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Books | Anorak - Part 6

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The latest books and literature reviews, comment, features and interviews, with extracts from famous texts and neglected gems.

Thick Bible Stops Bullets From Killing Man (Kindle Too Thin)

TO Dayton, Ohio, where bus driver Ricky Wagoner, 49, has been shot once in the leg and twice in the Bible he keeps in his breast pocket.
Saved by the Good Book. Wagoner went for his three assailants, stabbing one with his pen. When one dropped the weapon, Waggoner picked it up and fired at the trio.
(The pen is indeed mightier than the gun.)

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Posted: 26th, February 2014 | In: Books, Strange But True | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Sick and Full of Burning: 13 Regrettable BookTitles

FAR be it from me to stifle creativity – an author should be able to title their work as he or she likes.  However, there is a limit to my tolerance.  Sometimes, the title is so  terrible that it simply must go; creativity be damned.  Here’s a handful of vintage reads which suffer from just such an affliction.

 

12 Chinks and Woman by James Hadley Chase (1941)

 

12 CHINKS AND A WOMAN by James Hadley Chase - 1948

 

I understand people weren’t as sensitive to racial issues back then, but this is ridiculous.  The novel’s title was later changed to The Doll’s Bad News; a wise move, but you can’t undo this level of epic racism.  This from the author who gave us these other great titles: The Marijuana Mob (1950), There’s a Hippie on the Highway (1970) and Goldfish Have No Hiding Place (1974).

 

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Posted: 26th, February 2014 | In: Books, Flashback, Key Posts | Comments (6) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Great Moments in Phallic Occurrences

HERE are a few vintage phallic instances (either real or inferred) which have gained a bit of notoriety over the years. Read on – your inner idiot will thank you.

 

1. THE RIFLEMAN’S LOG

rifleman10

 

This Rifleman comic book has experienced a certain degree of notoriety for what can only be described as a horrifically uncomfortable cover.  How is it possible that the subtext went unnoticed before printing?  Looking through old magazines, comic books, etc. it’s easy to stumble onto accidental phallic imagery.  Perhaps it’s because they weren’t as jaded as we are these days, always finding the tawdry in the innocent.  Or maybe published adverts and illustrations generally weren’t as polished, edited and re-edited as they are today.  Who knows?   Yet, the phallic nature of this one seems so extreme, it couldn’t possibly have been missed by even the most obtrusively naive,… right?

 

 

2. THREEPIO’S UNIT

c3po card

 

This Star Wars trading card has also received some well-earned notoriety.  It appears that C-3PO is sporting a golden metallic erection of impressive proportions.  The robot was supposed to be a “protocol droid”, but this picture has one wondering if C-3PO had other useful functions not fit for a family movie.  According to the official Star Wars site:

It appears that the extra appendage is not the work of an artist, but rather a trick of timing and light…. At the exact instant the photo was snapped, a piece fell off the Threepio costume and just happened to line up in such a way as to suggest a bawdy image.

According to Snopes, whether this was intentional or not remains undetermined.

 

3. SEARS CATALOG PROTRUSION

 

searscatalog602-thumb-500x1423-thumb-300x853

 

This unfortunate event occurred in the 1975 Sears Fall/Winter catalog.  Extending below the boxer shorts emerges what appears to be a glimpse of this model’s manhood.  A lot of squinting, enlarging, and Photoshop exploration has occurred over the years trying to get this mysterious object into focus.  Can it truly be what we think it is?  Or is it simply a smudge?  We may never really know.

This phallic incident even inspired a novelty song “The Man on Page 602” by Zoot Fenster, released not long after the catalog was published.

 

“The picture’s got me out of sorts, because I don’t understand,
Are they advertising boxer shorts, or are they trying to sell the man?”

