- (59 books)
- American Fiction
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- American Poetry & Drama
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- Art (NZ & International)
- (454 books)
- Australian & Pacific Literature
- (168 books)
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- (73 books)
- Children's Books
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- Chinese Literature
- (192 books)
- Cinema & TV
- (80 books)
- Classical Literature
- (346 books)
- Comics & Graphic Novels
- (271 books)
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- Eastern-European Literature
- (149 books)
- Eastern Literatures
- (437 books)
- English Poetry (pre-1900)
- (388 books)
- English Poetry (post-1900)
- (655 books)
- English Prose (pre-1900)
- (473 books)
- English Prose (post-1900)
- (1153 books)
- Fantasy Literature
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- Folklore & Fairy Tales
- (274 books)
- French Literature
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- German Literature
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- History & Archaeology
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- Irish Literature
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- Italian Literature
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- Japanese Literature
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- Literature, Language & Philosophy
- (355 books)
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- New Zealand Miscellaneous
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- Occult & Supernatural
- (513 books)
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- Russian Literature
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- Scandinavia & the Netherlands
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- Spanish & Latin-American Literature
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- Travel & Exploration
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- (54 books)
Mervyn Peake: Titus Groan (1946)
'How many shelves have you built for your father?' said the Earl to his daughter with a ghastly smile.
'Seven shelves, father,' said Fuchsia. Her eyes were very wide and her hands trembled as they hung at her sides.
'Three more shelves, my daughter - three more shelves, and then we will put the volumes back.'
Fuchsia, picking up a short branch, scored across the needled ground three long lines, adding them to the seven which already lay between her father and herself.
'That's it, that's it,' came the melancholy voice. 'Now we have space for the Sonian Poets. Have you the books ready - little daughter?'
Fuchsia swung her head up, and her eyes fastened upon her father. He had never spoken to her in that way - she had never before heard that tone of love in his voice. Chilled by the horror of his growing madness, she had yet been filled with a compassion she had never known, but now there was more than compassion within her, there was released, of a sudden, a warm jet of love for the huddled figure whose long pale hand rested upon his knees, whose voice sounded so quiet and so thoughtful. 'Yes, father, I've got the books ready,' she replied; 'do you want me to put them on the shelves?'
She turned to a heap of pine cones which had been gathered. 'Yes, I am ready,' he replied after a pause that was filled with the silence of the wood. 'But one by one. One by one. We shall stock three shelves tonight. Three of my long, rare shelves.'
'Yes, father.' ...
- Mervyn Peake. Titus Groan. 1946. Introduction by Anthony Burgess. Penguin Modern Classics. 1968 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975): 345-46.
The most poignant piece I know of about the after-effects of the death of a library is this passage from Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy (worse even than the final moments of Elias Canetti's Auto-da-fé). Perhaps its effectiveness comes from the fact that Peake himself may already have known about his own Parkinson's disease. It's hard not to feel him imagining the successive loss of his faculties, both as artist and author.
Building a library is always, as Canetti reminds us, an act of faith. One one level, of course, it's at the mercy of so many factors: fire, flood, domestic turmoil, and all the other vagaries of life. On another, it needs a logic and a raison d'être to justify its existence. But without some kind of catalogue or indexing system, can it really be said to be a library - or just an opportunistic huddle of books?
A website seems to me not such a bad place to compile such a catalogue raisonnée. The pages can be edited and re-edited as often as one wants, and (what's more) decorated with the other people's art. With the aid of labels, hypertext and sidebars, it can even be effectively cross-indexed.
This blog, then, A Gentle Madness (the title borrowed from Nicholas Basbane's entertaining account of the vagaries of eccentric bibliophiles throughout history) is the result. It's very much a work in progress (but then what library could ever be said to be finished? Only when people stop writing new books, or re-editing old ones, I suppose). It's not - I suspect - of particularly absorbing interest (or use) to anyone but me, but, for what it's worth, it's now accessible to all.
'My books .. .' he said.
'I have them here, father. Shall I fill up the first long shelf for you?'
'With the Sonian Poets, Fuchsia.'
She picked up a cone from the heap at her side and placed it on the end of the line she had scored in the ground. The Earl watched her very carefully.
'That is Andrema, the lyricist - the lover - he whose quill would pulse as he wrote and fill with a blush of blue, like a bruised nail. His verses, Fuchsia, his verses open out like flowers of glass, and at their centre, between the brittle petals lies a pool of indigo, translucent and as huge as doom. His voice is unmuffled - it is like a bell, clearly ringing in the night of our confusion; but the clarity is the clarity of imponderable depth - depth - so that his lines float on for evermore, Fuchsia - on and on and on, for evermore. That is Andrema ... Andrema.'
The Earl, with his eyes on the cone which Fuchsia had placed at the end of the first line, opened his mouth more widely, and suddenly the pines vibrated with the echoes of a dreadful cry, half scream, half laughter.
Fuchsia stiffened, the blood draining from her face. Her father, his mouth still open, even after the scream had died out of the forest, was now upon his hands and knees. Fuchsia tried to force her voice from the dryness of her throat. Her father's eyes were on her as she struggled, and at last his lips came together and his eyes recovered the melancholy sweetness that she had so lately discovered in them. She was able to say, as she picked up another cone and made as if to place it at the side of 'Andrema': 'Shall I go on with the library, father?' 
[Mervyn Peake: Alice]
- Requests for the loan of any of the books or materials listed here will not be entertained seriously. It seems most unlikely you won't be able to find a nearby public library which can obtain the titles you're searching for.
- The pages are organised in the following way:
1, 2 … = shelf numbers counting downwards
[b] = back row of a double row
i, ii = partition / section number (left to right)
• = on top of other books (left to right)
[…] = bound Xerox copy
- 71 - [26/11/19] - Christopher Ricks: The Oxford Book of English Verse (1999)
- 70 - [12/6/22] - The Poems of Arthur Hugh Clough (1974)
- 69 - [12/6/20] - Maynard Mack: Alexander Pope (1985)
- 68 - [14/5/22] - The Oxford Illustrated Old Testament (1968-69)
- 67 - [27/4/22] - John Clare: Bird Poems (1980)
- 66 - [6/11/20] - Ishi in Three Centuries (2003)
- 65 - [4/4/22] - Les Murray: Collected Poems (2018)
- 64 - [12-14/2/22] - A Baker's Dozen of Scottish Poets (1425-1942)
- 63 - [6/1/22] - Penguin English Poets (1971-83)
- 62 - [5/12/21] - A Baker's Dozen of Omnibuses (2021)
- 61 - [23/11/21] - John Keats: The Poetical Works (1866)
- 60 - [19/11/21] - M. R. James: Suffolk and Norfolk (1930)
- 59 - [21/3 & 10/11/21] - Barry Miles: Call Me Burroughs (2013)
- 58 - [30/10/21] - Lawrence Durrell: Judith: A Novel (2012)
- 57 - [23/10/21] - The Tale of Genji: Norton Critical Edition (2021)
- 56 - [12/10/21] - Thomas Mann: Six Early Stories (1997)
- 55 - [30/5/21] - Salvador Peña Martín: Mil y una noches (2016)
- 54 - [11/5/21] - John Payne: Oriental Tales (1901)
- 53 - [30/4/21] - Andrew Marvell: The Rehearsal Transpros'd (1971)
