Tag Archives: Armistead Maupin

Armistead Maupin – The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar Day 23

So as Christmas gets scarily closer (seriously two days away and I have done absolutely no Christmas shopping, oops) I thought in the last few days I would do some rather large giveaways. It is my pleasure in the penultimate Savidge Reads Advent Calendar to give away one of my very favourite series of books… the Tales of the City series, which one of you could win the whole eight novels so far.

  

  

 

I utterly adore this series and have for years. I think it’s the mixture of such familiar characters (who you really get to know and love) living together in such an unfamiliar city and decade; though of course the last two are much more current. These are a real treat for any reader, I am certainly looking forward to revisitng them next year as some Maupin madness will be occuring I do believe. So what do you have to do in order to win such a collection of joy?  Simply tell me you favourite book that really makes you feel like you have lived in a city you have never visited and why you loved the book so much. You have until 1300 GMT on December the 24th, yes tomorrow, good luck!

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Time to Think and Time to Cull…

I interrupt the scheduled posts with a random one about bookish puzzlement… 

Whilst most of the UK was watching the X Factor, or possibly out on the town I found myself typing about books whilst watching the adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s ‘Further Tales of the City’, which I have borrowed for some cheer as I have the sniffles (though the idea of a few days in bed with a fever and lots of books is lovely, I don’t actually want a cold) this weekend. It was this DVD that sparked off half of today’s post along with recording episode eight of The Readers yesterday morning. I am feeling like I need a book cull and a little like I have lost my way with my reading habits (not my blogging habits, this isn’t a ‘moaning blogger naval gazes’ post honest, though I might talk about blogging a bit) somewhere recently, though I think this feeling has been brewing a while. I feel like I have lost my reading identity.

Armistead Maupin is a favourite author, interestingly though he is not an author I have really blogged about. This in itself doesn’t make sense. How can an author I love and want to read everything by have not had a single book read and reviewed on the blog, I have actually read one which was long listed for The Green Carnation Prize last year so I couldn’t talk about it on here, that still isn’t enough Maupin in my reading life though, in over four years? That doesn’t make sense. I even made a pact with myself to read more Maupin… almost three years ago. So why have I not?

This doesn’t just apply to Maupin; it applies to favourite authors like Daphne Du Maurier, Muriel Spark, Margaret Atwood, Arthur Conan Doyle, Susan Hill etc who I have read ‘some’ of in the last four years of blogging. I wanted to read much more of their stuff, they are my favourites after all and yet I haven’t. Have I lost my way with reading? I weirdly think I have a little, not the spark of reading itself, just the reading I am doing isn’t quite where I think I should be at in my reading life. This doesn’t mean I am not enjoying what I am reading; I am just not sure why I am not reading all the books that are ‘me’. I wonder if I am making sense.

Since I have gotten more into blogging, both in the upkeep of Savidge Reads with posting and commenting (which I am finally up to date with, hoorah) and in reading all the other blogs I love (which I am catching up with at the moment) the amount of books I want to read has quadrupled, well that’s an understatement if I am honest, but with all these endless possibilities of reading I seem to be forgetting all the authors I wanted to wander off with in favour of new delights. Books are tempting me from publishers etc. Plus its nice to be reading things that I wouldnt normally. Yet what about me reading more books from or about India, or lost classics, or fairytales for adults? Where is the focus?

Fickle? Maybe! And with the ever growing Mount TBR delightfully expanding all the time (no complaints here honest) I seem to be in a battle to catch up with my old favourites as the new arrivals pile up. I know some of them will become firm favourites of the future, but I must not forget the authors I loved before the days of reading and writing blogs. I feel a little out at sea with it all and am in danger or drowning in a delightful deluge of books.

Being adrift makes me feel a little uneasy; it seems to have become a little apparent, ripples have been appearing on the blog, which many of you, including Dark Puss, have  picked up on. Though I wouldn’t call it lacking self confidence I am lacking reading confidence and a little reading direction. I also think I have fallen into the ‘oh that book sounds perfect… so I will save it for a rainy day’ syndrome (the irony of this as I live in Manchester, one of the rainiest city, hasn’t passed me by) why save it why not just read on and read what I want when I want? I think I need to find my way again, but how?

