I do have a lovely pile of books to share this week and, now that you've met Jim you can see what the poor man is going through.
A few biographies finding their way in and Bernard Malamud A Writer's Life by Philip Davis has me interested on several fronts.Firstly Philip Davis (if I have the right one) has just taken over from his wife Jane Davis as the editor of The Reader, another of my literary magazine subscription addictions, this one published by The University of Liverpool.The Reader hits a consistently high standard with its articles and I've enjoyed it for many years. I can't say the same about Bernard Malamud because he is but a known name to me. I have never read any of his writing because I tend to pigeon-hole him in the Roth-Bellow department and possibly erroneously as boy's stuff and not for me.
I should know better by now. So here's an interesting angle. I would normally read a literary biography on the back of enjoyment of the subject's writing and thus feel I almost knew them already. The biography would flesh out the real person so this time I'm going to approach it the other way round. Will Philip Davis (or anyone else stopping by here) convince me to read Malamud?
Also from Oxford Blasphemy in the Christian World A History by David Nash.Nothing like extending my horizons and, not least to start with, an understanding of exactly what blasphemy is.
What a seemingly dry (to me) but actually fascinating subject. I keep picking this up and dipping into it and suddenly an hour's gone by and I'm deeply into the arguments that raged around The Life of Brian.I think this rates as one of those academic books that could be read and enjoyed by anyone who fancied some new territory. Or perhaps you're all blasphemy experts and it's just me who didn't really have a clue.
Another biography which does indeed look fascinating My Father, Reith of the BBC by Marista Leishman, Reith's daughter and published by St Andrew Press, John Reith the man credited with the creation of the BBC and I can't do better than Stephen Fry's assessment of this book.
"The dark varnish covering the poular portrait of a patriarchal, dour and humourless Reith has been removed to reveal the twinkle and style of a much more interesting and important man".So far John Reith is shaping up to be quite a dictator both at work and at home and his daughter's perspective, as a sibling to John Reith's other child, the BBC, is a compelling one.
Also from St Andrew Press, one of a new series of Notes on famous composers and I plumped for Mendelssohn.I like the idea of "invaluable erudition, wit and accuracy, laced with racy anecdotal evidence" and though I may be an opera dummy I do love a wide range of classical music but with very little understanding of it. I shall test run this and let you know whether I emerge knowing more beyond the violin concerto and the Hebrides and has it made me want to extend my listening? Also a little book of poetry by Kenneth C. Steven. I thought Iona would make a good reading to the accompaniment of Mendelssohn
Alternative Medicine A History by Roberta Bivins has made a very timely appearance after my course of acupuncture courtesy of the NHS "do patients seek hope, holism or just the thrill of rebellion?" Am I what the world of mainstream medicine labels the "irrational consumer" ? (how very dare they!) I've had a good browse through this one and it's well worth a read if this is of interest.
Many thanks to Valerie Trueblood for a copy of her novel Seven Loves , to Irving Warner for a proof of The War Journal of Lila Ann Smith, both from the US, and to Lisa Glass for Prince Rupert's Teardrop which didn't have to travel quite so far , just up the road from Cornwall. More on these soon if they hit the mark with dgr scribbles.
And that spiral-bound book sitting on top of the pile? A proof copy of The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill and I'm saving this until the fire is lit and the curtains are drawn which won't be very long.I am the dummy that asked if this was proof or real because suddenly spiral bound fiction seemed like really quite a good idea.