Friday, August 25, 2006

Another Reason to Make Myself a Pauper

For andrew who asked and leigh who answered:

There was a time, in my childhood, when, perhaps because I had been raised among books and booksellers, I dreamed of becooming a novelist.

The root of my literary ambitions, apart from the marvelous simplicity which one sees things at the age of five, lay in a prodigious piece of craftmanship and precision that was exhibited in a fountain-pen shop on Calle Anselmo Clave, just behind the Military Government building.

The object of my devotion, a plush black pen, adorned with heaven knows how many refinements and flourishes, presided over the shop window as if it were the crown jewels. A baroque fantasy magnificently wrought in silver and gold that shone like the lighthouse in Alexandria, the nib was a wonder in its own right.

When my father and I went out for a walk, I wouldn't stop pestering him until he took me to see the pen. My father declared that it must be, at the very least, the pen of an emperor.

I was secretly convinced that with such a marvel one would be able to write anything, from novels to encyclopedias, and letters whose supernatural power would surpass any postal limitations...

From Carlos Luis Zafon's A Shadow in the Wind.

Seen in the wild:

Here are a few books I've seen in 2nd-hand bookshops...

  • A hardbound of Michael Swanwick's novel, Bones of the Earth;
  • What could be Iain M. Banks' last Culture novel, Look to Windward (mmpb, a bit battered);
  • A reprint of Maxwell Grant's The Shadow (which I can't remember the title);
  • Another reprint of Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu (also can't remember the title); and
  • Several reprints of Capt. W.E. Johns' Biggles adventure series.

Wonder what's with all the reprints of the old pulp series?

9 comments:

Eldritch00 said...

And recently, people like Joe R. Lansdale, among several others, are gathering various authors for anthologies that also deal with that kind of pulp tradition...

Not at all pulpy, but I forgot to ask you if you've read James P. Blaylock's Night Relics and if it was as good as it seems to be. I saw a copy in the BookSale in the Shopwise Cubao building.

banzai cat said...

Yeah, that one sounds cool too. I know I should be snapping up these books considering how cheap they are (and JP did recommend Biggles once in his blog) but unfortunately, no money no honey.

As for Blaylock, I've read only one work The Last Coin and it was okay. However, I want to give him another chance because of his link with Tim Powers. Your call, I guess. Sorry.

Eldritch00 said...

My only encounter with Biggles was through this rather strange film from 1986, one of the first movies I saw on laser disc a year or two after. I have no idea if I'l still like it now, but I pretty much enjoyed it back then.

I haven't read Blaylock's stories with Powers, though I do have 13 Phantasms and Other Stories, which contains a couple of them. What I've read of Blaylock's shorts have been quite good, though I haven't read anything that suggests he can do a "creepy ghost story," and at novel-length at that.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

i once started The Rainy Season soon after finishing The Gormenghast Trilogy having heard of his 'atmospheric' writing, but it quickly fell by the wayside when i it didn't live up to my expectations...

still, from what i remember from what little i got to read, the writing was more than decent, 'creepy' in an 'atmospheric' sense, though not really creepy for me (i have a high creepiness quotient) and the book's 'falling by the wayside' was more likely the result of my reading mood at the time than the actual virtues of the book.

i know, that doesn't really help. just felt i had to throw something in as i'd had some experience with the dude's writing...

banzai cat said...

eldritch: Oooo, I remember that film. I think that when it came out here, it was called "Back to the Wars". Certainly, it had that pulpish goodness that appealed to a youngster like me when it first came out. Still, that bad review does explain the incongruence between Biggles' books and the time-traveling aspects of the movie.

Likewise, I once saw a copy of Blaylock's short story collection in NBS Mega but didn't pick it up. I've regretted it ever since. *sigh*

skinny: It does seem somehow that most of Blaylock's books available here point to that supposedly "atmospheric" writing. However, my first impression of his books is that they're pretty dense word-wise. (Ditto with his The Last Coin.) Still, I have a couple of his books on my to-be read pile for consideration.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

even more reason for you to make yourself a pauper:

Shriek: An Afterword is out. just hit the shelves at Powerbooks: P1275, hardbound, but if you catch the sale, only P1020.

banzai cat said...

Aw fuck. :-( Am glad that it's hit local shores but still, man, this one's gonna hurt the wallet.

*sigh*

skinnyblackcladdink said...

as it has mine... arg.

but hey, it's an investment, especially for an SF writer, as evidenced by my most recent experience...

banzai cat said...

Investments...

*sigh*

Speaking of which, one of my to-be investments petered out as I can't find a copy of Theodora Goss' book. Might have to order it. Grrr, just when I had the funds to get it already.