AUTHOR GUY PORTMAN'S BLOG

PORTMAN'S PONDERINGS, PROCRASTINATIONS, PREAMBLES, PROGNOSES & PARODIES.

1
My 5 Favourite Satires
2
Bizarre Books V
3
Famous Authors’ Bizarre Writing Habits
4
Bizarre Books IV
5
20 More Quotes about Books, Reading and Writing
6
7 Books for 7 Moods (Part 2)
7
7 Bizarre Author Deaths
8
7 Books for 7 Moods
9
7 Works of Dark Fiction
10
Bizarre Books III

My 5 Favourite Satires

As followers of this blog know I am an avid fan of satire. My second novel, Necropolis, is a satirical black comedy about a psychopath who works for the burials and cemeteries department in his local council. If you haven’t done so already sign up to my newsletter to claim your FREE copy. In addition to my writing efforts, I have read numerous books that could be described as satirical. This week’s post is dedicated to my 5 favourites to date. Some of these books also fit into other genres.

Satire definition: the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly…

Here are 5 satirical novels. They are presented in the order in which they were published:

 

Candide by Voltaire (1759)

Candide

Candide is an eighteenth-century satirical classic that derides optimism, the prevailing philosophical ideology during The Enlightenment. Voltaire adroitly sought to dispel the belief that all is for the best when it is not.

My Review: Brought up in the household of a German baron, cheerful protagonist Candide has been instilled with the philosophy of Leibniz, notably – That all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds…(more)

 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

Brave New World

Brave New World utilises erudite social commentary to explore mankind’s inherent nature. Huxley’s portentous vision has proven to be prescient in its prediction of a science-controlled, consumer culture.

My Review: Brave New World is set in a society where everything is controlled. The parentless, manufactured, free-loving population are dependent on a state-endorsed hallucinogenic, happiness drug called Soma…(more)

 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

Fahrenheit 451

There is much to ponder in this satirical book whose motif is a warning about the threat posed by state censorship. Bradbury’s seminal work predicts our increasing obsession with mass media.

My Review: Books are banned in this dystopian world, where firemen are employed to burn them. Guy Montag is a fireman, who lives an unfulfilling existence with Mildred, his sedentary, parlour-consuming wife: parlours being an…(more)

 

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

American Psycho

American Psycho is a satire of the yuppies culture of the 1980s that caused outrage when it was published due to its explicit violent and sexual content. It went on to become a cult classic.

My Review: American Psycho is a highly controversial novel that brought its young author Bret Easton Ellis instant fame.  The book is written from the perspective of a young Wall Street financier, Patrick Bateman…(more)

 

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (1996)

FightClub

Chuck Palahniuk’s seminal work is a multifaceted satire that parodies the notion of masculinity, consumer culture, films, television, self-help philosophies, men’s movements and more besides.

My Review: The protagonist, who remains nameless, is an insomniac leading a bland corporate existence, investigating accidents for a car company, whose only concern is profit. Unable to find meaning in a faceless consumerist…(more)

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Necropolis

Click here to see the 43 reviews & ratings for Necropolis on Goodreads.

Bizarre Books V

Before we get underway with Part 5 of my bizarre books series I have an announcement to make. For a limited time only, I am giving away a FREE copy of my satirical black comedy Necropolis, to everyone who signs up to my newsletter.

Here are 10 more bizarre books. As with previous instalments, I have added pithy/fictitious comments below each.

 

It’s Not Going To Get Any Better When You Grow Up

grow-up

Truer words were never spoken.

 

Mommy, Why is There a Server in the House?server

Mommy: ‘Since daddy left I have been feeling very lonely, and…’
 

 Reusing Old Graves

reusing-graves

Step One: Turf out the occupier…

 

Mommy, Is It A Sin To Be Fat?

fat

Kid:  ‘Mommy, is it a sin to be fat?’

Mommy: ‘It depends how fat.’

 

Outwitting Squirrels

squirrels

Strategy One: Cover your bird feeder’s pole with glue.

 

How to Talk to Your Cat About Evolution

cat-evolution

Talking to your cat about evolution is no different from talking to some Americans in the Midwest about evolution, i.e. futile.

 

Natural Harvest: A collection of semen-based recipes

semen

That caramel pudding on the front cover is enough to put one off semen-based recipes for life.

 

How to Hold a Crocodile

crocodile

First clasp the crocodile firmly with both hands. No, not by the jaws! … Snap … OW! HELP!

 

Castration Celebration

castration-celebration

Wow, yeah! Castration celebrations are the best fun ever, but the blood loss is quite off-putting. And I am starting to feel rather faint.

