Wednesday, October 6, 2010

General Fiction – John Crowley

This is a timely entry, as today I received an update on the status of the Little, Big 25th Anniversary edition, a book I have been keenly anticipating for over five years.

It seems, according to the latest newsletter, that publication of this splendid edition is not far off, and I will soon have in my hands probably one of the most beautiful books ever published - as attested by Greer Gilman on her live journal.

Speaking of Little, Big I can attest that I have a dinky di, true blue, genuine first edition of the novel, first published in 1981 in a Bantam Trade Paperback edition. It’s rather the worse for wear – it has been in my possession for almost 30 years, and read many times, not to mention loaned out on several occasions – but it hasn’t fallen apart. As much as I am longing to reread it, I’ve sworn to myself that I will do so when the 25th Anniversary edition arrives.


Little, Big is of course John Crowley’s best known work, but equally worthy is his marvellous Aegypt Quartet which I acquired piecemeal over the twenty years it was written.

Firstly Aegypt, published in a Gollancz paperback in1988, and Love & Sleep, in a Bantam trade paperback in 1995.

crowley_aegypt crowley_loveandsleep

A long wait resulted in my purchasing hard cover first editions of Daemonomania, published by Bantam in August 2000 and the final book, Endless Things published in 2007 by Small Beer Press.

crowley_daemonomania crowley_endlessthings

In between the publication of Daemonomania and Endless Things I acquired first editions of The Translator (2002) and Lord Byron’s Novel – The Evening Land (2005) both published by William Morrow and both fine novels in their own right.

crowley_translator crowley_lordbyron

John Crowley’s latest novel is his wonderful re-creation of the lives of those who worked in a world war II aircraft factory, Four Freedoms, published in 2009 by William Morrow.


And finally to complete my John Crowley collection, Novelties & Souvenirs, Collected Short Fiction, published in 2004 by Harper Perennial


Next – the other Crowley and Robertson Davies

Monday, September 27, 2010

General Fiction – Carey, Carson, Carter, Chute & Colette

Though my head is still somewhere in William Gibson land after finishing his latest fiction Zero History this morning, I will endeavour to distract my mind and resume with more offerings on this blog in the general fiction category.

Firstly, Edward Carey’s wonderful and strange Observatory Mansions.


Closely followed by that other more famous Carey, Peter Carey’s 1988 Booker winning novel Oscar & Lucinda.


Twisted Kicks by Tom Carson is one of the first and best rock n roll novels. There have not been many written at all. Published in 1981 my paperback copy of the novel is an Arena edition published in 1984.


Now on to more of my Angela Carter collection, mostly Virago paperbacks.

carter_americanghosts carter_nothingsacred
carter_shadowdance carter_toyshop

Carolyn Chute is an American novelist and political activist. Her best known novel is The Beans of Egypt Maine. This King Penguin Edition has a wonderful cover in a primitive/naive style,

chute_beansof egypt maine

And finally, The Tender Shoot a collection of stories by French novelist Colette translated by Antonia White. I was a great fan of Colette in my youth and have many of her books in old Penguin editions which I’ll get round to displaying later. This edition was published by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux in the 1970s.


Next – John Crowley

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

General Fiction – Berendt, Bloom, Bonfiglioli, Bradshaw, Burgess & Byatt

Taking up from where I left off last time, some more general fiction or non fiction in some cases.

Case in point, John Berendt’s classic take on Savannah Georgia, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It has been a long time since I last read this book, but I do recall being quite taken with it at the time. This edition was published by Vintage circa 1994.


Harold Bloom, eminent American man of letters wrote only one novel, which purportedly he has disowned, according to the Wikipedia entry on The Flight to Lucifer, the novel in question. It is a sequel to the David Lindsay novel Voyage To Arcturus.


An oddity – the Mortdecai trilogy by Kyril Bonfiglioli.


I’ve mentioned Gillian Bradshaw previously in relation with her well regarded Arthurian trilogy that featured Sir Gawain. She has written many other novels - historical fiction primarily and The Bear Keeper’s Daughter is one. It is set in Byzantine Constantinople and features the Empress Theodora, wife of Justinian 1.


Anthony Burgess’ novel Earthly Powers opens with surely one of the most provocative opening sentences of any book.