Well it is going to start with a cull. I don’t mean one of my regular routine culls; I am talking about a major cull (which will prove doubly helpful as I am moving in the next month or two). Like a reverse of out with the old and in with the new. Not quite a case of starting from scratch but something near that. This won’t happen over a weekend, this will happen over the next two or three weeks with a box of books dealt with here and there, this should be more effective and more stringent than a weekend of culling madness. A clearer Mount TBR might mean a clearer reading mind. Here’s hoping.

Any tips for finding your reading modjo/identity once more? This isn’t readers block, its something else. Any other advice on tips for culling, how ruthless is too ruthless, how flaky is too flaky? I’ve also reminded myself of the small pact I have planned to bring in from the 21st of December 2011 until the 21st of December 2012, it’s a tough one but I think it should become my mantra once more. Do you have any book buying mantras or the like?

…Normal service will resume shortly, I apologise for this unscheduled meandering post.

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World Book Night 2012…

I was going to give the blog a day off but then I received an email about all this so thought that I would pass some of it on. I know that actually World Book Night is months and months away (April 23rd 2012 in fact) so some of you might not be interested but an email this morning reminded me about it and the fact that you can vote for your favourite books to be given away. I was also a bit over excited when I read this specific email as previous givers, and you can see what I gave away and how I did it earlier this year, two people could win a chance to be on the World Book Night Editorial Selection Committee (theres a mouthful), well of course how could I not want to do that?

So what did you have to do? Well, give them your details, tell them what you gave last year and name the “top 10 books you most love to read, give and share for 2012” now initially I thought  they meant books out in 2012 then twigged they just meant your favourites. You then had to write, in 100 words or less, an impassioned argument for your number one book. I did it in ninety-nine.  

I liked the idea of this list of ten books you would want to pass on and realised that not all my very favourite books would pass the test of being books I would avidly pass on, those tend to be books I have liked a lot but not enough to keep on my own shelves, this however is the list of ten books I would happily buy other people and pass them on in that way… 

  1. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  2. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  3. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
  4. Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood
  5. Perfume by Patrick Suskind
  6. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
  7. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  8. Annabel by Kathleen Winter
  9. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  10. The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark

I couldn’t choose ‘One Day’ (which I am desperately telling the Aunty Who Doesn’t Read So Much to read before she sees the film next week, will she listen…) or indeed ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ because both books were in the list last year and given away. I like the idea of some classics being given away in 2012, some corkers though, not necessarily the same old ones. You can guess which books I might mean but I will never tell, ha.

I am pretty sure that I won’t be picked as one of the World Book Night Editorial Selection Committee, though if it did happen I would just be over the moon, partly because I have blabbed about it on here. It gave me a think about books though, and a chance to give you all a list of books to try should you have not read them so far. You can find more out about World Book Night 2012 here. What would your ten be? What are your thoughts on the whole World Book Night idea?

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The Prose Practise – LGBT Literature

I had a rather interesting email from a follower earlier this week which had highlighted something to them at my recent burst of mentioning ‘The Green Carnation Prize’ and one of the questions we asked our shortlisted authors which was ‘what book would you nominate if there was a ‘Lost Green Carnation Prize’ novel?’ it was a question which I was asked myself in an interview a while back and one I struggled a little with and so naturally who can I turn to for recommendations… you lovely lot of course.

Dear Savidge Reads,
I thought I would email you as The Green Carnation Prize has really brought some fantastic titles written by gay men to my attention that have come out this year. What I wondered was which books are LGBT classics, are there any lost or forgotten books which people should try to be tracking down? I myself am not gay but I would like to read more books written by gay authors and ones that look at the history of homosexuality, what can you recommend?
Many thanks,
Anne

As I mentioned it was a question which I struggled with (which I am hoping won’t make people think I am not really qualified to Chair the judges for The Green Carnation Prize 2011) not because its something I have never been interested in or cared about, in fact quite the opposite, but because it was never something I was informed about growing up. I mean the gay and lesbian section at my local library back in the 1990’s never had anything much and it wasn’t a section I wanted to be caught by my school friends in for various reasons. The only books I did manage to get my hands on were by Edmund White, because I told my Mum it was a memoir of an authors life – a truth in parts, and the Armistead Maupin ‘Tales of the City’ series which I managed to get in second hand shops with my pocket money. There are many more authors out there who I missed back then (such as the amazing Neil Bartlett) and are more I am sure I am missing.

