Saturday 7 January 2012

Stuck-in-a-Book's Weekend Miscellany

It's the first Weekend Miscellany of 2012, and I hope you've got a pen and paper to hand, because there's all sorts going on...

1.) Firstly - I do love a surprise book through the post!   Christmas was surprisingly low on bookish gifts (my parents and brother tried, bless 'em, but ended up giving me the same book... oops!) so it was a total and unexpected delight to get What There Is To Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell.  It came from lovely Heather, who knew that I adored the letters of Maxwell and Sylvia Townsend Warner (well, it's no secret) and thought I'd love these too.  I always forget that I've read a novel by Welty (The Ponder Heart) because I don't remember anything about it, but it's definitely time I revisited her - and I'm thrilled to have this collection!  I tend to read books of letters very gradually, so it could be an age before this appears again on SiaB, but it certainly will do at some point.

2.) You won't have missed my enthused posts about Stop What You're Doing And Read This - well, the day is drawing ever closer when you can go and get your hands on a copy.  Even better than that, you can attend a launch party!  Mark Haddon (who wrote the best essay in the book) and Michael Rosen, along with people from the wonderful Reading Agency, will be discussing reading on Monday 23rd January, 7pm, at Canada Water Library.  It's free, but you have to book - which you can do here.  The book also has its own blog, now: here.

3.) Increasingly, I get emails from publishers or authors saying "I don't know if you have an e-reader, but..."  Well, as you probably know, I don't.  But I'm happy to be an enabler, and so wanted to mention that Macmillan created Bello, their imprint of e-book reprints.  I'm all for access to neglected gems, even if only electronically, and so I'll point you in the direction of their website.  They've wisely started off with a select few authors - Gerald Durrell, Eva Ibbotson, Frances Durbridge etc. - and, most excitingly to my mind, Vita Sackville-West.  The Heir, one of the titles they're doing, is one of the loveliest novellas I've read, and I heartily recommend that that's where you start.

4.) If you've somehow missed Kim's Australian Literature Month, you're already a week behind guys!  See what Kim has to say about it, and have fun.  I've hunted through my tbr shelves for an Australian author without luck, so... not sure if I'll be joining in, but I'll certainly be cheering from the sidelines.

5.) Don't forget - Stu's Henry Green Reading Week is coming up super soon.  You've got about a fortnight to get prepared...

6.) There have been so many wonderful reviews around the blogosphere since I last drew your attention to some.  Of course there have, there always are!  But I will send you off to read what Claire had to say about Rose Macaulay's Crewe Train, what Tanya had to say about E.H. Young's Miss Mole and E.F. Benson's Secret Lives, and what Jane had to say about G.E. Stern's Ten Days of Christmas.  I'll even point you in the direction of Darlene's thoughts on my much-beloved The Slaves of Solitude, even though I don't agree with her.  That's new year benificence for you.


  1. That Eudora Welty book looks amazing! Hope you enjoy it :) I'd love to read it myself!

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

  2. Well, I for one am very happy to see the link to the e-books. Some fascinating stuff there and I've already nabbed the one with The Heir in it. Thank you!

  3. Simon, for your next Welty please try The Optimist's Daughter. Also, the short stories are fabulous, especially "Why I Live at the PO" which should be read aloud with a thick Mississippi accent. Hilarious, and I hope the humor survives the leap cross the pond.

  4. Thanks for your miscellany, I always enjoy it.

    Ellen B is right. Why I Live at the PO short story is iconic. Utterly impossible to forget that one!

  5. I love Eudora Welty; take a look at her web site 'Edora Welty Foundation'. I love taking a peep into her home and I would just love to visit it in person.

  6. Delighted to see the Bello list of ebooks, especially the Pamela Hansford Johnsons. I checked on the price and saw it was £7.99, and went over to Amazon, where it is £5.73. It would be worth checking the Amazon prices first before paying £2.00+ more!

  7. Megan - I'm very lucky, aren't I? I'm sure I will love it.

    bibliolathas - glad to point you in the right direction! I do hope you like The Heir - I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Ellen - ok, noted! First I will have to discover what a Mississippi accent is.. I'm assuming it's Southern US, but I'm afraid my geography of the UK is bad enough, let alone the US...

  8. Merenia - hi there! Happy new year! Thanks for a second recommendation for PO story :)

    Jennifer Dee - I think it's the first comment from you in 2012 too (is it?) so a very happy new year! And thanks for that info - I will take a peak...

    Curzon - oo, good tip! I've read two PHJs - loved one (The Honours Board) and hated the other (An Error of Judgement). Confusing!

  9. An interesting cluster of suggestions in this post Simon. I had forgotten about Welty [read her aeons ago!] and I am somewhat tempted to rekindle a liason with her. I remember her as a superb stylist.

    Again thanks for being the first to comment on my new blog and my recommendation for Aussie Lit is "The Devil's Advocate" by Morris West.

  10. Thanks for the mention, Simon.

    I have already pre-ordered Stop What You're Doing and Read This - which is exactly what I plan to do once it arrives!

  11. Eudora Welty was a completely gem of a find for me. Try 'The Robber Bridegroom' it's an utterly bizarre Mississipian fairy tale...and completely unexpected ! Will be reviewing soon...

  12. Norman - thank you! I've never heard of Morris West, I will have to investigate...

    Claire - you're welcome :) And hurrah! I just know you'll love it. Or at least most of it. I did skip one essay (can't now remember which...)

    Relish - ooo, definitely intriguing!

  13. What There Is To Say We Have Said is delightful, one of my favorite reads last year. I even liked it a little better than the book of letters with Maxwell and Sylvia Warner-- how nice to have both. I want to read more of all three of their books. It makes me wonder if we'll be reading collections of emails in 20 years. Somehow, I doubt it.
    Susan E

  14. re Australian novelists: Andrew McGahan's The White Earth is as good a novel as I've read. A wonderful imagining of a man's total connection & dedication to the/his earth leading on to him becoming a monster. For once I began to understand the fascistic mind set. The narrator is the boy he has chosen to continue and fulfil his dream so the novel becomes the story of hard maturation and yes thank goodness escape. Fascinating. Books are expensive in Australia so on my visit I shopped at the Salvation Army place off Oxford St, Darlinghurst, Sydney. I bought so much I was given a strong canvas bag. Elizabeth Jolley is another superb unique 7* writer (originally English), then of course the excellent Helen Garner.

  15. Audible has a version of Why I Live at the PO (and two other stories) read by Ms. Welty herself. You may not be able to get it due to copyright restrictions but it's worth it if you can.


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