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the friday meme-sweep (books)

Sorry, 1843, is was a lovely meme, but just too complicated for my exhausted British mind ... however:

I've been meme-tagged by someone who isn't even on Livejournal. Eeek. And then (and perhaps anticipating meme-reluctance) he made a gender issue of it, and I'm a sucker for affirmative action. So here goes:

Total Number Of Books I've Owned
I couldn't even begin to count. I've been gathering books since I was a teenagerm, have absorbed several other peoples' collections, bought masses from the Oxford Oxfam Bookshop (where I work on Saturday afternoons) and other second-hand sources, and on books that are special to me, often own multiple copies. I used to never buy new books, but in recent years this has relaxed. Fortunately I dislike most modern book covers, so I don't buy too many: much as I would like to read the new Murakami, not in that cover.

The Last Book I Bought:
Books 1-3 of Fruits Basket (affectionately known as Furuba to its friends), a martial arts comedy romance by Natsuki Takaya, anime from Tokyopop. Escapist world of mysterious, lovely boys with odd supernatural problems, and cute brave girls and their loyal, spooky friends. The sort of comic you wouldn't mind living in; plus it has chatty bits from the artist/writer, fun.

The Last Book I Read:
Prior to Fruits, Barefoot in the Head by Brian Aldiss, one of two apocalyptic SF pulps I took to a festival just in case it got dull (very dull - I ran out of books). Set in a slightly dated future where the Middle East had bombed Europe with LSD -- which (in a hippyish vein) Aldiss turns into a uplifting tale of humanity getting back to its agrarian roots. Bad ending, but the LSD roadtrip wordsalad stuff has its moments.

Five books that mean a lot to me:
Moominvalley in November - Tove Jansson
Weird tale of a bunch of misfit creatures who've heard the Moomins are cool, but arrive to find that they're away (actually off doing disturbing family drama Moominpapa at Sea). All the Moomin books tell children secrets about the way people really are, but this one tells the story I know best; absence, emptiness, confusion, unimportance.

De Profundis - Oscar Wilde
Usually bundled with The Ballad of Reading Jail in modern editions, which I don't like; but I have an old cloth-bound pocket edition I keep under my bed beside the bible and whatever else fetches up there. Poor old Oscar. But his meditation on the misery of confinement and the tranformative nature of friendship helped me through boarding school, many another crisis since.

The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the end of the World - Haruki Murakami
An old one by Murakami, this; a lighthearted and shamelessly funky descent-into-underworld SF thriller that suffers an odd, parasitic extra dimension. The ending is astonishing, bizarre and absolutely perfect. Delights me every time I read it.

The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr Hoffman - Angela Carter
Top of my my extreme reading list is this perverse Gulliver-esque tale of a picaresque hero stumbling through a bleak, bizarre, cruel, and occasionally beautiful world of terrible and terrifying desire. Carter's sex apocalypse is a disquieting read, pulls no punches, lacks the soft fairytale glow that suffuses her later work, is all the better for it.

Vermillion Sands - J G Ballard
When I grow up and become properly fictional, I'm going to live in Vermillion Sands, artists' colony of the future, set in the Great Recess where unemployment is repackaged as leisure and the great and the good sit waiting in their desertified front yards for the return of fast time. Short stories about intelligent sculptures, ephemeral sculptors, vegetable divas ...

Pete installed an "honourable mention" category, so: The Harpist in the Wind trilogy by Patricia A Mckillip. Back when I had a lot of time, I used to read fantasy trilogies when I was feeling down or stressed. Now I don't have the time and I got rid of all that old stuff anyway. Except this one, which has everything, from the map in the front to the transcendent reckoning with destiny; and the whole trilogy clocks in at a lower page-count than your average chicklit or thriller. Hm. I wonder where it is...

Ruthlessly eclectic as ever, I see. 50/50 birds and blokes - on purpose? No, I'm telling the truth. jinty, if you've not done this yet, I tag you, plus anyone else who fancies a go at it.

Five books doesn't begin to cover it, but if I start listing what didn't make the list, I'll never stop, books are such a part of my life. Speaking of which, after the success of using House of Leaves (cheers for the loan, waistcoatmark) to prepare myself emotionally for buying a house, I'm looking for something in a similar vein but about DIY and home improvements. Any suggestions?

Another strip with Andy in it, this time by Matt Brooker (D'Israeli): that panel on Page 3 of Andy in the silver and feathers has been on my wall for years.


( 12 worms — Feed the birds )
17th Jun, 2005 16:11 (UTC)
I got out the original cover to that year's booklet, which I got you all to sign. It had been in storage since moving here. I think I'll find somewhere to put it up.
20th Jun, 2005 14:40 (UTC)
I remember
... it made me feel very rockstar ...

