Thursday, 29 July 2010


The perspicacious writer of the literary blog: Frisbee, a Book Journal, recently posted an interesting piece on short stories, in which she celebrated the Capuchin Classic On Horseback and other Stories. This was one of the first four Capuchins to be released into the wild, and it canters on very steadily to this day.

Reading this blog reminded me of my own ignorance about the short story genre. Although one of my favourite books is such a collection - On Becoming a Fairy Godmother, by Sara Maitland - I remain woefully under-read in the area of the classic exponents of the genre. Time to open the Maupassant, I think.

I am pleased to note that the Frisbee author shares my passion for cycling as well as reading, and adorns her blog with a photograph of a very elegant bicycle, smartly accessorised with a classic pannier. I think panniers are the second best human invention, after the bicycle itself.


Monday, 26 July 2010


Thanks again to that consistent champion of Capuchin Classics, Val Hennessy, who celebrated Peking Picnic in her Retro Reads column on 23rd July.

Val discusses the contrasts of beauty and foreboding evoked by the novel, before describing how the heroine, Mrs. Leroy, meets an acquaintance from her Cambridge world during a trip (sans husband) to some distant ruins, and has to confront the possibility of middle-aged, illicit passion.

Val concludes by saying:

Bridge's gentle 1932 novel paints an indelible picture of old China, her most unforgettable image being the pigeon orchestras -- flying birds making ethereal music, each bird with a tiny pipe fixed to its pinion feathers, creating 'a faint winging of music, as from small harps overhead'.


Wednesday, 21 July 2010


I was impressed and amused by an American library's promotional video, which has become the latest Youtube phenomenon. With our own library sector under threat from various quarters, including the currently planned public spending cuts, I wonder if something like this would be an effective marketing tool for them.

My own recent reawakening to the wonder and glory of regular library use has been documented in these virtual pages, but my attempts to spread the word to my friends and family have so far resulted only in my wife reading my own library books. I suspect I'm not cut out for evangelism. Having now become proficient in the use of The Great Machine which now performs most of the basic library functions, (see Attack of the Robot Librarians) I now derive a certain childish pleasure from seeing less experienced folk struggling with same. You will be relieved to know that I immediately feel guilty on experiencing this emotion, and am now considering borrowing an appropriate book from the self-help section to enable me to engage with this issue and move on.

I am, however, currently reading Imprimatur, borrowed from my library.


Friday, 16 July 2010


Further praise for The Man who Loved Children will be found in a book which should go on your Christmas present lists. I know it's only July, but with our alloted fortnight of sunshine apparently over, I make no apologies for using the C word.

In December Beautiful Books are publishing a book by John Waters - Role Models - in which there is a chapter devoted to his favourite books, within which the author lists Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children as one of the novels which most influenced him. Mr. Waters has tickled many of our cinematic fancies with films such as Hairspray and Pink Flamingos. He is illustrated opposite.

I didn't know much about this publisher before they alerted me to Waters' book, but their website revealed a very interesting publications list, ranging from Dario Fo to Anthony Burgess, and is well worth taking your mouse to.


Wednesday, 14 July 2010


Apologies for the Blog lacuna - I wrote a series of Pulitzer-quality articles, but my virtual dog ate them before they could be posted.

Great excitement was unleashed in the Capuchin office today (above the quotidian variety associated with working for such a vibrant and chic publisher) as The Guardian published an on-line piece about The Man who Loved Children. This all stems from the New York Times article by Jonathan Franzen (see previous blog) which has caused ripples of renewed interest in this extraordinary book to spread through the ether.

We are described in the article, for which many thanks must go to Alison Flood, as
tiny press Capuchin Classics, an imprint dedicated to "reviving great works of fiction which have been unjustly forgotten or neglected"

Call us wildly ambitious, but one day we hope to be small.


Monday, 5 July 2010


Those lovely people at The Observer published a review of Herbert Read's The Green Child yesterday. The reviewer (Octavia Morris) notes the recurring theme of the narrator's death (symbolic, feigned or actual) as one of the unifying themes in this wonderful, strange visionary novel, and comments that:
With bizarre comic irony, this imaginative, philosophical novel perfectly balances fantasy and reality.

As I work my way through the Capuchins, The Green Child will remain one of the most powerful and visionary novels in the list, and I look forward to revisiting it in the future. In particular, Read's vision of an alternative, utopian society stands out from its multitudinous counterparts - from all kinds of writing - for its sheer novelty and thoughtfulness.