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The first screen James Bond was NOT Sean Connery, it was an American actor named Barry Nelson!
04.04.2014
02:07 pm

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Books
History
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Television

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Barry Nelson, the “original” James Bond, seated at left

Although this will probably not come as too much of a surprise to fanatical James Bond fanboys, the very first time 007 was portrayed onscreen it was by an American actor named Barry Nelson! Yep, a Yank James Bond, as seen on a live 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale that was part of a CBS adventure series called Climax!

For the live CBS broadcast, Ian Fleming was paid just $1000 for the rights to his novel. Co-starring with Nelson as the villainous “Le Chiffre” was none other than Peter Lorre, whose typically weasley malevolence is the real reason to watch this (as always, Peter Lorre is great in this role). There’s a “Felix Leiter” character, but he’s the British agent and he’s called “Clarence.”

To add to this topsy-turvy Anglo-American sacrilege, Nelson’s not-so-suave Bond (he’s just terrible and horribly miscast) is referred to as “Jimmy” several times! Jimmy!    (When Casino Royale was made into the 1967 spy movie spoof, Woody Allen’s character, the wimpy nephew of David Niven’s Sir James Bond, was also called “Jimmy Bond.”)

This production was presumed to have been lost since its original 1954 live telecast, until an incomplete version on a kinescope was uncovered by film historian Jim Schoenberger in 1981 and aired as part of a TBS James Bond marathon. Eventually the entire show was located (minus a few seconds of credits) and MGM included it as a DVD extra on their release of the 1967 Casino Royale.

An urban legend persisted for years that following his death scene, Peter Lorre got up an walked to his dressing room, unaware that he was still in the shot, but this was debunked by Snopes.com. (The story had more than a grain of truth in it, this DID actually happen, but it was on a different live televised episode of Climax!)
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Life is a Cabaret: Christopher Isherwood on the real Sally Bowles, Berlin, writing and W. H. Auden
04.03.2014
11:58 am

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Books
Literature

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Christopher Isherwood’s best known fictional character is Sally Bowles, who appeared in his novel Goodbye to Berlin, published in 1939. Sally was a singer in a Berlin nightclub, The Lady Windermere, off Tauentzeinstraße, and was supposedly an heiress (her father owned a mill in Lancashire), and had grand ambitions to become a star.

She had a surprisingly deep, husky voice. She sang badly, without any expression, her hands hanging down at her sides – yet her performance was, in its own way, effective because of her startling appearance and her air of not caring a curse of what people thought of her…

Sally with her emerald green nail varnish (“Divine decadence, darling”) was memorably played by Liza Minelli in the film musical Cabaret, opposite Michael York as Brian Roberts (originally Christopher or “Herr Issyvoo” in the book) and Joel Gray as the Emcee, in 1972.

Sally was more than just one of Christopher’s greatest creations, she was in fact based on the journalist and actress, Jean Ross, who had once shared rooms with Isherwood at Nollendorfstrasse 17, Berlin in the early 1930s.

As Isherwood describes Ross, in this interview on Day at Night from 1974, she was a slightly larger-than-life character, who had the looks of the Hollywood film-star Merle Oberon. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Ross was raised in England, before being sent to finishing school in Switzerland. She attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where she had a bit part in a “Quiky Quota” movie. Ross then moved to Berlin on the promise of some more film work, but this proved to be false, so she began a new career in modeling. It was around this time in 1931 that Ross met Isherwood, as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography explains:

The two became close friends and Isherwood immortalized her as the eponymous heroine of Sally Bowles (1937), subsequently incorporated in his Goodbye to Berlin (1939). Although Ross later claimed that she was not really like Sally Bowles, most of the more outlandish anecdotes Isherwood used in his portrait were based on fact. She insisted that she was a much better singer than Sally Bowles, but her family disagreed.

An affair with a Jewish musician called Götz von Eick, who subsequently became an actor in Hollywood under the name Peter van Eyck, led to her becoming pregnant, and she nearly died after an abortion. She was visiting England when Hitler came to power and so decided not to return to Germany, settling instead in Cheyne Walk, London, where she joined the Communist Party; she remained a member for the rest of her life.

Inspired by Ross and her various wild adventures, Isherwood wrote a long short story, “Sally Bowles,” which he originally intended to include in his novel Mr. Norris Changes Trains, which was published in 1935. Isherwood sent the story to the editor John Lehmann, to be included in his literary magazine New Writing, but he thought it too long. Lehmann also had problems with certain aspects of the story—Sally’s abortion, and the possible issue of a libel suit from Jean Ross. Isherwood claimed the removal of the abortion scene would turn Sally into a “silly little capricious bitch” and would ruin the story’s finish. He also managed to convince Ross to give her permission for the story to be published, little knowing how successful and financially rewarding the fictional Sally Bowles would be.

I am a big fan of Christopher Isherwood’s writing and found him utterly charming and fascinating in this interview on Day at Night, where he talks about his time in Berlin during the thirties, his friendship with the poet W. H. Auden, his life at university and in America, his family, and how his writing is a voyage of self-discovery.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Christopher Isherwood: Revealing documentary ‘A Single Man 1906-86’

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Down the rabbit-hole with Salvador Dali’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’
04.01.2014
12:35 pm

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Art
Books

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It seems like a perfect match, the master of Surrealist painting, Salvador Dali illustrating a classic of nonsense literature, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In 1969, Dali produced thirteen illustrations for a special edition of Carroll’s book published by Maecenas Press-Random House, New York. Dali made twelve heliogravures of original gouaches for each of the book’s twelve chapters, and one engraving for the frontispiece. Dali’s work is startling and beautiful, but at times seems slightly unrelated to the original source material. Even so, they are quite delightful.
 
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Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?’

 
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The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.

 
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`Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English); `now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! Good-bye, feet!’ (for when she looked down at her feet, they seemed to be almost out of sight, they were getting so far off).

 
More of Dali’s illustrations for ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Preposterous Korean cover art for ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’
03.27.2014
01:23 pm

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Books

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I suppose the right word for describing the cover of this South Korean edition of The Diary of Anne Frank is “puzzling.”

How did they come up with this exactly? It looks like an 80s Sweet Valley High novel! Whoever bought this judging the book by its cover, I’m pretty sure came in for quite a shock.

Via Kotaku

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘The JG Ballard Book’ celebrates the ‘Seer of Shepperton’
03.21.2014
03:01 pm

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Books
Literature
Thinkers

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Luca Del Baldo‘s terrific cover portrait of Ballard

This review of The JG Ballard Book is a guest post from Graham Rae

Even though writer James Graham Ballard, the so-called “Seer of Shepperton,” died in 2009, interest in his far-seeing-and-reaching futurologist oeuvre has not waned any. More specifically, his memory and legacy have been kept alive by a dedicated band of Ballardians, as his devotees are known, who converse on a Yahoo group about every JGB-related topic under the (empire of the) sun.

One such dedicated Ballardian is Canadian Rick McGrath. He runs the excellent site www.jgballard.ca, where he has all manner of material on display about the writer – interviews, non-fiction, videos, etc. Shoot on over there and have a look for yourself. Fellow Ballardian James Goddard suggested to McGrath that he might try self-publishing a book, so he put out a call for material to various JGB-interested parties round the world, being pleasantly surprised at the response he got. The JG Ballard Book, of course, is the end result, and is also a self-confessed nod to RE/Search 8/9, V. Vale’s seminal 1984 book which helped introduce Ballard to the American audience.

As I said, it’s self-published (easily available through the usual channels), being ex-adman McGrath’s first ever attempt at publishing, and I’d have to say it’s a damned fine-looking book. Starting with the great painting of Ballard on the cover by extremely talented, amiable Italian painter Luca Del Baldo, the book is jam-packed with 191 pages of well-reproduced full-color Ballard letters, interviews with hand-written corrections by the writer, bibliographies, etc; a real smorgasbord of juicy Ballardania for any fan of the writer. Color photos and cover reproductions and such jump from nearly every page of The JG Ballard Book, and it’s a real pleasure to look at from start to finish. This is a labor of love, and it really shows.

There are a huge amount of first-hand JGB reproductions here, and they’re great to see. I have a few letters from the man myself, having very occasionally corresponded with him in the 90s and noughties, and it’s always great to see his sometimes-cryptic handwriting detailing his deep-dish creative thoughts on some headscratcher existential mystery or other. Besides all the reproducing of JGB handwritten materials, there are also a lot of excellent interpretive articles by Ballard admirers in the book, focusing on some aspect of his work and discussing it at length.

