Sunday, September 30, 2012

AS Byatt at her Best

Just finished this book a short while ago. Normally I wouldn't read AS Byatt as she's so self-consciously and tediously 'intellectual' and so obviously aims to show off her knowledge. She's also the green-eyed writer who attacked JK Rowling and Rowling's adult readers - google Harry Potter and the Goblet of Bile, lol. But I liked the cover of this book and I was told it's based on the life of E. Nesbit, one of my favourite writers as a child. (C.S. Lewis was my favourite writer, still is, and when a librarian told me that Nesbit was his favourite writer as a child, I read all of hers. He didn't steer me wrong!)This is a great fat read, the kind you curl up with in an armchair on a rainy day. A cast of thousands, all memorable, amazing artists and theosophists and Fabians and feminists. You envy the children their childhood if not their parents. It's all about art and creativity and politics and people. You sense the shadow of WWI and then it strikes tragically. Yes, Byatt occasionally lectures on topics to show off her knowledge but one can just skip those bits if necessary. Two things struck me with a powerful lash; the desperate state of the poor and the working classes only a short time ago and the suffocating strictures on women of all classes. My God, we don't know how lucky we are!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Chronicles of Faerie in eBook form!

The Chronicles of Faerie (revised and expanded editions) are now available as ebooks for Kindle readers at, for the Nook ereader at, and for iOS devices (iPad, iPhone) on Apple's iBookstore. I haven't one of these myself - yet -but I'm rather pleased that I foresaw their existence in a passage in The Light-Bearer's Daughter, first published 2001. Dana meets the Chronicler, the Teller of Tales, who is leading a donkey laden down with panniers filled with books: There were paper scrolls and Egyptian papyri, tablets of wax and clay, manuscripts of vellum, hand-sewn texts bound in calfskin, some even inscribed on thin sheets of gold. There were modern books printed with glossy covers as well as talking books, computer disks and videotapes. A metallic box that glowed and hummed contained strange unrecognisable devices: laser, electronic and holographic books which Dana surmised belonged to the future. Have I changed my tune about ebooks? Of course I have. It just takes us old fogeys a bit longer to adapt to change.