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It is with much regret the people in this household heard the news about Ray Bradbury’s passing this morning. It is not the best news to wake up to. 91 was a good innings, though, we don’t all get to be 91 years old.
Ray Bradbury pierced the hearts and minds of so many generations of people with Fahrenheit 451. It’s a book that really hurts as it reminds us of the burning of books during the Holocaust and it hurts to hear of a book being burned for any reason. To have the loss of so much work, wisdom and wit lost so quickly just hurts. I loved the writing and the imagery in this book when I read it many years ago but the only image I can bring to mind is the burning books.
Another of Bradbury’s works that has captured my imagination is The Illustrated Man. About a man who has so many tattoos and each one has a story. Tattoos seems to evoke many emotions both good and bad. I can recall the time I was on jury duty and the man we found guilty had tattoos from wrist to shoulder, they looked like shirt sleeves and reminded me of The Illustrated Man, I was nervous.
It’s interesting where authors will find to write their books. Bradbury hired a typewriter at his local library at 10c per half hour, it cost him $9.80 to write Fahrenheit 451, I figured it took him 49 hours. J. K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books in a cafe. James Herriot wrote his comical vet books, All Creatures Great and Small, on a portable typewriter in the loungeroom of his house with his family around him watching TV or doing their homework or just talking. The writers are all different and wrote in different ways but the thing bringing them together is that they wrote.
Vale Mr Bradbury, thank you so much for showing me a different world, for educating me and entertaining me, but above all, for writing.
Jean Craighead George was a wonderful author, she wrote about 100 novels and died on the 15th May 2012 at the age of 92. To my great shame I’ve only read one of her books but it’s on my list of books I recommend to all ages. My Side of the Mountain is about a boy who goes camping on the old family property successfully living off the land for quite some time. It’s just lovely. Squid Ink thinks so too.
Poor Squid Ink, he’s in mourning for a wonderfully talented author and artist. Maurice Sendak died on the 8th May 2012, not that long ago but it’s taken time for Squid Ink to feel able to let me publish this little tribute to him.
I found this programme just in time to watch the episode on Isaac Asimov but forgot it the next week when they screened Robert Heinlein, I can’t say I’m sad about that, I find Heinlein to have strange ideas on sex and can’t read any more of his books. Back to the programme.
It’s a great little programme, not long enough, there are a few people they’ve left out but you have to stop somewhere and they probably would have run out of funding at some point. All about science fiction writers and how what they’ve written about has come to fruition.
I’ve heard they’re releasing it on both DVD and Blu-Ray in June, I think that’s good news as I’ve only seen one episode and it’s not available on SBS’ Demand, I don’t have pay TV. You can see more information on the Science Discovery website with some video clips.
People take science fiction more seriously now but it wasn’t always the case. It used to be something people read furtively and in magazine format as there were very few books around and it wasn’t the done thing to be seen reading ‘rubbish’. It would have been fascinating to have read many of these authors when they first started publishing but then I’d have to invent time travel.
I sometimes write about Mothers’ Day, generally when the day or the presents have stood out. This year is one of those.
My OH gave me slippers which I’m wearing as I write, he generously let me have them a week and a half early to stop my toes touching the floor in my old ones.
After seeing our respective mothers we came home and the kids tell me to open my hands and close my eyes. A couple of packages in one hand and something around the other wrist I’m allowed to open my eyes again.
If you look at the photo you’ll see my loot. Around my wrist was a watch, one that won’t stop working or go backwards as normal watches do with me, it’s going to be correct twice a day! The earrings say ‘In one ear’ and ‘Out the other’, I think they came from my sister – I don’t want to know what she’s suggesting. On the card you’ll see four badges the kids picked up on Free Comics Day, specially for my collection, and a book. Richard Gordon is one of my favourite authors and I’m still trying to decide if I have a collection, I posted on this topic almost three years ago. I don’t have The Captain’s Table for sale but there are a few others here, some of the covers are really lovely. Some of Doctor books were made into movies with the gorgeous Dirk Bogarde in the lead role, he’s written his own autobiography, I’ve written about him before and have some of his books available for others delictation.
Maurice Sendak was the author and illustrator of books for children. His most famous work, Where the Wild Things Are, has given generations of children much pleasure and will continue to do so for some time. I know I’m in the minority in not liking the book, it scares me and I’ve said this before but I do acknowledge it is a book many children love and includes some valuable ideas for children. Another of his books, In the Night Kitchen has landed itself in position 21 of 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999, it has a boy prancing naked through the book and many librarians have drawn a nappy on him before putting the book on the shelf.
Sendak will be much missed by many, his illustrations show character and enthusiasm as well as teaching people things don’t always have to be sweetness and light. Vale.
The next week is full of celebrations and commiserations.
