Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What I’m reading #67

A book about Wellington architect Ian Athfield. The reviewer (that would be me) is not uncritical but summarises: “This lavishly illustrated and well- written book does him proud.”

The best way for an author to get back at a misguided (i.e. negative) reviewer. I can recommend the technique – I used a version of it about 15 years ago and it worked a treat.

The book trade depends on its sales reps. Former bookseller Steerforth of the Age of Uncertainty blog reminisces about their glory days. Money quote from a book rep:
“Phil, I got this fucking memo from some tosser at Head Office telling me I had to read this new novel and write a report about it! D’you know what I did? I phoned him up and said I haven’t read a fucking book in 25 years and I’m not going to start now.”
Oh dear, Stephen Fry has made another TV series. It is about language and it is called Planet Word. Pauline Foster, a linguist whose blog Bad Linguistics has the motto “If you are going to broadcast your views about language, you might want to get a few things straight first”, is not impressed. She reviews Episode One and Episode Two. Sample quote: 
And so to San Sebastian in Spain to eat Basque food and talk to a chef about another endangered language, Basque. This part seemed to me mostly about cooking due to Fry’s belief that “The Basque language is in the DNA of Basque cookery and preparation techniques.”  I have absolutely no idea what that could mean. Fry follows up with, “Cuisine and language may be so entwined because traditionally recipes were passed on by word of mouth,” another of his pronouncements which sound academic and weighty until you think about them for two seconds, and then they sound silly. Pretty much everything in a pre-literate culture had to be passed down by word of mouth.  (Did you know, he tells the chef in his irrepressible QI polymath mode, that the very first book printed in Basque was not till 1545! But as the first book printed in English was not till 1471, it’s perhaps not that surprising.)
Via Steerforth, we can see and hear Malcolm Muggeridge interviewing Somerset Maugham some time before 1965 because that’s when Maugham died. It is amazing that this was recorded and is available on YouTube, but how much more amazing are their accents. I showed this to my 10-year-old, as an example of how TV was when I was her age, and how English people used to speak, and she couldn’t understand a word they said:

1 comment:

Richard said...

Steerforth- lovely posts beyond just books. Will book mark, thank you. Have also wondered how authors upset critics- it must be fun at book launches.