Archive for November 2009
I have a love/hate relationship with people who cut up books or make them into things, but sometimes it just has to be done. Most encyclopedias are not worth the paper they’re printed anymore as they go out of date before they’re printed and the internet has made the search for information so much easier and faster. I do agree that it’s nice to have the paper and it’s much easier to have multiple volumes open at once with multiple pieces of paper marking an incredible number of entries, but on the internet it is just that much easier to find things. So, sometimes when I see something like this, I get a little excited as it makes use of encyclopedias which would otherwise be thrown into the recycling bin. I particularly like these ones as they’re book shelves so you get books supporting books, I think it’s great but I await your comments with interest.
Jennings and Darbishire, two of my favourite childhood characters. They seemed to live idyllic lives in boarding school and have all sorts of adventures. The books were written by Anthony Buckeridge with the first one, Jennings Goes to School, being published in 1950 and the last, That’s Jennings, in 1994. I’ve just found out that Jennings was based on someone Buckeridge used to know at school who was always getting into trouble.
Diarmaid Jennings was a couple of years behind Buckeridge and as you can see from his obituary the fiction boy, Jennings was a fair representation of the real person. He’s recently deceased and has led an interesing life, living out his last days in New Zealand.
I know it has nothing to do with books but I’m going to give you a few family stories at odd times. My Great Uncle Abe passed on recently and has left a rash of stories. This is my favourite. It’s set sometime in the mid to late 1960s.
Uncle Abe used to work in Russell Street, Melbourne. He normally took the train into the CBD and then back home afterwards, embarking and disembarking at the old Princes’ Bridge Station under Swanston Street just before St Kilda Road. One day he had to take a parcel in so he took the car and as was possible in those day he parked outside his office all day with no repercussions. Nowadays you either spend an enormous amount on parking or move the car every hour or two to avoid a parking fine. After work he drove south down Russell Street, turned right into Flinders Street and was stopped at the lights at Swanston Street opposite the clocks. Knowing the length of the cycle he hopped out of the car (leaving the keys in the ignition and the engine on) to get a paper from Princes’ Bridge Station. At that point habit took over and he got on the train, got off at Gardenvale Station and realised what he’d done. So he crossed the line and went back into the CBD looking for his car. When he got there he found a policeman who directed him to his car which had been run up onto the pavement. The policeman had seen what he’d done and taken the car out of the way, he was most amused and let Uncle Abe take the car away without any official repercussions.
I’ve been watching Hogfather the movie, not the book and just being totally amazed by how nicely the transition has been. It’s gone from being a super cool book to being a super cool movie. The characters come through beautifully and some of the characters work much better on screen than they do in book form as the actor fleshes them out very nicely. I particularly liked Marc Warren’s work on Teatime, seriously creepy. He was creepy enough in print, but hearing the voice and seeing the way he moves gives you a whole new view of him. As usual, some stuff had to be deleted and other stuff had to be seriously condensed otherwise the whole thing would have taken much more than 185 minutes. This is a problem with every book that’s been made into a movie.
You could take any of the Harry Potter books for instance. In order to bring the length of the movie down to a reasonable time frame you have to take out huge chunks of each book. One of my favourite classes was Potions and very little of that made it into the movies. In order to get around that problem with the last book they’re doing two movies.
You could take a look at the Lord of the Rings. Really good books, except for the lack of females but we can excuse that as Tolkein knew little about females. The one thing that I really wanted to see was the Hobbits return to the Shire and how they had changed so much and were able to deal with the upheaval, unfortunately that wasn’t to be as they had to shave some time somewhere and I estimate it would have added 20 or so minutes to a 201 minute film. 3 and half hours was already way too long and the extended version is 251 minutes which translates to over 4 hours. Martin Pearson has written a song about each movie being a bladder buster and I don’t want to imagine how the song would have gone if they’d put everything in. They would have made a lot of fans very happy, though.
Hancock: Man of Iron – Neil Phillipson
This book is a comprehensive book describing Lang Hancock and his association with mining in Western Australia. It gives a good deal of information about mining and helps to understand Hancock’s personality. He was a third generation North Australian and his name was synonymous with the Pilbara region, so much so that it’s quite amazing his name is not found there more often. When I opened it I expected to get more details on Hancock himself, but was quite stunned to find very little information of a personal nature. His second wife, Hope, was mentioned a number of times as was his daughter, Gina Rinehart but the book finishes in 1972, 11 years before Hope’s death and therefore 13 years before his marriage to Rose Porteous, eliminating any probability of having the later events mentioned.
It is very well written and gives a great insight into the events of the period from 1952 to 1972 as well as giving a good background into Hancock as a child and Hancock’s family from when they first settled the area. Phillipson has endeavoured to present a balanced view, even disagreeing with Hancock about his first sighting of the iron ore as well as mentioning how Hancock would sometimes visit Sir Charles Court, the Minister for Industrial Development at his home to discuss small points quite amicably in stark contrast to his vicious attacks in the media.