Thus we have Peter Brigg examining the writer’s attempts at transcending/rearranging the human concept of time (“JG Ballard: Time Out of Mind,” a really thought-provoking piece); a discussion of why JGB has been so poorly served with his book covers and what might be done to rectify this, “Visualizing the Ballardian Image” (writer Rick Poynor reckons that ‘narrative figuration’ artist Peter Klasen’s splintered-view images, synchronous with Ballard’s writing during the 60s and 70s, would provide a great marriage of aesthetic minds); inspired-lateral-thinking piece “JG Ballard in the Dissecting Room,” where Mike Bonsall purchased a copy of the same edition of Cunningham’s anatomy book the young JGB used when studying medicine at Cambridge and points out passages in the writer’s work that could have been inspired by the dissection diagrams and explanatory texts; a travelogue of McGrath’s own visit to Ballard’s childhood Shanghai home in “JG Ballard’s Shanghai”; and many more.

Aside from analytical writings, McGrath and his fellow Ballardians (including David Pringle, JGB’s Scottish archivist, who tentatively announced last year his starting work on a definitive Ballard biography) have dug up things like rare interviews never collected anywhere before, or even expanded reprints of already-familiar Q&As. These reminded me of why I started reading Ballard in the first place. I always personally liked his interviews more than a lot of his writing, to be perfectly honest, all those amazing thought processes in full flow and flower, which is why I was so glad to see this sort of stuff included.  The old-worldview-destroying firecrackers and depth charges of deep thought peppered liberally throughout the interviews and fiction were what kept me coming back to Ballard. Stuff like this, from the 1981 short story “News From the Sun,” as singled out by Peter Brigg:

“The whole process of life is the discovery of the imminent past contained in the present. At the same time, I feel a growing nostalgia for the future, a memory of the future I have already experienced but somehow forgotten. In our lives we try to repeat those significant events that have already taken place in the future. As we grow older we feel an increasing nostalgia for our own deaths, through which we have already passed. Equally, we have a growing premonition of our births, which are about to take place. At any moment we may be born for the first time.”

You just think about that for a while. Isn’t that just great? You just feel your brain being buffeted back and forth and up and down and round and about by the strength of Ballard’s intellect and ability at getting philosophical brainteasers down on the page, and it’s just a joy to sit and think about what he has said and run it through our minds, savoring the fine seditious vintage of his brilliant intellect. Nobody else has ever, to my knowledge, written like that, and nobody ever will again. Which is why Ballard’s death left such a huge, unfillable hole in world thought and literature.

And why books like McGrath’s are such a necessity and pleasure. Unlike his American counterpart-cum-literary-outlaw hero William S Burroughs, JG Ballard seems to have already started to slide from view into obscurity. At least on the American side of the Atlantic, that is; in the UK he is still venerated by the London media and chattering classes, and quoted fairly constantly by the likes of Will Self and John Gray, a rent-a-gob duo who seem boringly terminally fixated on JGB at the expense of their own thoughts on things. Still, all in the cause of keeping Ballard’s memory alive, so it’s all well and good. (Hopefully the announced production of High Rise will remedy this also.)

Ballard’s daughter Fay likes The JG Ballard Book a great deal, which should tell you something. It’s perfect for the hardcore Ballard enthusiast, though as an introduction to the writer I think it may be a bit esoteric, as it assumes a familiarity with the subject matter under discussion. But the interviews and interpretive pieces might provide an inroad into Ballard’s work and thought for those uninitiated would-be readers who wonder what all the fuss was and is about. McGrath, bolstered by the way the volume turned out, and the good reception it has had, is already planning a second volume to be published through The Terminal Press, his own wee publishing house. If the quality of this volume is anything to go by, with the amount of uncollected Ballardania floating round the world, the Canadian may be keeping JG Ballard’s memory alive for many years to come, and that would be nothing but a good thing.
 

A 2003 BBC profile of Ballard

Previously from Graham Rae on Dangerous Minds:
Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel: Nailing a whole lot of ‘Hole’ and ‘Nail,’ an exegesis

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy’: Super twisted kids’ book about Satanic ritual abuse
03.17.2014
03:16 pm

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Belief
Books

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Damn, I don’t remember seeing this warm and fuzzy children’s book Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy—about Satanic ritual abuse—at my school’s library! The book, published in 1990 by Doris Sanford, is some crazy shit. Perhaps it’s even the scariest children’s book ever written? 

The book’s description:

The words of the text and the objects and situations illustrated are based on months of intensive research into the nature and practice of satanic ritual abuse. Any child who has been ritually abused will recognize the validity of this story.

Apparently the book was marketed towards school counselors, parents, mental health professionals and support groups to help identify signs of Satanic Ritual Abuse or SRA.