Two books I have been recommended by several people I know and authors I have finally got my mitts on, thanks to some lovely people, recently. These are the now out of print ‘Queens’ by Pickles which a friend bought me a few months ago when The Green Carnation Prize was born and said ‘I simply must read’ (I will soon I promise) and ‘Faggots’ by Larry Kramer which Novel Insights bought me when she helped me take lots and lots of books to the 5 for £2 book shop up the road at the weekend.

Yet there must be so many more and not just books long forgotten but also from the last few years that might have gone under the radar. Can you recommend any that you have read and loved which need more attention and recognition, or any classics that people should read simply because they are missing out? You would be helping Amy and you’d be helping me, as I am planning on reading many more of these in the next few months.

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The Green Carnation Longlist 2010

A very tired man writes this up for you this morning. The Green Carnation judges met last night to sort out the submissions and after a long night of discussion, lively debate and frankly lots and lots of laughing (which is the way all good meetings should be)  we’ve got you a lovely longlist, well we hope you think its lovely. However, some of the judges didn’t go to bed until gone 1.30am, can’t think who one of them was!!

Anyway enough of that shenanigans, you all just want to know what this years Green Carnation Longlist (or the Green Carnation Bunch) 2010 is don’t you? So without further ado here are the eleven titles…

  • Generation A by Douglas Coupland (Windmill Books)
  • Bryant and May Off the Rails by Christopher Fowler (Doubleday)
  • Paperboy by Christopher Fowler (Doubleday)
  • In A Strange Room by Damon Galgut (Atlantic Books)
  • God Says No by James Hannaham (McSweeney’s)
  • London Triptych by Jonathan Kemp (Myriad Editions)
  • Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin (Doubleday)
  • Children of the Sun by Max Schaefer (Granta)
  • Man’s World by Rupert Smith (Arcadia Books)
  • The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (Tuskar Rock Press)
  • City Boy by Edmund White (Bloomsbury)

None of us are going to release any official thoughts about the long list or each and every title and they were chosen as we feel if people read them then the books will speak for themselves. I do think its interesting that we have such a nice mix of debut authors, prolific and yet lesser known authors and some writing giants in the mix which is all unintentional because you judge on the writing… but more on that from me tomorrow. We also have two of the Man Booker Longlist which I think is quite interesting, and one author twice which I think will prove a talking point!

Rather than go on and on here I will hand over to you to start some discussion on the list. So what are your thoughts on the very first Green Carnation Longlist/Bunch? What have you read? What or who have you not heard of? Are any of you tempted to give some of them a go (we really would love it)? Are there any surprises?

I will pop back and chatter with you all day (when I am not dozing) and try and answer any questions I can and am allowed to! Oh and don’t forget to pop to The Green Carnation website where there is a rather smashing shot of the judges together. Right, let’s get discussing… oh and do spread the word if you can and would be so kind!

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Those Summer Reads…

I mentioned on my bookish bits last week that I was planning on having a ‘Summer Reads Season’ and what time could be better than when I am away myself on a shortish summer break (longer one coming next month). Ahead this week you can expect to hear from publishers, authors and bloggers regarding favourite reads and what delights they have been saving for summer. The newspapers will be going crazy over this in a few weeks (I always read those seasonal lists) and so I thought ‘why don’t I too?’ But for today lets just look at summer reads as a genre shall we?

Two things made me think of what summer reading as a subject, if I did any – which I have now noted I do, for a post which then became a week long jaunt. One was a post Lija of A Writer’s Pet made which really got my mind whirring. The other was that I was already having to look at what books I had read that were my idea of a perfect summer read for something which launches tomorrow (I am shrouding it in mystery to build up the anticipation, ha) and I came up with this delectable eight of which I have had  to whittle down from.