 

 

4. THREE’S COMPANY SCROTAL EXPOSURE

Threes-Company

 

God knows, shorts certainly lived up to their name in the 1970s.  So, you can hardly fault John Ritter for what took place in episode 161 of Three’s Company.  In this now infamous sitcom episode, he takes a seat on a bed and in the process reveals portions of his junk for the camera. If you blink you miss it, and it’s not exactly in high definition either…. But, make no mistake, Ritter’s naughty bits are definitely there. The incident yielded one of my favorite quotes of all time. When asked by The New York Observer whether they should edit the scene for future broadcasts, Ritter responded:

“I’ve requested that Nickelodeon air both versions, edited and unedited, because sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t.”

 

 

5. POPSICLE OF SHAME

Skysicle

I present to you this highly troubling Evel Knievel Popsicle ad.  It hasn’t garnered any notoriety yet, but it’s high time it did.   Spread the word.

 

THE END

superman

 

More here.

 

Posted: 25th, February 2014 | In: Books, Flashback, Key Posts, TV & Radio | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


I Was Julian Assange’s Ghost Writer: The Fantastic Story Of ‘Swedish Whores, Pentagon Bores And Being Hitler

PA-10599987

 

 

ANDREW  O’Hagan’s wonderful essay on ghost writing Julian Assange’s autobiography is better than any book on the Wikileak’s puiblisher.

Highlights from it are:

Assange didn’t want to write the book himself but didn’t want the book’s ghostwriter to be anybody who already knew a lot about him. I told Jamie that I’d seen Assange at the Frontline Club the year before, when the first WikiLeaks stories emerged, and that he was really interesting but odd, maybe even a bit autistic. Jamie agreed, but said it was an amazing story. ‘He wants a kind of manifesto, a book that will reflect this great big generational shift.’

At 5.30 the next day Jamie arrived at my flat with his editorial colleague Nick Davies. (Mental health warning: there are two Nick Davies in this story. This one worked for Canongate; the second is a well-known reporter for the Guardian.) They had just come back on the train from Norfolk. Jamie said that Assange had poked his eye with a log or something, so had sat through three hours of discussion with his eyes closed.

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Posted: 22nd, February 2014 | In: Books, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Worst Books Ever: Sex And The Single Child And The I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl!

vintage sexism

 

IN 1970 Whitney Darrow created I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl!

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Posted: 19th, February 2014 | In: Books, Flashback | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Browse Harry Houdini’s Magical Sprapbooks

PA-8625723

 

THANKS to the digitisation and Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, we can browse scrapbooks owned by the great Harry Houdini  (1891-1926). The University has had the archives in its possession since 1958. But only now are they on the web, and free to view.

 

houdini posters

 

The scrapbooks are full of adverts, stories, and reviews on Houdini’s twin passions: magic and spiritualism. It’s great to think of Houdini and his peers selecting item for inclusion, then sticking them into place, editing the story of magic and live showbiz in the first two decades of the 20th Century.

Everyone should like collecting and sticking things in books with an artistic flourish. These books create wonderful memories of your life and your view of the world. They reveal what delighted you, what you did and what made you think.

 

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Posted: 16th, February 2014 | In: Books, Celebrities, Flashback | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


On This Day In Photos: Iran Orders Salman Rushdie To Be Murdered For Writing A Book

Indian-born writer Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, shown in his London study on Jan. 31,1988

Indian-born writer Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, shown in his London study on Jan. 31,1988

 

ON this day in photos: February 14 1989:  Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khomeini sentences British author Salman Rushdie to death. He also sentenced to death the publishers of Rushdie’s book the Satanic Verses. Khomeni said the book is a blasphemy against Islam. His decree introduced many of us to the word ‘fatwa’.

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Posted: 14th, February 2014 | In: Books, Celebrities, Flashback, Key Posts | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Daniel Defoe Reports The Great Storm of 1704

The destruction of the Eddystone Lighthouse

The destruction of the Eddystone Lighthouse

 

HOW bad are the storms pummelling the British Isles?

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Posted: 13th, February 2014 | In: Books, Flashback | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Read a Highly Distressing Coloring Book from 1953

lastscan01

 

THE point of this colouring book was to teach the youngsters of 1953 good safety lessons via the alphabet.  From a perspective of 60 years later, some of these lessons seem, well, I think “distressing” is the best word I can come up with. See for yourself.

