Tag Archives: Joe Orton

Between Us Girls – Joe Orton

Until I saw this copy of ‘Between Us Girls’ at the local library I had no idea that Joe Orton has written anything apart from his plays, of which I have seen the marvellous ‘Entertaining Mrs Sloane’, and his infamous diaries. I simply had to pick it up, seeing the quotes on the back cover comparing it to the likes of Nancy Mitford, E.F. Benson and Evelyn Waugh (all authors whose work I really admire, especially for their sardonic wit) made it irresistible.

‘Between Us Girls’ is the tale of the rise of Hollywood starlet Susan Hope from her London roots in the swinging sixties via Soho review bars and the white slave trade in Mexico. With a premise like that and Joe Orton writing I can promise you that you’re in for a real treat. Susan Hope is an innocent little soul from the start, all she wants is simple, and she wants to become one of the most famous actresses in the entire world, which she assumes should be really easy, no? Well no, it’s not easy and so we follow her on her journey her naivety making us laugh all the more along the way.

In fact from the opening Orton quickly gives us a huge insight into the character whose diary entries we are reading.  On the opening page Susan divulges that she has not only had the worst restyling of her hair ever by the dreadful Miss Fleur, but a book she has been waiting on for an age soon gets taken off her and read by her mother! How awful! Yes, Susan’s life is full of what appear to her to be life shattering dramas but to the normal average person are really just small blips, and very funny ones if you happen to be reading them. It could make Susan rather irritating to be such a dreamer with no idea of the real world but somehow Orton makes her endearing.

“The Divine Marquise, the novel I ordered, was in the book shop waiting for me this afternoon. I was just dying to read it, but mother snatched it off me directly I got in. It all seems so utterly depressing. I have made up my mind that I shall not allow mother to ruin this book for me. I won’t listen when she reads the interesting bits. Mother really is sickening. My God! How awful everything is. No romance – no real romance, I mean. I’d give seven years of my life to be swept off my feet by a handsome stranger – like Pompadour in The Divine Marquise.”

Susan also provides the perfect set of eyes in which the more knowing reader can make more observations than her naïve head could ever do. You will know just what might be coming when she goes to a bar owners house for some ‘light supper’ yet she has no idea, or when she signs two years of her life away for a ‘dancing show in Mexico’ because its that much nearer to Hollywood. I also think this adds a dark streak to the book, I wonder if Orton used this so we could be shown just how seedy the scenes were in which Susan found herself and how young naïve girls could be taken for an absolute ride because they knew nothing but wanted everything? It adds  an edge to what initially appears to be a light frothy read but actually is much more subversive than you think.

A book that will: indeed be perfect if you love Mitford and Waugh for it has their comedy and their slyness. 8/10

I have since found out that there are several other Orton novels and I of course want to read them all now too, have any of you already? I also very much want to finally read the Orton Diaries which have been sat on my TBR for months and months. The more I watch and read or Orton’s the more of a tragedy it seems that his life was taken from him at such an early age. But then that could be a story in itself couldn’t it?

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Filed under Joe Orton, Metheun Publishing, Review

The Long and Short Listing of It…

Over the next few weeks, and realistically probably months, things might be a little bit different at Savidge Reads. So I thought that instead of doing one of my ‘Bookish Bits’ I would instead have a natter with you about some possible forthcoming changes to service with the blog and also to ask you for some recommendations of a certain kind of reading material, because you are all always very good with helping me out.

 As you may or may not know I have helped co-found (and am now a judge of) a new book award ‘The Green Carnation Prize’ and yesterday the deadline for submissions closed. I can’t tell you exactly how many we have had as until they all arrive in the next few days I won’t be 100% sure, I can say it’s more than 20 and less than 125. We have been really surprised, and I think if we admit it out loud even a little shocked, at the response that we have had to this, people are really getting behind it, in fact we have already had already had lots of books arrive before the submissions deadline closed…

Sorry about the green shroud (which is actually one of my favourite t-shirts – no expense spared here at Savidge Reads as you can tell) but myself and the other judges have all agreed that until the winner is announced we won’t comment on any of the books that come in for the prize, even after the long list, short list and winner are announced. Whilst this is great for scheduling posts while I am in Brazil for a few months it could mean things change a bit on Savidge Reads as firstly I will be lost in a mass of books which I can’t blog about and also I am going to be dedicating much more time to reading and less to blogging. There may be some radio silence now and again too.

