Thursday 11 February 2010

I've just noticed

that the Haywards Heath Book Fair is on this Saturday. Hmm. I really shouldn't.

But perhaps I will.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Latest Arrival

A warm welcome, please, to the latest addition to my burgeoning paperback collection:

A 1949 first Penguin edition of Geoffrey Household's Rogue Male. I've seen one other copy of this edition online, but that listing's now vanished (and was more expensive than my copy anyway). Looking forward to reading this one: for those who don't know, it was originally published in 1939, and is about a sportsman and hunter who elects to stalk and possibly kill a European dictator, modelled on Adolf Hitler. Which, it has to be said, is a brilliant notion for a novel at that time (and even today).

Speaking of reading, I've just started George Pelecanos' The Way Home, and it's already utterly compelling. It follows a young guy, Chris, a ne'er-do-well who gets sent to a young offenders institution. That's all I know so far, but Pelecanos draws his characters so deftly in such a short space of time (without reams of description) that you're hooked almost from the off.

God I love books.

Monday 8 February 2010

Five Things I Learned from Reading Patricia Highsmith Novels

1. Men are weak.
Either that, or they're cowards, or creeps, or weirdos, or indeed psychos. Or all of the above. And also usually a bit gay. Probably best to avoid men altogether, or, if that's not practical, avoid men called Guy or Charles, as likely as not they'll become obsessed with you and then murder you. And maybe avoid any Roberts, who will prowl around outside your house and then murder your ex, or Howards, who are liable to kill you accidentally (although your body will never be found), which is small comfort as you'll still be dead. As for Toms... well, it could go either way.

2. Women are bitches.
If it weren't for women, everything would be fine. They're nothing but bloody trouble. When they aren't actively trying to entrap you or scheming your downfall, they'll flutter about being generally useless or spending all your money on extended extravagant holidays. Or they'll commit suicide.

3. Crime does not pay.
Unless you're Tom Ripley. In which case, it does, although it also requires further crime, usually the odd murder or two.

4. There's no such thing as an ending.
Either happy or otherwise. Events merely peter out, often accompanied by the ringing of a telephone.

5. Better answer that tele--

James Bond Pan Collection

You'll have to indulge me here. I posted a bunch of Bond novel Pan covers fairly recently, but for the purposes of posterity I am now going to post many of the same covers again, except in a slightly different context: this is my personal collection of Pan-edition James Bond novels, which I've been hunting down over the past few months (although the covers I present here are, as ever, stolen off the interweb), and which I'm rather pleased with. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

This is the 1958 re-set of Casino Royale, i.e. the first edition of the debut Bond novel with this particular cover. The earlier Pan editions with the blond Bond are a bit too pricey for my liking, but I like this cover a lot, and it's in great nick. I've only seen one other copy of this for sale online, for rather more than I paid for it.


Live and Let Die. My copy of this is actually the 1959 third printing of the first Pan edition – same cover as the first Pan edition, but a later printing.


Moonraker. This is another re-set, the first edition with this cover from 1959. As with Casino Royale, the earlier Pan edition with a different cover is out of my price range.


Diamonds Are Forever. I've got a second printing of this from the same year (1958) as the first Pan printing. Not in great condition, but still nice to have it.

My copy of this is a 1959 first Pan edition. Of the Bond novels I've read so far, I think From Russia, with Love is my favourite (and my favourite cover).

And finally, a 1960 first Pan edition of Dr. No. Which hasn't actually turned up yet – I only got it the other day. This is the last of the Pan Bonds with this style of cover; the next iteration of Pan Bonds (Goldfinger and reprints of Diamonds Are Forever and From Russia, with Love) had a strap across the front with an old-looking 007 holding a gun. I'm less keen on those covers, but if I want to carry on reading the novels past Dr. No, I'll have to get Goldfinger in that style.

So there you go.

I've noticed

the odd thoughtful comment popping up on this blog recently, which is nice, particularly as most of my missives are very far from thoughtful. So if you've taken the trouble to comment, thank you. It can be terribly lonely writing a blog sometimes, even one as bollocks as this one; feedback is always appreciated. Even if it's just to call me a twat.


Yes, Hassocks! I went to Hassocks! on Sunday, for the rather grand-sounding Mid-Sussex Book Fair, so named, I imagine, because it's in West Sussex, but also quite near East Sussex, and someone evidently thought calling it the Hassocks! Book Fair didn't quite do it justice (although the addition of an exclamation mark, like the one I inserted, would've helped there, I feel). It was a smallish, quaint-ish affair, maybe twenty dealers in all, and I picked up a cheap copy of this:

A first edition of John Le Carre's Smiley's People from 1980. Been meaning to read one of Le Carre's novels at some point, and Smiley's People seems as good a choice as any. Elsewhere at the fair the goods on offer were the usual mix of local interest books, motoring, military, and a few novels, but curiously the Scientologists obviously thought Hassocks! would be a fertile recruiting ground, as they had a table there flogging copies of Dianetics and handing out personality tests. It's the first time I've seen those sinister chancers at a book fair; why did they plump for Hassocks! and not, say, Lewes, or Tunbridge Wells? Curious.