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Archive for August, 2009

The enigmatic investigator: Mr Lemony Snicket

The enigmatic investigator: Mr Lemony Snicket

It’s a chilling warning: “As if the recession weren’t bad enough, now British readers have the threat of a new series from Mr Snicket hanging over them,” Cally Poplak, director of publisher Egmont, tells The Guardian this week. “As a responsible publisher, of course we shall put all our efforts into ensuring no child is exposed to yet more misery from Mr Snicket’s investigations.”

The Bad Beginning

Here comes trouble: Book one – The Bad Beginning

Lemony Snicket‘s reports into the harrowing lives of the Baudelaire siblings, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, began in 1999. Snicket (the pseudonym of American author Daniel Handler) brought the sorrowful plight of the trio – orphaned by their evil uncle, Count Olaf, in his attempts to get his claws into their family’s wealth – to the world over 13 books: A Series of Unfortunate Events.

And, once the series came to an end in 2006, and the trials and tribulations of the poor Baudelaires had been made public (helped in no small part by a 2004 film adaptation of the first three books, starring Jim Carrey as the crawling Count Olaf) that was the last we heard of tenacious young Violet, Klaus and Sunny. 

Count culture: Jim Carrey calls attention to the frightful plight of the Baudelaires in 2004's film adaptation

Count culture: Jim Carrey calls attention to the frightful plight of the Baudelaires in 2004's film adaptation

Will we pick up with them again? Has Snicket unearthed more devastating tales of dread and deathly disasters? The Bind, alas, remains in the dark, and Snicket’s investigations shrouded in secrecy. “I can neither confirm nor deny that I have begun research into a new case,” is all the elusive sleuth Snicket will reveal, “and I can neither confirm nor deny that the results are as dreadful and unnerving as A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

Reader, you have been warned.

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Retro pattern fiends and curtain makers rejoice! Those lovely people at the Victoria & Albert Museum have thrown open their archives of prints, wallpapers and textiles and laid the dusted-down innards bare in the V&A Pattern book series. The first four installments are published this month.

V&APatternBooks 
These four titles cover (pictured above, L-R) the mind-boggling creations of  ‘Digital Pioneers’, the stunning style of ‘The Fifties’, exotic and sensuous ‘Indian Florals’ and the eye-popping patterns *swoon* of ‘William Morris‘.

William Morris's 'Single Stem' print

William Morris's 'Single Stem' print

The first to find its way into my loving arms (and my disc drive – each book is accompanied by a CD of all the images featured in it) will surely be the tome of Morris’s treasure. All those muted twisted thistles and lolloping leaves remind me of childhood mornings, lying in bed in my grandparents’ spare room and visually picking apart the gradually brightening patterns printed on the curtains while waiting for the signal (the bright tinkle of the bell on Sian the Cairn Terrier’s collar) that it was no longer too early to get up, trot downstairs and empty the contents of the Fimo box out on the kitchen table.

One of the V&A's Indian Patterns

One of the V&A's Indian Patterns

Check out the chintz for yourself with the limited-edition boxed set for £30 (the books are available individually for £7.99) from the new V&A Bookshop, the V&A Museum’s shop or online.

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Photo: Steve Forrest/Rex Features

Photo: Steve Forrest/Rex Features

Britain’s best-loved bookish eccentric, techy Twitterer and fantasy uncle (imagine the Christmas party games!) Stephen Fry has long worn his Oscar Wilde-loving heart on his sleeve. Brian Gilbert’s 1997 film Wilde saw Fry cast as the exuberant author, and recently he noted the formative influence of Wilde’s work in his navigating that pot-hole riddled road between awkward adolescence and a more assured adulthood relatively unbruised.

MoabIsMyWashpot_Cover

In 1973, a 16-year-old Stephen Fry penned a letter to his middle-aged self (published in 1997’s autobiography Moab is my Washpot) and in response to his teenage self Fry recently wrote, via The Guardian:

“I know what you are doing now, young Stephen. It’s early 1973. You are in the library, cross-referencing bibliographies so that you can find more and more examples of queer people in history, art and literature against whom you can hope to validate yourself. Leonardo, Tchaikovsky, Wilde, Barons Corvo and von Gloeden… So many great spirits really do confirm that hope! It emboldens you to know that such a number of brilliant (if often doomed) souls shared the same impulse and desires as you.”

And now Fry’s calling the rest of us over to the Wilde side with him, having just selected his favourite Oscar Wilde stories for a new collection acquired by Harper Collins. The collection’s as yet untitled, but The Bind gathers that it’s due to be published in October, in hardback (yum) and in addition to 33 mouth-watering illustrations by Nicole Stewart. Fry will also be penning a general introduction to the collection, and foreword to each of the stories.

Oh, and as if we needed any more reason to launch efforts to trace our lineage to the Fry family tree, today saw the kick-off of the second series of Fry’s English Delight on Radio 4. The programme title? ‘So Wrong it’s Right’. In reference to my level of excitability over your new show, Stephen, how very correct you are.

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