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Pulp magazines have much to answer for, they’ve been the start of many a writing career. Argosy was first published on the 2nd December 1882 with a cover date of 9th December 1882, the earliest photo of Argosy I have is from 1946:
The cover is quite plain but makes it clear the magazine has some wonderfully exciting stories. The one I have on my shelf is a short story magazine published in the UK focussing on reprinting stories, it includes one by Ray Bradbury.
Bradbury’s first published story appeared in Imagination in January 1938. His first paid piece appeared in Super Science Stories in November 1941. He’s best known for Fahrenheit 451 published in 1953.
Bradbury is not the only author who got his/her start in the pulps but is the only author I’m mentioning today.
Doris Lessing was born in 1919 in Persia (later became Iran) and died on the 17th November 2013, her writing will be missed but from my reading of her life I suspect some of her family won’t miss her. She was married twice, the second marriage was to Gottfried Lessing in 1945, a marriage that was always meant to end in divorce at a set point. She looked after her first child to her first husband, Frank Wisdom, but then left both children and husband to live elsewhere. She felt there was nothing more boring than being an intelligent woman in charge of children, instead she took up another boring job as a typist.
I studied The Grass is Singing at school and looking back at the content of the book I now feel it was totally wasted on me then. It is about racial inequality in South Africa and shows how it’s possible to change from being racist to being able to ignore the colour of another’s skin and look underneath to the person. There’s a lot more in this book than just the issue of racism and it was all wasted on the young, naive person I was. I’ll be reading it again and wondering about my underlinings a little as I still have the copy of this book from back then.
The other book I have by Lessing I will also read with great interest. From the description on the back of the book it appears to be about feminism and the stereotypes of femininity, an issue which I find fascinating. It’s The Summer Before the Dark and I’m curious to find out what she defines as ‘the Dark’.
Doris Lessing, outspoken winner of many awards will be greatly missed for her writing and her mind. Vale.
We’re celebrating two birthdays of note today.
Waugh had a relatively short life being born in 1903 and dying in 1966, most of his recent fame came from his novel Brideshead Revisited being made into a very successful TV series. He came from a family of literary people, his father was a literary critic and publisher while his brother was also a writer.
Worth also had a similarly short life, she was born in 1933 and died in 1994. She was a poet of note being awarded the the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children by the National Council of Teachers of English in USA.
Having missed two other celebrity birthdays yesterday I’ll make mention of them now.
Plath had a much shorter life, she committed suicide in 1963 making her a young 30. She was a celebrated poet, The Bell Jar is still studied today.
Cleese is the only birthday of note for today still alive. He was born in 1939 and many people know him for his work with Monty Python but he’s done so much more. His father wasn’t entirely happy with him having a career on TV and sent him clippings about work in places such as Marks and Spencer during the 1960s.
I know what day of the week it is…truly. When I wrote yesterday I forgot it was Thursday already so I present you with Friday Photos today and will finish writing about food challenges on Monday.
Let’s start with a bit of love for H. P. Lovecraft. Found this in a park in Providence. I have a lot to write about with Providence I thought I share this with you here.
This cute sign I think I saw in New York.
Bubba Gump was definitely New York. If you’ve seen Forrest Gump or read the book then you might find this familiar. We stayed in a hotel in Manhattan and you’ll see more from New York in Friday Photos.
Cheeers! We ate dinner there one night. I know we did Boston first but Friday Photos are all mixed up.
Also taken in Boston, but we saw people with these bags all over the place.
Sydney Alexander Wakefield (13 May 1927 – 22nd August 2009) was an inspiring Australian writer who is best known for the well known and loved – Bottersnikes and Gumbles series of children’s books. I can find very little about Wakefield, the only other piece of information is about him writing another book, Captain Deadlight’s Treasure.
I recall Bottersnikes and Gumbles from my childhood, they’re wonderful books full of delight for children. There are four books in the series they were written over a 20 year period so Wakefield didn’t rush his writing. I’d like to know what else he did. I went to Trove and found nothing.
Looking further afield at Desmond Digby, the illustrator of the Bottersnikes and Gumbles books I found even less. Wakefield at least has a Wikipedia page but Digby doesn’t even have that. I did manage to find some gems on Trove, such as this one, where Digby illustrated the original poem of Waltzing Matilda by Banjo Paterson. This book was only the second illustrated book considered worthy of an award in the 14 years prior to 1971. This one is interesting it shows Digby to be a successful painter donating a lovely painting to an art auction in 1963. There was a lot more about someone called Desmond Digby, if I was doing a biography about him I’d be looking at all of them and then following them up but this article is meant to be celebrating Wakefield on the anniversary of his death.
