Books 2010

Books 2009

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Monday, 02 March 2009


Many years ago The Spectator's weekly parody competition set readers the task of writing the opening to The Giant Rat of Sumatra. The competition was headed simply "The Big One" - an acknowledgement of that unwritten tale's bewitching influence on readers of the Sherlock Holmes stories. I entered - along no doubt with hundreds of others - but happened to be away when the winning entry (not mine!) was published so never saw it. I can't recall exactly what I wrote, but the ingredients were a reference to 'the Batavian possessions of the House of Orange' and a Dutch sea-captain clumping up the stairs of 221b Baker Street with a hessian sack over his shoulders.

I am hoping Faber are (or should that be is?) sending me some free copies of Gilbert Adair's crime novels, which I am curious to read. This one sounds as if it might be a bit too clever for its own good.

No, there is always someone rambling around over the blog, even at this very unsociable hour!
You have written (and read) so much over the last week, I can't believe it. And I am quite jealous aswell. I'll come back later to comment more accurately.
Meantime, just wishing you and the lovely Cat a nice day.

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  • Nothing is of greater consolation to the author of a novel than the disovery of readings he had not conceived but which are then prompted by his readers. (Umberto Eco, Reflections on The Name of the Rose)
  • ... relatively few persons in London ... can afford the luxury of one or more servants. No fewer than 3,700,000 have no servants at all, and of the half million that have servants 227,000 have only one. (The Times, 6 June 1895)
  • Standing among savage scenery, the hotel offers stupendous revelations. There is a French widow in every bedroom, affording delightful prospects. (Tyrolean inn brochure, according to Gerard Hoffnung)
  • (A doctor is at an elderly relative's deathbed) "The old sawbones, eh?" he bellowed ... "Just in the nick, perhaps. Haul the old girl back by the short hairs, if you ask me. Devilish smart at his work ... Always take a fence with more confidence when I know he's out with us."
  • Too often, when a man of Monty Godkin's mental powers is plunged in thought, nothing happens at all. The machinery just whirs for a while, and that is the end of it. (P G Wodehouse, Heavy Weather)
  • ...the breed that take their pleasures as Saint Laurence took his grid (Kipling, The Five nations)

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