Tag Archives: F.Scott Fitzgerald

New books: August

Now, I can’t put prices on these as I can’t recall how much I paid for some of them. However, brace yourselves. There’s a few.

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  • Victor Hugo –  Notre-Dame de Paris     50p
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald –  The Collected Short Stories     50p
  • Evan S. Connell –  Mrs Bridge     99p
  • Patrick Hamilton –  Hangover Square     99p
  • E. M. Forster –  The Obelisk     £1.49
  • Evelyn Waugh –  Vile Bodies     99p
  • Robert James Waller – The Bridges of Madison County     20p
  • Mary Shelley – Frankenstein The 1818 Text     20p
  • Roald Dahl –  The Enormous Crocodile     50p
  • Seth MacFarlane –  A Million Ways to Die in the West
  • Donald Barthelme –  Sixty Stories
  • Christopher Marlowe –  The Plays

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  • Apollodorus –  The Library of Greek Mythology
  • Herodotus –  The Histories

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  • John Kinsella –  Shades of the Sublime & Beautiful
  • William Congreve –  Incognita
  • Three Revenge Tragedies
  • Anne Fadiman –  Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
  • Brian Friel –  Translations     –     Making History
  • Edwin Morgan –  The Play of Gilgamesh
  • Beaumarchais –  The Marriage of Figaro

These seven were all from the book sale at Webberley’s, the bookshop I mentioned in the July books post.

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  • Jeffrey Brown –  Star Wars: Jedi Academy

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  • Jane Austen –  Mansfield Park
  • Jules Verne –  Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Edward Bellamy – Looking Backward

Now, the reason that I never got this post up in August or September was because in late August I ordered a number of William S. Burroughs books off eBay and Amazon, and Royal Mail being what it is, these took a while to arrive. However, there should have been another book arriving that never did, and it was waiting for this one that held me up. We contacted the seller after several weeks, and they sent another out. However, as I type this, I’m still waiting for either copy to turn up. Luckily, we were able to get our money back, but I was a little bit pissed about it.

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  • William S. Burroughs –  Naked Lunch     –     The Yage Letters Redux     –     Cities of the Red Night     –     The Burroughs File     –     The Western Lands     –     My Education: A Book of Dreams     –     Last Words: The Final Journals of William Burroughs

A slightly pedantic point: the edition of ‘Naked Lunch’ shown here isn’t actually the one that I ordered. The one I ordered was the one from the same series as ‘Last Words’ and the copies of ‘The Soft Machine’, ‘The Ticket that Exploded’ and ‘The Place of Dead Roads’ that I got from Oxford back in June. My wife says that she prefers this cover that came, but I’m not too sure.

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Bus Reads 1: Thoughts on E.M.Forster’s ‘Collected Short Stories’

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E.M.Forster by Roger Fry

Well this post has been a long time coming. I read this back in January, and have only now got around to posting anything on it. To be fair, the next few ‘Thoughts on…’ posts are similar, in that I’ve had them read for several months, but have just been so tardy in getting these posts written. Also, the labelling of this as a ‘Bus Read’ is because this was predominantly read on my way to and from work on the bus. As are the next few books, actually.

 


 

This isn’t the first time that I’ve read this book. I was leant it about 11 years ago by my family Vicar, and on the basis of it containing ‘The Machine Stops’, I bought a copy off ebay whilst at Oxford- only getting around to reading it at the start of this year. I have to say that this Wellsian tale is the real gem of the collection, and is perhaps the best short-story I have read- it is perfect in plot, style, message, pathos and irony. My favourite quote from this story has to be from when Vashti is taking an airship over the surface to visit her son Kuno, and refuses to look at the geography that is passing beneath her, just due to the irony and the way in which it pretty much sums up the view of Vashti as a character and the view of humanity in her time:

They were crossing a golden sea, in which lay many small islands and one peninsula. She repeated, ‘No ideas here,’ and hid Greece behind a metal blind.

The rest of the collection is not of the standard of ‘The Machine Stops’, but several of the stories are nevertheless quite noteworthy- and several are not. ‘The Celestial Omnibus’ is the title story of one of the parent volumes for this collection, and tells the tale of a young boy who finds an omnibus that takes him into Heaven, where he meets many mythical heroes. Later, the bus transports a middle-aged neighbour of the child’s, but he dies after falling from the carriage through the sky to the ground below. The story is a highly imaginative one that nicely portrays the imagination of children and the way in which this is closed to adults, as well as showing that children can often be telling the truth, despite the incredible nature of what they often say.

Indeed, my favourite stories in this book all revolve around Heaven or the afterlife (except the anomalous sci-fi tale): ‘The Celestial Omnibus’, ‘The Point of It’, and ‘Mr Andrews’. When it was first published, Forster states that his Bloomsbury friends asked of ‘The Point of It’, “What is the point of it?”, but personally I quite like this story, with its account of a life lived to the full by a man following the death of another young man who he believed was his friend, but who quickly faded from memory. We see the surviving character as he too dies and then reaches Heaven, and see him reassess the way his life played out. Even if the story doesn’t go anywhere particularly, I still like it for the droll manner of its writing, and in the almost Dante-esque descriptions of Heaven with its pillars and deserts of sand.