Despite having so much detail on mining I quite enjoyed this book. It mostly explained the mining terms so I put the book down feeling I had a much greater understanding of the mining industry, the politics of the time and also how Hancock worked within or without the system. The Pilbara is a very hard country and everything there is so distant from every other place so you really need to be made of stern stuff to do as much as Hancock. The weather in that area is also incredibly hot with Marble Bar having the distinction of recording many days with temperatures in excess of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).
This book is currently for sale at Suz’s Space.
Here I am, browsing the internet, minding my own business and I come across an excerpt from Jabberwocky. Following the rest of the conversation I found someone had read Jabberwocky in Russian and I was totally astounded. Jabberwocky is a wonderful nonsense poem written by Lewis Caroll in 1871. It is used in English classes to teach students about various parts of the language including nouns and verbs. I love the poem specifically because it means nothing and yet people try to read meaning into it.
It’s an amazing poem and very hard to translate yet people have endeavoured to do so. Martin Gardiner has two versions in his book The Annotated Alice in French and German, but it’s also been translated into Chinese and Bengali. I can’t help wondering how it fares being translated into these languages. Until tonight, though, I’d never heard of it being translated into Russian. Russian is a gorgeous language and I hope it sounds all right.
Anyway, here it is, pinched directly from this website:
Бармаглот (1967 г)
Варкалось. Хливкие шорьки
Пырялись по наве,
И хрюкотали зелюки,
Как мюмзики в мове.
О бойся Бармаглота, сын!
Он так вирлеп и дик,
А в гуще рымит исполин -
Но взял он меч, и взял он щит,
Высоких полон дум.
В глущобу путь его лежит
Под дерево Тумтум.
Он стал под дерево и ждет,
И вдруг граахнул гром -
Летит ужасный Бармаглот
И пылкает огнем!
Раз-два! Раз-два! Горит трава,
Взы-взы – стрижает меч,
Ува! Ува! И голова
Барабардает с плеч!
О светозарный мальчик мой?
Ты победил в бою!
О храброславленный герой,
Хвалу тебе пою! и тд.
One thing I’m always puzzled by is why some books get a new lease of life and others don’t. I’m talking about books that are passed down the generations or rediscovered by a new generation. What makes one title be remembered so much and another pass into obscurity? I don’t actually have any answers here, I’m just posing the questions.
In most cases it’s going to be the writing, in others it will be the illustrations, but I’m sure in some cases it’s simply for the ideas. Sometimes it’s for the memories as we enjoyed the book so much or it excited our imagination to such a degree that we remember it and find a copy later in life to show our kids.
One such book is actually a series of four books. Classic Australian fantasy, set in the bush. It is the Bottersnikes and Gumbles series by S. A. Wakefield. Written in the 1960s they have travelled very well and copies are now quite expensive. Sometimes you’re lucky to get a copy cheap as the seller has no idea of the price, but mostly they cost a lot. The whole series was reprinted in 1996 and the strange thing is that the reprint costs more than all four books sold together. This series is exactly what I mean, the prices show how loved and collectable they are. They were fantastic in my day and my kids think they’re wonderful. Everyone I know of who’s read them just love them.
There have been millions of books written over the years and very few actually make it through the ages. I’ll name a few that have so you don’t think I’m only thinking of my childhood. Heidi by Johanna Spyri, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and 1984 by George Orwell. I read most of them in my childhood as have many, many other people and referred them to their kids and to other people as well. Heidi was just the cutest person and made such a change to everyone around her, who wouldn’t want to be her or be with her? 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was ahead of his time and totally captured the imagination. Huckleberry Finn is the ultimate adventure story and who hasn’t wanted to run away and travel without worries? 1984 was about a time in the future, one that people don’t want to happen and many of us were rather worried that it would. I recall the year 1984 with a little trepidation even though I knew the technology wasn’t quite ready yet and society would fight such a move I still remember worrying that Big Brother would happen. Interesting that it made such an impact on me.
I’m going to leave this here, unfinished, as I don’t have any real answers only speculations.
In science fiction and fantasy circles you all know of those series where the author has died and someone else has been commissioned to continue writing their series of books. The ones that come to mind at present at The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy trilogy by Douglas Adams and the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. There are many more out there and it’s been happening for a very long time. One other I can recall off hand is Heidi Grows Up and Heidi’s Children written by Charles Tritten. Heidi has been a favourite of many people for many, many years and was translated to English by Charles Tritten, he then went on to write the two sequels.
