The Wake; Paul Kingsnorth -- The Norman invasion of 1066 as seen from the point of view of a deluded, egotistical farmer whose sanity and world crumbles as a result of the invasion. Written in a 'shadow tongue' of olde english, this is a really interesting piece of literary ventriloquism. Kingsnorth's sort-of-sequel Beast is also worth a look.
Better Call Saul -- The excellent character study, spun off from Breaking Bad, continues.
Paul Kingsnorth is marvellous - I am totally in sympathy with his non-fiction and his philosophy (including the Dark Mountain project), but the fact that The Wake is written in "a 'shadow tongue' of olde English" has put me off it. I hate trying to read books in dialect of any sort. I might give Beast a try though, if it isn't in dialect.
I agree on Better Call Saul, but - goodness me - Chuck is almost a worse villain than The Archers' Rob Tichener! Poor Jimmy!
The Wake is a fairly challenging read, but after a while I found that I fell into the rhythm of the speech and immerse myself in the story without too many trips to the glossary. The closest experience I can think of is reading A Clockwork Orange for the first time. Initially, it appears indecipherable, but eventually you pick up the key words and the rest comes from context. Beast is arguably a tougher read, being the mostly subjective ramblings of a shattered man, written with an, um, eccentric approach to punctuation.
Thanks for the post Pulphack, interesting stuff! I can't remember if I've posted this before, but this is a list of publishers acquired by Random House and whose records are in the Random House archive:
I have to say James that this is one of the saddest documents I can remember clapping eyes on in many a day. Its like reading one of those roll calls to the fallen of the world wars. Only here the perished names didn't die in the cause of freedom but were instead sacrificed to the interest of corporate greed. All those grand old imprints gobbled up and expunged from the marketplace. And all to what end? So that some soulless conglomerate can perpetuate itself both by extinguishing competition and cut costs by circulating cheap shoddily made alternatives in their place. Heartbreaking stuff really.
I took a New Year's ramble around Bloomsbury the other day and whilst ambling around Bedford Square it was impossible not to think of all the publishers who at one time or another boasted it as their address. There was New English Library at # 47 for instance. Most poignantly for me though was # 30 where Jonathan Cape had residence for many years. Impossible to stand on those steps and not think of Ian Fleming bounding up to the black door to visit his publisher. Or even John Blackburn come to that. Somehow that utilitarian monstrosity on the Vauxhall Bridge Road just doesn't lend itself to similarly wistful thinking.
James, thanks for that list - I don't think you have posted the full list before. I notice Howard Baker is on there! I was told many years ago by George Mann that all the paperwork had been burnt in the garden by Bill Baker's son Alex after he died, but maybe if they acquired the imprint RH have a set of paperwork that could be worth researching - I will follow this up when I have time. I note other publishers whose dodgy hardbacks have passed through my hands at one time or another on that list. A lot of extremely iffy crime novels have passed through those portals. I suspect that's why I've never written a good novel, really - I was schooled in terrible habits by reading too many bad ones.
To return briefly (I promise) to library publishers, it should be noted that Robert Hale are the only ones who are still around, and still actually produce genre fiction as an independent publisher. They do new and reprint westerns, and new and reprint crime fiction. Terrible money, though - years ago, when he was still heading the company (he's retired or passed away now, I fear) John Hale advised me not to write for him as a professional as they only really paid 'hobbyist's wages', though he was good enough to add that this was not reflective of the quality - it does seems that a lot of their writers are retired pro writers who can't stop scribbling but aren't too bothered about the cash at this stage of the game.
I only have one Wright & Brown book, Gerald Verner's 'I Am Death' , from 1963. It's fun, but reads like it was written thirty years earlier than the copyright date, so I suspect it may be one of his recycled jobs, from earlier years. Bizarrely, you can actually get more of his books now that you have for years, thanks to Linwood Mystery, a large-print library house who appear to have acquired the rights to a lot of really old mystery novels (I suspect the hand of Phil Harbottle in this, as they have a lot of John Russell Fearn, as well as John Newton Chance) over the last ten years. You can pick up Verner's 'Q Squad' for less than three quid with postage off the internet, which is amusing when you consider that you would have had to have paid silly money for an old hardback just a few years before, as it had been out of print for over seventy years!
