A Liebster Award!

Erica, at Reading 1900 – 1950, has very kindly nominated Literary Taste for a Liebster Award, a way of bloggers rewarding their fellow bloggers for their work. Being a recipient of a Liebster means including a link to the nominator’s blog, which I very happily do here:

Reading 1900 – 1950

I will also have to nominate another blog (or perhaps blogs) for a Liebster Award (I ask for your patience). Although not a part of the process I would like to say something about Reading 1900-1950 as a way of saying thank you for the kind things Erica wrote about Literary Taste. Living outside of the UK allows me the privilege of looking at positive aspects of life back in the UK and labelling them “British.” That can include a love of history and tradition, saying “excuse me” and “thank you”, forming queues, eccentricity and individuality, the importance of having a hobby, the seaside, knowing how to make tea and why tea is important in moments of crisis. Without falling too heavily for my usual temptation of flippancy Reading 1900-1950 ticks all of these boxes. It is wonderfully British. It is stamped throughout like a piece of Blackpool rock with the words “Labour of Love.” Light is thrown onto the past, books are unearthed and read once more, a community that would never seek to identify itself as one is created and flourishes. With no thought of financial reward  something good is brought into the world and, if only for a while, the mediocre and commonplace are given a run for their money. I think Erica and all the contributors to Reading 1900-1950 should be congratulated with the drinking of tea and the eating of cake for all that they have achieved to give good books (and some less good too) the chance to shine once more!

I need to also answer questions sent to me by Erica. Here goes.

1. Do you ever read contemporary fiction? If so, what contemporary authors do you enjoy?

In any conversation with friends at work about books, they will always say “But you wouldn’t be interested. The author is still alive.” In my defense I would say a couple of things. I have always suffered from whatever phobia covers fear of all bookshops. This is an area of medical research that is ripe for further investigation, As a child I remember walking into John Smith in Glasgow with my 25p and, after exploring all the departments, buying the same thing every time: Charlie Brown and Peanuts. I do read contemporary fiction but apparently only in Spanish. I am currently reading La Berlina de Prim by the Lorca biographer Ian Gibson, It is a historical novel dealing with the search by an Irish journalist for the murderers of the popular and populist General Prim in 1870. So, the writer is alive but all the characters are dead.

2. What would you say is the particular appeal of reading novels from the first half of the twentieth century?

Style. These books were written by people who did not confuse a confident and stylish use of English with a loss of an authentic writer’s voice.

3. What’s the last book you did not finish, and why?

Another Spanish book comes to mind, El Jinete Polaco by Antonio Muñoz Molina. A lot of Spanish fiction suffers, I feel, from the author pushing his way into the action and telling you loudly what is going on and why it is important.

4. What do you think of literary prizes?

A bit like Cowdenbeath. I know it’s there but it doesn’t really impact on my life.

5. Do you have a favourite lost classic or a book you would recommend to everyone?

I’m glad you asked me this one because it lets me write Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark. I feel a number of Spanish authors would benefit from reading it.

6. If you could live in a novel, which one would it be, and why?

It would have to be Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons. Reading it when I was younger made Lenzie seem a small Scottish town on the outskirts of Glasgow. Which it is.

7. Do you have a favourite place for reading?

Lying in bed.

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8 Comments

  1. Well deserved!

    Reply
  2. Thank you, Colin, for your very kind words. You have made me proud to be British! I think at our next reading group I will bake some cakes and serve some tea in celebration. (I have thought about writing a piece on the importance of tea in novels by people like Elizabeth Taylor and Barbara Pym – there’s a wonderful bit in Excellent Women (1952) when the protagonist, Mildred, asks ‘Did we really need a cup of tea? … my question had struck at something deep and fundamental. It was the kind of question that starts a landslide in the mind.’

    I think I may agree with you about style! I have just spent a few happy hours in the University of Sheffield library reading books by Beverley Nichols. The reading room was silent apart from my sniggers. The man had style.

    Girls of Slender Means is one of my favourites too. Thank you for answering my questions.

    Reply
  3. I’m with you on the Arthur Ransome alternative life, but I’d choose Great Northern.

    Reply
    • To me it was always the invented world inside the imagined one that got me day dreaming. What I would have given to have been in Swallow’s prow as it cut across the lake. Although I always skipped the technical stuff about sailing.

      Reply
  4. kaggsysbookishramblings

     /  November 23, 2012

    I have to second your comments about Reading 1900-1950 – you’ve summed up exactly what I like about it!

    And I’m glad you’re enjoying Beverley Nichols, Erica! His style is just wonderful, isn’t it? What a neglected talent.

    Reply
    • I would also like to thank you very much for suggesting my blog to Erica. I’ve never had so many visitors these past few days!

      Reply
    • I’ve just sent off a proposal to a conference to give a paper on Beverley Nichols, so hopefully I will bring him to attention of more people. My Nichols reading pile now includes the autobiog ‘Twenty-Five’, which I’m half way through, ‘Merry Hall’, which I had to buy after sniggering through the first few pages in the library, and possibly best of all ‘Yours Sincerely’, which is a collection of the columns he and Monica Dickens wrote for Woman’s Own. All this from randomly picking up Crazy Pavements from a box of donations!

      Reply
      • kaggsysbookishramblings

         /  November 26, 2012

        Yay! Let’s have a Bring Back Beverley campaign!!

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