 

Why Cats Paint

cats-paint

Why cats paint? Boredom mostly. Playing with balls of string and toying with mice can only keep them entertained so long.

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Necropolis

Famous Authors’ Bizarre Writing Habits

Many authors have writing habits/routines that could be described as bizarre. Back in 2014 I dedicated a blog post to the subject. This is the second instalment. Here are 8 authors who have/had bizarre writing habits.

Alexandre Dumas — This French writer used different coloured paper for different types of writing. Blue was his colour of choice for fiction, pink for articles, and yellow for poetry.

Ernest Hemingway — Hemingway is one of a number of famous authors who liked/like to write standing up. His preference was to have a typewriter and reading board at chest-height opposite him.

Joan Didion — Literary journalist and novelist Joan Didion spends an hour alone before dinner with a drink, going through what she has written that day. When nearing the end of a book she sleeps in the same room as it.

James Joyce — This eccentric writer wrote in a white coat whilst lying on his stomach in bed. For writing materials he used cardboard and various coloured crayons. Joyce did this because he had poor eyesight. His white coat reflected the light.

Quill2

Friedrich Schiller — German poet Schiller always kept a pile of rotten apples in the drawer of his writing desk. He believed that the aroma inspired him, and that he could not write without it.

Franz Kafka — Kafka’s career left him with little time to write. After work he would rest and eat before commencing writing at 11 p.m. This taxing regime was said to have left him permanently exhausted.

W.H. Auden — This obsessive poet used drugs to balance his routine. He swallowed the amphetamine Benzedrine every morning for 20 years. At night he took the barbiturate Seconal in order to get to sleep.

John Steinbeck — Steinbeck was obsessed with pencils, particularly Blackwing 602’s. Drafts of his books were crafted in pencil, and he always kept 12 perfectly sharpened pencils aligned on his desk. He claimed pencils charged him with invention and energy.

As for me I am prone to wearing ear defenders when writing, to eliminate distracting sounds.

Click here to read part 1.

Bizarre Books IV

I previously stated that part 3 was to be the final instalment in my bizarre books series. I have since changed my mind. Here is part 4. There may well be further additions in the not too distant future. As with the previous instalments, I have added pithy/fictitious comments below each.

 

Jogging With Jesus

jogging

There is a peculiar man on the front cover, but no sign of Jesus.

 

Microwave Cooking for One

microwave

Read the instructions on the back of the packet, place food item in microwave, set time and press start. When microwave makes a beeping noise remove food.

 

Be Bold With Bananas

banana

If the vile looking concoction on the front cover is anything to go by, it is probably best not to be bold with bananas, and to stick to the tried and trusted peeling followed by eating method.

 

Circumcisions By Appointment

circumcisions

Client: I want to book a circumcision for next Tuesday at 2:30.

Receptionist: Sorry, no can do. How about 3?

 

Images You Should Not Masturbate To

masturbate

If the image on the front cover is anything to go by…

 

Twelve Reasons you should Speak in Tongues

tongues

Reason One: Speaking in tongues is perfect for when you want to appear insane.

Reason Two: Um … let me think … wait … err…

 

Born-Again Virgin

virgin

To be a born-again virgin follow these simple steps.

Step one: Get a needle and thread.

 

A Lust For Window Sills

windowsills

Be wary of splinters.

 

Help! A Bear is Eating Me 

bear

If the bear is already eating you then is too late. You should have asked for help earlier.

 

How To Talk To Your Cat About Gun Safety

gun-safety-cat

Owner: Yes Tiddles, approach the gun like that.

Tiddles: Meow, meow, purr.

Owner: That is the safety switch. Do not turn it off. No!

Tiddles: Meow, hiss!

Owner: Not the trigger. NOOO!

Bang!

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20 More Quotes about Books, Reading and Writing

Back in July I devoted a post to 26 quotes about books, reading and writing. Here are 20 more:

Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.Stephen Fry

Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.Francis Bacon

The covers of this book are too far apart.Ambrose Bierce

Think before you speak. Read before you think.Fran Lebowitz, The Fran Lebowitz Reader

Quill

There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.Bertrand Russell

Thank you for sending me a copy of your book – I’ll waste no time reading it.Moses Hadas

If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.Oscar Wilde

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

From the moment I picked up your book until I put it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.Groucho Marx

Books are the mirrors of the soul.Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts

I cannot live without books.Thomas Jefferson

I often carry things to read so that I will not have to look at people.Charles Bukowski

Book Stack

Everything comes to him who waits, except a loaned book. Kin Hubbard

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.Marcus Tulles Cicero

He has only half learned the art of reading who has not added to it the more refined art of skipping and skimming.Arthur James Balfour

To buy books would be a good thing if we also could buy the time to read them.Arthur Schopenhauer

Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.Harry S Truman

I’ve often thought of writing my autobiography and selling it as a cure for insomnia.Melanie White

A person who reads 50 Shades of Grey has no advantage over one who can’t read. Guy Portman

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7 Books for 7 Moods (Part 2)

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post with the title, 7 Books for 7 Moods. This is part two. Here are more 7 books for 7 more moods/states of mind. Click on the links to read my reviews.

