It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

… it just has to sound plausible


I love the smell of fresh books in the morning

For every book you see in these book haul posts, I get rid of two books. So the collection is steadily being reduced to manageable proportions… That is, of course, a complete lie. It’s getting bigger every month. It’s not quite up to hoarder levels yet, but there are piles on the floor. And they reach knee-height.

I feel another purge coming on some time soon…

The contents of  a parcel from Aqueduct Press: Never At Home and Love’s Body, Dancing in Time, by L Timmel Duchamp; and Aliens of the Heart and Candle in a Bottle, by Carolyn Ives Gilman. Aliens of the Heart I have already reviewed on Daughters of Prometheus here.

Three graphic novels: West Coast Blues, Jacques Tardi; The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009, Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill; and the third book of the Valerian series, The Land Without Stars, by Mézières and Christin.

Some paperbacks, new and second-hand. Fever and Spear is, er, May’s book for this year’s reading challenge. I really must get caught up on that. Girl Reading I borrowed from my mother after seeing a positive comment on it on someone’s blog. Eric sent me The Devil’s Nebula; one day I hope to be able to return the favour. I’ve been a fan of Sara Paretsky’s books for many years and Body Work is her latest. I found it in a charity shop. As I did The Spider’s House, though I really must get around to reading The Sheltering Sky first.

Some more Durrelliana. The Big Supposer is the English translation of a long interview which originally appeared in French. Labrys #5 is a special issue on Durrell. It’s also signed by him. And Judith is a previously-unpublished novel published only this year for the Durrell centenary.

Here’s some research material. Both The Mars One Crew Manual and SlipString Drive are for Apollo Quartet 2: The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself. The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser book is because I’m fascinated by the aircraft of the early days of air travel (it was also cheap on eBay).

Kim Stanley Robinson is a genre writer whose fiction I admire, so I’m looking forward to reading 2312. Starship Winter is the third of Eric Brown’s seasonal novellas set on the world of Chalcedony. The Last Man Standing is an Italian novel in its first English translation, and I have to review it for Interzone.

For the collection, here’s the traycased signed edition of Lucius Shepard’s Viator Plus, bought for half-price in their recent sale; Bitter Seeds I won on Twitter for a silly joke (many thanks, Andrew); Richer Than All His Tribe is signed and for the Monsarrat collection; and I found a cheap copy of the slipcased signed edition of Kim Stanley Robinson’s A Short, Sharp Shock.

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Previously unpublished

No, not me, but Lawrence Durrell. To celebrate his centenary this year, the Durrell School of Corfu have published a previously-unpublished novel by Durrell, Judith. It was originally written as a vehicle for the 1966 film of the same title, but after being rewritten in 1970 still never saw the light of day. Until now. A limited number of 500 copies have been published. I have one of them. See:


Being poetical

Lawrence Durrell’s poetry doesn’t always work for me. I like the fact there’s plenty to unpack in them, though many of the references are often unfamiliar to me. Their chief attraction for me is the beauty of the language Durrell used. He had a knack of painting an image with just the right words. Here are a few examples from Selected Poems (1956):

Ten speechless knuckles lie along a knee
Among their veins, gone crooked over voyages,

‘A Rhodian Captain’

On charts they fall like lace,
Islands consuming in a sea
Born dense with its own blue:


Where minarets have twisted up like sugar
And a river, curdled with blond ice, drives on


There is a metaphysical and mythological aspect to much of Durrell’s poetry – while he saw what was there with a painterly eye, he also described what could not be seen. And as a result his poetical portraits of places, and people, feel complete in a way many other poets have not managed. Durrell called this his “Heraldic Universe”: “that territory of experience in which the symbol exists … for every object in the known world there exists an ideogram”. He also said, “‘Art’ then is only the smoked glass through which we can look at the dangerous sun.” I like the sound of that.

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Yet more Durrelliana

As I was writing my post about the Durrell Centenary (see here), it occurred to me that I hadn’t posted photos of my more recent Durrell acquisitions. And since this is Larry’s year, I felt I should do so. Durrell’s books also, as someone put it, constitute high-class book porn, and that’s always welcome.

Three novels. I’ve no idea how I managed to miss The Black Book the last time I posted up some Durelliana, but never mind. My edition is signed. White Eagle Over Serbia was a recent purchase, though I’ve had a paperback edition for a number of years. The Revolt of Aphrodite is an omnibus of Tunc and Nunquam. And yes, I own the individual volumes as first editions too.

A trio of poetry collections titled, with a great deal of imagination, Selected Poems (1956), Collected Poems (1960) and, er, Selected Poems (1977). The 1977 collection is signed.

Three travel books: Sicilian Carousel is about Sicily, obviously. The Greek Islands is about… go on, have a guess. Caesar’s Vast Ghost, however, is about Provence (where Durrell lived from the late 1960s until his death in 1990). My copy of The Greek Islands is signed.

A pair of books about Durrell: Robin Rook’s Lawrence Durrell’s Double Concerto, signed by both Rook and Durrell, from 1990, and My Friend Lawrence Durrell from 1961.

Finally, three limited editions. The Red Limbo Lingo is slipcased and was published by Faber & Faber. My edition is unsigned, so obviously I plan to correct that at some point. The book with the marbled cover is Henri Michaux: The Poet of Supreme Solipsism. It is signed. And the big one with the colourful cover is a poem by Durrell set to music by Wallace Southam, In Arcadia. It is signed by both.

Here’s the title page of The Red Limbo Lingo.

Here’s Durrell’s signature in Henri Michaux, plus a prospectus for the book which was included inside when I bought it.

And here’s the signatures of Durrell and Southam in In Arcadia.


Larry’s Year

2012 is the centenary of Lawrence Durrell’s birth and there are apparently a number of things happening to celebrate it, including a conference in June. In bloody London, of course. But never mind. Lawrence Durrell is my favourite writer – see here and here – and on a purely sentence-by-sentence level I believe there has been no finer writer in the English language. Since pootling along to events in London is not that easy for me, I shall have to mark the centenary in my own way.

And the obvious way to do that is to read his books.

So, sometime during 2012, I am going to reread The Alexandria Quartet. And then The Avignon Quintet. And then The Revolt of Aphrodite. But first I need to get hold of the omnibus editions, as they were “improved” slightly from the original individual editions. I shall also read Durrell’s poetry. And whatever other bits and pieces of his writing that catch my eye.

And I shall blog about it all, of course.

Due to ongoing projects, none of this is likely to start until after Easter. In the meantime, here’s a link to my review of Durrell’s first novel, Pied Piper of Lovers, from 1935. The novel is from 1935, that is; not my review. Enjoy.