- 52 - [7/4/21] - Charles Baudelaire: Flowers of Evil (1971)
- 51 - [1/4/21] - The Barbarian Invasions of the Roman Empire (2000-03)
- 50 - [21/2/21] - The Poetical Works of Longfellow (1908)
- 49 - [3/1/21] - Harry Price: The End of Borley Rectory (1946)
- 48 - [25/12/20] - Paul Celan: Microliths They Are, Little Stones (2020)
- 47 - [5/12/20] - The Landmark Ancient Historians (1996- )
- 46 - [28/11/20] - The Loeb Classics (1912- )
- 45 - [20/9/20] - Romesh Chunder Dutt: Ancient Indian Epics (1898-99)
- 44 - [20/9/20] - Rev. George Gilfillan: Library Edition of the British Poets (1853-60)
- 43 - [11/9/20] - R. Brimley Johnson: Popular British Ballads (1894)
- 42 - [20/6/20] - Philip & Carol Zaleski: The Fellowship (2015)
- 41 - [4/6/20] - W. H. Hudson: South American Romances (1930)
- 40 - [15/5/20] - A Baker's Dozen of 6-volume sets (2020)
- 39 - [20/2/20] - Tara McLeod: A Typographic Journey (2020)
- 38 - [10/1/20] - The Bodley Head Ford Madox Ford (1961-62)
- 37 - [8/1/20] - Nicholas A. Basbanes: Patience & Fortitude (2001)
- 36 - [7/1/20] - Philip Meadows Taylor: Confessions of a Thug (1839)
- 35 - [3/1/20] - Michele Leggott: Mezzaluna: Selected Poems (2020)
- 34 - [1/12/19] - H. P. Lovecraft: Variorum Edition, ed. S. T. Joshi (2015-17)
- 33 - [26/11/19] - Jack Vance: The Languages of Pao (1958)
- 32 - [10/10/19] - Stephen King: Hearts in Suspension (2016)
- 31 - [14/9/19] - Daniel Defoe: Freebooters and Buccaneers (1935)
- 30 - [3/9/19] - The Romances of Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1948-65)
- 29 - [2/9/19] - A Baker's Dozen of 12-volume sets (1895-96)
- 28 - [1/9/19] - Aldous Huxley: Complete Essays (2000-02)
- 27 - [22/8/19] - Oxford Myths and Legends (1954- )
- 26 - [18/8/19] - Norton Annotated Editions (2000- )
- 25 - [25/5/19] - Katharine M. Briggs: Folk Tales of Britain (1970-71)
- 24 - [20/5/19] - Juvenal in English (2001)
- 23 - [14/5/19] - The Folio Society (1947- )
- 22 - [15/4/19] - The Annotated Tennyson (1969)
- 21 - [22/1/19] - The Greville Diary (1927)
- 20 - [9/1/19] - Tolstóy: Centenary Edition (1928-37)
- 19 - [25/12/18] - Outlaws of the Marsh (2018)
- 18 - [7/9/18] - Shakespeare's Sources: Raphael Holinshed (2012)
- 17 - [5/7/18] - Fernando Pessoa: Obras (1985 / 86)
- 16 - [3/4/18] - Loeb Classics: Greek Historians
- 15 - [2/2/18] - Ted Hughes' Collected Animal Poems (1995)
- 14 - [18/1/18] - Billy Budd, Sailor (2017)
- 13 - [10/6/16] - The Icelandic Sagas (1999 & 2002)
- 12 - [11/2/16] - The Nonesuch / Reynard Libraries (1927-70)
- 11 - [6/11/13] - The Complete Sagas of Icelanders (1997)
- 10 - [12/10/13] - The Novel: An Alternative History (2010-13)
- 9 - [9/5/13] - Royall Tyler's Tale of the Heike (2012)
- 8 - [9/2/13] - Craig Thompson's Habibi (2011)
- 7 - [1/11/12] - Chandler's Complete Novels (1989)
- 6 - [18/10/12] - Sebald's Selected Poems (2011)
- 5 - [23/9/12] - A True & Strange Story (2009)
- 4 - [17/9/12] - Dante's Divine Comedy (2003-05)
- 3 - [4/9/12] - The Civil War Reader (1957-58)
- 2 - [23/8/12] - Shakespeare's Plays in Quarto (1981)
- 1 - [20/8/12] - A Song of Ice and Fire (1996-2011)
In the Stacks (2009)
Books on Loan:
From Libraries & Friends
(February 2010- )
[1 / 198 = 199 books]
[BB] = North Shore Public Library (Browns Bay Branch)
[SB] = Stu Bagby
[BC] = Brett Cross
[JE] = Jo Emeney
[MH] = Matt Harris
[RH] = Rand Hazou
[BL] = Bronwyn Lloyd
[CL] = Auckland Public Library (Central Branch)
[GL] = Greg Lloyd
[ML] = Mike Lloyd
[EM] = Erin Mercer
[MP] = Mary Paul
[JR] = John / June Ross
[TS] = Tracey Slaughter
[RT] = Richard Taylor
[MU] = Massey University Library
- Books in
- Books out
- Books returned
Lloyd Ostendorf: Lincoln borrows a book (1928)
- Parsons, Ian, ed. The Collected Works of Isaac Rosenberg: Poetry, Prose, Letters, Paintings and Drawings. Introduction by Siegfried Sassoon. London: Chatto & Windus, 1979. [MU (7/21)]
Reminded yet again that my own copy reprints one signature twice, thus leaving out some pages, I decided to remedy the matter once and for all.
- Forrest, Derek. Hypnotism: A History. Foreword by Anthony Storr. 1999. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2000. [TS (6/22)]
Interesting historically, but not very informative about he actual nature of hypnotism.
- Marnham, Patrick. Dreaming with His Eyes Open: A Life of Diego Rivera. A Borzoi Book. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. [CL (4/11)]
Full and informative, but a little stodgy in parts.
- O'Keeffe, Paul. Some Sort of Genius: A Life of Wyndham Lewis. 2000. London: Pimlico, 2001. [CL (5/11)]
Time to catch up on the "Enemy", I guess. Well-written and amusing, especially considering the subject matter.
- Phillips, Tom. A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel. 1980. Fifth Edition. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2012. [RT (11/12)]
Fascinating piece of insane collage which this maniac has been working on since 1966. Great stuff: an inspiration to us all ...
- Ames, Jonathan. The Alcoholic. Art by Dean Haspiel. Vertigo. New York: DC Comics, 2008. [CL (2/11)]
Actually very entertaining, if a bit dark. By the author of the HBO TV series "Bored to Death".
- Barry, Linda. What It Is. Montreal, Quebec: Drawn & Quarterly, 2008. [CL (3/11)]
A kind of artistic self-help treatise in collage form. Quite nicely done, though.
- Bechdel, Alison. The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company, 2008. [CL (6/10)]
By the author of Fun Home. Pretty good, actually, but a bit of a saga. I think you really had to be there throughout.
- Bell, Blake, ed. Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1. Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books, 2009. [CL (8/10)]
Some quite impressive pieces written for the old pre-code EC comics, including one I remember well about "The Beyond" (though not the "Hooded Horror") ...
- Bell, Gabrielle. Cecil and Jordan in New York: Stories. Montreal, Quebec: Drawn & Quarterly, 2009. [CL (8/10)]
Slight, but kind of elegant ...
- Bellstorf, Arne. Baby's in Black: The Story of Astrid Kircher & Stuart Sutcliffe. 2010. Trans. Michael Wasler. SelfMadeHero. London: Metro Media Ltd., 2011. [CL (5/11)]
All the faces look the same, but not without a certain moody charm.
- Bertozzi, Nick. The Salon. St. Martin's Griffin. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2007. [CL (11/10)]
A bit daft, but entertaining. A bit like that 80s movie The Moderns ...
- Bocquet, José-Louis. Kiki de Montparnasse. Illustrated by Catel. 2007. Trans. Nora Mahony. Self Made Hero. London: Metro Media Ltd., 2011. [CL (10/11)]
A bit self-indulgent, but quite entertaining.
- Briggs, Raymond, & Nicolette Jones. Blooming Books. Jonathan Cape, in association with Puffin Books. London: Random House Children's Books, 2003. [CL (4/10)]
Rather banal commentary, but some fantastic comics (The Bear & Father Christmas, among others) included.
- Buhle, Paul, ed. The Beats: A Graphic History. Text by Harvey Pekar et al. Art by Ed Piskor et al. A Novel Graphic from Hill and Wang. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009. [CL (3/10)]
An attempt to retell the saga of the Beats - some useful (though simplistic) biographical information, but with no critical distance whatsoever from the "phenomenon". It does them a bit of a disservice, actually.
- Burford, Brendan, ed. Syncopated: An Anthology of Nonfiction Picto-Essays. A Villard Books Trade Paperback Original. New York: Random House Publishing Group, 2009. [CL (8/10)]
Certainly a great idea for an anthology. The contents are certainly extremely varied, but somehow harmonious with one another even so ...
- Burns, Charles. X'ed Out. Pantheon Books. New York: Random House, Inc., 2010. [CL (2/13)]
By the author of Black Hole, and similarly creepy -- clearly the first part of a longer narrative.
- Caleo, Bernard, ed. The Tango Collection. 1997-2008. Foreword by Dylan Horrocks. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2009. [CL (5/10)]
"Over 50 Comic Creators from Australia and New Zealand": Mainly to do with love and romance, it would appear. Somewhat uneven.
- Campbell, Eddie. Alec: "The Years Have Pants" (A Life-Sized Omnibus). Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions, 2009. [CL (2/12)]
Including the previously published collections The King Canute Crowd; Graffiti Kitchen; How to be an Artist; Little Italy; The Dead Muse; The Dance of Lifey Death; After the Snooter and some new material, including "The Years Have Pants" - he somewhat resembles a Glaswegian Harvey Keitel, but with a bit less 'tude ...