In a nostalgic mood? Then why not read a story that you are no doubt familiar with, but may not have read:

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

gullivers-travels

Intrepid English adventurer Lemuel Gulliver’s fictional memoirs were first published in 1726. Gulliver’s Travels is a satirical work that mocks politics, non-conformist churches, science, the social order and the accepted role of the family. Click here to read my review.

My Opinion: Okay

 

Feeling discontented at work? You are not alone:

Post Office by Charles Bukowski

Post Office

The story follows hard-drinking, low-life Chinaski’s menial existence toiling at the post office. Bukowski’s trademark visceral literary style is in evidence throughout this story about the banality and dehumanisation of unskilled drudgery. Click here to read my review.

My Opinion: Excellent

 

If you are in a pretentious mood then look no further:

Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov

Pnin

The story consists of various episodes in the academic protagonist’s solitary, cocoon-dwelling life being recounted by an unreliable narrator. Its pretentious author never tires of showing off his knowledge of literature, entomology and linguistics. Click here to read my review.

My Opinion: Wryly amusing and pompous.

 

In a nihilistic mood? Then you might appreciate:

The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis

This bleak, existentialist and nihilist compilation of short stories comment on the human condition and the futility of life. The most famous is about a man who wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed into a beetle. Click here to read my review.

My Opinion: Bleak but good.

 

Feel like reading something darkly comical? Then why not try:

Necropolis by Guy Portman

Necropolis

This black comedy’s sociopathic protagonist works in the burials and cemeteries department in his local council. Necropolis is a savage indictment of the politically correct, health and safety-obsessed world in which we live. Click here to view its Amazon page.

 My Opinion:  I am biased so I won’t comment.

 

If you are in the mood to read a ‘classic’ and haven’t read it already, you might be interested in:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein

Published in 1818, Frankenstein is lauded by many as being the first science fiction story ever written. Replete with detailed descriptions and ornate prose, this is a cautionary tale about how nature, though essentially good, can be corrupted.  Click here to read my review.

My Opinion: Quite good

 

If you are in a voyeuristic mood then I recommend:

The Voyeur’s Motel by Gay Talese

voyeurs-motel

The Voyeur’s Motel consists of the confessions of Gerald Foos, a motel owner and voyeur. For three decades Foos spied on his motel’s guests. This curious and compelling work boasts a perceptive protagonist and an effective journalistic approach. Click here to read my review.

My Opinion: Interesting

 

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7 Bizarre Author Deaths

Last year I dedicated a blog post to 10 bizarre author deaths. This is the second and final instalment. Here are 7 more author deaths that could be described as bizarre. They are presented in chronological order.
 

Euripideseuripides(480 B.C. – 406 B.C.)

Euripides was an Ancient Greek tragedian. It was feelings of embitterment over his defeats in the Dionysia playwriting competitions that led him to move to Macedonia. There are a number of different theories as to how he met his demise there. One is that his first experience of the cold during the Macedonian winter killed him. Others have suggested he was killed by hunting dogs, or even torn apart by women. Euripides had a reputation for being something of a misogynist.

 

PetroniusPetroniusCirca 27 A.D. – 66 A.D.

Petronius is widely accepted to be the author of the scathing satirical novel Satyricon. The book ridiculed the pretensions of Rome’s newly rich. In 66 A.D. Petronius was accused of plotting to kill the Emperor Nero. Instead of waiting for his sentence, he decided to commit suicide by having his veins opened and then bound up again. The bandages were bandaged to prolong life, so that Petronius could spend time conversing with friends and enjoying a sumptuous banquet, after which he went to bed to die in his sleep.

 

Christopher MarloweChristopher Marlowe(February 26th 1564 – May 30th 1593)

The exact circumstances surrounding playwright Christopher Marlowe’s death remain a mystery. He met his demise when companion Ingram Frizer stabbed him with a knife. The official story is that an argument broke out over a drinks bill, resulting in Marlowe attacking Frizer with a knife, only to be disarmed and dispatched with a single thrust of the blade to the eye. Some have argued that his death was a political assassination whilst others claim it was because he was deemed a danger to the state, due to his reputed atheistic beliefs.