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Posted: 13th, February 2014 | In: Books, Flashback, Key Posts | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Weasels Ripped My Flesh! 10 Awesome Pulp Headlines

IS there anything better than a mid-century men’s action magazine?  They were chock full of lurid stories and provocative artwork depicting female biker gangs, nympho pirates, Gestapo dominatrices, etc.  If it fulfilled a macho fantasy, it was fair game, and the headlines beckoned men to go along for the ride.  Here are ten worthy examples.

 

THE MAN WHO TOUCHED OFF PHILADELPHIA’S GREAT BOSOM RIOT

Male, Sept. 1959

232_male59sep kunstler

I’m a mild mannered, peaceful kind of guy – not much into protests and insurrection.  That being said, a “bosom riot” is something I could get behind.

 

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Posted: 7th, February 2014 | In: Books, Flashback, Key Posts | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Hear How Ice T Read The’Deep Nerd’ Dungeons & Dragons Audiobook

Parental advice: This is not how to hold a sword

Parental advice: This is not how to hold a sword

 

HOW do you follow Cop Killer and date night with the well upholstered Coco Austin? If you’re Ice-T you create an audiobook for Dungeons & Dragons.

In Ice T’s Final Level Podcast, the rapper tell how unprepared he was got the job.

“They didn’t tell me this was a motherfu**in’ Dungeons & Dragons book… [it’s] some of the most crazy, deep, deep nerd shit.Motherfu**ers talk like Yoda. They were talking about ‘pegasuses’ and ‘pegasi.’ That’s horses with wings. This motherfu**er got a sword that talks to him… Motherfuckers live in places that don’t exist, and it comes with a map. My God.”

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Posted: 6th, February 2014 | In: Books, Celebrities | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


How To Behave In 1920s New York: An Illustrated Guide

VISITORS to 1920s NYC  could study the Valentine’s City of New York: A Guide Book. As any reader of P.G. Wodehouse’s Psmith, Journalist will now full well, New York was a dangerous place back then, overrun by gangs, slum landlords and shysters.

 

Screen shot 2014-01-27 at 16.34.35

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Posted: 27th, January 2014 | In: Books, Flashback, Key Posts | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


A Field Guide to 1970s Men’s Sweaters

WITH so many “important things” going on the world, why spend time looking at forty year old sweaters?  Simply put, the brain needs a break from the barrage of jarring images of a world on the brink.  A tour of 70s men’s sweaters is exactly what the doctor ordered.

So, sit back, relax and enjoy a cornucopia of magnificent vintage sweaters.  And you’re welcome.

006

Left: I’m not a fashion connoisseur, but I do have a general rule of thumb:  Avoid sweater vests with built in belts.

Center:  Add a cape and it’s almost superhero-like.  Don’t for a minute think that superheroes are somehow above sweaters when they have no problem prancing around in Spandex unitards.

Right: Looks like he just stole Janis Joplin’s belongings.  Poor sap. Her sweaty clothes are probably so saturated with drugs, he’ll be dead soon.

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Posted: 14th, January 2014 | In: Books, Flashback, Key Posts | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


In 1933 Helen Keller Wrote This Open Letter To German Students Planning To Burn ‘Un-German’ Books

Miss Helen Keller, probably the most famous blind woman in the world, photographed in New York City on Oct. 29, 1931 with a bust of herself sculptured by count Hans-Albrecht Hafrach of Munich, Germany. The bust was presented to the American Foundation for the Blind by M.C. Migel, president of the American Foundation for the Blind, to pay a tribute to the work of Miss Keller for the organization.

Miss Helen Keller, probably the most famous blind woman in the world, photographed in New York City on Oct. 29, 1931 with a bust of herself sculptured by count Hans-Albrecht Hafrach of Munich, Germany. The bust was presented to the American Foundation for the Blind by M.C. Migel, president of the American Foundation for the Blind, to pay a tribute to the work of Miss Keller for the organization.