”It was the afternoon of my eighty- first birthday, and I was in bed bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.”

Burgess most famous novel is of course Clockwork Orange of which I do believe I have a copy of somewhere, also a collection of his Enderby novels.

This edition of Earthy Powers was published by Penguin in 1980.


To end this post, some of my collection of A S Byatt in paperback editions. It was in fact The Virgin in the Garden, the first of her Frederica novels, that introduced me to her writing.

The first three Frederica novels in Penguin editions…

byatt_virgin byatt_stilllife byatt_babelstower

Collections of Short Stories in Vintage editions…

byatt_djinn byatt_sugar

Coming up: Peter Carey, Edward Carey, Angela Carter among others.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

General Fiction – Allende, Ariosto, Banville, Barnes & Bedford

To resume…

Back to general fiction and to begin -  two volumes by Isobel Allende. You may have noticed that I haven’t posted her most famous novel The House of the Spirits. That is because my original paperback copy of the book went missing and to replace it I bought (second hand) a movie edition – pretty boring, so I’m not showing it here.

The below editions are Eva Luna in an uncorrected proof edition and The Stories of Eva Luna in a  Penguin edition. 

allende_evaluna_proof allende_evaluna

Next a book, that crazily was popular in the 1970s as a result of the Ballantine  Adult Fantasy Series. I do believe that there was a Ballantine edition of Orlando Furioso
by Ludovico Ariosto, but this edition was  published by Oxford University Press in1974.


John Banville won the Booker Prize for his novel The Sea in 2005, but the two below novels are much earlier. Kepler is part of his Revolutions series and is an imaginative biography of Johannes Kepler the German mathematician and astronomer. Birchwood is an odd sort of book, a tale of decadence and decay set in a dilapidated Irish Manor.

banville_kepler banville_birchwood

Julian Barnes wonderful novel Arthur and George was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2005.  It is described on his website as “A novel about low crime and high spirituality; guilt and innocence; identity, nationality and race; and thwarted passion.” and contains an illuminating character study of Arthur Conan Doyle, who is indeed the Arthur of the title.


And finally for tonight, my small collection of Sybille Bedford novels.

bedford_compasserror bedford_favouriteofthegods
bedford_jigsaw bedford_legacy

Next – more general fiction.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fiction – Fantasy Interlude Part 2

When I wrote that the David Lindsay Violet Apple was a rarity, I didn’t realise that my edition which I paid $6.20 for in 1976, is now worth something like $150.00.  Something to remember when I’m down and out.

Anyway, that’s beside the point…

To continue and conclude, for now, the stray Fantasy books, among which there are Science Fiction titles, I present first up Sylvia Engdahl’s Enchantress From The Stars and its sequel The Far Side of Evil, highly regarded young adult fantasy/SF novels, published in the early 1970s.

engdahl_enchantress engdahl_farsideofevil

Also in the juvenile fantasy category is Ursula Le Guin’s  Earthsea Trilogy. I have the three books in hard cover editions, published by Gollancz and acquired by me in 1974. Only The Farthest Shore is a first edition, the other two are second impressions, but as a set they look very handsome.


leguin_tombsofatuanhc leguin_farthestshorehc

A couple of oddities to follow this well known series are John Fuller’s Flying To Nowhere, which won the Whitbread Best First Novel Award in 1983, and A Dark Horn Blowing by Dahlov Ipcar.

fuller_flyingto nowhere ipcar_darkhorn

Sheri S Tepper’s Beauty won the Locus Award in1992.


In the above Sheri S Tepper link, which is an interview with the author, she mentions that one of her favourite books was Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright. Naturally I have a copy…though it is years since I last opened its covers.


The next two novels are once again oddities, and deal interestingly with gender. Childe Rolande, is a most unusual fantasy by Samantha Lee wherein the hero/heroine is a hermaphrodite, and Donald Kingsbury’s Courtship Rite set on a planet where polyandry is a way of life.

lee_childeroland kingsbury_courtshiprite

And finally for this post another Newcastle Forgotten Fantasy, The Fates of the Princes of Dyfed by Kenneth Morris, a Welsh fantasy based on the Mabinogion.

morris_fatesof the princes

I’ll get back to general fiction in the next entry.