Wakefield wasn’t above putting messages into his stories. There are two that are very appropriate to Australia at the end of June 2013 when we had a change in Prime Minister from Julia Gillard to Kevin Rudd. If you read Gumbles in Trouble you can see how Wakefield feels about the media. If you go back to Gumbles in Summer you’ll read enough about politics to sink a battleship…maybe not a battleship but it is enlightening.
Hi, I’m Emily Morgan, you’ll find me at Emily Morgan Writes and I’m very glad to be doing a guest post on Suz’s fantastic blog.
Today I’m going to look at Jasper Fforde’s work. I know that Suzie has reviewed one of his books, Something Rotten, on this blog and she found it not entirely to her taste. Hopefully this post will encourage her to try again!
I love Jasper Fforde’s world, but I think that like so many books out there, it all depends on how you enter it in the first place. Here’s his creation in a couple of paragraphs:
The books are set in England, some in Swindon and others in Reading. This is the “real” world, but there are some differences. Toast is a registered trademark, and is advertised heavily – there are even popular chains of Toast cafes. Cheese is so heavily taxed that you can make a killing if you’re prepared to bootleg it over the border from Wales. Nursery rhyme characters are real and living among us, playing out their inevitable storylines. Genetically-recreated Neanderthals are the new underclass, you can buy DIY kits to sequence extinct animals as pets and people go to Shakespeare’s plays not to watch but to vie for the chance to act in all the parts, while the ones who turn up late yell the lines out from the audience. That’s what captured my heart originally – how I’d love to join in!
I first encountered this “real” world in The Big Over Easy, one of two books set in Reading. Jack Spratt is a member of the police force, working the Nursery Crimes unit, solving crimes such as the murder of Humpty Dumpty, and hunting down the notorious psychopath, the Gingerbread Man. Jack himself has a closely guarded secret, which would destroy his career should it be discovered.
This book and its sequel, The Fourth Bear, remain my favourites. They are set exclusively in this “real” world – or so we are led to believe.
Fforde’s other hero is Thursday Next, a member of the Literary Detectives, who solve book-related crimes. She moves to Swindon from London to de-stress following a run in with a dangerous criminal. Working on mundane cases including faked first editions of famous works of fiction, she finds herself unexpectedly pulled into one of the books she is investigating.
This leads to her discovery of a whole new world, BookWorld, in which every book ever written can be entered, and its characters interacted with as if they were ordinary people. In BookWorld she finds an unlikely mentor in Miss Haversham from Great Expectations and is introduced to BookWorld’s only policing agency, Jurisfiction. Thursday Next soon finds herself leading a double life, as an agent of both the Literary Detectives and Jurisfiction, juggling her duties as she works to stop rogue book characters from jumping into the real world to cause havoc, and at the same time trying to prevent the mega-company Goliath from her own reality from exploiting BookWorld for its own nefarious purposes: everything from dumping toxic waste in unsuspecting books to stealing the technology from works of science fiction.
I find Fforde’s creations to be complex and beautifully rendered. Every chapter reveals another layer of detail and the books build on each other, with snippets from one novel lovingly explored in the next, so that his world feels as real as our own. The characters are lifelike, the plotlines are absorbing and the absurd is so well handled that it is easy to look past (or indeed, to forget for a moment), that you are following the murder investigation of a giant egg, to give one example.
The two Jack Spratt books seem at first glance to be only slightly related to the longer Thursday Next series. However as you read on, you see that there are more links than first meet the eye.
Apart from the narrative itself, Fforde also brings his world to life in other clever and unexpected ways. Read the advertisements in the back of Fforde’s books and you will discover that they are part of the fictional world. Fforde also has an interactive website, and most of his books note at the beginning that the book has been “bundled with Special Features,” making the fun of the story continue past the last page. There are even book titles listed in his “By the same author” section which don’t actually exist – and if you read the ones that do, you will understand why. Though I am disappointed that I will never actually get a chance to read The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco as I am sure it would have been a great yarn.
Suzie has blogged in recent weeks about the upcoming enhanced reading experiences being offered by Amazon’s ebooks, with special features to readers available just as they are in DVDs. Fforde has already embraced this philosophy with nothing more technological than a paperback book and his readers’ imaginations.
I have a very soft spot for Jasper Fforde. I have not met one of his books yet which I haven’t enjoyed, though I do have favourites. Even his one-off, Shades of Grey, though completely different in style and scope to his other creations, is clever, gripping and highly enjoyable. The man’s imagination is impressive.
My recommendation would be to read The Big Over Easy first, to ease yourself into it. Then, starting with The Eyre Affair, read the Thursday Next books in order – otherwise you are likely to get caught out on the ever-twisting plotlines.
Happy reading! And thanks, Suzie, for letting me waffle on at your place.