 

Sir Francis BaconSir Francis Bacon(January 22nd 1561 – April 9th 1626)

Sir Francis Bacon was an English philosopher, scientist, statesman, orator, essayist and author. The 65-year-old Bacon was purportedly travelling in his carriage in the midst of a snowstorm in Highgate when it occurred to him that snow would be an ideal way to preserve and insulate meat. Bacon immediately purchased a gutted chicken and attempted to prove his theory by stuffing the bird with snow. Unfortunately these actions resulted in pneumonia. He perished several days later.

 

Mark TwainMark Twain(November 30th 1835 – April 21st 1910)

Mark Twain is regarded as the father of American literature. He was born shortly after a visit by Halley’s Comet. Twain was convinced that he would meet his end when the comet next returned to earth. He famously said, ‘I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming next year, and I expect to go out with it.’ On April 21st 1910 Twain’s prophetic declaration came true, when he died of a heart attack, merely one day after the comet’s closest proximity to earth.

 

Hart Cranecrane(July 21, 1899 – April 27, 1932)

Crane was an influential American poet who wrote modernist poetry that was highly stylized, and ambitious in its scope. Crane was a heavy drinker prone to depression. It was while on board a steamship en route to New York that he jumped overboard into the Gulf of Mexico. Witnesses believed his intentions were suicidal because several reported that he exclaimed ‘Goodbye, everybody!’ prior to throwing himself overboard. His body was never recovered.

 

Ödön von Horváthhorvath(December 9th, 1901 – June 1st 1938)

Von Horváth was an Austro-Hungarian playwright and novelist. He met his demise when a falling branch from a tree killed him during a thunderstorm on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. A few days earlier, von Horváth had said to a friend: ‘I am not so afraid of the Nazis … There are worse things one can be afraid of, namely things one is afraid of without knowing why.’ A few years earlier, von Horváth wrote a poem about lightning. Yes, thunder, that it can do. And bolt and storm. Terror and destruction.

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Click here to read Bizarre Author Deaths Part I.

7 Books for 7 Moods

Our choice of book often depends on our frame of mind. My favourite genres are transgressive fiction and satire, but I am an eclectic reader, who is prone to select a given book according to my mood. Here are 7 books for 7 different moods/states of mind. Click on the links to read my reviews.

 
Are you are feeling Lazy? Then why not try:

Evil Twins by John Glatt

Evil Twins

Utilising a tabloid journalistic approach, Evil Twins is a true crime book, which is divided into 12 sections, each dedicated to a different set of ‘evil’ twins. It spawned a television series of the same name. Click here to read my review.

My Opinion: Eminently readable sensationalist tripe.

 

Feeling Intellectual? You might like:

Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

Steppenwolf

Steppenwolf is a complex book that achieved cult status in the 1960s when it was embraced by the counter-culture. Its protagonist, the reclusive intellectual Harry Haller, is in the midst of a prolonged mid-life crisis. Click here to read my review.

My Opinion: A rewarding and challenging read.

 

Want to be shocked?

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk

Haunted

A group of writers are attending a writers group in an isolated theatre with no access to the outside world. The book takes the form of a series of controversial and harrowing short stories. Click here to read my review.

My Opinion: An extreme but intelligent commentary on the human psyche.

 

Feeling like some light entertainment?

Fire In The Hole by Elmore Leonard

Fire In The Hole

This is a compilation of 9 short, authentic and atmospheric, American-based, crime-themed stories. The book is named after its longest title, Fire In The Hole, the inspiration for the television series Justified. Click here to read my review.

My Opinion: A compelling introduction to this crime-writing maestro’s work.
 

In a historically-inclined mood?

 King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild

Kind Leopold's Ghost

In 1885 King Leopold II took control of an area of land nearly 20 times the size of his home country of Belgium. This is a compelling and disturbing tale of corruption and greed. Click here to read my review.

My Opinion: Strongly recommended for those interested in African history.

 

For those desiring sleep might I suggest:

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

Published in 1821, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater is widely regarded as being the forefather of addiction literature. The book embraces an ornate prose style and grandiloquent use of language. Click here to read my review.

My Opinion: Reading this was comparable to struggling through sinking mud.

 

For those wishing to be disturbed:

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

The Killer Inside Me

The Killer Inside Me is a thought provoking and unrelentingly bleak first person narrative about a highly intelligent, manipulative and cold-blooded psychopath by the name of Lou Ford. Click here to read my review.

My Opinion: Suspenseful and deeply disturbing.

