AUTHOR GUY PORTMAN'S BLOG

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

1
14 Random Book Facts
2
9 Twitter Types
3
Absurd Literary-Related Trivia
4
15 Curious Literary Terms
5
Bizarre Books II
6
7 Satirical Novels
7
My Peruvian Culinary Tour
8
Cotahuasi Canyon
9
26 Quotes about Books, Reading and Writing
10
10 Recent & Contemporary Literary Satirists

14 Random Book Facts

I have dedicated a number of posts to author and book-related trivia. This week sees a return to the theme. Here are 14 new book-related ‘facts’. I think they are quite interesting, and I hope you will too.

J.R.R. Tolkien typed the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy with two fingers.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is said to be the first book to have been written on a typewriter. Some disagree.

The largest book in the world is The Klencke Atlas at 1.75 metres tall and 1.90 metres wide. It is over 350 years old.

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The first book ever bought on Amazon is thought to be Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.

Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables contains a sentence that is 823 words long.

The Bay Psalm Book was the first book printed in North America.

The slowest-selling book in history is allegedly a 1716 translation of the New Testament from Coptic into Latin. The last of its 500 copies was sold in 1907.

Nathanael West’s 1939 novel The Day of the Locust features a character named Home Simpson.

Book Stack

Alexander Lenard’s Latin translation of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh is the only Latin book to have appeared on The New York Times Best Seller List.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first draft of his controversial novel Lolita on notecards.

The first book described as a ‘best-seller’ was Fools Of Nature by US writer Alice Brown in 1889.

The Tale of Genji is purported to be the first book ever written (circa 1007).

The first handwritten Bible since the invention of the printing press cost $8 million. It took 12 years to complete.

Cat’s Cradle earned Kurt Vonnegut his Master’s Degree.
 

Symbiosis

 

 

9 Twitter Types

Back in 2012 when I was a Twitter neophyte I wrote a series of satirical posts about the tweeting habits of the various species that inhabit Twitter. Today sees a return to the subject.

Aims & Objectives: To observe and document the tweeting habits of 9 Twitter species.

#Hyperactive #Hashtagger (Perquam strennus)
Incessant tweeters who can be distinguished from other species of the voluminous variety by the ubiquitous #. Nine #’s have been recorded in a single tweet.

Convivial Communicator (Amica Garrulus)
These social creatures calls are audible throughout their waking hours. They typically comprise RTs’, conversational tweets and on occasion self-promotion.Necropolis

Continual Commentator (Semper Nuntius)
Tweets are nearly always in the form of a statement, rarely part of a conversation, and more often than not contain opinion. It was with a heavy heart that I observed a Semper Nuntius specimen I had first come across back in 2012 still giving daily updates about their television watching itinerary.

Harmonious Helper (Concordi adiutor)
An enthusiastic and contented species that rarely tweets at a rate of more than 10 tweets per hour. They are known to provide detailed instructional information for the benefit of the herd.

Hate Hawker (Auctor odio)
These spite-filled animals vitriol tends to be directed at a particular minority group. In this observer’s opinion Auctor odio would be more readily accepted were they to mix things up with less fervent messages, such as the contents of their sandwich at lunch.

Mundane Messenger (Nuntius mundane)
Nuntius mundane calls consist of random information tweeted throughout its waking hours.

Don’t you just love it when the kettle boils faster than you thought it would — sent from Iphone

TwitterBird

Irritating Interloper (Vexo tertius)
Vexo Tertius is a flurry tweeter, who utilises statements and excessive capitalisation. They are prone to using the words I/Me/My (regional variations may apply).

Grammar Goons (Grammatica maculat)
im ready bt mi computer bout dead innit need 2 find mi charga bt ima take it t2 mi sista haus lolz

The prevalence of such tweets is a concern for the future of the English language.

Positivity Purveyor (Inspiratori Novitatis) 
Also known as Didactic Dispatchers, these relentlessly optimistic creatures are often well received by other species.

You can’t change what has already happened, so don’t waste your time thinking about it. Move on, let go, and get over it. — It all gets rather earnest for this specimen’s taste.

@GuyPortman

No doubt I’ve only covered a small percentage of the Twitter species.

I look forward to hearing about more?

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My three novels include the satirical black comedy Necropolis.