Here are some Amazon reviews if you’re on the fence on whether or not to buy this book:

- One HELL of a good read. Devilishly funny. My son, Damian, thought it was the funniest book he’s ever read. An all around great book to read around the sulfur pit with the family. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but honestly, LOOK AT IT.

- 4 year old saw this book and she is begging parents to send her to this school, where on earth are we going find a satanist school for the brat.

- You have to be a detective to follow the “story.” The book forces you to deduce the storyline from the progression of settings, because the book never tells you what is happening or why, or even who is talking. The child in the “story” just materializes in new contexts without explanation. The reader’s reactions are constantly along the lines of, “Where is she now? What is happening? Who is this person? Who is talking?” Each page introduces a new disjointed scenario and a new unattributed quotation, and it’s up to the reader to try to figure out what’s going on.

It’s like a simpleton’s version of True Detective...


 

 

 

 
Via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Lord of Garbage’: Smell just like sleazy rock legend Kim Fowley with his ‘Garbage’ perfume
03.14.2014
07:00 pm

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Books

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Over the weekend, I read the first installment of Kim Fowley’s amazing autobiography, Lord of Garbage (Kicks Books) and it’s the best rock and roll book I’ve read since… since…since I don’t know. Maybe it’s the best rock and roll book I’ve ever read. I sure as hell can’t wait for volumes two and three, that’s for certain. The first book covers Kim’s life from his birth in 1939 to 1969 when he was thirty and in the thick of it. It has been said of him that he is the “Zelig” of rock and roll and this is, of course, a pretty good shorthand to describe what you’ll get here. There is a fascinating anecdote about someone famous on nearly every page and it’s big, big fun. I highly recommend it. The man has lived an incredible life.

But I noticed a curious curio being advertised in the back of the book, a “Garbage” fragrance courtesy of man himself.

Yes, that’s right, Kim Fowley, infamous cult figure, “Animal Man” of Hollywood, manager of The Runaways, songwriter and record producer of world renown and a man generally described as “sleazy” by just about everyone, including Kim himself, has his own perfume:

The brooding complexity of Kim Fowley’s signature scent is reflected in this fruity but absurd potion that suits lads and ladies alike. Sprinkle on a pillow before sleep, and all will become evident. Packaged with authentic black PVC garbage bag and a record spindle.

“Fruity but absurd”?!? That must smell incredible! Maybe the next scent he comes out with should be called “Foul”?
 

 
When I interviewed the legendary rock-n-roll raconteur in 2011—maybe “interviewed” is the wrong word because you just sort of hit “play” with Kim—I don’t recall him smelling particularly good or bad, but he did ask me to drop him off afterwards at the “LA Exotica” convention going on in downtown Los Angeles. He’d been there the day before, picked up two women and had a threesome with them (he was 71 at the time and beaming with devilish pride). As we drove down the 10 freeway towards the convention center, he explained that his goal that day was a second helping, of, as he put it, “dirty pussy.”

Kim Fowley does not disappoint in person, neither does he disappoint on the printed page. Miss his essential Lord of Garbage at your own risk.

The awesome LA Record has a comic strip adaptation of Lord of Garbage here.

“Animal Man”

“Bubble Gum” (as covered by Sonic Youth)

Kim Fowley’s entire Animal God Of The Streets album. This man is an unheralded genius. Listen to this! It will change your life!

“The Great Telephone Robbery”—prank calls by Kim Fowley from the Good Clean Fun album

Below, the two parts of the 2011 interview mentioned above. Thrill to gossipy stories of Sly Stone and Doris Day; Sonny and Cher; Cat Stevens, Led Zeppelin, Gene Vincent and more:

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Ray Bradbury’s advice on life and writing: ‘Don’t think about things, just do them’
03.11.2014
10:22 am

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Books

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Ray Bradbury told an audience at the San Diego Comic Con in 2010 that the secret to life is being in love—in love with life, with who you are and what you do. It was something the great writer reiterated in the documentary film A Conversation with Ray Bradbury.

“The things that you do should be the things that you love; and things that you love should be things that you do.”

It’s sound advice from a writer who said he was as a “Zen Buddhist” from the moment he was born.

“I live in the middle of existence, there are no perimeters, all I have to do is be.”

Bradbury also said something similar about writing: “Don’t think about things, just do them.” He believed over intellectualizing damaged the creative force.

