Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Links for the next meeting - High-Rise by JG Ballard

A quick summary of the novel on Wiipedia

An overview of JG Ballard's work

A review on Ballardian, the JBG fan site

An interview from 1976, the year after the novel came out:

“I'm trying to say something about the anonymity of say, such a huge high-rise building as the one I describe, which plays into the hands of barbarism, but also provides a new set of connections on the other side: what that new order is I leave to the reader to decide. Royal and Wilder are not tuned into the logic of the High Rise. A new type of person is emerging, a neutral, affectless, emotionless character who doesn't mind the intrusion into his life of data processing outfits, credit registers and so on, and in fact welcomes it because it provides a sense of togetherness -- maybe all the togetherness that people need. Laing is at one point in the book reflecting on this new kind of cool, unemotional type who just likes sitting in his room with the TV on but the sound turned down. But it's ironic that at the end of the book he turns into just such a person as he apparently feared. He enters into a rather complex relationship with his sister and this other woman; his whole role vis-a-vis the mad dentist who fools around with corpses; all the aspects of himself he finds himself moving through in the second half of the book: all this is to show the beginnings of a new order. He is a happy tenant of the High Rise. I leave it open to the reader to decide whether it's a good thing or bad; he is not a completely passive spectator of events. After all, according to some research I did, I found that one in ten people in this country live above the sixth floor.”

& one from 1980, talking more generally about his views of science fiction:

“It had been too concerned with the future, right from its origins. I wanted a science-fiction of the present day. I am interested in the technology of the present of this world. I am not interested in imaginary alien planets. I am certain you know that the only alien planet is Earth. It is this world that is the strange one. All the extra-terrestrials we need are walking around in these streets."

An article about a book that's just been published on poor architecture, that taps into 'the high rise' phenomenon of blocks of gated apartment blocks

& finally, a synopsis of a film adaptation, which suggests they've completely missed the point:

"n the midst of a vast ocean stands the Elysium Tower – a glistening vertical city – a sanctuary for challenging times.

Powered by sun and earth, designed by the greatest architectural visionary of the new millennium, Elysium is a self contained world. A world of commerce, cuisine and entertainment, featuring restaurants, swimming pools, libraries, cinemas, even a research hospital. It is not just the tallest and most technologically advanced work of modern architecture, but one that embodies the world's highest aspirations.

Dr. Robert Laing, a new arrival, settles in and adjusts to this hermetic life. But before long he becomes aware of something unsettling in the building. In an escalating atmosphere of unrest the residents break into tribal factions. Laing watches in horror as the myth of a utopian society is shattered."

We met at the Barbican Lounge

Friday, 19 November 2010

Fabulous Penguin Clothbound Classics

Any of these would make a fantastic present for a book-lover.

Featuring 3 of our past reads -

& one of our future reads -

Plus - you can win a set of 6 Scott F Fitzgerald books - watch the video below to see how:

Alluring book titles

A very entertaining idea from McSweeneys - titles of classic books re-written as the sort of attention-grabbing headlines you online to boost website traffic:

How many can you get?

"7 Awesome Ways Barnyard Animals Are Like Communism

The 11 Stupidest Things Phonies Do To Ruin The World

8 Surprising Ways West Egg Is Exemplary Of The Hollowness Of The American Dream

6 Shockingly Evil Things The Turn-Of-The-Century Meatpacking Industry Doesn't Want You To Know

5 Insane Ways London Could Become a Dystopia (And How It's Not That Far From Reality)

1 Weird Thing Caddy Smells Like"

We like!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Literary Lodgings

This is a set of birdhouses, made from old hardback books. The one in the picture has part of one of our January books The Wizard of Oz as a front.

Very sweet, very creative, but also, strangely, 'Not for out of doors'.

Buy one here.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Any Human Heart on Channel 4

A dramatisation of Any Human Heart, by Willam Boyd, which we read in about 2008, starts on channel 4 next weekend.

The trailer: (Best copy I could find)

A 'making of':

An article about the novel by WB

& an article by WB on the real story of the murder in the Bahamas that features in the book.

It's a four part drama. Let's hope they get it right!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Women Running From Houses

This blog has a great collection of classic book covers from pretty trashy paperbacks.

With the blurbs too - for example:

The Lock by Janet Lovesmith (Paul W. Fairman)
published by Popular Library
Copyright 1972


The lock was huge, rusted, ungainly. It guarded the
tomb that lay behind the old house - the tomb of the
ill-fated Gantry clan. Lyn Courtney, who had come to
work at Gantry Hill, became fascinated, haunted by
that lock. Her fears, her hopes, her fantasies cnetered
around it.

Could it explain the puzzling behavior of good-looking
Christopher Gantry? The mystery of beautiful, volatile
Lila? The invisible creature that even now was stalking
young Lyn? She must find out - if it wasn't already
too late ,,,

QUEEN-SIZE GOTHICS are a new idea. They offer the
very best in novels of romantic suspense, by the top
writers, greater in length and drama, richer in reading
pleasure. Each book is guaranteed to be:


Monday, 1 November 2010

Matilda's Book Club

Matilda's book club is a venture set up by the Royal Shakespeare Company to accompany the new musical version of Roald Dahl's Matilda. It's a virtual club, and features children's books recommended by the great and the good.

You can see it here; these are some of the choices:

David Schneider (& Cathy Cassidy) - Watership Down (which we're doing in January)
Quentin Blake - The Box of Delights
Paul Kaye - The Thirty Nine Steps
Charlie Higson - The Incredible Adventures of Professor Brainstawm
Emma Thompson - The Weirdstone of Brisingamen
Harriet Walter - The Silver Sword
Lisa Hammond-Marty - The Ice Dragon (A Noggin book)
Eowin Colfer - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Nick Clegg - The Gruffalo
David Cameron - Our Island Story