- Card, Orson Scott. Ender's Shadow: Battle School. Script: Mike Carey. Art: Sebastian Fiumara. New York: Marvel Publishing, Inc., 2009. [CL (5/12)]
Mike Carey's brilliance shows even in as routine a piece of work as this. Well worth a look.
- Clowes, Daniel. Wilson. Montreal, Quebec: Drawn and Quarterly, 2010. [CL (8/10)]
Rather disappointing, given it comes from the author of Ghost World. More pointlessly depressing than amusing, I'd have to say.
- Crumb, Robert. The Complete Crumb Comics. Volume 8 - The Death of Fritz the Cat. 1971-72. Ed. Gary Groth & Robert Boyd. 1992. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books, 1997. [CL (3/10)]
Some good stuff, some less good. Clearly a valuable project, though.
- Crumb, Robert. The Complete Crumb Comics. Volume 17 - The Late 1980s: Cave Wimp, Mode O'Day, Aline 'n' Bob, & Other Stories, Covers, Drawings. 1988-92. Ed. Eric Reynolds. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books, Inc., 2005. [CL (3/10)]
I especially liked the Mode O'Day French Restaurant story.
- Delano, Jamie. Outlaw Nation. Artist: Goran Sudžuka. Issues 1-19, 1999-2001. Desperado Publishing. Berkeley, CA: Image Comics, Inc., 2006. [CL (7/10)]
This was actually pretty good: a kind of dream America constructed out of the pages of William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac.
- Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Volume 2: Issues 5-8. 1968. Art: Tony Parker. Ed. Bryce Carlson. Los Angeles: Boom! Studios, 2010. [CL (11/10)]
Prettily drawn but otherwise unremarkable, I fear.
- Eisner, Will. A Family Matter. 1998. Norton Paperbacks. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2009. [CL (3/10)]
One of the Old Master's last works.
- Eisner, Will. Life on Another Planet. [As 'Signal from Space', 1978-83]. A Norton Paperback. New York & London: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2009. [CL (3/11)]
Terrible. They should have left it in oblivion rather than dragging it out to lower the old man's posthumous street-cred.
- Furth, Robin. Stephen King's The Dark Tower: Fall of Gilead. Script: Peter David. Art by Richard Isanove. Introduction by Ralph Macchio. New York: Mavel Publishing Inc., 2010. [CL (5/10)]
Number 3 in the (seemingly) interminable series.
- Gaiman, Neil. The Facts in the Case of the Disappearance of Miss Finch. Art by Michael Zulli. Dark Horse Books. Milwaukie, Oregon: Dark Horse Comics, Inc., 2008. [CL (10/10)]
Rather a perfunctory short story, but nice production.
- Geary, Rick. The Lives of Sacco & Vanzetti. A Treasury of XXth Century Murder. Comicslit. New York: Nantier, Beall, Minoustchine Publishing Inc., 2011. [CL (5/12)]
Rather a silly book, unfortunately. It's certainly informative about the case, but the author's quest for "evenhandedness" leads him to imply that the whole affair is far more doubtful than it really is. Whether or not some "ambiguous" pieces of evidence have turned up from time to time over the past eighty-odd years, what's obvious is that the original conviction was unjust, and that by no conceivable sleight of hand could "reasonable doubt" over their guilt be said to have ever been refuted. The author clearly has a ghoulish fascination for such crimes, but can't prevent his conservative bias from leaking in.
- Guibert, Emmanuel. The Photographer: Into War-torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders. Photographs by Didier Lefèvre. Colorist: Frédéric Lémercier. 2003, 2004 & 2006. Trans. Alexis Siegel. First Second. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2009. [CL (5/10)]
A very worthy and very readable book.
- Henson, Jim, & Jerry Juhl. Jim Henson's Tale of Sand. As Realised by Ramon K. Perez. Los Angeles, Calif.: Archaia Entertainment, 2011. [CL (1/13)]
A graphic novel version of an early screeenplay by Henson written before he made his breakthrough with the Muppets. Pretty throwaway, really.
- Hernandez, Jaime. The Education of Hopey Glass. The Complete Love and Rockets, 24. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books, Inc., 2008. [CL (6/10)]
She was always my favourite L & R character (after Maggie the Mechanic, of course) ... Time hasn't treated her that well, alas.
- Hernandez, Jaime. Locas II: Maggie, Hopey & Ray. Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books, 2009. [CL (10/10)]
Impossible to get enough of this saga, I think.
- Hill, Joe. Keys to the Kingdom. Locke & Key, volume 4. Art by Gabriel Rodriguez. IDW Publishing. San Diego, CA: Idea and Design Works, LLC., 2011. [CL (12/11)]
- Horrocks, Dylan. Hicksville: A Comic Book. 1998. Introduction to the New Edition by the Author. Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly Publications, 2010. [CL (5/10)]
I have it already, of course, but this edition has a new introduction (not to mention a new cover). A perennially fascinating graphic novel.
- Hughes, David. Walking the Dog. Jonathan Cape. London: The Random House Group Limited, 2009. [CL (8/10)]
A deeply odd book: visually disturbing and emotionally complex ... Kind of a masterpiece in its way, I think.
- Huizenga, Kevin. The Wild Kingdom: Starring Glenn Ganges. Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2010. [CL (11/10)]
Bizarre stuff: pretty intelligent, though. I kind of like it.
- Johnson, Mat. Incognegro. Art by Warren Pleece. Lettered by Clem Robins. New York: DC Comics, Inc., 2008. [CL (6/10)]
Worthy, but not very accomplished (or probable, really).
- Keen, Damon, & Amie Maxwell, ed. Faction1: Kiwi Comics Anthology. Issue 1. Foreword by Ben Stenbeck. NZ: 3 Bad Monkeys, December 2012. [CL (7/13)]
Some interesting bits and pieces, but not really on a sufficient scale to retain narrative interest.
- King, Stephen, & Peter Straub. The Talisman, Volume 1: The Road of Trials. Adapted by Robin Furth. Artwork: Tony Shasteen. Colors: Nei Ruffino & J. D. Mettler. 2008-2009. Del Rey / Ballantine Books. New York: Random House Inc., 2010. [CL (10/11)]
- Kristiansen, Teddy, & Steven T. Seagle. The Red Diary / The Re[a]d Diary. 2012. Berkeley, CA: Image Comics, Inc., 2012. [CL (7/13)]
Actually very interesting piece of work: a faux sound-translation of a work in Danish.
- Lethem, Jonathan, with Karl Rusnak. Omega: The Unknown. Art by Farel Dalrymple. New York: Marvel Publishing, Inc., 2008. [CL (6/10)]
This, on the other hand, is quite brilliant - an extremely enjoyable.
- Li Kunwu, & Philippe Ôtié. A Chinese Life. Written by Philippe Ôtié & Li Kunwu. Illustrated by Li Kunwu. 2009-2011. Translated by Edward Gauvin. London: Self Made Hero, 2012. [CL (2/13)]
Looks interesting - if a bit tricksy.
- Liberge, Eric. On the Odd Hours: A Tale. 2008. Trans. Joe Johnson. Futuropolis / Musee du Louvre Editions. New York: Nantier / Beall / Minoustchine Publishing Inc., 2010. [CL (3/11)]
Less than charming as a story, but beautifully drawn.
- Malkasian, Cathy. Temperance. Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books, 2010. [CL (10/10)]
A very odd book indeed: part parable, part fantasy. I ended up liking it, but it does have a very odd way of proceeding. Nicely drawn, but.
- Martin, George R. R. Doorways. Art by Stefano Martino. San Diego, CA: IDW Publishing, 2011. [CL (11/12)]
An early work by the "American Tolkien" -- originally planned as a TV series, but now finding another incarnation as a glossy comic. Not too bad.
- McKean, Dave. Celluloid: An Erotic Graphic Novel. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books, 2011. [CL (2/13)]
By the author of Cages. It doesn't seem to include any words, just images.
- McNeil, Carla Speed. The Finder Library. Vol. 1: Sin-Eater / King of the Cats / Talisman. Finder #1-#22. 1996-2010. Introduction by Douglas Wolk. Dark Horse Books. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics, Inc., 2011. [CL (11/12)]
Douglas Wolk certainly seems to like it. Rather Manga-like illustrations. Interesting so far.
- Medley, Linda. Castle Waiting: Volume 1. Introduction by Jane Yolen. 2006. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books, 2009. [CL (11/10)]
Actually a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to reading volume two (which has just appeared) at some stage ...
- Mignola, Mike. Hellboy. Volume One: Seed of Destruction [script: John Byrne] / Wake the Devil [script: Mike Mignola]. 1994 & 1997. Introductions by Scott Allie, Robert Bloch & Alan Moore. Dark Horse Books. Milwaukie, Oregon: Dark Horse Comics, Inc., 2008. [CL (10/10)]
Rather more Lovecraftian than the rather slapstick films would have led one to expect, but none the worse for that, I think.