Necropolis

Absurd Literary-Related Trivia

This week’s post is devoted to 13 absurd literary-related facts. Here goes:

Pile of Books

In 1931 the governor of Hunan, China banned Alice in Wonderland because he believed animals should not be using human language.

None of the 3 best-known tales of the Arabian Nights are contained in the Arabian Nights. Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and the Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor were all later additions.

Victor T. Cheney is the author of Castration: The Advantages and the Disadvantages.

Winnie-the-Pooh was banned from a Polish playground because ‘he’s a half-naked hermaphrodite.’

Winnie

Danielle Steel is one of the world’s best-selling living authors. She has sold over 800 million books.

The Romance literary genre has 36 sub genres.

Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham uses only 50 different words.

Aristophanes’s play Assemblywoman contains the longest word in Greek. It is the name of a fictional food dish, and it has 171 letters. Here it is: Lopado­­temacho­­selacho­­galeo­­kranio­­leipsano­­drim­­hypo­­trimmato­­silphio­­parao­­melito­­katakechy­­meno­­kichl­­epi­­kossypho­­phatto­­perister­­alektryon­­opte­­kephallio­­kigklo­­peleio­­lagoio­­siraio­­baphe­­tragano­­pterygon.

ELIYZABETH YANNE STRONG-ANDERSON is the author of Birth Control Is Sinful in the Christian Marriages and Also Robbing God of Priesthood. Every letter in the book capitalised.

According to the American Library Association the Harry Potter series are the most frequently challenged books in America. Some religious parents argue that it promotes witchcraft.

Harry Potter

In Russia Winnie-the-Pooh is on an official list of banned ‘extremist’ material. This is because a senior official was found to own a picture of Pooh clad in swastika-adorned clothes.

Punk Literature (related to punk subculture) has 13 established sub genres. They are: Cyberpunk, Steampunk, Dieselpunk, Biopunk, Bugpunk, Transistorpunk, Nanopunk, Decopunk, Atompunk, Teslapunk, Clockpunk, Splatterpunk & Mythpunk…

50 Shades of Grey is Britain’s best-selling book of all time.

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

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I am the author of 3 books. More to follow.

Necropolis

Symbiosis

Middleworth

15 Curious Literary Terms

This week’s post is dedicated to curious literary terms that might be of interest to my fellow authors and readers. They are presented in alphabetical order.

Bibliognost a person who has a comprehensive knowledge of books and bibliography.

Bibliosmia a fetishism, which entails the compulsion to smell books, particularly old books.

Bibliotaph — people who hide their book collections. These obsessive types often fear their books being ‘borrowed’ by others and not returned.

Boghandler — Danish word for ‘bookseller’.

Book Stack

Bouquinist — a person who deals in old books of little value.

Fabliau — a humorous and course short story relayed in verse, usually entailing sexual intrigue and/or pranks. They are chiefly found in early French poetry.

Flyting — a contest consisting of the exchange of insults conducted in verse between two parties, usually poets.

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia — the fear of long words.

Librocubicultarist — people who read in bed. This literary slang term is yet to be included in the dictionary, but it is surely only a matter of time.

Omnilegent — someone who has read extensively/is well acquainted with a great amount of literature.

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Rhapsodomancy — is the practice of predicting the future by picking a passage of poetry at random.

Scripturient — this outdated term refers to someone who has a strong urge to write.

Sesquipedalian — a person who is prone to using overly long words. (e.g. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia).

Stichomancy — predicting the future from lines of verse chosen from random books.

Tsundoku — a Japanese word for the condition that is acquiring lots of books and then not getting round to reading them.

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Symbiosis

Necropolis

Middleworth

Bizarre Books II

Back in June I wrote a blog post about bizarre books. This is the second instalment. As with Part 1 I have added pithy/fictitious comments below each.

 

If God Loves Me Why Can’t I Get My Locker Open

God Locker

Because you forgot the key.

 

How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found

Dissapear

Would you trust the author to make you disappear when he can’t spell disappear?

 

How to Abandon Ship

Abandon Ship

Brimming with helpful tips from Argentine sailors.

 

Is God In Your Bedroom?

God Bedroom

Well he’s not behind the door or in the wardrobe.

 

Extreme Ironing

Extreme Ironing

I don’t know about you, but I need to learn how to iron a shirt with the creases in the right places before attempting any extreme ironing.

