Friday, April 30, 2010

Picador Books - Part 11 – Damon Runyon, Salman Rushie, Jose Saramago, Jonathan Schell, Idries Shah, Josef Skvorecky, Lee Smith

This is the second last post on Picadors, as I should be able to knock off the final thirteen books in my next entry.

A good couple of books to start this post are two Damon Runyon collections. As I wrote previously, Runyon was “best known for his short stories celebrating the world of Broadway in New York City that grew out of the Prohibition era. To New Yorkers of his generation, a "Damon Runyon character" evoked a distinctive social type from the Brooklyn or Midtown demi-monde.”
His style is very individual and he is very quotable, for instance this one:
“I came to the conclusion long ago that all life is six to five against.”
runyon_firsttolast runyon_onbroadway
Salman Rushdie won the Booker Prize for Midnight’s Children in 1981. If I recall, I never could get into it all that much and failed to finish the book. Perhaps I should give it another chance.


Baltasar and Blimunda by Portuguese novelist Jose Saramago is a magic realist historical novel set in the 18th Century. It is many years since I have it, but I recall being charmed by the story at the time it was purchased.


And now for something completely different, not fiction at all, but Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth – a chilling description of the consequences of nuclear war. The cover is understandably stark and bleak.


On a lighter note The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin and The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin, by Persian writer Idries Shah, are humorous collections of folklore, featuring Nasrudin, “a fictional legendary satirical Sufi figure who is believed by some to have existed during the Middle Ages (around 13th century), in Akşehir, and later in Konya, under the Seljuq rule. Nasreddin was a populist philosopher and wise man, remembered for his funny stories and anecdotes.” - from Wikipedia.

shah_nasrudin1 shah_nasrudin2
From Persia we proceed to Czechoslovakia and Josef Skvorecky’s great novel, Miss Silver’s Past. I recently reread this novel and enjoyed it tremendously. It is a satire on the publishing industry in Soviet controlled Czechoslovakia, a murder mystery and a tale of obsession. The Picador edition has a very evocative cover and a foreword by Graham Greene.


Finally, for this entry, a multi-generational mystery by American writer Lee Smith, Family Linen.

The final Picador post will feature various ‘T’ to ‘Z’ authors including Emma Tennant, D M Thomas, Sigrid Undset and Monique Wittig.

No comments: