about the Phantom Tollbooth, one of my favourite books when I was younger. (I still have the same battered, dog-eared paperback copy). Milo, the main character, is a boy who is always bored and doesn't see the point in anything.... Read More...

Ichi-go ichi-e

This was my April piece for Storyboard , a writing site with monthly prompts run by a friend. I couldn't think of a story idea, so I wrote a kind of essay instead.The theme this month is “Ichi-go ichi-e”: a never again moment. I couldn’t think of a story, so I decided to talk a little about ways other writers have handled the theme. I suppose you could call this a casual essay. I’m afraid it won’t be closely argued or meticulously footnoted, and it is quite loosely put together, but maybe it will give people some good recommendations of things to read... Read More...

There’s More to Life Than Books You Know Pt I

So, long time, no see. I've been working very long hours at the day job, and I have also been without a computer. That should hopefully be sorted by next week though. Today I'm visiting my family, so I can add text-based things here, but no photos. There's quite a backlog of photos running. I managed to break my phone, do something very painful to my shoulder and have my laptop spontaneously die in the space of 3 days. I'm a disaster zone for hire. If you want anything spoilt or broken in the near future, let me know, my rates are reasonable... Read More...