 

Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover

Hitler

When in his countryside residence, Berghof, Hitler would march around the grounds munching on schnitzels whilst ranting at any livestock he came across with non Aryan characteristics. ‘Unter tier. Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei verboten unter tier…’

 

How To Sharpen Pencils

Pencils

Insert pencil into sharpener and rotate. Repeat until pencil is sharp.

 

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice

Mother Theresa

Publishing Company CEO: ‘Are you the jackass who agreed to publish this book?’

Employee: ‘Err yes … I’m sorry, I didn’t notice that the title could be deemed offensive to some.’

Publishing Company CEO: ‘The Vatican has declared us to be heretics. You’re finished here. Clear your desk!’

 

We Never Went To The Moon

Moon

Author: ‘Do you believe NASA of the USA ever set foot on the moon in and after 1969 or do you doubt it?’

‘I can honestly say I’ve never given it any thought. On another subject did you use WordArt to design your front cover? … You did didn’t you.’

 

Collectible Spoons of the 3rd Reich

Spoons Reich

Not interested. I only collect 3rd Reich forks.

 

Click here to read Part 1.

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My 3 books include the satirical black comedy Necropolis.

Necropolis

7 Satirical Novels

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. I am planning to release more satirical works in the not too distant future.

In addition to my writing efforts I have read numerous books that could be described as satirical. This week’s post is dedicated to 7 of them.

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

 

Candide by Voltaire (1759)

Candide

Candide is an eighteenth-century satirical classic that evaluates 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)

My Opinion: Amusing

 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)

Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a satire of American southern antebellum society that parodies religion, morality, literature and above all the practice of slavery.

My Review: 13-year-old Huckleberry Finn is living in Missouri with a widow who plans to ‘sivilize’ him. That is until his alcoholic father relocates him to an isolated cabin in the woods. Huck fakes his own death and escapes…(more)

My Opinion: Okay but turgid.

 

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)

My Opinion: Very good

 

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

Catch-22

Catch-22 is a satire whose central theme is the futility of war. The book employs a distinctive writing style, an innovative out of sequence narration of events, imaginative descriptions, paradox and grandiloquent language.

My Review: Set on the Mediterranean island of Pianosa during WWII, Catch-22 is about the exploits of the fictitious 256th Squadron. We follow protagonist Yossarian and his comrades’ farcical attempts to…(more)

My Opinion: A rambling text 

 

High-Rise by J.G. Ballard (1975)

High-Rise

Replete with similes and occurrences of the word ‘percolate’, High-Rise is a tense, bleak and satirical book about conflict that explores the connection between technology and the human condition.

My Review: Set in an apartment tower block in London, High-Rise is a dystopian tale about the intense animosity that develops between the building’s various floors. The story centres around three main characters…(more)

My Opinion: Quite good

 

Death And The Penguin by Andrey Kurkov (1996)

Death And The Penguin

Set in the post-Soviet Ukraine of the 1990s, Death And The Penguin is a bizarre, bleak, surreal and at times darkly humorous crime novel and tragicomedy that combines political and social commentary.

My Review: Kiev resident and journalist Viktor lives in a small flat with Misha, his pet Emperor Penguin, purchased from the near destitute city zoo. Viktor has ambitions of becoming a novelist or short story writer…(more)

My Opinion: Okay

 

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk (2007)

Rant

Rant challenges our own traditions by demonstrating how we contort our recollection of events in accordance with our desires, motives and beliefs. There are obvious parallels with  the gospels.

My Review: Rant is the oral history of Buster ‘Rant’ Casey, recounted by an array of people including his relations, friends, enemies and lovers. Rant’s childhood companions from the small rural town where…(more)

My Opinion: Thought-provoking but convoluted.

 

I plan to post a second instalment at some point.

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Necropolis

 

My Peruvian Culinary Tour

Last week I wrote about my recent trip to Cotahuasi Canyon in Peru. Today’s post is dedicated to my Peruvian culinary experiences.

Ceviche is a seafood dish popular in the coastal regions of Peru. The seafood is cooked not by heat but by the acidity of the lime/lemon juice it is soaked in. The acid changes the structure of the proteins in the fish, essentially “cooking” it. Ceviche was the first meal I ate in Peru. See below.

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There are numerous other seafood dishes including chicharron de camarones (fried shrimps).

