AUTHOR GUY PORTMAN'S BLOG

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

1
My Favourite Books (Part III)
2
20 of Literature’s Funniest Quotes II
3
20 of Literature’s Funniest Quotes
4
6 Humorous Novels
5
Bizarre Books VIII
6
Bizarre Books VII
7
6 American Satirical Novels
8
10 Farcical Religious Books
9
Books and Publishing (Part 2)
10
Global Reading Habits

My Favourite Books (Part III)

This week sees the third instalment in my favourite books series. Click on the links to read my reviews.

 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley 

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. Helicopters serve as the primary mode of transport…(more)

Genre: Dystopia

 

On the Beach by Nevil Shute 

Published in 1957 On the Beach is a cautionary and timeless post-apocalyptic novel whose central theme is an exploration of how people confront imminent death.

My Review: World War III has culminated in atomic bombs being dropped on the northern hemisphere. The radiation is spreading steadily southwards on the winds, decimating populations in its wake. Stationed in Australia is American submarine captain Dwight Towers…(more)

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic

 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451’s motif is a warning about the threat posed by state censorship. It could be argued to be prescient in its prediction of 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 in-house form of entertainment…(more)

Genre: Dystopia

 

 

Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 

Cancer Ward

Set in the post-Stalin era, Cancer Ward is an allegorical, semi-autobiographical novel, in which the cancer ward serves as a microcosm of Soviet society.

My Review: Oleg Kostoglotov, whose last name translates as ‘bone-chewer’, has been exiled in perpetuity to a village by the name of Ush-Terek, located on the steppe in Kazakhstan, a long way from home. Kostoglotov’s bad luck does not end there…(more)

Genre: Political Fiction

 

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis 

Easton Ellis’s debut novel is a nihilistic account of life in 1980s L.A. Utilising social commentary and plotless realism, Less Than Zero is a graphic and disturbing novel that is unrelenting in its bleakness.

My Review: Set in nineteen-eighties Los Angeles, the story follows eighteen-year-old Clay, returned home for Christmas from college in New Hampshire. Clay immediately falls back into the L.A. social scene, spending his time hanging-out with various wealthy teenagers who include…(more)

Genre: Transgressive

 

Nothing To Envy by Barbara Demick 

Providing fascinating insights into North Korea, Nothing To Envy is an engrossing text that effortlessly captures the lives of its interviewed North Korean defector subjects.

My Review: Published in 2009, Nothing To Envy is a novelisation of interviews with various North Korean defectors, hailing from Chongjin, a bleak, northern industrial city, far from the country’s Potemkin village capital, Pyongyang. There is particular emphasis on the famine…(more)

Genre: Non Fiction

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20 of Literature’s Funniest Quotes II

Last week’s post was devoted to 20 of literature’s funniest quotes. This week sees the second instalment. Here are 20 more quotes from books that I think are amusing, and I hope you will too.

If you’re going to read this, dont bother. After a couple pages, you won’t want to be here. — Choke (opening line) by Chuck Palahniuk

It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard. — The Life and Times of Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker 

And she’s got brains enough for two, which is the exact quantity the girl who marries you will need. — Mostly Sally by P.G. Wodehouse 

O God, make me good, but not yet. — Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh 

Oh you exquisite little tart — Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

To my left a Lithuanian gravedigger idly picks his nose. To my right a mortician plays Sonic on his iPhone … In the row in front a morgue rat, his head resting against his shoulder, snores loudly, a stream of drool hanging from the corner of his mouth. — Necropolis by Guy Portman

Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage. — The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce 

If I could believe in myself, why not give other improbabilities the benefit of the doubt? — Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris 

Mike nodded. A sombre nod. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812 and said, ‘So, you’re back from Moscow, eh?’ — Mike and Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. — The Algonquin Wits by Dorothy Parker 

Balloon Tying For Christ was the cheapest balloon manual I could find. — Clown Girl by Monica Drake

Waterless embalming baby, it’s the future. — Necropolis by Guy Portman

The voice of Love seemed to call to me, but it was a wrong number. — Very Good, Jeeves! by P.G. Wodehouse

If you’re looking for sympathy you’ll find it between shit and syphilis in the dictionary. — Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays by David Sedaris 

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. — The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka

Free as air; that’s what they say- “free as air”. Now they bring me my air in an iron barrel. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh 

