Bet You Missed It: What Do Spies and Dinosaurs Have in Common?
Bet You Missed It: W hat Do Spies and Dinosaurs Have in Common?
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Column Editor: Bruce Strauch (The Citadel)
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THE JOY OF TREACHERY by Bruce Strauch (The Citadel)
Let’s read about the Cambridge Spies. (1) Kim Philby, My Silent War
(1968); (2) Yuri Modin, My Five Cambridge Friends (1994) (He was their
handler); (3) Miranda Carter, Anthony Blunt: His Lives (2001); (4)
Phillip Knightley, The Master Spy (1988) (Six days of interviews with a dying
Philby where he opened up and told much. Bedrock on which every study
of the five has been built.); (5) Eleanor Philby, The Spy I Loved (1968)
(This deluded fool left her husband for Philby when he was out of MI6 and a
news correspondent in Beirut. He ditched her when he defected to Moscow).
See — Ben Macintyre, “Five Best,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug.
1617, 2014, p.C10.
BOOZING WITH FAULKNER by Bruce Strauch (The Citadel)
Author Ace Atkins lives, writes and drinks in Oxford, Miss. (15 novels.
The Lost Ones. Broken Places. The Forsaken. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. He
learned much about Faulkner from his niece the late Dean Faulkner Wells.
He says Faulkner had strict rules about his drinking. Vodka indoors; gin
outdoors. No beer after sundown. Smoke with a fine wine and he’d turn over
your glass. The first day of fall he’d take his first sip of straight
bourbon. Between scotch and nothing, he’d take scotch.
Faulkner was mainly civil in his drinking. The binges
were a reward for finishing a book and signing off on a
In a review of Four Roses Single Barrel, Ace sits at
the Rowan Oak Plantation table where the great man sat
reviewing the galley pages of Absalom! Absalom! while
answering the phone to condolence calls for the death of his
brother in a plane crash. Dean was a barnstormer and the
inspiration for Pylon. And on the 15th anniversary to the day
of Dean’s death in 1935, Faulkner took the call announcing
he had won the Nobel Prize.
WELL, IT IS CALLED PERFORMANCE ART by Bruce Strauch (The Citadel)
In La Jolla, CA, Tim Youd is typing The Long Goodbye on a typewriter
brand that Raymond Chandler used and in a locale of the book. Over five
years he intends to retype one hundred classic novels. Sponsored by the
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Public invited.
LIVING LARGE THRU LIT by Bruce Strauch (The Citadel)
The weekly real estate porn section of the WSJ features Dean Koontz’s
7,000 book-lined mansion in Newport Beach, CA. Gravity pool. Ocean
views. Frank Lloyd Wright vibe plus Art Deco. 22-seat home theater based
on Wright’s Unity Temple.
DEATH OF DINOSAURS by Bruce Strauch (The Citadel)
Steve Cohen was threatened by his agent with never
getting published again if he didn’t join the 600 authors backing
Hachette against Amazon.
He goes on to lambast a backward industry that last
innovated with the mass-market paperback in the 1930s. Asks what
other industry responds to declining sales by raising the price?
Hardcover fiction is now selling for $26.63.
The returns system dates to the Great Depression.
Price-testing and cover-testing are nonexistent.
Independent bookstores could stock 35,000 titles max.
Borders 150,000. Amazon can reach for the sky. Yes, your
chance of self-publishing success are slim, but a typical book
by a “real” publisher sells less than 1,000 copies.
DOOM & GLOOM IN AUTHOR LAND by Bruce Strauch (The Citadel)
While on the other side of the pond, we find British
authors’ incomes have fallen off a cliff and the
number able to scratch a living drastically declined.
Median income for the professional author in
UK is £11,000, a drop of 29 percent. Put in all
writers, it drops to £4,000. Will Self says it’s
the result of “an active resistance to difficulty in
all its aesthetic manifestations. You’ve always
been able to comfortably house the British literary
writers who can earn all their living from books in a
single room — that room used to be a reception one, now
it’s a back bedroom.”
See — Alison Flood, “Authors’ incomes collapse to ‘abject’
levels,” The Guardian.com, July 8, 2014.
BLEAK BRITAIN by Bruce Strauch (The Citadel)
Let’s read some thoroughly depressing novels about angry
young working class Brits. Many of these were movies in
the ’60s. (1) Walter Greenwood, Love on the Dole (1933)
(grinding poverty of the Great Depression; hunger marches);
(2) John Braine, Room at the Top (1957) (Demobbed soldier
claws his way up in a vicious world); (3) Alan Sillitoe, The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1959) (petty crime
leads to stint in Borstal); (4) Stan Barstow, A Kind of Loving
(1960) (bitterness, knocked up girlfriend of higher social rank,
miserable marriage); (5) Barry Hines, A Kestrel for a Knave
(1968) (bullied and miserable teen finds solace in a kestrel,
support from a kindly teacher, but still turns out a nobody).
See - Ace Atkins , “A Whiskey Worthy of William Faulkner,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug . 9 - 10 , 2014 , p. D6 .
See - “ The March of Civilization,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug . 12 , 2014 , p. D5 .
See - “ House Call/Dean Koontz,” The Wall Street Journal, July 11 , 2014 , p. M7 .
Against the Grain / September 2014