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And here is some Peruvian-inspired sushi.

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Anticuchos (grilled beef hearts) are extremely popular in Peru, and for good reason.

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Not all the food in Peru looks appealing as these cow faces testify. No idea what you are supposed to do with them.

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The only thing that made me ill was a pizza made with very slightly rancid cheese. 48 hours later and 3 kilograms lighter I found myself pinning for pizza once again. I got lucky second time around.

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Below is a picture of me drinking a mug of quinoa juice at a bus station in Cotahuasi Canyon. The juice is so viscous it is more akin to food than drink.

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In Cotahuasi Canyon the population thrive on a healthy diet that in addition to quinoa includes avocado and trucha (trout) from the canyon’s river.

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Meals aren’t always easy to come by in the canyon. When I wasn’t dining on the above I survived on bread and the aptly named Sublime, a brand of chocolate sold throughout the province.

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After returning to the city of Arequipa from my all night bus ride I was feeling very hungry so I ordered this steak and chips.

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Realising that I had forgotten to order salad, I said to the waiter, ‘Salada por favor.’

Waiter: ‘¿Salada?’

Me: ‘Si, salada.’

The waiter disappeared, emerging moments later with a salt mill which he plonked on my table.

‘Non salt. Salada. Sa-lada.’ I was prodding at the salad option on the menu as I said this.

Waiter: ‘AH. Sa-la-da.’

Below is an alpaca kebab I had in Cusco. It tasted rather like lamb if I remember correctly.

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For dessert I had this award winning decadent chocolate creation, which I considered to be overly ornate, but it tasted good.

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Pisco sour is a popular alcoholic drink in Peru.

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No Peruvian culinary tour would be complete without guinea pig, or cuy as they refer to them in Spanish. Below is a picture of me about to tuck into this Andean speciality.

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In Cusco guinea pigs are served roasted (see below) whilst in the south they tend to be fried. What did I think of the guinea pig? Pleasant enough though rather hard work. There is a lot of fat on a guinea pig you see, but not much in the way of meat.

P1000262

 

 

Cotahuasi Canyon

This week we take a sojourn from the usual literary-related theme. As I have recently returned from Peru I am dedicating this post to my travels there.

After visiting Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu I was in dire need of a break from poncho clad tourists, so I headed to the remote Cotahuasi Canyon. The canyon is a 9 hour bus journey from the southern city of Arequipa.

Any fatigue was forgotten on arrival.

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Below is a picture of me posing beside a cactus.

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Travelling to different parts of the canyon entails traversing its unpaved roads in public buses.

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The view from the bus.

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The roads are often blocked with debris from avalanches (see below).

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Memorials are a regular sight on the canyon’s roads.

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Away from the road the canyon is an idyllic place.

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Every village in the canyon has a church.

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And most have a bullring.

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Living conditions in the canyon can be rudimentary.

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Donkeys are the only mode of transport in the more remote villages where it appears little has changed for hundreds of years.

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That is until I ventured into a house.

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Canyon residents gathered outside a dwelling.

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And this is a bridge I had to cross. Note the man taking a nap in the middle. Did I mention that I’m scared of heights.

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Fortunately the bridge was in fairly good condition.

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The same cannot be said of the next bridge.

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These are agricultural terraces built by the pre Incan Wari people.

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Below is a picture of my guide posing in the Wari Cemetery.

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The human bones here date to about 700 A.D.

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Is there anything in this world as cathartic as water and a blue sky?

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A forest of cactuses.

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On my last day in the canyon I ventured too far from the town to get back in time for the once daily bus back to Arequipa. I was fortunate to come across this motorised rickshaw. I made it back just in time.

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Bridges not withstanding I thoroughly enjoyed my 3 days trekking in Cotahuasi Canyon.

26 Quotes about Books, Reading and Writing

I like quotes by famous authors so much that I Tweet one everyday, 365 days a year at @GuyPortman. Here are 26 memorable author quotes, many of which are humorous.