- Mignola, Mike & Joshua Dysart. B.P.R.D. 1947. Art by Gabriel Ba & Fabio Moon. 2009. Dark Horse Books. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics, Inc., 2010. [CL (2/11)]
Pretty perfunctory, but nicely drawn.
- Millar, Mark. Civil War. Penciller: Steve McNiven. Ed. Mark D. Beazley. 2006-2007. New York: Marvel Publishing, Inc., 2008. [CL (3/11)]
This really irritated me. The first pro-Bush comic I've ever come across. Politically reactionary and not particularly engaging on any other level.
- Moore, Alan. The Complete Alan Moore Future Shocks. Oxford: Rebellion, 2011. [CL (9/11)]
Pretty negligible, I'm afraid - for completists only.
- Moore, Alan, Stephen Bissette & Rick Veitch. Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book Six. Art by Rick Veitch, John Totleben, Alfredo Alcala, Stephen Bissett & Tom Yeates. New York: DC Comics, 2011. [CL (12/11)]
Read it before, of course, but this is an "archival" edition with extras ...
- Moore, Richard. Boneyard. Volume 7. New York: Nantier, Beall, Minoustchine Publishing, Inc., 2010. [CL (8/10)]
Definitely a series which has lost its mojo. The earlier instalments were extremely entertaining, but this one is forced to resort to endless, pointless fight scenes to flesh out a fairly uneventful plot. Nice to revisit some old friends, though.
- Morrison, Grant, ed. Batman: The Black Casebook. The Stories that Inspired Batman R.I.P. New York: DC Comics, 2009. [CL (7/10)]
Mildly interesting (despite all my reservations about Grant Morrison), but I'm afraid it mainly just goes to show how lame old 50s comics could be at times.
- Mutard, Bruce. The Silence. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2009. [CL (7/10)]
Actually an extremely interesting book. A search for the chef d'oeuvre inconnu in Northern Queensland ...
- Niffenegger, Audrey. The Night Bookmobile. Abrams ComicArts. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2010. [CL (6/11)]
Slight, but not bad at all. Better than her previous two "novels-in-pictures".
- Novgorodoff, Danica. Refresh, Refresh: A Graphic Novel. Adapted from the Screenplay by BJames Ponsoldt, from the short story by James Percy. First Second. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2009. [CL (8/10)]
Interesting, but what it mainly made me think about was how depressing it will be if the Americans continue to evolve a subgenre of Iraq war literature as introspective and futile as so many of their solipsistic efforts at "understanding" Vietnam ...
- Pomplun, Tom, ed. Horror Classics. Graphic Classics, Volume Ten. Mount Horeb, Wisconsin: Eureka Productions, 2004. [CL (7/10)]
A bunch of ghost stories by H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and other luminaries of the genre. Not bad, actually ...
- Porcellino, John. King-Cat Classix: The Best of King-Cat Comics and Stories. 1989-2007. Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly, 2007. [CL (10/10)]
Very loose and unfocussed, but definitely grows on you. Sets out to encapsulate the punk ethos in graphic form ...
- Powers, Mark. Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. Storm Front, Volume One: The Gathering Storm. Pencils: Ardian Syaf. Inks: Rick Ketcham. Colors: Mohan. 2008-2009. Del Rey / Ballantine Books. New York: Random House Inc., 2009. [CL (10/11)]
Poorly drawn, but quite entertaining.
- Pratchett, Terry. The Discworld Graphic Novels: The Colour of Magic & The Light Fantastic. 1983 & 1986. Adapted by Scott Rockwell. Illustrated by Steven Ross. 1991 & 1992. Harper. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008. [CL (8/10)]
Amusing, but unfortunately a lot of the pleasure of reading the books is in the small verbal details, all of which is obscured here. Nor are the drawings really good enough to make up for it ...
- Raicht, Mike & Brian Smith. The Stuff of Legend. Book 1: The Dark. Illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III. 2009. Villard Trade Paperbacks. New York: The Random House Publishing Group, 2010. [CL (2/11)]
This I really liked, though it doesn't really quite work, I fear. Too much like those Vertigo fairy tale books, with a bit of Neil Gaiman and a bit of Kenneth Grahame mixed in.
- Rankin, Ian. Dark Entries: A John Constantine Novel. Art by Werther dell'Edera. Vertigo Crime. New York: DC Comics, 2009. [CL (3/11)]
Not bad, actually - quite entertaining.
- Reklaw, Jesse. The Night of Your Life: A Slow Wave Collection. Dark Horse Books. Milwaukie, Oregon: Dark Horse Comics, Inc., 2008. [CL (7/11)]
Not as much fun as it looked on the shelf, alas.
- Sacco, Joe. Footnotes in Gaza. Metropolitan Books. New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2009. [CL (5/12)]
A really stunning piece of work: long and arid in parts, but absolutely indispensable to anyone who wants to understand that part of the world. The old master is definitely back on form ...
- Sacco, Joe. Journalism. Metropolitan Books. New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2012. [CL (2/13)]
Great stuff (as usual).
- Sandell, Laurie. The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2009. [CL (5/10)]
Rather in the vein of other graphic novel memoirs, such as Alison Bechdel's Fun Home (2006) or Craig Thompson's Blankets (2003), but far more nauseatingly egotistic than either of those (or even the odd series of school confessional books by Ariel Schlag, for that matter).
- Seth [G. Gallant]. Palookaville 20. Montreal, Quebec: Drawn & Quarterly, 2010. [CL (9/11)]
Okay. A Bit self-indulgent, but certainly interesting.
- Sfar, Joann. The Professor's Daughter. Illustrated by Emmanuel Guibert. 1997. Trans. Alexis Siegel. First Second. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2007. [CL (11/11)]
- Simmonds, Posy. Tamara Drewe. Jonathan Cape. London: Random House, 2007. [CL (9/11)]
Source of the film, but a lot better, I think.
- Simon, Joe, & Jack Kirby. The Best of Simon & Kirby. Introduction by Joe Simon. Essays by Mark Evanier. Art Restoration by Harry Medryk. Ed. Steve Saffel. Titan Books. London: Titan Publishing Group Ltd., 2009. [CL (7/10)]
Impressive at the time, no doubt, but I fear that most of these comics are now of historical interest only.
- Small, David. Stitches: A Memoir. New York & London: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2009. [CL (11/11)]
Gloomy & gruesome, but pretty good.
- Smith, Jeff. RASL. Volume 1: The Drift. Columbus, Ohio: Cartoon Books, 2008. [CL (11/10)]
Is there life after Bone? It's a bit too early to say, just on the strength of this volume, but not a bad beginning ...
- Spencer, Si. John Constantine, Hellblazer: City of Demons. Artist: Sean Murphy. Colorist: Dave Stewart / Dave Gibbons. Another Bloody Christmas. 2000, 2010-2011. Dark Horse Books. New York: DC Comics, 2011. [CL (10/11)]
Not one of the very best Constantines, but not bad either.
- Sturges, Matthew & Bill Willingham. House of Mystery: Room & Boredom. Artist: Luca Rossi. Vertigo. New York: DC Comics, 2008. [CL (4/10)]
Rather self-indulgent, I fear - the characters are less intriguing than their creator assumes.
- Talbot, Bryan. Grandville. Dark Horse Books. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics, Inc., 2009. [CL (4/10)]
Not in the same league as Alice in Sunderland - another alternate history yarn like Heart of Empire. Pretty good, though.
- Trondheim, Lewis. Little Nothings: The Curse of the Umbrella. 2006. Trans. Joe Johnson. ComicsLit Graphic Novel. New York: Nantier / Beall / Minoustchine, 2007. [CL (3/10)]
Amusing - slight. But then I guess that's the whole point.
- Trondheim, Lewis, & Manu Larcenet. Astronauts of the Future. 2000-2001. Trans. Joe Johnson. New York: Nantier, Beall, Minoustchine, 2003. [CL (7/10)]
Pretty much as weird as they come.
- Way, Gerard. The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite. Illustrated by Gabriel Bá. Dark Horse Books. Milwaukee, OR: Dark Horse Comics, Inc., 2008. [CL (10/11)]
A bit silly, really.
- Whedon, Joss. Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Season Eight, Volume 4: Time of Your Life. 2008. Pencils: Karl Moline / Inks: Andy Owens / Colors; Michelle Madsen / Script: Jeph Loeb. Dark Horse Books. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics, Inc., 2009. [CL (5/10)]
Enjoyable for Buffy fans such as myself.