“I never went to college — I don’t believe in college for writers.  The thing is very dangerous. I believe too many professors are too opinionated and too snobbish and too intellectual, and the intellect is a great danger to creativity … because you begin to rationalize and make up reasons for things, instead of staying with your own basic truth — who you are, what you are, what you want to be.  I’ve had a sign over my typewriter for over 25 years now, which reads ‘Don’t think!’ You must never think at the typewriter — you must feel.  Your intellect is always buried in that feeling anyway.”

Bradbury also described himself as a “Martian” and he advocated for the colonization of the Moon, with ambitions to populate Mars in 300 to 400 years time. From Mars, he hoped humans would travel on to the outward reaches of the universe. He was pleased that so many NASA astronauts had been inspired by reading his fictions. In the same way, Bradbury himself had been inspired to write by reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, Edgar Allan Poe, the Prince Valiant comics, and the poet Alexander Pope.

He loathed the Internet, and had no truck with eBooks or on-line publishers, claiming books were not just filled with great stories, but were important receptacles for our senses (the feel of the paper, the scent of the page), that kept safe good memories. Something the digital world, he believed, fails to do.

As can be seen from this conversation, Ray Bradbury was one of those very precious writers, whose infectious enthusiasm for life inspires and makes everything just that little bit better.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Shrek in the orgone box: William Steig’s misanthropic drawings for Wilhelm Reich
03.10.2014
02:22 pm

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Art
Books
History
Kooks
Unorthodox

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Cartoonist William Steig is beloved, and rightly so. Starting in the 1930s, his thousands of New Yorker panels (and over 100 covers) made him a giant in the cartooning world, and showed him to be an astute observer and renderer of human nature and the consequences of social class conditions (and a gifted ironist, to boot). His late-in-life career detour into children’s books yielded classics like CDB!, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, and the completely awesome Rotten Island. Then in 1990, he wrote a little 32 page book about an ogre named Shrek, which has been adapted into four massively successful films (so far) and more video game spinoffs than I feel like trying to count. Steig’s gifts were lost to us in 2003, when he died at age 95.

A bit of trivia: Steig was a devotee of the controversial theories of Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich.
 

Wilhelm Reich, after an apparent encounter with David Lynch’s barber
 
There is plenty to read online about Reich, both pro and con, so I will not go into great depth here. Reich was a psychotherapy pioneer, an associate of Freud’s in the 1920s, who went on to adopt some extreme positions. He was blindingly obsessed with the importance of orgasmic potency, and advocated levels of sexual permissiveness that alienated many of his contemporaries. Reich’s later career was devoted to the exploration of a cosmic energy that linked physical and mental/emotional health, “discovered” by and apparently detectable only to him, that he dubbed “orgone.” This led to his construction of supposedly therapeutic devices like the “orgone accumulator,” and “orgone cannons” (“cloudbusters”) that he claimed could be used as rainmaking devices. None of these claims have withstood scientific scrutiny, but they still have impassioned devotees.

US government medical authorities, believing Reich to be not misguided, but in fact a fraudster, won legal injunctions against the distribution of orgone accumulators as unlicensed medical devices in 1954. In 1956, Reich was imprisoned for violating that injunction, and, in one of the most notorious and singularly revolting episodes of official censorship in US history, the government supervised the burning of six tons of Reich’s books, devices, and clinical notes. Reich died in prison before he finished serving his two-year sentence, which, combined with the book burning, made a martyr of him among the types of people who think they can build perpetual motion machines in their garages and those knee-jerky “libertarian” paranoiacs who assume that anything that’s been suppressed MUST BE TRUE. However, despite Reich’s pariah status, there are ideas worth discussing in works like The Mass Psychology of Fascism and The Function of the Orgasm, among others. The title of his 1936 work The Sexual Revolution was certainly prophetic enough.
 

 
Reich and Steig’s works converged in 1949, when, frustrated that his work wasn’t being taken seriously by mainstream science (also a lil’ frustrated that he wasn’t being hailed as a savior of mankind), Reich penned an amazing and engaging screed denouncing the pettiness and stupidity of humanity, called Listen, Little Man! In it, he lambasted humanity for what he, with plentiful justification, saw as an overwhelming laziness in people, who eagerly favored their herd instincts over their greater potential, collaborating in the self-defeating destruction not just of society, but of the species itself, and so become less victim than harbinger. In the wake of WWII (ethnically a Jew, Reich fled Europe in the ‘30s), he saw little in the defeat of the Nazis to convince him that people weren’t just embracing different reasons to goose-step. The book loses some of its potency when you realize that he’s mainly so upset with people because his theories were being rejected, so ultimately you’re reading a self-mythologizing, self-pitying lashing out, a lengthy screed not unlike Bela Lugosi’s famous “I have no home” speech in Bride of the Monster. It’s still a great read if you’re in a misanthropic mood, and it contains wonderful artwork by William Steig.
 