How do you feel about another author coming along and writing a book based on your favourite series? Do you consider it a travesty and will never read it or do you welcome it with open arms? This is an interesting question. Until I remembered about Heidi‘s two sequels I was totally annoyed that Eoin Colfer should consider himself good enough to write a Douglas Adams book and make it six books in the trilogy and I was slightly annoyed that Brandon Sanderson would write another in the Wheel of Time series. Now, I have to step back and think about it some more. When I was young I remember being very excited to find the two sequels to Heidi and I read them avidly several times, I recall that excitement but I don’t recall if the sequels were as good as the original, I was rather young at the time.
Let’s have a look at the Hitchhikers Trilogy. Douglas Adams wasn’t certain if there would be another book. It is something he was considering as he’d said he’d like to finish the series on a more upbeat note to Mostly Harmless and he felt Salmon of Doubt was not working as a Dirk Gently novel. So, in his mind it wasn’t quite certain if it was finished and if you read Salmon of Doubt you’ll see he had enough material for a decent outline of a new book. There’s no doubt that Eoin Colfer is a talented writer, you only have to read the Artemis Fowl books to see that and I can see some resemblance in writing styles between Colfer and Adams so it may actually work. The title, And Another Thing…, is very much in the Adams style and I can just see him coming back from the grave to say it. So, I saw it in the shops yesterday and I had mixed feelings as whether I’ll read it or not. I’ll wait and see.
Wheel of Time is a rather different proposition. At first, I was horrified, but I’ve just read up about it on Wikipedia and I see Robert Jordan had already planned and written 50,000 words. So, in this case it’s more completing it and editing it rather than writing from scratch. Now, I don’t actually like the Wheel of Time series myself, I know lots of other people who do and I’ll be interested to hear their views on this. For those of you who don’t know yet, there will actually be three books. The first, The Gathering Storm, is the original one that Jordan was working on and when Brandon Sanderson started working on it he found it was going to be too large a book for publication so it was decided to split it into three. This can be considered Jordan’s final vision of the series (this sentence taken from Wikipedia is suitably vague to allow anyone else to write more in the Wheel of Time series, thus opening up more discussion).
I’d appreciate your thoughts on this. I’m interested in your thoughts on all three series mentioned here and also to hear about other series you know about where someone other than the original author has continued the series.
Well, things are certainly a lot better now. The website problems seem to have resolved themselves very nicely and I’m able to upload books. I’ve managed to solve the problem of the banner and it is now clickable so it takes you back to the home page and I’ve also solved some search engine problems so that the urls now have the title of the book and name of the author in them. The problem now is with the wifi. It’s just not consistent and today I’ve had five minutes of internet access interspersed with half an hour of non-internet access. I’ve partially solved this problem by typing up my books and getting everything ready offline ready to be quickly pasted into the listing in the five minutes I have online before the wifi decides it doesn’t want to work. It’s unwieldly and I can’t research prices until I get back online, but it does work and I’m getting books listed a few at a time.
Today, in the few minutes of internet access I had I’ve managed to list a couple of fabulous autobiographies: Journey From Venice by Ruth Cracknell and Cleared For Take-Off by Dirk Bogarde. I’ve also listed a couple of cookbooks and a literary classic: Three Men In a Boat by Jerome K Jerome.
Flesh and Blood – Jonathan Kellerman
I’ve been wondering how I’d be able to read enough to be able to blog about them. I may be a fast reader but I really don’t have a lot of time to read and a couple of weeks ago I remembered I had some audio tapes. I pulled one out of the cupboard, it’s pre-loved and I don’t want to sell anything substandard so I must listen to it. I finished Flesh and Blood by Jonathan Kellerman today on the way home from a funeral. An interesting juxtaposition of fiction and reality except my great uncle was 96 and died of natural causes.
The author comes from a book writing family. Both himself and his wife are published authors as is their son. You can find more details on Feed Your Reading Habit. Jonathan was a child psychologist and his crime fighting hero, Alex Delaware, is also a psychologist. In this book Alex Delaware traces the murder of a young patient.
Sometimes audio books are abridged and they always say the abridgement has been approved by the author so one hopes the abridgement has been done well. I am going to have to find the complete book and reread it. It was a great listen, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters were well drawn and it was easy to see the detective friend trying to rein in the psychologist without success. I have no hesitation recommending this author to others who enjoy crime books. Along with characters and the writing I liked the way the hero had a good, ongoing relationship, it did become a bit rocky due to the nature of the case he was working on but at the end of the book they’re both trying to make amends.
You can find more about the books Jonathan writes on his website. I really wish I hadn’t looked at his website, though, I’ve just found the next book of his I absolutely need to read and my To Be Read Pile is so big as I’ve just found a whole pile of biographies and autobiographies. Anyway, it’s called Obsession and it’s about…wait for it…obsession behaviour. Very exciting!!
Violence including death