Richard Adams, the celebrated author Watership Down was born on 9th May, 1920. If you believe his Wikipedia page he’s still alive. Watership Down was written in 1972 and it’s one of my most read books, I’ve laughed and cried through this many times. Squid Ink discovered it as well.
Lester del Rey died on 10th May, 1993, he was a well known author having started writing for pulp magazines, I know him better as an editor. Del Rey has edited many, many books and if his name is on it then you know it’s a good one. He was married to the late Judy-Lynn del Rey who also did quality work. Watch for their books, they’ll be good.
Douglas Adams died 11th May 2001. I’m sure you know who he was and what he did. They even named an asteroid after him - 25924 Douglasadams; its provisional designation of 2001 DA42 references the year of his death, his initials, and the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (42), as given in his novel serial The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Some of them are for sale here.
It is with much regret that I discovered the passing of Jan Berenstain today. Paired with her husband, Stan who died in 2005, Jan produced some marvellous stories about the Berenstain Bears which have entertained many generations of children.
I’m sad to say I don’t recall these books from my childhood but then that’s a long time ago. On the other hand, my kids loved their books and I enjoyed them thoroughly with them. They’re good, wholesome writing with really lovely illustrations.
I mentioned this over dinner last night and the kids waxed nostalgic. They talked about the books they’d bought from the Scholastic Book Fairs and the cute, little toys that came with some of the books. They even asked where the books were as they’d like to reread them. Bear in mind these books are aimed at early primary school and my kids are grown up, I think it’s fair to say the Berenstains made a very large impact on them.
It seems appropriate to wish Charles Dickens a happy birthday for today despite the fact he’d be 200 if he was still alive. I had to study Bleak House last year and my teacher drowned us in facts about the poor man, actually maybe we were the poor ones, Bleak House is tremendously long and challenging to read.
Dickens was quite forward for his time, being interested in social reform, this was a theme in a number of his works. He didn’t write the way many writers do by writing the whole book then proofing it and editing it before finally hitting the publishing machines, he wrote it a month at a time, publishing each chapter before going onto write the next one. In order to keep people engaged he’d finish the instalment on a cliffhanger and often people in America would be waiting at the docks for the boat with the new instalment and would be calling out asking for the news on Little Nell and her health.
I find that writing rather challenging, I’ve heard that some writers will go back through their finished work to check for inconsistencies and to make sure the plot and details match up all the way through, Dickens wasn’t able to do that with a number of his works as each chapter was already published and he had to just do the best he could…his best was incredibly good. He must have had quite a brain in order to be able to plot a whole book and then write and publish one chapter at a time before going onto write the next chapter. It’d be like me publishing paragraph one then writing paragraph two, publishing that then writing paragraph three, publishing that and so on, without making any changes to the previous paragraphs. If you read very carefully, you might be able to see where he’s changed things a little, maybe the name of a character, maybe even the spelling of a character or just some little details about how the character behaved.
Just popping back to Bleak House briefly before I finish. There are three reasons I found it challenging to read. The first is its length and the time it was written, I do have trouble reading English written then, I’m much more au fait with modern English. The second is the sheer number of characters detailed within its pages, there were probably double the number of people with details written about their houses, lives and their traits than there are in most other books. The other is the vast amount of information stored within each book. Bleak House is about 900 pages but has enough detail for three books, he talks using imagery, aligning people with animals, as well as words. In order to have done better in my class last year I would have had to have read the book at least three times and it took me weeks to read it the first time. Thank heavens for the BBC who put together a brilliant mini-series of the book, it does leave out some details while keeping the flavour of the book.
I seriously don’t get it. I’ve been railing left, right and particularly centre about new authors taking over other people’s series and writing more books and then I make a fool of myself. I’ve been upset at Eoin Colfer taking over from the late, great Douglas Adams and writing more books in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, I’ve even refused to read the book. When Brandon Sanderson took over finishing the Wheel of Time series from the late Robert Jordan I was annoyed and I was mildly annoyed at Eric Van Lustbader writing more sequels to the Jason Bourne books by the late Robert Ludlum, only mildly annoyed as I like Matt Damon doing Jason Bourne and I want to see more.
Here is my dilemma. I’ve long loved the late Anne McCaffrey’s series on Pern, I’ve written about it before and this article despite being rather long winded and digressing dramatically illustrates how the series managed to get under my skin. I’ve known the author couldn’t last forever as people are not immortal and I’ve always wanted more Pern books. So why, if I’m so dead against other people taking over other author’s most beloved series am I more than happy to pick up Todd McCaffrey’s Pern books? Not just happy, but eager to see what he’s done with the people there.
I know I’m being inconsistent and I can’t seem to help it. I wonder if it has anything to do with Todd being the son of the original author and having imbibed Pern from a very young age. I don’t actually know, it’s pure speculation. When I’ve looked at it a little more I might write a little about the differences in their writing.
What do you think about the situation? Do you like seeing new books in the series even when it’s not the same author or are you upset and feel it’s a travesty?