 

IN 1933, German students planned to burn “Un-German” books. Helen Keller wrote this open letter to the students:

“History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas…”

helen keller letter to germans

 

Posted: 12th, January 2014 | In: Books, Flashback | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Enid Blyton’s Least Popular Novel

ENID Blyton didn’t just write for children. She wrote this Famous Five pot-boiler about four felons and a devil dog:

enid blyton sussex
Spotter: martin kelner ‏@martinkelner3 Dec

 

Posted: 11th, January 2014 | In: Books, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Highlights From The Book Witnessing Made Easy: How to Pass Out Tracts for Jesus

jesus

 

JERRY Keever’s 1986 books Witnessing Made Easy: How to Pass Out Tracts for Jesus is a gem. This is passive aggressive preaching from 1986.

We’ve got some highlights from its 319 pages of dogmatic wonderment.

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Posted: 7th, January 2014 | In: Books, Key Posts | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


How To Tell Good People From Bad People According To The International Order of The Golden Rule

THE International Order of The Golden Rule is a funeral homes organisation based in Austin, Texas. On their website filed under “history”, they tell us:

To a group of funeral directors in 1928, the “Golden Rule” – a fundamental principle that is universally admired and upheld – became the cornerstone upon which to built a professional association.

The founders embarked on a mission to seek out a dependable, ethical funeral directors in every community by means of a carefully tested screening process. They wanted to establish a quality-minded identity in the minds of families everywhere. The Golden Rule credo – “Service measured not by gold, but by the Golden Rule” – speaks to that identity.

And:

Each Golden Rule® Funeral Home must show a commitment to provide to their client families: “Service measured not by gold but by the Golden Rule.”

So. What is the Golden Rule? We never do get to nail it down. Under “STandards of Ethical Conduct”, we get not one rule but 10 rules.  We also see their name printed on this booklet called “How To Tell Good People From Bad People”.

good people

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Posted: 1st, January 2014 | In: Books, Flashback, Strange But True | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Amazon Is Banning Sales Of Virginia Wade’s Monster Smut e-Books

MY Little Pony filth has nothing on this kind of cryptozoological smut. E’ve shown you dinoraur erotica before. Now Business Insider says Amazon is looking to ban “monster p*rn” e-books. Anyone read Cum for Bigfoot? Some of you have because author and mum-of-two Virginia Wade* says that 12,000-word tome earns her $30,000 a month.

monster smut

For those of you versed in Wade’s works:

An idea to write a campy, teen horror-fest, with a Sasquatch protagonist, led to the creation of Cum For Bigfoot, which is essentially a series of stories spanning several years in the lives of a tribe of Bigfoots and their human lovers. The silliness, the romance, and the sex struck a chord with readers, who enjoyed the adventures of Porsche, Shelly, and Leslie, while the kidnapped teens came to love their hairy abductors. The series is now on its fourteenth installment, with more to follow.

How can Porsche leave all of this behind and return to civilization? When she’s in the arms of her Sasquatch, warm and snuggly in his matted fur, the only thoughts going through her mind are of utter bliss. But challenges abound for the star-crossed lovers, including Leonard’s head injury, a devastating wildfire, and a sexy forest ranger named Mike. Will these obstacles shatter the growing love between an ape and its mate or will true love triumph?

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Posted: 29th, December 2013 | In: Books, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


J.G. Ballard: The Death Of Imagination

J.G. Ballard on boredom and the death of imagination:

Posted: 29th, December 2013 | In: Books | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Library Rules of The Insane Asylum of California (1861)

stockton_state asylum

THESE are the Library Rules of the Insane Asylum of California (1861):

1. The Library of the male department shall be under the charge of the Supervisor. Every volume taken therefrom shall be charged to the borrower, except for the use of the patients, when it shall be charged to the Attendant, into whose ward it is taken, who will be responsible for its being used with ordinary care and returned in proper time.