Looking at the photographic evidence, I think Andy must have changed clothes every five minutes at Spacecaption 1999. We don't get enough chances to wear silver and feathers.
17th Jun, 2005 18:08 (UTC)
"I'm looking for something in a similar vein but about DIY and home improvements. Any suggestions? "

20th Jun, 2005 12:52 (UTC)
home improvements
Not home disasters! ... also, I need semething new. I've read the Gormenghast trilogy too many times ... going to try House on the Borderlands</a>, at mr_snips's suggestion.
21st Jun, 2005 09:26 (UTC)
No, Fight Club! (At least if you're planning anything electrical / damp-related...)
17th Jun, 2005 18:18 (UTC)
Friendly Pressure
not sure how tagging works ...I'm assuming I respond

had a think, had ANOTHER think. Haven't a clue, they're in more than one place for a start. I doubt if it tops 2000 but it'll be more than 1000

RING OF LIBERATION - J Lowell Lewis. A student of mine is a dancer with a mentor who lives in Brazil. We were talking about African religeons and their adjuncts in the Americas - The Santeria in Cuba and Capoeira in Brazil. He recommended this as a good introduction to Capoeira. I've only been able to dip into it so far.

WHAT MAISIE KNEW by Henry James. There was an article on favourite literary characters in The Independent Review Section. I was surprised how many child characters were chosen. Someone went into raptures over Maisie. I went into Waterstones the next day & ordered the cheapest copy they could find (£2.99).

THE ODYSSEY - Walter Shewring's prose version. A good friend gave me T.E.Lawrence's version of The Odyssey in the mid-80s and I read it with an increasing horror at the translator's obvious disdain for the text. When I heard the story of Eric Gill throwing Lawrence's book across the room shouting "surely we can do better than THIS" I felt great sympathy. I believe mister Shewring happened to be in the same room with Gill at the time.
THE MAGUS - John Fowles. Dates me a bit I expect - first read about 1971. Later-on I enjoyed going over the revised version from the late 70s in comparison with the messier 60s one (wonder what his 50s draft The God Game was like?). The idea of creativity & deliberation spilling over into reality really opened my eyes & my mind to art in general during the 70s.
LABYRINTHS - Jose Luis Borges. More lateral thinking - I think I was introduced to Borges in the late 60s as some kind of SF author. The full power of his unique & dense,dense approach to storytelling only became clear with the collections of his writing & verse. Liking Borges also led me to another favourite: Machado De Assis.
THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET - Lawrence Durrell. Read Justine in 1979 and then Balthazar, Mountolive & Clea in 1980. Reading the first book was enjoyable enough - very spicy stuff. To then read the 2nd and realise half of the observations were down to lies or self deception was exciting. That momentum just about got me through the duller Mountolive before Clea's stronger feeling of anticipation. There is an appalling late 60s film of all 4 books that is even more frivolous than the Michael Caine/Anthony Quinn travesty of The Magus
THE TEMPTATION OF ST ANTONY - Gustave Flaubert. Only read in translation and - as I understand it - from a vastly edited version of Flaubert's original. The bejewelled description of floating over the harbour at Alexandria and then flying across the Mediterranean is an amazing bit of writing for a mid 19th Century writer. I'm currently using a section of this book as the impetus for a strip (Sheba & Antony).

TAO TE CHING - Lao Tzu. Mould clay into the shape of a pot - utilise the nothingness therein and you have the USE of the pot. What's not there being as useful as what is may well be some of the most handy wisdom about drawing that I've ever managed to infer.
OTHER NON FICTION - Kerenyi and Graves on Greek Mythology. Louis Aragon on Matisse. Andrew Loomis on 3-dimensional drawing.
LOST IN THE FUNHOUSE - John Barth. Myth, an ancient kind of storytelling, collides with a half-defined post-modernism. Dizzying possibilities rear their heads.
LE PORTRAIT - Edmond Baudoin. The politics of attraction, interpretive dance & the artist's struggle with false starts where vague recognition feels like inspiration. Not your run-of-the-mill comic strip. Oh, beautiful too.

. . . . . . S

Music: The V. Best of The Standells, Destroy All Nels Cline & Galactica Rush by Jhelisa on Random Select
17th Jun, 2005 18:19 (UTC)
Does this tagging escalate in some way? Thought so. Okay then, inspired by one of my rejected choices (Chance by Joseph Conrad) I suggest:


CONDITION: If you start enjoying doing this then its important that you do not to finish the list

I'd include THE COLORIST by Susan Daitch (carrier-bag it was in absent-mindedly picked up by another shopper), CHANCE by Joseph Conrad (beautiful to read but I've never achieved more han 3/4 despite numerous attempts), GEOGRAPHY OF THE IMAGINATION - a book of Essays & Criticism by Guy Davenport that had some favourite pieces (eg: Another Odyssey) but some chapters untouched (borrowed by a comic letterer & never returned)...
20th Jun, 2005 14:41 (UTC)
number 1 on the list

is The Magus
18th Jun, 2005 15:53 (UTC)
now of course I have to go out and read just about everything listed above...
20th Jun, 2005 12:54 (UTC)
maybe skip
Barefoot in the Head and go for The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, instead. It's really sad, but ...
19th Jun, 2005 07:41 (UTC)
i hope you don't mind, but i added you to my friends list-i love what you write and draw, so there it is. it's lea from spy51 by the way. hope that's ok.
20th Jun, 2005 12:55 (UTC)
no prob
... and reciprocated.
( 12 worms — Feed the birds )