Two beautiful books for my birthday.
Firstly, ‘Voyaging Out: British Women Artists from Suffrage to the Sixties by Carolyn Grant. Published by Thames and Hudson, this is one of their typically luxurious products, packed with achingly gorgeous reproductions and thick, creamy paper. And just a few glances through it has revealed some surprises: who knew that Sylvia Pankhurst was an accomplished painter?
My second book is perfect for this time of year, when the dark is drawing in and Halloween is just around the corner: ‘Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country’ by Edward Parnell. If you’ve read some of my previous posts you might have realised that I love horror stories, especially those with a ghostly or folky taint: think ‘Dark Matter’ by Michelle Paver, ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ by Shirley Jackson , the stories of M.R. James, Piers Haggard’s film ‘Blood on Satan’s Claw’ or the BBC’s terrific ‘Ghostwatch’. This book appears to entwine Parnell’s family story with an investigation of such haunting fiction. Can’t wait.
Next up is my charity shop trawl: A slender volume of short stories by Jonathan Coe, who is never less than entertaining, ‘One Fine Day‘ by Mollie Panter-Downes: from 1947, it promises to be a ‘memorable portrait of the aftermath of war, its effect upon a marriage and a family, charting, too, a gradual but significant change in the nature of English middle-class life.’ and a lovely 1960s American edition of Susan Sontag’s ‘Against Intrepation’ collection which includes her influential essay ‘Notes on ‘Camp”. It also has a lovely photo of the author on the back. Sontag is someone who intrigues me. Not because of her writing (which I find on the whole to be quite dull and pretentious) but because of the myth of greatness which she seems to have taken a significant amount of time to create and embellish, and the sour, nasty way she treated those around her. I am sorely tempted by the new biography by Benjamin Moser, but am put off by the hefty price tag (£30) and the fact that every edition I have seen in book shops seem to have slightly damaged covers! One day…