 

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7 Works of Dark Fiction

Dark fiction is concerned with the sinister side of human nature. It is often distinguished from the mainstream horror genre in that it tends not to be fantasy-orientated. Dark fiction may contain elements of black or satirical humour.

Here are six works of dark fiction that I have read, and one that I have written. They are presented in the order in which they were published. Click on the links to read my reviews.

 

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller 

Tropic of Cancer

About: Sexuality, freedom and the human condition are themes in this groundbreaking work. Tropic of Cancer was banned from being imported into the United States after its publication in France in 1934. 

My Review: Set in the late 1920s and early 30s, Tropic of Cancer is a semi-autobiographical first-person account of a young, struggling American writer living in Paris, and for a… (More)

 

The Plague by Albert Camus

The Plague

About: This is a philosophical work that explores destiny, the human condition, and absurdism, namely the tendency to try and find meaning in life, but failing to find any.

My Review: In the Algerian coastal town of Oran, an explosion in the rat population has not gone unnoticed. The infestation soon comes to an abrupt halt with the mysterious demise of the rats… (More)

 

Savage Night by Jim Thompson 

Savage Night

AboutSavage Night is a suspenseful crime novel written in its author’s trademark pulp prose style. Protagonist Carl is a paranoid and perplexing character, who is convinced that he is disintegrating.  

My Review: A shadowy crime boss known as ‘The Man’ sends contract killer Carl Bigelow to a small town, on a mission to kill a man, by the name of Jake Winroy. Jake is a key witness in a forthcoming… (More)

 

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess 

A Clockwork Orange

About: First published in 1962, A Clockwork Orange is a ground-breaking and controversial book with an intriguing and intelligent narrator, which leaves many questions to ponder. 

My Review: Alex is an eccentric 15-year-old delinquent with a penchant for classical music and drinking milk. He and his fellow ‘droogs’ assault, rob and rape with impunity, that is until a serious incident… (More)

 

Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

glamorama

About: This satirical work adeptly captures the hedonism of 1990s New York. In typical Ellis fashion the text is punctuated with numerous pop-culture references, in addition to sporadic descriptions of violence.

My Review: Victor Ward aka Victor Johnson is a male model living in 1990s Manhattan. Victor is a vapid, soulless character, obsessed with celebrity culture, who lives an existence that revolves around…(More)

 

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

Choke

About: Choke is in essence a social commentary about our innate craving for attention. Protagonist Victor is a victim of the selfish motivations at the very root of modern American society.

My Review: The protagonist, Victor Mancini, is a sex addict employed at an eighteenth-century historical re-enactment park. Victor attends various sexual addiction support groups, where he meets… (More)

 

Necropolis by Guy Portman

Necropolis

About: Necropolis is a brutal and bleak satirical black comedy about a sociopath who works for the Burials and Cemeteries department in his local council.

Crime Fiction Lover Review (The UK’s most prestigious crime fiction review website): This is a vitriolic and brilliantly funny book full of razor-sharp satire. No politically correct madness escapes unscathed…(More)

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Bizarre Books III

This is the final instalment of my Bizarre Books Series. As with Parts 1 & 2, I have added pithy/fictitious comments below each.

The New Radiation Recipe Book

radiation

For residents of Chernobyl and Fukushima.

 

Strangers Have The Best Candy

strangers

They do? So why did my mother always tell me not to talk to them?

 

The Book of Marmalade

marmalade

For those of us who spreading it on our toast is not enough.

 

I Can Has Cheezburger?

cheezburger

A Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner this is not.

 

Do It Yourself Coffins for Pets and People

coffin

‘What’s that leaning against the wall?’

‘My DIY coffin.’

‘But you don’t need a DIY coffin, you’re not dead.’

‘Better to get it done early. DIY coffins are pretty tricky to assemble post-mortem.’

 

Managing a Dental Practice: The Genghis Khan Way 

dental

If the client complains behead them. Then impale the head on a pike. Don’t forget to polish their teeth first.

 

Everything I Know about Women I Learned from My Tractor

tractor

Presumably not a lot then.

 

The Do It Yourself Lobotomy

lobotomy

Step One: Take the saw, hold it to the top of your head, and away you go — SsSsSsSsSs.

 

The Joy of Uncircumcising!

uncircumcising

Joy? — Needle, thread, skin. Really?

 

How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack

gnome

You mean to tell me that gnomes are not only the height of bad taste, they also attack.

 

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I am the author of the satirical black comedy, Necropolis.

Necropolis

Click here to read Bizarre Books Part II.

 

Copyright © 2015. Guyportman's Blog

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