 
Steig had skillfully handled this sort of content before, in his own books About People, The Lonely Ones, and Persistent Faces. Inspired by Picasso and Klee, he abandoned the relatively realistic brush-and-ink drawings that shaped his early fame and moved towards a more stark, abstract style, at once loopy and angular, obeisant only to the emotional truth of a character. And his assessments of wayward humanity became more and more brutal and incisive. This work was caricature as revelation. In his introduction to The Lonely Ones the great New Yorker writer Wolcott Gibbs wrote

Mr. Steig offers us a series of impressions of people set off from the rest of the world by certain private obsessions, usually, it seems, by a devotion to some particularly disastrous clichéd thought or behavior. They are not necessarily unhappy. Some of them, in fact, are obviously only too well pleased with themselves…

Righty Reich…

The illustrations in Listen, Little Man! are obviously well within this particular body of Steig’s work, and they constitute some of its most trenchant examples. It seems clear that this style of Steig’s was shaped to a degree by his therapeutic relationship and friendship with Reich—Steig even wrote the preface to Reich’s Children of the Future. Steig’s follow-up to Listen, The Agony in the Kindergarten, was absolutely a Reichian work, in which Steig BLASTED, with breathtakingly powerful pairings of pain-filled drawings and simple captions, the way Western childhood development can be pockmarked or even derailed by adult repression. Which invariably leads to the cultivation of grownups like those in Listen Little Man!, who really are just awful, awful people.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Your favorite new publisher for hip, cult, and brilliant works of literature
03.07.2014
10:26 am

Topics:
Books
Literature

Tags:

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If, like me, you have sold or lost a favorite book and, no matter how hard you try, cannot find a replacement volume in some second-hand bookshop, dime rack, or yard sale, then you will probably be delighted to hear about Valancourt Books, which publishes a fabulous selection of lost classics, well-loved out-of-print novels, and neglected works of literature.

Valancourt Books are not only saving these authors for another generation, it is publishing books that seriously demand to be read. Let’s take a cue from cult novelist Michael Moorcock, who wrote this about the publishers:
 

Valancourt Books are fast becoming my favourite publisher.  They have made it their business, with considerable taste and integrity, to put back into print a considerable amount of work which has been in serious need of republication.  Their list has been compiled by editors who know their stuff, bringing back into the light a raft of books I, for one, have been waiting years to read!  If you ever felt there were gaps in your reading experience or are simply frustrated that you can’t find enough good, substantial fiction in the shops or even online, then this is the publisher for you!


 
Even the Times Literary Supplement got in on the act, stating:
 

Valancourt Books specializes in new editions of rare and sometimes almost entirely forgotten fiction from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. These are not cheap reprints: the “Classics” range comes annotated with scholarly introductions and, in some cases, contextualizing appendices. […] Valancourt Books is to be lauded for the scope of its ambition. It will spare scholars and the atmosphere many long-distance journeys to university and copyright libraries, and makes available to the lay enthusiast some curious marginalia from the history of the novel.

 
No mean praise there. And I have certainly found many of my favorite authors here, including John Blackburn, whose novel Broken Boy is a chilling, dark classic. It was truly a shame that Blackburn was all but forgotten until his rediscovery by Valancourt Books. Blackburn wrote such damnably good novels as A Scent of New Mown Hay, and Nothing But the Night, which was made into a rather disappointing film—just read the book and you’ll see what I mean.

But it’s not just thrills; there’s the sadly neglected author David Storey, whose early novel This Sporting Life was filmed by Lindsay Anderson. Storey also wrote plays (In Celebration and Home being the most notable) and several award-winning novels, in particular Pasmore, and the Booker Prize-winning Saville.

We’re just getting started; other writers whose works have been saved from literary limbo include J. B. Priestley, John Braine, Hilda Lewis, Gillian Freeman, Gerald Kersh, Jennifer Dawson, Keith Waterhouse, and Colin Wilson. There’s a wide selection of lost Gothic literature, gay fiction and nonfiction, and a diverse selection of modern novels. Don’t take my word for it—go have a browse, and I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like.
 
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More covers from Valancourt Books, after the jump…..
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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