Monday, June 04, 2007

In praise of a book about gouache

Also in today's blog

Being driven mad by the comment situation
Past Forgetting : a reply to Lorna's comment

Being driven mad by the comment situation

This morning Blogger informed me that
"Adrian Weston has left a new comment on your post "Is there a market for novels about older women?"

The text of his comment was -
"really age should be no barrier on all sorts of books: I loved Mary Stewart as a teenage boy (having got into her via her more teenage-friendly Arthurian books, but then working my way through my mother's stash of the rest of her fiction) plus all sorts of books by men and women of all ages and eras. It deeply depresses me that there is the expectation that people should only want to read books by people of the same gender and age as themselves. If you think about it it's a ludicrous proposition ("Oh, no Mike, I haven't read The Kite Runner because, y'know, I'm not like from Afghanistan") - I mean, really, isn't fiction supposed to be about getting into places, thoughts, feelings that are not necessarily our own. It's actually something I get quite heated about, given too much rumination. My eldest child is currently doing GCSEs and looking at how lame the curriculum is nowadays ("why, when I were a lad...&c &c") and I think it's largely from the belief that people can't relate to experiences that diverge from their own.

Oh, I despair.


I despair.

Shuffle off.

At the moment this does not appear where it should and I can't find a way to make it do so. The cache where, recently, I found about ten comments waiting to be released is proving elusive.

My apologies, Adrian. Will keep trying. Meanwhile thanks for your input.

In praise of a book about gouache

As he was returning some videos to Guernsey's public library, I asked Mr Bookworm to bring back a couple of books I had checked in the online catalogue.

One was Pamela Kay - A Personal View - Gouache [David & Charles 1995 £17.99] and the other Fathers and Sons, The Autobiography of a Family by Alexander Waugh [Headline 2004 £20].

Pamela Kay's book was not to be found so Mr B consulted a librarian who fetched it down from the library's reserves. The loan stamps showed it was borrowed for the first time in August 1997 from which I conclude it was bought at the request of a library member.

It was borrowed seven times in 1997, four times in 1998, 1999 and 2000 and twice in 2001. Then it was transferred to the "stack" or reserves.

At the New English Art Club site, I learned that there is also a monograph on Pamela Kay, written by Michael Spender and published two years before her book. [By mistake, I showed the jacket of the Spender book in last Wednesday's blog.] There are five used and new copies for sale, the prices ranging from £44.55 to £167.99. No reviews.

On the Amazon page about Pamela Kay's book, two reviewers praise it, one of them writing, "There aren't many books around on the art of gouache painting and a great many misconceptions surround this medium. As someone relatively new to gouache I was interested in Pamela Kay's book, which seeks to inform and enlighten its readers. Her art is very beautiful and her descriptions evocative and detailed. A wonderfully insightful book, highly recommended."

In her acknowledgements at the front of the book, Pamela Kay writes, "My grateful thanks must also go to John Ward, in whose atelier I learned so much."

Past Forgetting : a reply to Lorna's comment

It was afternoon tea time in Guernsey when I read your comment on Thursday, Lorna.

I'm replying here so that I can show the jacket of another book called Past Forgetting. [A number of books with this title are listed at Amazon UK]

The one I bought when I spotted it in a bookshop is Past Forgetting: A Memoir of Heroes, Adventure, Love and Life with Fitzroy Maclean by Lady Veronica Maclean, published by Headline in 2003.

"Veronica MacLean was born in the 1920s in the Scottish Highlands to the illustrious Fraser family and married the diplomat and politician Sir Fitzroy Maclean. "Past Forgetting" is the story of her life played out against the dramatic social, political and diplomatic history of the 20th century. From her acquaintance with the Kennedys, Bushes and the Astors to her friendships with Belloc, John Singer Sargent and Freya Stark, the autobiography also charts her journeys overland to China, Persia and Yugoslavia, her lecture tours in America and her medical mission to the Balkans in the late 1990s."

You ask what happened to the book about Longwarden I was going to call Past Forgetting from the song I'll See You Again written by Noel Coward for his 1929 operetta Bitter Sweet.

I'll see you again,
Whenever spring breaks through again.
Time may lie heavy between,
But what has been
Is past forgetting.
This sweet memory
Across the years will come to me;
Tho' my world may go awry,
In my heart will ever lie
Just the echo of a sigh,

Unhappy first experience of mainstream publishing

What happened was that I wasn't happy with my first experience of mainstream publishing. Having started writing in my twenties, by the late Eighties I had been published by the legendary Boon brothers for 30 years and imagined that other publishers would be like them. Which, ten or fifteen years earlier, some still were.

But by 1987, publishing was starting to change into the "industry" as we see it today; a world of giant corporations heavily influenced by marketing people rather than experienced editors.

Also I had begun to realise that I couldn't write 250,000 words of mainstream fiction a year plus two romances for Mills & Boon totalling around 110,000 words. I was going to have to make a choice.

At that time, M&B were enjoying what are now seen as the "golden years" for romance authors, still relatively few in number and, if they had a good track record, encouraged to write as they pleased rather than obeying the diktats of marketing people with regards to themes and titles.

Before I had made up my mind, a mainsteam editor I had met and liked made a good offer for next Longwarden novel. Less experienced writers would have jumped at the opportunity, but I read the book trade press and was uneasy about future of the company. While I was hesitating, the editor was moved to another imprint and her successor didn't like the Longwarden proposal. So I put Longwarden on hold for a while, a situation which has continued for a long time.

Now I think the best thing to do is to publish the book myself. I really couldn't bear another jacket like the one on the paperback of All My Worldly Goods which shows six of the main characters looking nothing like my idea of them, particularly Nick Dean.

He, as Lorna knows, returned to Longwarden after two years as a caballero legionario in the Spanish Foreign Legion but is shown on the cover looking pasty-faced instead of bronzed and wearing a French Foreign Legion kepi instead of the scarlet-tasselled cap he should have.


At 06 June, 2007, Blogger Adrian Weston said...

Ta Anne, nice to know you hadn't just moderated me out of the blogosphere! At least people are commenting on your blog even if not appearing - I'm having a comment drought on booksthatmatter which is worrying me, as it makes me think I must be too dull to respond to and paranoia is such an unappealing trait.

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