Archives for posts with tag: classic books

mcdaris gatsby
PHOTOGRAPH: Still life with The Great Gatsby Anthology in the home of Catfish McDaris (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2015).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catfish McDaris’s most infamous chapbook is Prying with Jack Micheline and Charles Bukowski. During the past 25 years, he’s done over 20 chapbooks. An aging New Mexican living near Milwaukee, he has four walls, a ceiling, heat, food, a wife, a daughter, two cats, a typing machine, and a mailbox. His novel Naked Serial Killers in Volkswagens is forthcoming from Weekly Weird Monthly. His archives are held at Marquette University Archives (Catfish McDaris Collection).

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THE BIG SLEEP
Chapter Twenty-Four (Opening Paragraph)
By Raymond Chandler

The apartment house lobby was empty this time. No gunman waiting under the potted palm to give me orders. I took the automatic elevator up to my floor and walked along the hallway to the tune of a muted radio behind a door. I needed a drink and was in a hurry to get one. I didn’t switch the light on inside the door. I made straight for the kitchenette and brought up short in three or four feet. Something was wrong. Something on the air, a scent. The shades were down at the windows, and the streetlight leaking in at the sides made a dim light in the room. I stood still and listened. The scent on the air was a perfume, a heavy cloying perfume.

ABOUT THE NOVEL: Published in 1939, The Big Sleep is a hardboiled crime novel by Raymond Chandler, the first to feature detective Philip Marlowe. The book has been adapted twice into film, once in 1946 and again in 1978. The story, set in Los Angeles, is noted for its complexity, with many characters double-crossing one another and many secrets exposed throughout the narrative. In 1999, the book was voted one of the ”100 Books of the Century” by French newspaper Le Monde. In 2005, it was included in “TIME’s List of the 100 Best Novels.” (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

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And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (Excerpt) by Dr. Seuss

Random House published How the Grinch Stole Christmas on November 24, 1957 — so it’s 56 years since this charming classic first appeared. Grinch is so fresh and edgy that it’s hard to believe the book has been with us for over half a century. For a holiday treat, watch the ending from the 1966 Chuck Jones TV version — narrated by Boris Karlov — on YouTube.

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On September 25, 2013, we celebrated Shel Silverstein’s birthday — but neglected to mention that date was the 116th anniversary of the birth of Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner. We will make up for that oversight with some Faulkner posts today.

In 1956, THE PARIS REVIEW, published a rare interview with William Faulkner, where the great author discusses his craft and the books he loves. Below is an excerpt from the interview conducted by Jean Stein.

INTERVIEWER: Do you read your contemporaries?

FAULKNER: No, the books I read are the ones I knew and loved when I was a young man and to which I return as you do to old friends: the Old Testament, Dickens, Conrad, Cervantes, Don QuixoteI read that every year, as some do the Bible. Flaubert, Balzac—he created an intact world of his own, a bloodstream running through twenty books—Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Shakespeare. I read Melville occasionally and, of the poets,Marlowe, Campion, Jonson, Herrick, Donne, Keats, and Shelley. I still read Housman. I’ve read these books so often that I don’t always begin at page one and read on to the end. I just read one scene, or about one character, just as you’d meet and talk to a friend for a few minutes.

INTERVIEWER: And Freud?

FAULKNER: Everybody talked about Freud when I lived in New Orleans, but I have never read him. Neither did Shakespeare. I doubt if Melville did either, and I’m sure Moby Dick didn’t.

INTERVIEWER: Do you ever read mystery stories?

FAULKNER: I read Simenon because he reminds me something of Chekhov.

INTERVIEWER: What about your favorite characters?

FAULKNER: My favorite characters are Sarah Gamp—a cruel, ruthless woman, a drunkard, opportunist, unreliable, most of her character was bad, but at least it was character; Mrs. Harris, Falstaff, Prince Hal, Don Quixote, and Sancho of course. Lady Macbeth I always admire. And Bottom, Ophelia, and Mercutio—both he and Mrs. Gamp coped with life, didn’t ask any favors, never whined. Huck Finn, of course, and Jim.

Read the PARIS REVIEW interview at this link.

Image CAPTION: “I got tired of Moby-Dick taunting me from my bookshelf, so I put it on my Kindle and haven’t thought of it since.”

CREDIT: New Yorker cartoon by WIlliam Haefeli, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED — prints for sale at condenast.com.

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THE BIG SLEEP
Chapter Twenty-Four (Opening Paragraph)
By Raymond Chandler

The apartment house lobby was empty this time. No gunman waiting under the potted palm to give me orders. I took the automatic elevator up to my floor and walked along the hallway to the tune of a muted radio behind a door. I needed a drink and was in a hurry to get one. I didn’t switch the light on inside the door. I made straight for the kitchenette and brought up short in three or four feet. Something was wrong. Something on the air, a scent. The shades were down at the windows, and the streetlight leaking in at the sides made a dim light in the room. I stood still and listened. The scent on the air was a perfume, a heavy cloying perfume.

ABOUT THE NOVEL: Published in 1939, The Big Sleep is a hardboiled crime novel by Raymond Chandler, the first to feature detective Philip Marlowe. The book has been adapted twice into film, once in 1946 and again in 1978. The story, set in Los Angeles, is noted for its complexity, with many characters double-crossing one another and many secrets exposed throughout the narrative. In 1999, the book was voted one of the “100 Books of the Century” by French newspaper Le Monde. In 2005, it was included in “TIME’s List of the 100 Best Novels.” (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

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THE LITTLE PRINCE (Excerpt)
By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“GOOD MORNING,” said the little prince. 

“Good Morning,” said the salesclerk. This was a salesclerk who sold pills invented to quench thirst. Swallow one a week and you no longer feel any need to drink.

“Why do you sell these pills?”

“They save so much time,” the salesclerk said. “Experts have calculated that you can save fifty-three minutes a week.”

“And what do you do with those fifty-three minutes?”

“Whatever you like.”

“If I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked,” the little prince said to himself, “I’d walk very slowly toward a water fountain…” 

Photo: Actress Jean Seberg (1938-1979) reads THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944). (Photo, circa 1960.)

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Today marks the 177th anniversary of Mark Twain’s birth. Born on November 30, 1835, Twain is considered a writer’s writer — in the same league as Shakespeare, Dickens, and Cervantes — an author that both Ernest Hemingway and Kurt Vonnegut considered the greatest of the greats. (Vonnegut even named his son Mark after the venerable author.) William Faulkner called him “the father of American literature.”

To celebrate Mark Twain’s birthday, let’s hear from the master himself — and read his advice about writing.

WRITING ADVICE FROM MARK TWAIN

(author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), and scores of other novels, memoirs, essays, and additional literary works)

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“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

 “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities…”

 “A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.”

 “…use plain, simple language, short words, and brief sentences…don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in…a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.”

 “Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”

“The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail.”

 “One should never use exclamation points in writing. It is like laughing at your own joke.”

“When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are far apart.”

 “The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.”

“Write what you know.”

 “To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement …Anybody can have ideas – the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.”

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HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (Excerpt)

by Dr. Seuss

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

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Random House published How the Grinch Stole Christmas on November 24, 1957 — so it’s exactly 55 years since this charming classic first appeared. Grinch is so fresh and edgy that it’s hard to believe the book has been with us for over half a century. For a holiday treat, watch the ending from the 1966 Chuck Jones TV version — narrated by Boris Karlov — on YouTube.

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“If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. And here I make a rule—a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.” JOHN STEINBECK

Illustration: 1937 first-edition cover of OF MICE AND MEN.