Never judge a book by its movie. J.W. Eagan

Few things in life seem more sexy than a banned book. Chuck Palahniuk

I have only ever read one book in my life, and that is White Fang. It’s so frightfully good I’ve never bothered to read another.Nancy Mitford

This Is Not a Novel To Be Tossed Aside Lightly. It Should Be Thrown with Great Force.Dorothy Parker

Pile of Books

The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.Oscar Wilde

Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.Groucho Marx

Be careful about reading health books. Some fine day you’ll die of a misprint.Markus Herz

A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.Jerry Seinfield

I know many books which have bored their readers, but I know of none which has done real evil.Voltaire

No one ever committed suicide while reading a good book, but many have tried while trying to write one.Robert Byrne

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read. Mark Twain

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.P. J. O’Rourke

Quill

The Christian’s Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same, but the medical practice changes.Mark Twain

I was reading a book… ‘the history of glue’ – I couldn’t put it down. Tim Vine

Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.Henry Ward Beecher

Books had instant replay long before televised sports.Bern Williams

Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes.John LeCarre

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.Haruki Murakami

Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.Mary Schmich

I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.Steven Wright

‘Classic.’ A book which people praise and don’t read.Mark Twain

So many books, so little time.Frank Zappa

Where would Jesus be if no one ever wrote the gospels?Chuck Palahniuk

There’s many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.Flannery O’Connor

To hold a pen is to be at war. Voltaire

I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.Groucho Marx

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10 Recent & Contemporary Literary Satirists

Last week’s post was devoted to history’s great literary satirists. Today we focus on more recent and contemporary satirists. They are presented in chronological order.

George Orwell
GeorgeOrwell
 (June 25th 1903 – January 21st 1950)

George Orwell was vehemently opposed to totalitarianism. He used political satire to criticise Stalin’s rule in his allegorical novella, Animal Farm. Stalin’s representative in the book is the pig Napoleon. Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, is a satirical political commentary on totalitarianism.

 

Aldous HuxleyHuxley (July 26th 1894 – November 22nd 1963)

Huxley was one of the great intellectuals of his generation. His seminal work, Brave New World, is considered to be amongst the most influential novels of the 20th Century. It employs erudite social commentary to explore and satirise our obsession with consumption and technology.

 

Evelyn Waugh
Waugh
(October 28th 1903 – April 10th 1966)

Waugh was a journalist and author, who was known for his humour and savage satirical wit. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest prose satirists of the 20th Century. Amongst his most famous works is the WWII trilogy Sword of Honour.

 

Dorothy ParkerDorothy Parker (August 22nd 1893 – June 7th 1967) 

Critic, short story writer and poet Dorothy Parker was renowned for her sense of humour and satirising abilities. She was prone to satirising the middle classes. Satire of the humorous, sarcastic variety is present in much of her poetry, including Résumé and One Perfect Rose.

 

P. G. WodehouseWodehouse (October 15th 1881 – February 14th 1975)

Author P. G. Wodehouse was a famous 20th Century humourist. He used parody and ridicule in his comic fiction to satirise elements within society, particularly the English upper classes. His characters though ridiculous are generally likeable.

 

Joseph HellerHeller(May 1st 1923 – December 12th 1999) 

Satirical novelist, short story writer and playwright Joseph Heller is best remembered for his novel Catch-22. The story is about a group of soldiers fighting in WWII. This absurdist work sees the author employing relentless ludicrousness to chastise warfare.

 

Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut
(November 11th 1922 – April 11th 2007)

Vonnegut was a prolific postmodern author, whose seminal work was the satirical, anti war themed Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). The book explores notions such as fate, free will, the meaning of life and the futility of war – serious messages that are coated with humour.

 

Terry Pratchett
Pratchett
(April 28th 1948 – March 12th 2015)

Terry Pratchett was the author of the Discworld series of 41 novels. The fantasy series features satire of the comedic variety. Numerous issues facing contemporary society are explored, including politics, bribery, human behaviour and corruption, particularly with regards to the ruling elite.

 

Tom WolfeWolfe (Born March 2nd 1931) 

Journalist Tom Wolfe initially wrote only non-fiction, but later turned his hand to fiction. His first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) is a satirical work whose themes include politics, ambition and greed. His third novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, is replete with satirical wit.

 

Chuck Palahniuk
ChuckPalahniuk
 (Born: February 21st 1962)

Palahniuk is a transgressive author whose writing is brimming with dark humour, lurid descriptions and satirical observations. Amongst his favourite subjects to satirise are the media-saturated nature of society, our obsession with celebrities and the fate of the American working class.

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My 3 novels include the satirical black comedy, Necropolis.

Necropolis

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