A story with a moral appended is like the bill of a mosquito. It bores you, and then injects a stinging drop to irritate your conscience. —  Strictly Business by O. Henry

For the better part of my childhood, my professional aspirations were simple–I wanted to be an intergalactic princess. — Seven Up by Janet Evanovich

To look upon Irene is to stare into a looking glass, into a world of cheap retail outlets, suburban cul-de-sacs, Sky television itineraries, frozen Iceland trifles and Co-operative Funeralcare plans. — Necropolis by Guy Portman

Egotist, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me. — The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce 

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I am the author of 3 novels. Click here to claim your FREE copy of my satirical black comedy, Necropolis.

A Black Comedy of True Distinction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 of Literature’s Funniest Quotes

Previously on this blog I have dedicated posts to quotes about reading, writing and publishing. This week it is the turn of quotes from literature. Here are 20 quotes from books that I think are amusing, and I hope you will too.

To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness — The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Multiple exclamation marks are a sure sign of a diseased mind — Eric by Terry Pratchett

He receives comfort like cold porridge — The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Drunkenness is nothing but voluntary madness — Letters from a Stoic by Seneca

…answers Molly, gleefully yet wholly inadequately; her skills more akin to the baking of macaroons than solving the complexities of the universe. — Charles Middleworth by Guy Portman

I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don’t know the answer. — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams 

‘There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, ‘Do trousers matter?’
‘The mood will pass, sir.’ — The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse 

Sweater, n. Garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. — The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce 

It’s just a penis, right? Probably no worse for you than smoking. — When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris 

Nick Naylor had been called many things since becoming the chief spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies, but until now no one had actually compared him to Satan. — Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley

As a boy, I wanted to be a train. — Machine Man by Max Barry

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. — I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

If not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled. – The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

One press of a button and this degenerate goes to the cremator to the sound of Celine Dion’s dismal wails — Necropolis by Guy Portman 

It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression ‘As pretty as an airport. — The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul by Douglas Adams

You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think. — The Collected Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker

The trouble with modern education is you never know how ignorant people are. — Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh 

Patience – A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce 

‘Matteo’s not that type of Italian,’ replies Fraser. ‘He’s more the sort you come across in southern cities like Bari and Pescara, dragging an Alsatian around by a tattered piece of string.’ — Necropolis by Guy Portman

For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen. — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams  

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I am the author of 3 novels. Click here to claim your FREE copy of my satirical black comedy, Necropolis.

A Black Comedy of True Distinction

 

6 Humorous Novels

This week’s post is dedicated to 6 humorous novels. Click on the links to read my reviews.

 

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)

Light-hearted and wryly humorous, this satirical work lampoons the romanticised, often doom-laden ‘loam and lovechild’ novels of the 19th and early 20th century.

My Review: Although harbouring concerns about countryside living, recently orphaned, 19-year-old Flora Poste decides to go and live with relatives in rural Sussex. Her destination, the…(more)

My Opinion: Witty but repetitive

 

Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (1971)

Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas is a humorous, ludicrous and on occasion repellent social commentary about the demise of the psychedelic, free loving dream of the sixties.

My Review: Hunter S. Thompson’s alter ego, journalist Raoul Duke, and his gargantuan Samoan attorney, Dr Gonzo, are on a drug-fuelled road trip through the desert, destination Las Vegas…(more)

My Opinion: Humorous, ludicrous & relentless

 

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)

This iconic humour book, the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner, is less concerned with plot than focusing on absurd situations, designed to elicit a humorous response.

My Review: Obese, green-hunting-cap-wearing, 30-year-old virgin Ignatius J. Reilly still resides with his mother. With his idiosyncrasies, pompous old-fashioned views and deep-lying suspicion…(more)

My Opinion: Overrated and onerous

 

I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (2004)

I Am Charlotte Simmons is a humorous satire about campus life. Themes include materialism, social class, race and America’s obsession with college sport.

My Review: Appalachian wunderkind Charlotte Simmons has been awarded a scholarship to Dupont, an elite fictional university, steeped in tradition. Living amongst the cream of America’s youth is…(more)

My Opinion: Hilarious but turgid

 

The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness by Craig Stone (2011)

The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness is a bizarre and humorous novel about the author’s time spent living homeless in a park. Craig has to deal with a multitude of issues that are alien to us home dwellers.