I was going to list them but then the post might be never ending, if you want a list though let me know! Anyway, I never thought that I was someone who subscribed to the idea of summer reading; in fact I thought I read the same things all year round. When I looked into it though from what I read last year I noticed I do actually read a little seasonally. These books initially look like they have nothing in common but the more I thought about it the more as a group they sum up my summer mentality…

  • They are all well written and yet not hard or oppressive (crime doesn’t have to be dark just have some shades) nor are they froth
  • They each have big themes but never make them depressing
  • They have a slightly magical touch to them even if they aren’t surreal (it makes sense in my head to me if it doesn’t to anyone else)
  • They are books you could languish in no matter the genre
  • They are books you want to rave about to people
  • There is generally sunshine in them to my memory, be it the place, the season it’s written about or just a sort of jovial summery prose (even the war time ones)
  • They are literary yet punchy/paced too
  • None of them is trashy

Not all of them tick all those criteria but each one hits at least four or more… So I guess that must be my criteria for a good summer read from me. Weirdly I could probably sum up an autumnal gem for me far easier than I could a summer. I have also noticed that none of them are particularly long, even though one that looks like it might be.

Interestingly when I looked at what was on my current bedside it seems the ridiculously humid London heat of the last few weeks has started to have a summery effect on my reading subconscious already as I have these lined up and ready to go by the bedside.

I think they all fit with my summer bullet points don’t you? So do you read seasonally? What criteria can you list for me that you need from your summer reads? Don’t give any recommendations yet, save yourself for next week when it all goes recommendation mad! Hope you’re looking forward to it?

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Mitford & Maupin Missions

My complete and utter favourite book of last year was undoubtedly The Mitford’s: Letters Between Six Sisters, I don’t think I have ever enjoyed any non-fiction as much in all my reading years. At the time it wasn’t the Mitford’s that appealed to me it was partly the fact it was letters between sisters but more the amount of time that the letters spanned, all that history. It wasn’t until reading the letters that I started to twig just who the sisters were, I had heard of Deborah and Nancy before only I knew Deborah as the owner of Chatsworth House which is just down the road from my Gran’s and Nancy as an author most authors raved about. At the time I got the book there was also a TV show on Unity and the rumours of her affair (and pregnancy) with Adolf Hitler. As everything about them became more and more unusual and the more letters I read I gained a bit of a fascination which has resulted in this…


Now four of these are new additions to the collection as I received In Tearing Haste from the delightful John Murray before Christmas, The Pursuit of Laughter and A Life of Contrasts from the lovely Gibson Square just after Christmas and Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford from the very kind people at Orion only yesterday, naturally I haven’t read any of those yet. I have in fact of that whole collection only read ‘The Letters’ and The Pursuit of Love, the rest have all come from some very good routing through charity shops. There are still so many I am missing though; Nancy’s biographies as well as The Blessing and Jessica’s books on Death in America etc, to name just a few. (I also should thank Mitch as she bought me The Letters for Christmas after my Gran, yes you naughty thing, ‘borrowed’ mine and then said I had given it to her lol – well you can have it now.)

I now have one more mission for 2009 is to read all the ones that I haven’t read yet but own. Plus there are many more coming, I actually have a PDF proof version of Deborah’s next book, but I am not allowed to say anymore than that.

Dovergreyreader looked at Mitfordmania when she reviewed A Pursuit of Laughter by Diana Mosley and it brought up some rather heated debate on Diana as a person. I don’t condone her like for Hitler I don’t even attempt to understand it, but what I was always taught in history was to look at both sides and someone who saw both sides of Hitler and one of the biggest events in our worlds history was Diana and though I don’t agree with her ideals I will be interested to hear her side of things if that makes sense. The other question that was raised was ‘are there too many Mitford based books on the market?’ I would say no, I actually think that some of their own books need to be reprinted rather than so many books about them in all honesty. I can understand the fascination though, they knew a wide range of famous people and indeed some of histories most renowned faces and through their love of letters and essays have captured years and year’s worth of history. I just wonder what Debo makes of it all as the furore around her and her sister is going and she is living to see it?

On a slightly different note another series of books I am going to make it my aim to read (well re-read in some cases) arrived yesterday also The Tales of the City Series by Armistead Maupin….

I first read the first three or four (or possibly five) of these about 8 years ago and wanted a land lady like Miss Madrigal, and strongly believed when I moved to London I would make some of the best friends in the world and they would be diverse and wonderful and everything would be fabulous. I would say half of that wish came true. I very rarely re-read novels I have read so it will be interesting to see what I make of these almost ten years down the line! I will keep you posted. I am currently debating if I should read all of them with no stop-gap, but am worried I will get Maupin Overkill, any advice?

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