Found an absolutely brilliant idea last night and thought I had to have my 2 cents on the topic! You should know by now I’m not short on words…
Daisy White is an author somewhere in England and she has a Pop-Up Indie Bookshop which hosts authors. I’m not entirely sure how the whole idea works but it looks as if she turns up at a market somewhere complete with marquee, books, treats and an author or two and from there it works similarly to a signing where you can have a chance to talk to the author in residence at the time and possibly have them sign your books. You can see more of White on her website.
I love this idea so much I so wish we could start it up here. Our weather is more certain than that in England as we get less rain so it would be much easier from the weather perspective. The biggest problem I see is that of marketing, it would need heaps of marketing to make sure people actually turned up, I can see lots of embarrassment if one had an author appear for an hour and no-one was there to greet them.
There are other problems such as the author’s book not being published yet but I’m sure there could be work arounds for that one. White uses this bookshop for independent authors, those who have had their books self-published so some of them would be really good and others would be mediocre but it sounds like a good chance to find out if they have any talent.
I would love to start this type of business but I just don’t have the energy, should you choose to take the idea from me I’d like commission please.
It’s one of those days when I’m looking at author birthdays and finding gems.
Mildred Wirt Benson (1905 – 2002) was the first author to take on the Carolyn Keene mantle and write the Nancy Drew books. She took the index card thumbnail sketches and turned them into fully-fledged characters before writing the first 23 books.
George Clayton Johnson (1929 to present) co-wrote the original novel of Logan’s Run with William F. Nolan. Johnson also wrote the Ocean’s 11 which was adapted to a movie for the Rat Pack.
Julian May (1931 – present) is the author of the Galactic Milieu Series. She was involved in science fiction conventions, even chairing the Tenth World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago in 1952 before marrying Ted Dikty whom she met at a convention. She got the idea of the Galactic Milieu Series after creating an elaborate diamond-encrusted “space suit” for the costume party at Westercon 29 in Los Angeles in 1976 and then got to thinking what sort of creature would wear such a suit.
John Wyndham (1903 – 1969) we all know and love for his post-apocalyptic landscapes. He was an established author before scaring so many people with The Day of the Triffids but that fact was casually pushed aside as he used a pseudonym.
I’ve been thinking about failure a lot lately, there have been a number of articles all talking about how we tend to tell our kids how wonderful they are, bolstering up their confidence but doing very little about helping them deal with failure. Life is full of failures and it’s important we know how to deal with them. In previous eras failure meant the difference between life and death, on the roads failure to concentrate or failure to stay awake can also mean the difference between life and death, just like that young man who was speeding down Centre Road, Bentleigh some months ago, he failed and died, taking out the fronts of some of the shops as well. Failing well is something we need to know about to ensure we’re able to to fail and keep on going.
This article in The Guardian has seven writers discussing failure. We don’t see Lionel Shriver as a failure but for many years that’s how she saw herself as it took some years and six books before she started to do well, we now see her as someone who’s done exceedingly well but is that how she sees herself? You should read the article, it’s interesting.
I sent a friend a card one day congratulating her on some achievement within her business, she rang me and we ended up talking for half an hour. During the course of this conversation I happened to brag about some of my cards and how they’ve made people cry, she suggested I write a book on how to write cards. I dismissed this out of hand as I really don’t feel I can write but I couldn’t get the idea out of my head and I’m now well on the way to completing this little tome. I can’t help wondering what is failure with this book. Is it not finishing it? Is it not managing to sell any copies? Is it not making any money from it? Is it not getting onto any bestseller lists? Is it not helping even one person to write one card successfully? I really don’t know and can’t answer any of my own questions. In actually writing the book I will have succeeded and I know I’ll be disappointed if I don’t manage to sell any but will I have failed? What is my goal with this book? Not really sure about that one either so it’ll be interesting to read my emotions after it’s published as I see what happens with it.
If I was any good with photo manipulation software I’d be including a little photo, the Uncle Sam photo with him pointing directly at the viewer saying “We Want You” except the words would be changed to read “You Failed”. I’m not, so I haven’t, maybe I failed.
That could almost be the name of a book or a TV series, it’s got a really good ring to it but unfortunately I’m talking about the death of two famous people.
Tom Sharpe was a British satirical novelist who managed to be deported from South Africa in 1961 for writing anti-apartheid plays. He was white, one of his characters was an older lady, white who complained the screams of the tortured prisoners stopped her having her afternoon nap; somehow I don’t think that’d work if the colours of the people were the other way round. Sharpe died at the good age of 85.
Esther Williams was the swimming star of MGM. She started off her career in swimming and was preparing to win gold at the 1940 Olympics when it was cancelled due to the war, Williams was signed on my MGM instead and had a fabulous career in the swimming pool they built specifically for her and her talents. She took the world by storm with synchronised swimming. They knew she was a star when they screened her opposite Mickey Rooney as his love interested and the public loved her so they gave her movie after movie. I love all those old movies and remember her with immense fondness. Williams died at the age of 91, a good innings.