I do want to read some books in between submissions though and as judges we were all talking about what we might fit in. I think Lesley was going to read some crime along the way, Paul might be reading some Dr Who and his treasured Crossroads books – both of them will also be working on new books, Nick is going to be reading kids and YA fiction. I am plumping for short books, novellas, guilty pleasures and short story collections. In fact I sorted out a possible pile of them for the bedside…

  • The Only Problem by Muriel Spark (the Queen of shorter books which pack twists and punches, my Mum lent me this out of print gem)
  • The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen (looks big but I will be so gripped in one of my favourite guilt free guilty pleasure it can get done and dusted in mere hours)
  • Agatha Raisin & The Love From Hell by M.C. Beaton (what can I say an Agatha Raisin mystery is always two hours of pure murder, mayhem and laughter)
  • The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie (apparently this is like a collection of short Miss Marple tales, perfect)
  • In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan (another short book my mother lent me, I know nothing about this McEwan at all)
  • The Comforters by Muriel Spark (another Spark that’s due back at the library quite soon)
  • A Bit of Singing & Dancing by Susan Hill (I love Susan Hill’s work but have never tried her short stories)
  • Between Us Girls by Joe Orton (another library book I picked up purely because it was by Orton, looks delightfully caustic and is also massive print so that will be a quick treat)
  • Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd (always meant to read it, now I shall try)
  • Heartburn by Norah Ephron (I was at a meeting and someone else was reading this and raving about it, plus I remember seeing some buzz about it last year or the year before on the blogosphere)
  • In Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote (he’s a genius and I would like the spirit of Capote with me while I try and whittle down the submissions, he would be my dream 6th judge – well it would be a tie with him and Oscar Wilde)
  • Dancing Girls by Margaret Atwood (tried and loved her shorts in Good Bones, want to read more and couldn’t locate my copy of ‘Bluebeards Egg’)
  • Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord (have renewed this far too many times from the library need to get it read)
  • The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (this arrived in the post the other day and seemed to be great timing, never read her – or heard of her before this showed up)
  • 13.55 Eastern Standard Time by Nick Alexander (my friend Dom raved and raved about this and lent me a copy so must see if its as good as Dom said – could be awkward if not)
  • Dark Matter by Michelle Paver (I love a good ghost story now and again and this sounds like its going to be great from the early buzz its already getting – its not even out till October!)

I have just realised I didn’t include the third Peirene Press title and some Anne Tyler, drat. The latter in particular I really need to read more of as I have loved everything I have read of hers so far and have been telling myself to read for ages.

So what do you think of that possible selection of non Green Carnation reading? Are there any titles on there you would like me to get to first? Are there any you have read and what did you think? Can you think of any other short fiction or collections that I am missing out on and must try and squeeze in my reading over the next few months? What are your reading plans at the moment?

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Filed under Book Thoughts, The Green Carnation Prize

Accidental Library Looting

I am blaming all of you for the fact that I seem to have somehow gained lots more books from the library this week. I mentioned to you last week the bizarre and wonderful forgotten library I went to, which took me right back to the 80’s when I last used libraries lots and lots. As it is on the bus route to the supermarket I needed to go to I got off there to drop two books back and kindly take a picture for you which is here…

I think the grey threatening sky adds to the fact it reminds me of my youth, the 80’s always seem grey and wet to me am not sure why. No being a Wednesday I assumed it would be closed and I would take a picture, drop three books through the letter box and be gone. It was open!!! So naturally I went in and then came away with all of these…

I have decided short books from the library are fine (as you can probably see) as well as guilty pleasure I have no intention of buying but could do with between a more heavy weight book now and again – oh dear that sounds snobbish, it isn’t meant to. So my latest loot is…

Oscar and the Lady in Pink – Eric Emmanuel Schmitt
I have heard lots of great thing about this. Its written by a young ten year old boy in letters to God. He knows he is dying despite his parents never telling him and depicts his relationship with Granny Rose one of the elderly ‘pink ladies’ who come and visit. Sounds like will need a hanky but have heard its also beautifully uplifting.

Queer – William Burroughs
I have always wanted to read a Burroughs, I already own one but this is much shorter and is set in Mexico City which in my head was near Brazil and would therefore go towards my Brazil reads – erm, no!

Between Us Girls – Joe Orton
I have never seen an Orton book, that wasn’t his diaries, in a library so I snapped it up I was actually looking for the one longlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize but couldn’t find it. This had caught my attention last time I went there so was glad no one else had taken it.

Eclipse – Stephenie Meyer
Yes, I know, I know. Me the man who said he refused to get into this series. Well it was ona  shelf, I dont want to get it for my Birthday and so I thought why not? I do want to know what happens now I have read two and this could be a perfect read between some books I have lined up in the non to distant future.

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
Though I am still really, really torn about reaidng The Hunger Games I think I am going to try and crack it this weekend. I was recommended by Sandy to have this on standby in case I love the first as you rush to read the second. I have also been told the second isn’t so good so could be interesting.

Right there you go, all because I wanted to take a picture for you ‘orrible lot hee, hee. What have you recently got from the library? Have you read any of these or anything by the authors?

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