- Williams, Aaron. North 40. Artist: Fiona Staples. Letterer: Rob Leigh. Vertigo. New York: DC Comics, 2010. [CL (2/11)]
Pretty bad -- too many characters, too unfocussed: like a poor cousin of Preacher.
- Yang, Belle. Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale. New York & London: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2010. [CL (10/10)]
Yet another "graphic memoir" in the manner of Marjane Satrapi et al. Kind of a good one, though, I think.
- Asimov, Isaac, ed. The Annotated Gulliver's Travels: Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. 1726 / 1734 / 1896. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. / Publishers, 1980. [CL (3/10)]
"Other annotations and interpretations by Isaac Asimov: Asimov's Guide to the Bible; Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare; Asimov's Annotated Don Juan; Asimov's Annotated Paradise Lost; Familiar Poems, Annotated."
- Bolaño, Roberto. Los detectives salvajes. 1998. Compactos Anagrama. Barcelona: Editorial Anagrama, 2005. [MU (7/14)]
- Clayton, Hamish. Wulf. London: Penguin, 2011. [EM (4/15)]
Much praised NZ historical novel.
- Dick, Philip K. Cantata-140. [as 'The Crack in Space,' 1966]. Gollancz. London: Orion Publishing Group, 2003. [BC (12/13)]
I thought it might be a new addition to the master's works, but I see it's only the British title for The Crack in Space.
- Gombrowicz, Witold. Ferdydurke. 1937. Trans. Danuta Borchardt. Foreword by Susan Sontag. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. [CL (4/10)]
Gombrowicz is certainly an interesting writer. The book seems, in concept (though not at all in style), a little like Vice Versa. Unfortunately, it's difficult to judge through one of the most cackhanded translations of modern times.
- Grahame, Kenneth. The Annotated Wind in the Willows. Ed. Annie Gauger. Introduction by Brian Jacques. The Library of America, 98. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2009. [BB (1/12)]
One of the two annotated editions... But which one is better?
- Kerouac, Jack. The Dharma Bums. 1958. Flamingo. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 1992. [MU (11/10)]
An account of his involvement with Buddhism.
- Kerouac, Jack. Desolation Angels: A Novel. 1965. Introduction by Joyce Johnson. Riverhead Books. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 1995. [MU (11/10)]
An account of the vastation he suffered during his time as a fire-watcher in Washington, among other things.
- King, Stephen. Blockade Billy. Illustrated by Alex McVey. Baltimore: Cemetery Dance Publications, 2010. [CL (3/11)]
Not too bad - a bit inflated, perhaps. More a short story than a novella, really ...
- Murakami, Haruki. The Elephant Vanishes: Stories. 1992. Trans. Alfred Birnbaum & Jay Rubin. 1993. Vintage International. New York: Random House, Inc., 1994. [CL (3/10)]
The first collection of Murakami's stories to appear in English - contains the germs of various of his novels (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle among them).
- Murakami, Haruki. South of the Border, West of the Sun. 1992. Trans. Philip Gabriel. 1999. Vintage International. New York: Random House, Inc., 2000. [CL (2/10)]
Characteristically gnomic and baffling Murakami love story - told in his own weird brand of "hard-boiled" prose.
- Peake, Mervyn. The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy: Titus Groan / Gormenghast / Titus Alone. 1946, 1950, 1959, 1992. Introduction by China Mieville. Vintage Books. London: Random House, 2011. [CL (4/13)]
A new slant on the books ...
- Powers, Tim. Hide Me Among the Graves. William Morrow. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2012. [CL (10/12)]
I went off him a bit after the lacklustre Declare, but this one seems to proclaim that the old Master is back on form: not quite The Anubis Gates, perhaps, but certainly up there with The Stress of Her Regard ...
- Saunders, George. Tenth of December. London: Bloomsbury, 2013. [MH (12/15)]
Admittedly styly, very self-referential short stories by a ghastly smart-arse.
- Singh, Jaspreet. Chef. 2008. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010.[CL (4/15)]
A fascinating, very condensed and poetic novel about Kashmir.
- Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. Apricot Jam and Other Stories. Trans. Kenneth Lantz & Stephan Solzhenitsyn. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2011. [CL (10/11)]
Late Solzhenitsyn - written after his return to Russia in 1994.
- Stoker, Bram. The New Annotated Dracula. Edited by Leslie S. Klinger. Additional Research by Janet Byrne. Introduction by Neil Gaiman. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Inc., 2008. [CL (2/10)]
The fatuous convention of pretending that the events of Dracula actually took place undermines the interest of Klinger's various layers of contextualising detail - but certainly a sumptuously illustrated edition and amusing in its own right. I don't think it replaces Wolf and McNally's pioneering attempts at commentary, however. I may have to buy it at some stage, though.
- Turtledove, Harry, & Martin H. Greenberg, ed. The Best Military Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century. A Del Rey Book. New York: The Random House Publishing Group, 2001. [CL (2/10)]
Dated May 2001, interestingly enough. The editors are clearly under the impression that a long era of peace stretches in front of us under the beneficent umbrella of the Pax Americana ... Some excellent stories, but just a little too gung-ho for comfort in parts (particularly one nauseating story about how Gandhi would have failed to make his point against the Nazis. Duh!).
- Updike, John. The Complete Henry Bech: Bech: A Book / Bech is Back / Bech in Czech. 1970, 1982, 1999. Penguin Modern Classics. London: Penguin, 2006. [BC (10/13)]
- Vann, David. Caribou Island: A Novel. London: Penguin, 2011. [JE (4/15)]
Much praised American novel.
- Wallace, David Foster. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. 1999. Abacus. London: Little, Brown Book Group, 2009. [BC (7/11)]
- Walpert, Bryan. Ephraim's Eyes. Nottingham, UK: Pewter Rose Press, 2009. [MU (5/18)]
Some great stories here: transitional between the US and NZ. "Speckled Hen" is, perhaps, my favourite.
- Wolfe, Gene. The Sorcerer's House. A Tor Book. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 2010. [CL (3/11)]
The old master still seems to be on form. Not a masterpiece, but still adroitly plotted and written ...
- Wolfe, Gene. Home Fires. A Tor Book. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 2011. [CL (1/12)]
The old master keeps right on churning them out ...
- Wood, Jonathan. The Delicate Shoreline Beckons Us. Introduction by Mark Valentine. Germany: Zagava, 2019. [TS (2/20)]
A curious amalgam of Georges Perec and Thomas Harris - somewhat disturbing to dive into unawares.
- Yanagihara, Hanya. A Little Life. Picador. London: Pan Macmillan, 2015. [BL (10/17)]
Fascinating novel - Quotes:
- ... their silence was like a third creature in bed between them, huge and furred and ferocious when prodded. [p. 494]
- "... being with you is like being in this fantastic landscape," he continues, slowly. "You think it's one thing, a forest, and then suddenly it changes, and it's a meadow, or a jungle, or cliffs of ice. And they're all beautiful, but they're strange as well, and you don't have a map, and you don't understand how you got from one terrain to the next so abruptly, and you don't know when the next transition will arrive, and you don't have any of the equipment you need. And so you keep walking though, and trying to adjust as you go, but you don't really know what you're doing, and often you make mistakes, bad mistakes. That's sometimes what it feels like."
They're silent. "So basically," Jude says at last, "basically, you're saying I'm New Zealand."[p. 534]
- Campbell, Russell. Observations: Studies in New Zealand Documentary. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2011. [CL (5/12)]
Looked interesting, but turned out to be a little dry, alas.
- Ackroyd, Peter. Thames: Sacred River. Chatto & Windus. London: Random House, 2007. [CL (10/11)]
Horrendously overblown, but some not uninteresting stuff in the index.
- Ackroyd, Peter. London Under. Chatto & Windus. London: Random House, 2011. [CL (10/11)]
A bit vapid (as usual), but some picturesque details.
- Altmann, Carol. After Port Arthur: Personal Stories of Courage and Resilience Ten Years on from the Tragedy that Shocked the Nation. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2006. [CL (11/11)]
Interesting piece of reportage.
- Arnold, Catharine. Necropolis: London and Its Dead. 2006. Pocket Books. London: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd., 2007. [CL (3/10)]
A bit sketchy, but intriguing. Rather in the Peter Ackroyd vein, but better written and less orotund.
- Beevor, Anthony. The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. 1982. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006.[GL (1/15)]
Horrendous - but salutary.
- Blythe, Ronald. Divine Landscapes. Illustrated with photographs by Edwin Smith. Viking. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986. [BC (6/13)]
Actually very interesting, albeit a bit creepily intense in parts.
- Burrow, John. A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the Twentieth Century. London: Allen Lane, 2007. [CL (2/10)]
Really enjoying this. Where I can confirm its insights - with Herodotus and Thucydides - it seems fair if (at times) a little harsh. Where I can't, it's a useful way of working out which histories sound like they'd be worth checking out in the future.
- Coe, Michael D. The Maya. 1966. Eighth edition, fully revised and expanded. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2011. [CL (12/12)]
By the author of Breaking the Maya Code, another standard work on the subject. Excellent content, and very clearly written.
- Davis, Mike. City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. Photographs by Robert Morrow. 1990. Pimlico. London: Random House, 1998.[CL (4/14)]
Some interesting sections, but bogs down in out-of-date reportage.
- Figes, Orlando. The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia. Metropolitan Book. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2007. [CL (2/10)]
A kind of sequel (I suppose) to his brilliant social and cultural history of Russia, Natasha's Dance. It's kind of a depressing subject, though, and finally defeated me (mainly through lack of time before it was due back - even after one renewal).
- Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. [CL (3/11)]
Not exactly a controversial doctrine, but nicely written and very informative.
- Goodwin, Doris Kearns. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013. [CL (5/14)]
The worst kind of uncritical American boosterism in the guise of history - what a disappointment!
- Holland, Tom. Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom. Little, Brown. London: Little, Brown Book Group, 2008. [CL (12/13)]
- Jay, Ricky. Jay's Journal of Anomalies: Conjurers, Cheats, Hustlers, Hoaxsters, Pranksters, Jokesters, Impostors, Pretenders, Sideshow Showmen, Armless Calligraphers, Mechanical Marvels, Popular Entertainments. 1994-2000, 2001. New York: The Quantuck Lane Press, 2003. [CL (8/10)]
Pretty crazy, really, but very entertaining. The "Bonassus" [= Bison] is probably worth the price of admission just on its own ...
- McLeod, Kembrew. Freedom of Expression®: Resistance and Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property. [as ‘Freedom of Expression®: Overzealous Copyright Bozos and other Enemies of Creativity’, 2005]. Foreword by Lawrence Lessig. With a New Epilogue by the Author. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.[GL (4/14)]
- ’It is impossible to get rid of a world,’ wrote Situationist Mustapha Khayati in 1966, ‘without getting rid of the language that conceals and protects it.’ [p.211]
- Schama, Simon. Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writings on Ice Cream, Obama, Churchill and My Mother. The Bodley Head. London: Random House, 2010. [CL (5/12)]
Some interesting essays, some more self-indulgent.
- Tomalin, Nicholas, & Ron Hall. The Strange Voyage of Donald Crowhurst. 1970. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973. [BC (10/13)]
A strange tale, well told - there's a good documentary on the subject, also.
- Wichtel, Diana. Driving to Treblinka: A Long Search for a Lost Father. Wellinton: Awa Press, 2017. [MP (6/18)]
A very strange book: quite disconcertingly obtuse in parts. Not uninteresting, though.
- Zamoyski, Adam. 1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004. [CL (2/10)]
An epic tragedy - abundantly (at times surprisingly) informative. A nineteenth-century counterpart to Antony Beevor's Stalingrad.
- Zamoyski, Adam. Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon & The Congress of Vienna. HarperPress. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007. [CL (2/10)]
Alas, like Beevor's Siege of Berlin, this one is as dull as its predecessor is fascinating. Metternich and Castlereagh just aren't as good value as Napoleon and his entourage.
- Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States. 1980. Rev ed. 1999. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005. [ML (8/13)]
A fascinating book: a little one-side perhaps, but a useful corrective.
- Baldwin, James. Collected Essays: Notes of a Native Son; Nobody Knows My Name; The Fire Next Time; No Name in the Street; The Devil Finds Work; Other Essays. Ed. Toni Morrison. The Library of America, 98. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1998. [BB (1/12)]
Extremely interesting and well written ...
- Basbanes, Nicholas A. Patience & Fortitude: A Roving Chronicle of Book People, Book Places and Book Culture. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2001. [CL (8/10)]
As shapeless as the title suggests. Full of entertaining lore, but it would be nice if its author could pay just a bit more attention to method. It does develop momentum when he gets on to the subject of conservation and libraries, though.
- Basbanes, Nicholas A. A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2003. [CL (8/10)]
The last in Basbane's trilogy of Bibliophile tomes. He's gone on to write a number of slightly shorter books since (Among the Slightly Mad among them ...)
- Basbanes, Nicholas A. Every Book its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2003. [CL (8/10)]
No-one could claim that Basbanes is a particularly deep thinker, but he has talked to some pretty interesting people. And the unpretentious simplicity with which he makes his points is pretty effective (most of the time, at any rate). Certainly these are issues well worth discussing.
- Bentley, G. E., Jr. Blake Records: Documents (1714-1841), Concerning the Life of William Blake (1757-1827) and His Family, Incorporating Blake Records (1969) Blake Records Supplement (1988), and Extensive Discoveries since 1988. 1969 & 1988. Second edition. Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2004. [CL (5/10)]
A genial, thorough book - somehow not oppressed by the weight of its scholarship.
- Boochani, Behrouz. No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison. Trans. Omid Tofighian. Picador. Sydney: Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd, 2018. [RH (11/19)]
The book of the moment - that's for sure!
- Chesterton, G. K. A Selection from HIs Non-Fictional Prose. Ed. W. H. Auden. London: Faber, 1970. [BB (1/12)]
One of the few Audens I don't have.
- Dabney, Lewis M. Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. [CL (3/11)]
There's a lot of raw information and interesting anecdotes in here, but the writing could hardly be clumsier or less pointed. What a wasted opportunity!
- Daive, Jean. Under the Dome: Walks With Paul Celan. [La Condition d'infini 5: Sous la coupole, P.O.L. Editeur, 1996]. Trans. Rosmarie Waldrop. Série d'écriture, 22. Anyart, Providence: Burning Deck Press, 2009. [MU (10/11)]
An interesting, though fragmentary, record of a number of conversations during the poet's last days.
- When I leave Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois that I too experience as a prison house, a feeling of freedom washes over me. ... When I point this out to him:
- No more need for walls, no more need for barbed wire as in the concentration camps. The incarceration is chemical. The prisoner is chemical: he cannot take two steps on his own. But he can look at the outside. He can talk, right .... [p.24]
- There is no color in Paul's books (he also never wears colors). But there are all the nuances of white, black, gray.
- Pigeon gray - Paris gray, he says. [p.24]
- - I was in a hotel room in London when I saw God under my door: a ray, a streak of light.
- Have I told you that I've repeatedly found my newspaper, left at home, in front of the grave I had come to scrub and clean? Have you never been troubled by the number of newspapers left in cemeteries by people who have done with them? Note: I use leave.
- Text for the dead.
- Text and death.
- Under the sign of cleaning. [p.69]
- The following Sunday we continue to discover Johannes Poethen's vocabulary. Paul Celan signals refusal, distance, perhaps rejection. He remains deliberately absent. I sit at the table; he, at a slant, both ` hands on the table top. His lips move. Then his right hand and thumb hold his left wrist. Time passes. He counts the time. His lips move, I gather that Paul Celan is taking his pulse and counting. Episode of a translation.
- For it is said, thou shalt translate on the seventh day.
- In which passage of the Bible is this written?
- A passage in my head.
- The seventh day is the day of language in pure suspense.
- And what does language do during the six preceding days?
- It gives in to duplication.
- You mean speaking doubles the world?
- Speaking doubles the world ... yes. [pp.114-15]
- When I leave Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois that I too experience as a prison house, a feeling of freedom washes over me. ... When I point this out to him:
- Dalby, Andrew. Rediscovering Homer: Inside the Origins of the Epic. 2006. Norton Paperbacks. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007. [CL (4/10)]
Very thorough. The writer appears to specialise in the food of the Ancient World, though, and his grasp of the technicalities of poetry tends to be a bit on the pedestrian side.
- Didion, Joan. We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction [Slouching Towards Bethlehem / The White Album / Salvador / Miami / After Henry / Political Fictions / Where I Was From]. 1968, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 2001, 2003. Introduction by John Leonard. Everyman's Library. A Borzoi Book. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. [CL (5/11)]
Really interesting. She's at her weakest when revealing her lack of basic knowledge of the cultures that (for example) compete with American hegemony in Hawaii of Salvador, but her insights into American politics and culture are pretty impressive.
- Duff, David, ed. Modern Genre Theory. Longman Critical Readers. Ed. Stan Smith. Edinburgh Gate, Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited, 2000. [MU (10/12)]
Exceedingly useful for my purposes: all the major players in the field between one set of covers ...