I notice Howard Baker is on there! I was told many years ago by George Mann that all the paperwork had been burnt in the garden by Bill Baker's son Alex after he died, but maybe if they acquired the imprint RH have a set of paperwork that could be worth researching - I will follow this up when I have time.
That's a good point. I have mailed the RH archives at Rushden with an initial enquiry - my concern is not about manuscripts and authors per se, but about the company itself - if Howard Baker the publisher incorporated Press Editorial the company that preceded it, then this means that RH would own the Richard Quintain and - more importantly - the Guardians series, which could be useful in terms of getting rights to reprint or to reboot the series for another medium. As the IP would be corporate owned, then there would be no estates involved and so in theory they should be able to help me? Have you come across a situation like this in your researches, James? Any experiences would be useful information!
Have you come across a situation like this in your researches, James? Any experiences would be useful information!
In my experience publishers are happy to provide info and even copy records, though contracts and commercial information are a different kettle of fish. I'm sure they'll help you out as much as they can.
Thanks, James. In fact they've already been back to me, having uncovered a lot of paperwork relating to HB and Random House itself, but so far nothing relating to Press Ed and rights - maybe George Mann was right all those years ago, and Bill Baker's son really did burn everything he could lay his hands on! They're very prompt and efficient at RH, I must say. Nice chap called Thomas dealt with me.
Martin Stone - in amongst all the other deaths last year, I note Mr Stone passed away. Book and antiquarian dealer, Sufi mystic and eccentric, and shot-hot guitarist (most notably Mighty Baby and Chilli Willi & The Red Hot Peppers, but also The Action, Savoy Brown, The Pink Fairies and Stones Masonry) he was a one-off who I regret never accosting when I last saw him a few years back, talking to Moorcock and Iain Sinclair after they (and Alan Moore) had been 'in discussion' at the library at Bishopsgate. Somewhere on here, Michel Parry relates the rigours of having to try and edit in a downstairs room while Stone & Phillip Lithman turned up their amps and rehearsed a Chilli Willi set in the room above. With all three now gone, I'd like to think there is some ethereal space where Michel is banging on a Notting Hill ceiling while Stone weaves through the guitar solo on 'Desert Island Woman' (cf track three, side one of 'Bongos Over Balham')...
Here's Michel's first hand account of the episode. Bedabbled!
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
The best new / recent horror novels I read were Paul Tremblay’s “A Head Full of Ghosts” (a real punch to the gut of a novel), Gemma Files’ “Experimental Film” (I’m always a sucker for horror stories about cinema) and John Langan’s “The Fisherman”.
Also enjoyed two novels by Paul Tremblay (A Headful of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil's Rock), and Gemma Files' Experimental Film.
I put my trust in these recommendations and read Experimental Film. They didn't lead me astray. The novel tells a creative--and creepy--story about a film critic/scholar researching a series of century-old films made by a woman who mysteriously disappeared from a train. Files draws on a myth I'd never encountered before (I had to look it up to make sure it was real): the Wendish legend of Lady Midday.
I've already ordered a copy of Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts.
A Head Full of Ghosts is genuinely disturbing, and definitely one of the best horror novels I've read in the past few years. It's a bit like if The Exorcist had been written by Shirley Jackson.
I read his collection of short stories (Growing Things) more recently but they didn't leave much impression, and neither did his next novel (The Cabin At The End Of The World) - but I'm not really a fan of apocalyptic scenarios in horror stories.
Also enjoyed two novels by Paul Tremblay (A Headful of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil's Rock)
I found A Head Full of Ghosts irresistible. Tremblay takes a fun concept--a reality television show about an exorcism--and turns it into tense, haunting tale. The cast is great, particularly the narrator (who is inspired by, and named after, my all-time favorite fictional character: Merricat from Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle).