About 18 months ago I wrote about Susan Cooper's five-novel sequence called The Dark Is Rising. If published today they would be classified as children's / YA fantasy fiction. In the 1960s and 1970s when the five individual novels first came out - my editions are the slim 1980s Puffins with tight leading and a … Continue reading Re-reading Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising
Which Loki do you prefer? The Tom Hiddleston iteration of Loki is out and about again, in Thor: Ragnarok, which I would rate at 7 out of 10. He's a lot less Loki-ish in this film than in his earlier appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I think he loses impact by being normalised. … Continue reading Which Loki?
I must be one of the last people among the middlebrow fanciers to have read Beverley Nichols. He is perfect bedtime reading: light, frivolous, witty, of an earlier period so there won't be anything nasty in the woodshed, and unexpectedly moving. I first noticed his existence in a delightfully poisonous parody in Leonard Russell's immortal … Continue reading The shrine of Beverley Nichols: should one worship?
I found these four short novels with a squeal of triumph in an Aberdeen second-hand bookshop, and bought them for £3. That’s right: the four books that are one of Garner’s greatest creative accomplishments, in a pristine box set, for barely more than they cost the original buyer in the late 1970s. I could barely … Continue reading Alan Garner’s The Stone Book Quartet
This time in the Really Like This Book podcast scripts catch-up I’m in the fourteenth century, immersed in a muddy Norfolk field at the medieval nunnery of Oby. The Corner That Held Them (1948) is a most peculiar and very readable novel by Sylvia Townsend Warner, author of the immortal Lolly Willowes. The Corner That Held Them is … Continue reading Sylvia Townsend Warner: The Corner That Held Them
This Really Like This Book podcast scripts catch-up is about Ernest Hemingway's Islands in the Stream. He is a giant of American literature, and of masculine writing. He wrote men’s books about manly subjects: war, bullfighting, deep sea fishing. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. Islands in the Stream was published after his … Continue reading Ernest Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream
In this entry for The 1951 Club, I reread The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, edited by Iona and Peter Opie. I love excavating the history behind the relics of history cast up as sayings and idioms, and as nursery rhymes. When I was little, reading the Puffin nursery rhymes book that I still own, … Continue reading The 1951 Club: Meet the Opies