Great to be an oldie – new literature picks
The British magazine The Oldie has been bringing comfort and cheer to many over the two decades of its publication. It was founded by Richard Ingrams of Private Eye fame as an antidote to youth culture, but more importantly as a magazine with an emphasis on good writing, humour and quality illustration. Twenty years later it is still a success story. The anniversary has been marked by the publication of a celebratory book featuring some of the best writers, columnists, artists and cartoonists to have appeared in that august organ.
Many oldies who have read Dr Suess to their children and grandchildren will be surprised to learn that under all the fun, froth and bubble his stories pose serious philosophical and moral questions. This is perhaps a little subtle for a child to grasp but very interesting to an intellectually-inclined Grandma or Grandpa.
Dr. Seuss and philosophy : oh, the thinks you can think! / edited by Jacob M. Held.
“Since Theodore Geisel published his first children's book in 1937 under the pseudonym Dr. Seuss, children and adults alike have been captivated by the charming and laconic tales of whimsical characters and imaginative worlds. But Dr. Seuss's stories are more than just catchy poems; they often wrestle with serious philosophical and moral dilemmas, whether it is Horton discovering the very essence of life or the Lorax teaching us about morality. Dr. Seuss and Philosophy explores philosophical concepts such as the nature of the good life in Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, the nature of knowledge in McElligot's Pool, postmodernity in On Beyond Zebra, business and the environment in The Lorax, and moral character in How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, among many others. Anyone who loves Dr. Seuss or is interested in philosophy will find this book to be intriguing and enlightening.” – (adapted from Book jacket)
The best of The oldie, 1992-2012 : the first twenty years / with an introduction by Jeremy Lewis
“Published to coincide with the 20th anniversary of ‘The Oldie’, this book brings together the best of the magazine’s writers, columnists, artists and cartoonists in one bumper collection.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)
Writing from the inside out : transforming your psychological blocks to release the writer within / Dennis Palumbo.
“An engaging & insightful book that helps writers navigate the psychological issues of creative writing, based on the author’s popular “Writer’s Life” column.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The writers’ & artists’ yearbook guide to how to write : the essential guide for authors / Harry Bingham.
“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way – Ernest Hemingway. This book will tell you how to write novels and narrative non-fiction for publication. It is not a creative writing textbook, but teaches the core skills of story-telling: story, character, prose style, and a whole host of attendant tools that you’ll need in order to be successful and to please your agent, publisher and audience. It is designed for any novelist, or narrative non-fiction author, no matter what their genre or interest.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)
Writing the breakout novel / Donald Maass ; foreword by Anne Perry.
“This book explains the elements that all breakout novels share & shows readers how to use these elements to write a novel that will stand out within the crowded marketplace. A breakout novel is one that rises out of its category — such as literary fiction, mystery, romance, or thriller — and hits the bestseller lists. Maass explains the elements that all breakout novels share and shows readers how to use these elements to write a novel that has a good chance of succeeding in a crowded marketplace. They’ll learn to: — create a powerful and sweeping sense of time and place — develop larger-than-life characters — sustain a high degree of narrative tension from start to finish — weave sub-plots into the main action — explore universal themes that will interest a large audience of readers.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
In other worlds : SF and the human imagination / Margaret Atwood.
“At a time when speculative fiction seems less and less far-fetched, Margaret Atwood lends her distinctive voice and singular point of view to the genre in a series of essays that brilliantly illuminates the essential truths about the modern world. This is an exploration of her relationship with the literary form we have come to know as “science fiction,” a relationship that has been lifelong, stretching from her days as a child reader in the 1940s, through her time as a graduate student at Harvard, where she worked on the Victorian ancestor of the form, and continuing as a writer and reviewer.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Lives of the novelists : a history of fiction in 294 lives / John Sutherland.
“No previous author has attempted a book such as this: a complete history of novels written in the English language, from the genre’s seventeenth-century origins to the present day. In the spirit of Dr. JohnsonsLives of the Poets,acclaimed critic and scholar John Sutherland selects 294 writers whose works illustrate the best of every kind of fictionfrom gothic, penny dreadful, and pornography to fantasy, romance, and high literature. Each author was chosen, Professor Sutherland explains, because his or her books are well worth reading and are likely to remain so for at least another century. Sutherland presents these authors in chronological order, in each case deftly combining a lively and informative biographical sketch with an opinionated assessment of the writer’s work.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The complete poems of Philip Larkin / edited with an introduction and commentary by Archie Burnett.
“This entirely new edition brings together all of Philip Larkin’s poems. In addition to those in “Collected Poems” (1988), and in the “Early Poems and Juvenilia” (2005), some unpublished pieces from Larkin’s typescripts and workbooks are included, as well as verse (by turns scurrilous, satirical, affectionate, and sentimental) tucked away in his letters. The manuscript and printed sources have been scrutinized afresh; more detailed accounts than hitherto available of the sources of the text and of dates of composition are provided; and, previous accounts of composition dates have been corrected. Variant wordings from Larkin’s typescripts and the early printings are recorded. For the first time, the poems are given a comprehensive commentary. This draws critically upon, and substantially extends, the accumulated scholarship on Larkin, and covers closely relevant historical contexts, persons and places, allusions and echoes, and linguistic usage. Due prominence is given to the poet’s comments on his poems, which often outline the circumstances that gave rise to a poem, or state what he was trying to achieve. Larkin played down his literariness, but his poetry enrichingly alludes to and echoes the writings of many others; Archie Burnett’s commentary establishes him as a more complex and more literary poet than many readers have suspected.” – (adapted from Publisher’s summary)
Steering the craft : exercises and discussions on story writing for the lone navigator or the mutinous crew / Ursula K. Le Guin.
“One of the great writers of the twentieth century offers an exhilarating workout for writers of narrative fiction or nonfiction. With her sharp mind and wit and a delightful sense of playfulness, Le Guin has turned a successful workshop into a self-guided voyage of discovery for a writer working alone, a writing group, or a class. Steering the Craft is concerned with the basic elements of narrative: how a story is told, what moves it and what clogs it. This book does not plod through plot, character, beginning-middle-and-end. Nor does it discuss writing as self-expression, as therapy, or as spiritual adventure. Each topic includes examples that clarify and exercises that intensify awareness of the techniques of storytelling.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)