2. If a volume shall be lost or destroyed, by any patient, the Attendant, having charge of the patient, will report the fact to the Supervisor, and, if practicable, exhibit the fragments. If lost or destroyed, by any other person, it must be replaced.

3. No one will be permitted to take from the library more than one volume at a time, or to keep a volume more than two weeks, without permission from the Superintendent or Assistant Physician, except Bibles, Testaments and Prayer books placed in the hands of the patients for daily reading.

4. The Supervisor will be responsible for books taken from the library and not charged.

5. The Library of the female department will be under the charge of the Matron, who, in its management, will be governed by the above rules, prescribing the duties and responsibilities of the Supervisor.

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Posted: 29th, December 2013 | In: Books, Flashback | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Extreme Dieting: Keith Moon Versus Hunter S Thompson

Keith Moon, the eccentric drummer of The Who, at Heathrow Airport with his girlfriend Annette Walker-Lax, on return from the United States. PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Keith Moon, the eccentric drummer of The Who, at Heathrow Airport with his girlfriend Annette Walker-Lax, on return from the United States. 

THE late Keith Moon was once asked whether he thought he was the greatest drummer in the world, he replied: “I’m the greatest Keith Moon-style drummer in the world”, and no one can argue with that. However Moon is just as famous, even today, for packing in far more than his fair share of convivial nights during his short eventful life. He died in September 1978 just two weeks after his 32nd birthday when he fell unconscious, never to wake up, in the Mayfair flat of his close-friend Harry Nilsson. Coincidentally, it was the very same bed where Mama Cass Elliot had died four years earlier.

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Posted: 27th, December 2013 | In: Books, Celebrities, Key Posts, Music | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The Six Best Books of the Year 2013

Madame Arcati’s Six Best Books of the Year 2013

Who isn’t trying to flog a book these days? Independent publishing is fracking vast quantities of creative gas long ignored under our nose. Kindles everywhere are growing slow on free and cheap literary downloads, perhaps one day to be read when the kids or pets have flown and the only alternative to a heart-warming phone chat with one of Esther Rantzen’s Silver Line Friends is that book you meant to read 20 years ago.Excellent books are there to be found, and here’s Madame Arcati’s brief guide to the six best this festive season (all titles hyper-linked to Amazon):

 

Madame Arcati’s Most Excellent Book of the Year 

A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof by Roger Clarke

A-Natural-History-of-GhostsDivine, darling. Or, as Craig Revel Horwood might say if not too busy eyeing up male dancer buttock curvature, ‘fab-u-larse!’ Published last year, the paperback released a few weeks ago, this is by far the most fascinating survey of paranormal sightings and encounters I have ever read.

Ingenuity starts at concept stage. Clarke sets out not to debate whether ghosts exist. He is much more interested in the anthropology of spectral experiences and research – or put another way, in relating true-life ghost tales, the ‘scientific’ attempts to understand them and in classifying the different types of spook: elementals, poltergeists, etc.

This is clever and fortuitous because Clarke knows he’d lose most of his mainstream critical audience if he entertained the notion, even for a moment, that ghosts exist as sentient post-mortem entities. One feature of secularism and atheism is the absolute conviction that life starts and ends with synaptic crackle ‘n’ pop. But there’s no question people have ghostly liaisons. I have seen a ghost. You probably have. Pliny wrote of a haunted house in 100 AD. The materialist will flesh out any unscientific explanation-away provided no concession is made to afterlife drivel. The winner is not rationalism but a replacement irrationalism.

Clarke knows all this as a veteran Poirot of psychical inquiry. So instead he sits us down by a log fire, creeps us out with weird tales, documents the countless vain attempts to solve the mystery of hauntings and treats the topic (of ghosts) as an aspect of immemorial human experience.

Clarke writes tremendously well – an essential component of any effects-driven tale both to satisfy the Bunsen burner know-all and trembly Susan Hill addict. The slightest hint of irony here and there gives sceptics their calorific fill while oo-ee-oo narrative pleases the rest of us. He is unafraid of the plodding nature of prose, the focus on patient set-ups – Gore Vidal called this vital writerly process ‘grazing’. The cow’s temperament is vital to story-telling.

I also commend Clarke’s end notes which combine scholarly learning with a sly sense of humour. At the very least you end up sceptically well-informed and enthralled.

 

 

Madame Arcati’s Most Promising Foreplay Read of 2014

The View from the Tower by Charles Lambert

TowerOne of the joys of reading is the foreplay. Before immersion I like to examine covers, read blurbs, savour hints in reviews or previews, gaze at the author pic (if any), perhaps tantalise myself with a glimpse of the first and last pages (I am intolerant of sequence and secrets – no author will control moi). Charles Lambert is new to me, I have not read his fiction yet; but we are engaged in foreplay (one-sidedly I hasten to add). I am sampling his work at present. I intend to go all the way with his novelThe View from the Tower, published on 2 January 2014.

This is the second in a Rome-set trilogy, so really I ought to consummate with the first in the series,Any Human Face (published in 2011). ‘A dark and fast-paced literary thriller about love, sex, art and death,’ is the terse description. I have the book in front of me. On the cover, a slim man in a black suit gazes warily up an ancient alleyway. An old-style pale blue motor scooter before him startles the period monochrome. Is the man hunting or being hunted? I don’t know.

I may read Any Human Face first. It has Malaysian nuns killing time at a second-hand bookstall – a sufficiently kinky observation to grab my attention. I suspect Lambert notices much that is surprising. I can smell his curiosity and his taste for the perverse.The View from the Tower is  ‘a psychological thriller about love and betrayal, and the damage done when ideals and human lives come into conflict.’ But I suspect it’s rich in peculiar detail, too. That’s what I want. Isn’t foreplay fun?

 

 

Madame Arcati’s Best Poppet Book of the Year 2013

Sleeping With Dogs: A Peripheral Autobiography by Brian Sewell

dogsI just know I would hate art critic Brian Sewell in person. That face, fixed in a state of appalled shock. That voice, strangled to last-breath whine by an odd form of hostile genteelness – the sharp chip in the Whittard of Chelsea teacup rim. In death his visage will slowly, ineluctably draw into one final pull of grotesque disapproval, perhaps impossible in life, now achievable by the new physics of rot. Not even Tracey Emin’s art could trigger such a look.

Yet even a glorious c**t has his good side. Should you have a tail, a long tongue and a readiness to shit in public – Brian’s all yours. Preferably, you will not bore him with actual speech but simply advertise your wants with a growl and a howl. Brian has loved 17 doggies and there’s little they can do to sour his canine fetish. One bark and I’m already thinking of RSPCA extermination. But Brian loves the constant music of dog – and the relentless me-ism, the diva presumptions, the bad breath and foul turds. Why, he has four dogs at a time in his bed.

Brian is probably correct in thinking that dogs share with us the same range of emotions, hence the peculiar show that is Crufts. What perhaps he adores about them is their immediacy and lack of guile, that unmediated need for a cuddle and a scoff and walkies that requires nothing more from us than basic delivery followed by unconditional gratitude (the dog’s).

How can one fail to be ensorcelled by evidence of the total collapse of Brian’s default snobbery and disdain in the presence of his best friends? Meanwhile, dog walkers should continue to place street dog turd in plastic bags. Such sights please me no end.

 

 

Madame Arcati’s Most Wondair Book of the Year 2013

The Mitford Girls’ Guide to Life by Lyndsy Spence

Mitford Girls CoverI reviewed this delightful book back in August (clickhere) and am not in the least surprised at its success. It’s quirky, quintessentially English (which is odd because Lyndsy is Irish – I think), a guide and etiquette book of sorts but also a wallow in 20th Century interwar eccentricity. Daffy is another word that comes to mind.

