Archive for ‘Mervyn Peake’

October 5, 2006

The Peake Test

While searching for something else entirely I found this article on Mervyn Peake, one of the most important people in my bookshelf. Peake was a brilliant, often overlooked writer and artist, and a slightly erratic but still wonderful poet. He’s also one of those writers you either love or…don’t.

Which is why I have, for the past few years, been using the Peake test, or the Peakometre. I ask people if they have read Peake. If they have not (as is usually the case) I wait and watch for other signs of compatibility. If they have and they dislike him (or worse, are indifferent to him), I lose hope. If they love him, I like them immediately. If, the first time I’ve ever spoken to them they say they wish fantasy had gone in the Peake direction instead of the Tolkien one* we are friends for life. Is this a fair or even rational way of choosing one’s friends? Probably not.

I have forced the Gormenghast books down various people’s throats. Shikha took ages to get past the first few pages because of the sheer loveliness of them, she’d keep rereading them. (She did eventually get around to the rest. She loved it, of course). Bhuvi is currently refusing to give me back the copy of Gormenghast she borrowed (luckily I have two. hah!). I bought Mieville’s Perdido Street Station because he’d mentioned Peake on the acknowledgements page. The verse at the top of this blog is from Peake’s A Reverie of Bone.

here are the basics. Read him if you haven’t already.

*Yes I do love Tolkien, but that’s irrelevant to this discussion.

June 5, 2006


On a trip to Daryaganj yesterday (details here)I picked up a book titled Wodehouse the Fictionist by Maha Nand Sharma. It’s a rather interesting book of Wodehouse litcrit. Since I like crit and I love Wodehouse, I was quite pleased with it.

When I got home and looked through it, I noticed there was a little note on the first page: Presented to Prof. J. N. Kapur with compliments. – Maha Nand Sharma. It was actually presented to someone by the author…probably when the book was published, five years before I was born. I find this terribly interesting for some reason.

Also obtained:

Gormenghast and Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake (yes I already own them, but I couldn’t just leave them there)
Selected Poems by Mervyn Peake (omg squee!)

The Female Man by Joanna Russ – I’d been looking for it for ages.

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, in horrible condition, but still.

The Holy Thief by Ellis Peters for some casual, fun reading.

Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers, because Shloka has instructed me to fall in love with Lord Peter Wimsey

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. The man infuriates me, but I just keep reading him. Why is this?

Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer. But only for my mother. *nods vigorously*. I would never read her! Um.*

The Book of Merlyn by T.H White. Once again, I squee madly. SQUEE!

In other and more important news, it is Isheeta’s birthday. She is wonderful, so everyone must worship her.

* Since the holidays started, most of my reading has been Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer. Yes, I am publically admitting this. Apparently I have no self respect. You may now mock me.

June 13, 2005


Since Aditya has forced me into it…*grumble*

1. Total number of books I own:
This question was obviously created for people who have something like 10. Someday I intend to catalogue my books, and I’ll be able to give you a more specific figure then. But for now…somewhere in three figures?

2. Last book(s) I bought:
Hogfather – Pratchett, My Name is Red – Pamuk, Waking Up Screaming – Lovecraft

3. Five books I love:
(This changes regularly)
Needle in the Groove – Jeff Noon: Anything Noon writes is brilliant. This is the first of his books I read, and the one I have experienced most intensely.
The Gormenghast Trilogy – Mervyn Peake: Much as I love Tolkien, I wish fantasy had gone the Peake way instead. Magnificent, dark, funny, evocative, weird.
The Once and Future King – T.H.White: The sword in the stone is a bit silly, but it gets better. It gets amazing. Well researched, but funny. And I always cry when Arthur explains himself to little Tom Malory.
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien: Not the Tolkien book most people would choose. But it’s special because a)it was my first Tolkein book and b)it doesn’t take itself as seriously as the others
Night Watch – Terry Pratchett: Pratchett’s best.

4. Special mention?:
Anything by China Mieville (this rec is especially for Aditya, who will love him), Eco, Wodehouse, Adams, Angela Carter, Borges, Jeanette Winterson, Neil Gaiman, Calvino. Neal Stephenson’s Baroque cycle is mostly very good, and Susanna Clarke has inpressed me greatly with JS&MN and a short story of hers that Neil Gaiman linked to sometime around Halloween.

5. Books I’m reading right now:
Slowly getting through Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and giggling through a Blandings omnibus.(Imperial Blandings – an old favourite) Just finished The Moon Riders (Theresa Tomlinson), My Name is Red (Orhan Pamuk) and rereads of Hogfather and Baudolino.

6. Books that changed my life:
Bashful the Clumsy Bear by Pat Posner. This is the book I learned to read from. I still own it.
The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. Without this I would never have met the love of my life (the love of the past few years, anyway)

7. Funniest I ever read:
The trinity – Pratchett, Wodehouse, Adams. If you were talking about humour in general I’d add the Pythons.

8. Never wanted to end:
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. And The Scar by Mieville.

9. Favourite literary characters:
Sir Samuel Vimes, Death (The Discworld one), Sepulchrave, Clarence Emsworth, Albertina (Angela Carter – The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman)

10. Ideal character for a dining companion:
Havelock Vetinari.

No booktags because I’m a nice girl.
Well? That wasn’t too hard…do you feel like you know me better?