- Propp ... [chose] as one of the epigraphs to his book Goethe's famous statement that 'the study of forms is the study of transformations'. ['Gestaltenlehre ist Verwandlungslehre': David Duff, "Introduction", p.12]
- Duriez, Colin. J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Story of Their Friendship. Phoenix Mill, Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing LImited, 2003. [CL (12/11)]
Pretty much mixture as before, I suspect, but hopefully one or two new insights ...
- Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Essays & Poems. Nature: Addresses and Lectures; Essays: First and Second Series; Representative Men; The Conduct of Life; Other Essays and Addresses; Poems 1847; May-Day and Other Pieces; Uncollected and Manuscript Poems. Ed. Joel Porte, Harold Bloom and Paul Kane. 1983 & 1994. Library of America College Editions. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1996. [CL (12/11)]
Just checking to see if there's anything there I need ...
- Farrell, Fiona. The Broken Book. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2011. [MP (11/13)]
About the earthquake, mostly: poems and essays.
- Ferguson, Ron. George Mackay Brown: The Wound and the Gift. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2011. [CL (4/13)]
Interesting - a little on the pious side.
- Fidler, Richard, & Kari Gislason. Saga Land. ABC Books. Sydney: Harper Collins Australia, 2017. [JR (6/18)]
Better than it seemed at first: the travel section is fairly stilted, but the retellings quite compelling at times.
- Godwin, Joscelyn. Athanasius Kircher's Theatre of the World: The Life and Work of the Last Man to Search for Universal Knowledge. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 2009. [CL (5/11)]
Incisively written and well arranged: all the major illustrations from his books collected and annotated.
- He also believed that the fermentation of different types of semen could give rise to many strange, hybrid animals ... / As corroborative evidence, he mentions the venerable case of the Scottish barnacle-goose. This large barnacle, which looks somewhat like an embryo bird folded up in its egg, attaches itself by a stalk to the bottoms of ships. Long tradition held that in time it hatches into a goose and flies away, and Kircher accepted this. He explains that ducks and geese drop their eggs into the sea, where they are whipped into a forth by the rough waves around the north of Scotland. The resultant mixture sticks to ships, and in due course naturally develops into duck or geese. [p.146]
- Hamilton, Ian. Against Oblivion: Some Lives of the Twentieth-Century Poets. 2002. London: Penguin, 2003. [SB (4/15)]
One long sneer at the expense of his betters: some of the insights are worthwhile, but who the hell do you think you are is the question one constantly feels like asking.
- Hamilton, Scott. The Crisis of Theory: E. P. Thompson, the New Left and Postwar British Politics. Manchester & New York: Manchester University Press, 2011. [BC (7/11)]
- Kosztolányi, Dezsö. Darker Muses: The Poet Nero. 1922. Trans. Clifton P. Fadiman. 1927. Rev. George Szirtes. Prefatory Letter by Thomas Mann. 1923. Afterword by George Cushing. Corvina Hungarian Classics. Szeged, Hungary: Corvina Kiadó, 1990. [BC (6/13)]
Well written: kind of a proto-I Claudius.
- Levine, Suzanne Jill. Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fictions. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. [CL (4/11)]
Interesting. Quite well-written, too.
- Lindskoog, Kathryn. Sleuthing C. S. Lewis: More Light in the Shadowlands. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2001. [CL (9/11)]
Kind of insane, but also disquietingly plausible in parts.
- Lyon, James K. Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger: An Unresolved Conversation, 1951-1970. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. [MU (10/11)]
Fascinating account of their relationship - by the author of Brecht in America.
- Mailer, Norman. The Time of Our Time. London: Little, Brown and Company (UK), 1998. [CL (1/11)]
A massive hoor of a book - entertaining in parts, but with too many extracts from novels which need to be read in their entirety, I feel.
- Makdisi, Saree, & Felicity Nussbaum, ed. The Arabian Nights in Historical Context: Between East and West. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. [MU (2/11)]
Some good essays, some not so good. Very poorly edited, alas, despite its flashy appearance.
- Manguel, Alberto. The Library at Night. 2006. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2008. [CL (10/10)]
- ... in Lyons, at the end of the first century, a strict law demanded that, after every literary competition, the losers be forced to erase their poetic efforts with their tongues, so no second-rate literature would survive. [p.70]
- "God is in the details," he [Aby Warburg] liked repeating. And yet he felt - like Rousseau, who had said, "I die in details" - that he could no longer gather the many strands of image and thought he had once pursued. ... In one of his fragments he writes "that the work of art is something hostile moving towards the beholder" [Annahme des Kunstwerkes als etwas in Richtung auf den Zuschauer feindlich Bewegtes (27 August, 1890)] [pp.207 & 209]
- On 18 January 1949, an American by the name of James T. Mangan filed a charter with the Cook County recorder of Deeds, and under the State of Illinois attorney's authority claimed ownership of the whole of space. After giving his vast territory the name of Celestia, Mr. Mangan notified all countries on earth of his claim, warned them not to attempt any trips to the moon and petitioned the United Nations for membership. [p.226]
- Colette, in one of [her] books of memoirs ... tells the story of imaginary catalogues compiled by her friend Paul Masson - an ex-colonial magistrate who worked at the Bibliotheque Nationale, and an eccentric who ended his life by standing on the edge of the Rhine, stuffing cotton wool soaked in ether up his nose and, after losing consciousness, drowning in barely a foot of water. ... Libraries of imaginary books delight us because they allow us the pleasure of creation without the effort of research and writing. But they are also doubly disturbing - first because they cannot be collected, and secondly because they cannot be read. [pp.282-83]
- Marzolph, Ulrich, ed. The Arabian Nights in Transnational Perspective. Series in Fairy-Tale Studies. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 2007. [MU (2/11)]
Some good essays, some pointless exercises in Academic point scoring. Among the good ones are Heinz Grotzfeld's "Creativity, Random Selection and pia fraus: Observations on Compilation and Transmission of the Arabian Nights" (pp.51-63) and Lee Haring's "Framing in Narrative" (pp.135-53).
- Mews, Constant J. The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard: Perceptions of Dialogue in Twelfth-Century France. Trans. Neville Chiavaroli & Constant J. Mews. 1999. The New Middle Ages. Palgrave. London: St. Martin's Press, 2001. [CL (1/10)]
Hard to understand why this book hasn't made more stir. It's true that when one turns from the fascinating introduction to the letters themselves, they don't quite fulfil one's expectations. But he makes a pretty convincing case for these being extracts from the actual letters of the two star-crossed lovers.
- Morgan, Bill, ed. Rub Out the Words: The Letters of William S. Burroughs, 1959-1974. Foreword by James Grauerholz. Ecco. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2012. [CL (12/12)]
Next instalment in a (presumably) 3-volume collection of letters: this one covers his publishing prime, I guess ...
- Motion, Andrew. Keats. 1997. London: Faber, 1998. [CL (1/11)]
I was sceptical at first, but I have to say that this biography really justifies all the hype. Brilliantly written, well constructed, and extremely insightful about both Keats's poetry and his politics. I still have a soft spot for Gittings, but there's no doubt that this is a substantial advance on his pioneering work.
- Pottle, Frederick A. Pride and Negligence: The History of the Boswell Papers. The Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell: Research Edition, 4. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1982. [CL (3/12)]
Truly fascinating account: a useful supplement and corrective to David Buchanan's Treasure of Auchinleck.
- Nobody can give anything directly to the world; there must exist trained intermediaries. The fact is that the world got Boswell's papers about as soon as it showed itself ready to handle them. [p.72]
- Raban, Jonathan. Driving Home: An American Scrapbook. Picador. London: Pan Macmillan, 2010. [CL (12/12)]
"Part essay-collection, part diary - and wholly engrossing," says the inside-cover blurb ... We shall see. Looks good.
- Scammell, Michael. Koestler: The Indispensable Intellectual. 2009. London: Faber, 2010. [CL (6/11)]
Pretty good so far - far less sensationalist and better researched than the earlier biography by David Cesarani (1998).
- Slater, Michael, ed. The Dent Uniform Edition of Dickens' Journalism: Sketches by Boz and Other Early Papers, 1833-39. Illustrated by George Cruikshank. 1993. Vol. 1 of 4. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1994. [CL (4/10)]
The first annotated edition of Dickens's journalism, apparently. I remember meeting Michael Slater at a conference once - in Auckland? Melbourne? - and he seemed an extremely nice man.
- Stead, C. K. South-West of Eden: A Memoir, 1932-1956. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2010. [JE (10/10)]
It's probably best to get going on your memoirs before you've had a debilitating stroke: a mixture of total recall and setting the record straight ...
- Sturrock, Donald. Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl. HarperPress. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2010. [CL (6/14)]
Actually quite interesting and well-balanced.