Lyndsy has gutted the lives of the Mitford girls and turned them into parables, bullet point social codes and how-to guidance to live this life successfully. From Unity’s fixation on and pursuit of Hitler we learn:  ‘Don’t rush head first into an encounter with your idol as this will label you as another fan. Edge your way in slowly and discreetly.’ This example does raise a question over the precise location of Lyndsy’s tongue at times (in cheek, perhaps?) but there is sufficient quantity of information on the Mitford lives to reassure on overall deadpan purpose. Certainly I learnt a great deal more about the Mitties.

Lyndsy Spence is an author to watch. She is very young – and driven by a passion for old school glamour and style. Not only has she founded The Mitford Society with a large following but she has found time to release the first of the The Mitford Societyannuals which comprises many features and essays on the aristocratic clan. One piece is authored by me – I take you to the Arcati Horoscope Revue Bar where we learn more about the astrology of the gels as stripper potential is appraised. It’s all done in the best possible taste.

 

 

Madame Arcati’s Most Peculiar Novel Award 2013Death Flies, Missing Girls and Brigitte Bardot by Kenneth George King

death fliesQuite the oddest book I ever did read is this outré and outrageous nugget which bears the name Kenneth George King. Call me a spoilsport but one may as well know that the author is Eurovision’s very own bastard son and general vile perv, Jonathan King – the man who gave us Everyone’s Gone To The Moon. This fact alone will cause certain flowers to wilt. But hardier annuals and the odd cactus or two will be rewarded in their staying power. By the end of this book you will be dreaming about flies, naked boys and sex stars and other causes of ruin. JK has well and truly gone over to the surreal side – and the result is something most interesting.

Now that we live in a world of Twitter and gnomic ejaculation, King has produced what seems like a cut-up novel thrown together kaleidoscopically for attention deficit consumption. This is not quite Burroughs cut-up style but the many autobiographical bits strewn through the narrative have a snip-snip-paste quality. We learn quite a lot about prisons, Arab straight boys who like homosex, Barbara Windsor, a bit about Bardot of course and her right-wing husband, and, oh, glam hot places where JK goes for his hols. And about police procedure.

But what’s it all abaht? Well, yes. Good question. There is indeed a car accident in Morocco. And girls go missing in England, as the blurb promises. A killer lurks and plots and an old ‘superb’ detective sniffs. Flies offer clues of sorts. Different voices tell us what they see and do, not all of their perspectives entirely relevant; but always fascinating. That’s what it’s all abaht.

We are told on the cover that the novel has been submitted for the Man Booker Prize 2014. If an astrology novel can win, so can this.

 

 

Madame Arcati’s Novella of the Year 2013You’re Never Too Old by Fiona Pitt-Kethley
 

too oldThe world could do with a few more Fiona Pitt-Kethleys. Here’s a woman who could give Boudicca a run for her money. I love her poetry. I adore the stories about her. Non-payers will soon discover what I mean. You cross Fiona at your peril. She lives in Spain with her chess champion husband and family and cats. She cooks.

Here’s the thing about her very short novel, available only on Kindle at 77p. It’s not about James Bond – it can’t be because the Ian Fleming estate wouldn’t permit it. No siree. No, let’s get this straight. It’s not about Bond, James Bond. It’s about James Round – a retired spy. The sort of ‘feisty oldie’ Fiona worships. Perhaps Round sees himself as a latter-day Bond. We all have our dreams. In another universe I’m a pop star. Friends with Michael.

Anyway, Round is ancient. He’s stuck in some cold hovel in Scotland. He longs to get back to his old life of action, double agenting and leg-overing nubile pin-ups. A chance meeting re-opens up his life and before you know it he’s on a spying mission to a spa in Israel with senile drunken secretary Penny. Oh the fun we have. Round ain’t passed it. It’s treble dry Martinis all round.

I love Pitt-Kethley’s droll, throw-away humour, the teasing satire and the hopeful moral for the silver surfers. Saga magazine should serialise this tale. You’ll smile and you’ll laugh.

 

You can get your hands on the Madame’s book her – please do.

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Posted: 19th, December 2013 | In: Books, Key Posts | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0