Tag Archives: Truman Capote

New Books: August

I mentioned in a previous post that I recently acquired several Penguin Modern Classics via a well-known internet auction site, and so here they are in all their shiny and much-anticipated glory:

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  • William S. Burroughs –  The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead
  • Albert Camus –  The Outsider
  • Albert Camus –  The Fall
  • Truman Capote –  Music for Chameleons
  • Truman Capote –  Answered Prayers
  • Hermann Hesse –  Steppenwolf
  • Franz Kafka –  The Trial
  • Franz Kafka –  The Castle

The reason that there is no price listed for any of them is because I had these for my birthday, even though I had picked them and knew they were coming (and didn’t bother receiving them wrapped in jazzy paper), and because I can’t remember the prices at any rate. However, I also got the book that I ranted a bit about in the aforementioned post:

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  • John Wyndham –  The Chrysalids

Here you can see a quite tatty and battered copy alongside the much cleaner edition that I was sent after complaining to the sender that it was not quite a ‘minor flaw’ afflicting it as they had suggested. The first one had been rather extensively water damaged, and was proving difficult to open effectively due to the crinkled pages.

Also, I picked this one up from a charity shop for 20p:

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  • Christopher Isherwood –  Goodbye to Berlin
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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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The discontinuity with Penguin Classics

In my last post, I mentioned and showed that my partner and I received our copy of Morrissey’s ‘Autobiography’ through the post on Thursday, the day of its release. Since its publication was announced, the biggest debate has been around the decision by Penguin to release the volume as a ‘Classic’, complete with the famous black livery. It was a condition of its publication that it would be issued as such, but this has provoked fury from many people due to the book having only just been released, and so not qualifying as a ‘Classic’ on the basis of the usual criteria ie age, importance and popularity. People have also stated that perhaps the ‘Penguin Modern Classics’ imprint would be more fitting, as the ‘Classics’ brand is reserved for texts that are pre-1900. However, I would like to take a moment to show several ways in which this decision is actually not a strange one by Penguin, by looking at some of their other books in print.

I said in the last post that I have recently started to read Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, and so I will start with this.

HoD MCThe cover on the left is the Modern Classics version of this book that I have (well, mine is the 2000 edition without the white band, but otherwise it’s the same), and the other two are earlier Modern Classics editions. Now.

HoD CHere we have four editions of ‘Heart of Darkness’ (with ‘The Congo Diary’ in the third case) all from the Penguin Classics series. I can see where Penguin are coming from: the story was first published in serial form in 1899, and so falls under the ‘Classics’ brand, but was then published as a book in 1902- thus a Modern Classics.

Another case, this time E.M. Forster’s ‘Maurice’, written 1913-14, and published in 1971.

EMF MThe first two covers are from Modern Classics, with the third a Classics version. Similar images can be found for all of Forster’s works, with both Classics and Modern Classics editions available.

t s e t wThen there’s this: ‘The Wasteland and Other Poems’ by T.S.Eliot. Interestingly, this great work of Modernist literature has been published as a Classic by Penguin and not a Modern Classic. This is also the case with James Joyce- my edition of ‘Ulysses’ is a Modern Classic, but my copy of ‘Dubliners’ as shown in a previous post is part of one of the previous series of Classics. I could go on with similar examples.

Another issue that has been had is with Morrissey’s book being a new book, and having not already been out before. Well, Penguin do also have a knack of publishing previously unpublished works as Classics and Modern Classics too. For example:

Truman Capote Summer CrossingThis recently unearthed early manuscript by Capote was published for the first time in 2006 as a Penguin Modern Classic, despite not actually being a classic at this point. It could be argued that it was by a classic author, but… the book still wasn’t technically a Modern Classic. The same could be said for the published letters or diaries of famous authors which then get released as part of the Classics range.

Personally, I feel that Penguin are perhaps making an interesting choice publishing ‘Autobiography’ as a Classics, but unlike some people, do not feel that it is such a strange thing for them to do. Perhaps a Modern Classic would have been more appropriate, but some form of classic status is not unfitting. The lyrics of The Smiths could be published as Modern Classics, which by Penguin’s interesting logic (as demonstrated here) would then make this autobiography an automatic classic. Or perhaps we can now have the lyrics of The Smiths published as a Classic on the back of this. Only time will tell!

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A few more new books, ‘Reclaimed Books part 2’… and MORRISSEY!

I’ve had just a few more books since my last book-buying update, and have also picked up another from my parents’:

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  • Milan Kundera-  The Unbearable Lightness of Being     25p
  • Jack Kerouac-  On the Road     25p
  • Hunter S. Thompson-  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas     25p
  • James Doig (ed.)-  Australian Ghost Stories     £1

The last book in the photo, ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote, was the one I picked up from my parents. It’s the copy I had at A Level when we studied it in English, complete with my pencilled annotations on several sections. You may also notice that the first three books I had were insanely good value for money, especially considering one of these (‘On the Road’) is a book I mentioned in a previous blog as being one I’d really like to read.

Oh, and then there’s also this other new book that my other half purchased off Amazon and which arrived the other day…

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OH YES! Morrissey’s ‘Autobiography’ is here! We are both extremely put out that he only book signing he is doing has taken place in Sweden, as we couldn’t get over there to go to it, and can only hope he may decide to deign the UK with his presence in the near future. Also, the matter of who is reading the book first has been solved in two ways: I’ve already begun to read Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, and so want to read this first; my partner has been a lover of Moz since before I even knew who he was, and has found great comfort in his lyrics at many points of her life. Me: I just think his music is quite catchy and sounds good… However, the bit of the book I did have chance to gloss over is incredibly well written, and should make for an enjoyable read!

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