My Review: The author Craig Stone is becoming increasingly disillusioned with the predictability and banality of his everyday existence. Deciding that it is better to live dreaming than to…(more)

My Opinion: Bizarre and humorous

 

Damned by Chuck Palahniuk (2011)

Damned is a a light-hearted satire of hell, punctuated with comical details, pop-culture references and Theological irony. There are obvious comparisons with Dante’s Inferno.

My Review: The protagonist is thirteen-year-old Madison, the daughter of wealthy alternative parents.  The privileged Madison studies at an exclusive Swiss boarding school and spends her holidays alternating…(more)

My Opinion: Quite amusing

 

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Bizarre Books VIII

I have yet more bizarre books for you. Every time I think I have exhausted the topic, I discover yet more bizarre books. This is the eighth instalment in the series. Here are 10 bizarre books:

 

The Goldflower Book of Business Greetings

Ever wondered why you always fail interviews? Next time you have an interview, try introducing yourself with the above handshake.

 

Eating People is Wrong

Touché

 

Foreigners & How To Spot Them

Spotting foreigners sounds a bit like birdwatching. Next time I am on the London Tube, I will use this book to identify some foreigners, and then attempt some safe methods of approach.

 

Innards And Other Variety Meats

Yummy!

 

How to Good-bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way?

Whether it is malarkey or an effective way to say good-bye to depression, constricting one’s anus 100 times per day sounds rather time consuming. I for one am sticking with the pills.

 

Microwave For One

This book would appear much more impressive if its title was Microwave For One Hundred. Perhaps someone should inform author Sonia Allison that all microwaving for one entails is reading the instructions on the back of the packet.

 

Bangkok Travel Guide For Men

Imagine what happens when the parcel arrives from Amazon, and the wife opens it.

 

God Is Great So How Come He Gave Me And Bobby Crossed Eyes

Because he doesn’t like you! (Note: I think this is a fictitious book title).

 

Enjoying Being Single

Just look at the fun that man is having on the front cover being single. I am feeling nostalgic…

 

Nuclear War Fun Book

Who would have thought nuclear war could be so much fun.

 

I am the author of 3 novels. Click here to claim your FREE copy of my satirical black comedy, Necropolis.

A Black Comedy of True Distinction

 

Bizarre Books VII

Earlier this week I was perusing the internet in search of yet more bizarre books. I found some. This week sees the seventh instalment in my bizarre books series. Here are 10 bizarre books. I have added pithy/fictitious comments below each.

 

5 Very Good Reasons To Punch A Dolphin In The Mouth

Reason 1: Dolphins make annoying squeaking noises.

 

Beat Your Way to the Top: Masturbation as a technique for business success

CEO: ‘Jesus Christ put it away! What the %$@* do you think you’re doing?’

Junior Employee: ‘Just beating my way to the top.’

 

Jesus Spells Freedom

Jesus spells Freedom? — Well maybe, but that front cover certainly doesn’t.

 

How To Make Your Own Dolls For Pleasure And Profit

The highly unimaginative front cover makes me suspicious as to Schauffler’s doll making abilities, be they for pleasure or profit.

 

CB for Christians

There are books written millennia ago that have dated better than this.

 

The Ladybird Book of Child Labour

Yes, back in the days when this book was published white kids did child labour too. I believe this is a fictitious title.

 

Make Your Own Sex Toys

Could they not have come up with a more amorous front cover.

 

How To Preserve Animal and Other Specimens in Clear Plastic

If you are looking for a 50-something year old book about keeping dead things in plastic then look no further.

 

Walmart Atlas

What with a new Walmart springing up every five seconds, presumably Walmart Atlases date pretty quickly.

 

Big & Little Crochets 

What ludicrous garments.

 

I am the author of 3 novels. Click here to claim your FREE copy of my satirical black comedy, Necropolis.

A Black Comedy of True Distinction

6 American Satirical Novels

As followers of this blog are aware I am an avid fan of satire. My second novel, Necropolis, is a satire about a sociopath who works for the burials and cemeteries department in his local council. I plan to release further satirical works in the not too distant future.  In addition to my writing I have read numerous satires and devoted many blog posts to the subject.

