Monday, September 07, 2015

the early-21st-century blog post of raw sexual frenzy

A couple of brief follow-up points from the last book review: firstly I should have noted that The French Lieutenant's Woman won a couple of literary awards, notably the now-defunct WH Smith Literary Award in 1970. The Shooting Party was the other recipient of that award to appear on this list.

Secondly, my old second-hand early-1970s paperback edition of the book carries a fairly sombre black cover with a detail from Richard Redgrave's 1844 painting The Governess, currently on display in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Just in case that was a bit downbeat for you, though, the whole thing is jazzed up a bit by carrying the following legend:

You know, with the best will in the world I'm not sure that's really an accurate description of what the book's about, or, at least, that description would lead you to expect a bit more, y'know, action than the page or so that the reader actually gets. Just as the description of the protagonist of Algis Budrys' Who? in the film version (aka Roboman) as THE KILL MACHINE WITH THE MEGATON MIND seemed to be trying too hard to sell what was actually some quite cerebral source material, this seems to be trying to knock out a few copies to unsuspecting lovers of bog-standard Victorian bodice-rippers, most of whom would (I suspect) have been sorely disappointed.

Similarly I always thought the chosen tag-line for the excellent Serenity - "They aim to misbehave" - was a bit of a strange choice, since it conjures up a bit of an image of a band of wacky space loonies having zany adventures. And in a sense that's what does happen, but for all the humorous moments it's a film with some deadly serious points to make, and if you were led to expect Spaceballs, well, again, disappointment is the most likely outcome. Then again that's the most likely outcome if you actually watch Spaceballs, too, so maybe it doesn't matter.

Lastly, here's an interesting interview with John Fowles from the Paris Review in the mid-1980s. There's a lot of interesting material in the Paris Review's Art Of Fiction series available online, including similarly in-depth interviews with a number of authors who have featured on this blog, including Vladimir Nabokov, Jonathan Franzen, Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Don DeLillo, Haruki Murakami, Jack KerouacGabriel García Márquez, Salman RushdieJoan Didion, Joyce Carol Oates, Hilary MantelWilliam Gibson and probably many others.

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