- Walser, Robert. Microscripts. 1985. Trans. Susan Bernofsky. Afterword by Walter Benjamin. Christine Bergin Books. New York: New Directions Books, 2010. [CL (4/11)]
Strange stuff - without Walter Benjamin's essay, it'd be difficult to see anything there at all, I fear.
- Williamson, Geordie. The Burning Library: Our Great Novelists Lost and Found. Drawings by W. H. Chong. Melbourne: The Text Publishing Company, 2012.[BC (8/14)]
- Birnes, William J., & Joel Martin. The Haunting of Twentieth-Century America. Forge. New York: Tom Donerty Associates LLC, 2011. [CL (10/12)]
I really don't think I'm unusually picky when it comes to books about occultist mumbo-jumbo, but this one is so poorly written, drivelly and directionless that it defeated even me. Shame on the authors, publishers and blurb reviewers alike for their part in foisting this piece of horse manure on the world ...
- Hicks, Brian. Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and her Missing Crew. New York: Ballantine Books, 2004. [CL (1/10)]
A surprisingly plausible and cogent solution to the mystery. It may not have happened like that, of course, but Hicks's notion of the ship being made uninhabitable by ethanol fumes is the best theory I've heard to date.
- Jordan, Paul. The Atlantis Syndrome. Phoenix Mill, Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing Limited, 2001. [CL (5/12)]
Kind of an inevitable book, from my point of view. It doesn't really have all that much that's new to say, though.
- King, David. Finding Atlantis: A True Story of Genius, Madness, and an Extraordinary Quest for a Lost World. Harmony Books. New York: Random House, Inc., 2005. [CL (8/10)]
A fascinating book, written with real enthusiasm and verve (though the text does have to be read in tandem with the source notes at the back if one wants to grasp the author's sheer scholarly care and dedication to his subject). Rudbeck's Atlantica sounds like it dwarfs even Ignatius Donnelly's efforts for true antiquarian lunacy ...
- Kurtz, Paul, ed. Skeptical odysseys: Personal Accounts by the World's Leading Paranormal Inquirers. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2001. [CL (11/10)]
Some great stuff in here: articles on astrology particularly impressive.
- Miller, Julie, & Grant Osborn. Unexplained New Zealand: Ghosts, UFOs & Mysterious Creatures. Auckland: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd., 2007. [CL (11/12)]
Not really much of an improvement on their earlier book Ghost Hunt (2005) - in fact great swathes of the latter are included in the former - but still has some interesting stories in it ...
- Randles, Jenny. Time Storms: The Amazing Evidence of Time Warps, Space Rifts and Time Travel. 2001. London: Piatkus, 2001. [CL (1/10)]
Great stuff. The "time storms" themselves are a little unexciting - but an interesting addition to popular folklore if nothing else (who knows? There might even be something in it).
- In this well-researched and authoritative book you will discover:
- Why scientists believe time travel will soon be possible
- How a time machine would actually work
- The truth about experiments already carried out to develop a time machine
- First-hand reports of people who were transported hours or days across time and space
- Whether UFOs may in fact be time travellers visiting us from our own future [Blurb]
- Worrying as the conclusion is, we have to wonder whether Renard floated through time as well as space that night.
Forget the silly media hype - consider only the verifiable facts. [p.66]
- In this well-researched and authoritative book you will discover:
- Steiger, Brad. Real ghosts, restless spirits, and haunted places. Canton, Mich.: Visible Ink Press, 2003. [CL (1/13)]
Looks pretty daft - entertaining, but ...
- Storr, Will. Will Storr vs. The Supernatural: One Man's Search for the Truth about Ghosts. Ebury Press. London: Random House, 2006. [CL (12/11)]
A bit of a credulous imbecile, so far, but I guess it might improve as it goes along.
- Žižek, Slavoj. In Defense of Lost Causes. London & New York: Verso, 2008. [CL (5/11)]
Very interesting,if a little daunting. I didn't actually finish it, I must confess, but I very much liked the chapter on "the family romance" in Hollywood films. Great stuff.
- Astley, Neil, ed. In Person: 30 Poets. Filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce. With 2 DVDs. Highgreen, Tarset, Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books, 2008. [JE (2/10)]
From my point of view, the mere inclusion of Peter Reading makes this a most worthwhile book. It's informative on all the poets I don't yet know, though. A precedent for the future? Let's hope so.
- Baxter, James K. Beyond the Palisade. 1944. Ed. Paul Millar. Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1998. [CL (2/12)]
Beautifully edited little book ...
- Baxter, James K. Cold Spring: Baxter's Unpublished Early Collection. Ed. Paul Millar. Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1996. [CL (2/12)]
Extremely interesting and well put together ...
- Beautrais, Airini. Secret Heart. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2006. [MU (10/17)]
- Beautrais, Airini. Western Line. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2011. [MU (10/17)]
- Beautrais, Airini. Dear Neil Roberts. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2014. [MU (10/17)]
Very interesting premise for a collection.
- Bloom, Harold, ed. Till I End My Song: A Gathering of Last Poems. 2000. Harper. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2010. [CL (6/11)]
Surprisingly dodgy and ill-defined taste, for so celebrated a critic. His remarks (on p.336) criticizing Lowell for lamenting "Yet why not say what happened", in "Epilogue" (p.337) are particularly revealing of an underlying addiction to obfuscation and elitism.
- Cavafy, C. P. Collected Poems. Trans. Daniel Mendelsohn. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. [CL (5/11)]
Yet another translation - but this one does admittedly have some claims to be considered definitive. It's judicious and well-expressed, but somehow lacks fire. The completeness aimed at by Mendelsohn definitely has its attractions, though.
- Cobb, David, ed. The British Museum Haiku. 2002. London: The British Museum Press, 2009. [JE (2/10)]
Beautifully illustrated - charming translations, with the original Japanese to one side.
- Jenner, Lynn. Dear Sweet Harry. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2010. [MU (10/12)]
There's no denying it: it's a pretty interesting premise for a book ...
- Larkin, Philip. Letters to Monica. Ed. Anthony Thwaite. London: Faber, 2010. [CL (6/11)]
Now the initial shock of his racism and reactionary opinions has worn off, one can enjoy Larkin's letters more now, I think. Especially this slightly gentler self.
- ... responsibility is always to the thing & not to yourself or the filthy reader. [p.222]
- I think the reason we make so much of Christmas is that we can credit anyone getting born. No one's seen anyone rise from the dead yet. [p.233]
- My old friend Colin Gunner's receipt for novel-writing ('have your heroine raped by a gorilla') occurs to me ... [p.399]
- Walpert, Bryan. Resistance to Science in Contemporary American Poetry. Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature, 3. New York & London: Routledge, 2011. [MU (5/18)]
- Walpert, Bryan. Native bird. Hoopla series. Wellington: Mākaro Press, 2015. [MU (5/18)]
- Cadbury, Deborah. The Dinosaur Hunters: A Story of Scientific Rivalry and the Discovery of the Prehistoric World. London: Fourth Estate, 2000. [CL (2/10)]
I think she was the producer of the BBC documentary series Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, among other things. Excellent and informative.
- Darwin, Charles. The Illustrated Origin of Species. 1859. Abridged & Introduced by Richard Leakey. Consultants: W. F. Bynum & J. A. Barrett. New York: Hill & Wang, 1979. [CL (5/10)]
Hopefully a good preparation for reading the real thing (though unfortunately a bit out-of-date now).
- Gould, Stephen Jay. Eight Little Piggies: Reflections in Natural History. London: Jonathan Cape, 1993. [CL (2/10)]
Sixth in a series of essay collections beginning with Ever Since Darwin (1977), and continuing with The Panda's Thumb (1980), Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes (1983), The Flamingo's Smile (1985) and Bully for Brontosaurus (1991).
- Milner, Richard. Darwin's Universe: Evolution from A to Z. 1990 & 1993. Foreword by Ian Tattersall. Preface by Stephen Jay Gould. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2009. [CL (3/10)]
Surprisingly amusing and informative - a model reference book.
- Monk, Ray. Inside the Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Jonathan Cape. London: Random House, 2012. [CL (12/13)]
- [Paul Dirac:] "I don't see how you can work on physics and write poetry at the same time. In science, you want to say something nobody knew before, in words anyone can understand. In poetry, you are bound to say something that everybody knows already in words that nobody can understand." [p. 130]
- Quammen, David. The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions. Maps by Kris Ellingsen. New York: Scribner, 1996. [CL (2/10)]
Takes a bit of wading through, but a truly remarkable and worthwhile work - thought-provoking and worrying in the extreme. Particularly good on Wallace's East Indian explorations.
Debby Ridpath: Lending Books (2015)
James Whistler: Reading in Bed
Jenny Chi: Heloise and Abelard (2006)