Similarly, ‘Mr Andrews’ tells of a man who dies and meets a Muslim man on his way into Heaven, where they compare and contrast lives and ideals to show that actually despite our cultural differences, everyone is fundamentally the same on the inside. A nice message, and very well put.

I’m not overly fussed with the other tales in the collection, to be honest, for the simple reason that they don’t seem to either go anywhere or leave any real lasting impression, but despite that I would certainly read this collection again (I have already read it twice, which sort-of vouches for that), with ‘The Machine Stops’ a must. However, I feel that this collection may be a bit like my experience with Fitzgerald. In his case, I adore ‘The Great Gatsby’, yet am not overly impressed with many of his short stories, whereas with Forster I really like many of his short stories, and so am worried that his novels may not live up to these. I shall have to hurry up and read some of his novels to find out!

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Christmas Books

It’s taken me a few days to get around to writing this post, but here I finally am. These first few are ones that I picked and therefore knew my partner was saving for me for Christmas:

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  • Jostein Gaarder –  The Ringmaster’s Daughter
  • Jerome K. Jerome –  Three Men in a Boat
  • J.G.Ballard – Crash

I also knew about this next one. You may remember a month or so ago that I was unable to pick up my old edition of ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’, and that I had decided to purchase one of the pleasantly-designed boxsets (see the discussion with myself in this previous post). Well, a while back I had a rather lucky find at the local library booksale:

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This was also saved until Christmas, and was a ridiculously good find- £20 worth of book for 10p! ‘The Hobbit’ isn’t included, but I should be able to pick that up at some point.

I also had:

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  • E.M. Forster – Maurice
  • F.Scott Fitzgerald –  The Last Tycoon
  • Truman Capote –  Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • William S. Burroughs –  Junky
  • Rudyard Kipling –  Puck of Pook’s Hill (off my parents)

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  • Private Eye: A Cartoon History
  • Nicholas J. Higham & Martin J. Ryan –  The Anglo-Saxon World (off my parents)
  • The Private Eye Annual 2013
  • Private Eye: Eyeballs

Quite a nice amount of reading to be getting on with!

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‘Reclaimed Books part 3’, and a quick rant

As I said on my last book-purchasing update, I was going to pick some more of my books up from my parents’ house, and I managed to do this a few days ago. Here are those I ‘reclaimed’:

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  • Bill Bryson-  Shakespeare
  • An anthology of quotes called ‘A Booklover’s Companion‘ published by the Folio Society
  • Douglas Adams-  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (film tie-in edition)
  •                              The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (film tie-in edition)
  •                              Life, the Universe and Everything
  •                              So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish
  • J.R.R. Tolkien-  The Children of Hurin
  • Edgar Wallace-  The Feathered Serpent
  • Emily Bronte-  Wuthering Heights
  • Sue Townsend-  The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole
  • Oscar Wilde-  The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • F.Scott Fitzgerald-  The Great Gatsby

I’ve read the Bryson, Adams and Fitzgerald books here, and already have a copy of ‘Gatsby’ in the house, as my partner bought a nice Vintage Classics edition a few years back, but this copy is the Penguin Modern Classic edition with a critical introduction (always a bonus) and my annotated copy from A Level English.

The Adams books that I picked up are missing the final volume, ‘Mostly Harmless’, and at the moment I am in two minds as to whether I should get this with the original cover, or whether I should wait and purchase the full set in the very asthetically-appealing, Hipgnosis*-designed boxset, as I’m not too happy with the editions I have due to two being the film tie-in editions. This is the boxset:

DA boxset

Also, you may recall from my last book-purchasing post that I had also planned to pick up the old editions of ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ that I read as a child from my parents’. Well; this is where the rant comes in. I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say that I had a falling out with my Mum over this, as she seemed reticent to let me take these due to them belonging to my late Grandma, despite them now belonging to me. To save any further argument, I have decided to buy my own new copies, but have come across a bit of a problem. Which versions should I get? I’m not too fussed which edition of ‘The Hobbit’ I get, to be honest (as long as it is not the film tie-in edition), but am torn on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ between this set:

LotR boxset

…and this one (the picture shows ‘The Hobbit’ too):

LotR other boxset

Even though the latter matches the edition of ‘The Silmarillion’ that I bought the other day, I’m swaying towards the former, simply because I think that these would look far more impressive on a shelf, and because they are very very attractive editions. The only thing bothering me is the fact that the former editions look far heftier than the latter, and I am conscious of trying to conserve as much shelf-space as possible so as we will have to buy less bookcases. The benefit with the old copy I would have had was that it was a one-volume edition, and as a result was actually fairly thin (the joys of using thin paper in the 1960s). The new one-volume versions available are frankly awful to look at, and so are a no-no for me. The only other problem, is actually finding one of these sets for a reasonable price. Hmm. Preferably less than £10, and ideally nearer to £5. Double hmm. Maybe time to visit my local Oxfam, methinks, as they always seem to have a copy there- I just don’t know which edition. I’ll keep you posted!

*Hipgnosis are a design company who produce book and album covers. Famous clients include Pink Floyd (i.e. ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’, ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ covers, amongst others), Muse (‘Black Holes and Revelations’) and Led Zeppelin (‘Houses of the Holy’).

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