This week’s post is dedicated to 6 satirical novels by 6 American authors. They are presented in the order in which they were published. Click on the links to read my reviews.

 

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)

Subjects Satirised: Slavery & numerous others

 

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

Catch-22

Based on Heller’s own experiences as a bombardier in WWII, this best-selling, satirical, anti-war novel, took its American author eight years to write.

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…(more)

Subject Satirised: War

 

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

Slaughterhouse 5

Slaughterhouse-Five’s anti-war rhetoric has resulted in it being banned from numerous US schools and libraries. This satirical story is about a survivor of the notorious firebombing of Dresden.

My Review: Narrated in a non-linear order, the story follows protagonist Billy Pilgrim’s journey through life. A married optometrist with two children, Billy is a veteran of World War II, and a survivor of the notorious…(more)

Subject Satirised: War

 

Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis (1998)

Glamorama adeptly captures the hedonism of 1990s New York. In typical Ellis fashion the text is punctuated with numerous pop-culture references, sporadic descriptions of violence and graphic sexual encounters.

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 social connections and…(more)

Subject Satirised: 1990s

 

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk (2001)

This nihilistic novel is about our innate craving for attention and the fundamental nature of addiction. Its protagonist has a penchant for purposely choking on food at expensive restaurants.

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 many…(more)

Subjects Satirised: Addiction treatments & contemporary society

 

I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (2004)

I Am Charlotte Simmons is a humorous satire about campus life. Themes include materialism, social class, race and America’s obsession with college sport.

My Review: Appalachian wunderkind Charlotte Simmons has been awarded a scholarship to Dupont, an elite fictional university, steeped in tradition. Living amongst the cream of America’s youth is…(more)

Subjects Satirised: Campus life & numerous others

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10 Farcical Religious Books

This week sees the third and most likely final instalment in my bizarre religious books series. Here are 10 religious-themed books. I have added pithy/fictitious comments below each.

 

Behold Now Behemoth: Dinosaurs All Over the Bible!

I can only assume the author is confusing The Bible with Jurassic Park.

 

A Potato That Wasn’t A Christian

So what if a potato wasn’t a Christian. Potatoes are tasty regardless of their religion, unless they are Sikh. There are few things less appetising than a roasted turban.

 

Born-Again Virgin

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

Step one: Get a needle and thread.

 

Liar, Liar, Mullet On Fire: Extinguishing Lies We Believe with God’s Truth

No prizes for guessing who the target readership of this book is.

 

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

Because you forgot the key.

 

The Homosexual god and The Children of Satan

There is one sure way to make your book invisible on online book retailers. Make the cover completely black.

 

It’s a sin to be fat 

Is it still a sin if the fatness is not a result of gluttony or sloth, but an under-active thyroid? I guess I will have to read the book to find out.

 

Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible  

Not those pesky dinosaurs again.

 

When Catholics Die: Eternal Life or Eternal Damnation? 

Eternal life unless they write books with tasteless, purple front covers.

 

BIRTH CONTROL IS SINFUL IN THE CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES and Also ROBBING GOD OF PRIESTHOOD CHILDREN!! 

Amen!

 

If you enjoyed this post you might like my satirical black comedy, Necropolis.

Click here to claim your FREE copy.

A Black Comedy of True Distinction

 

 

 

Books and Publishing (Part 2)

Last week’s post was about global reading habits. This week sees the second instalment. Here are some interesting facts about global reading habits and the publishing industry in general. Click on the links to discover more.

According to Bowker and book industry data, as of September 2016, there were 134,021,533 unique books in the world. I am sure you will all agree that is a lot of books.

As we are all aware the number of self-published works has risen dramatically in recent years. But the figures are astounding. In 2015 alone, 727,125 ISBNs were applied to self-published works (print & digital books).

With regards to which country publishes the most books, I was under the impression it was America, but I was mistaken. China publishes the most. 440,000 as of 2013.

A few days ago I was emailed this infographic by one of its creators. It gives estimates as to how long it takes to read some of the world’s best-known books. Perhaps the readers they surveyed were Germans (world’s fastest readers). It certainly took a lot longer for me to read Brave New World (63,766 words) than the 3.54 hours estimated. I would be interested to hear from anyone who read Anna Karenina (349,736 words) in 19.43 hours.

This article from The Guardian claims that books are getting longer. It cites a survey purporting that the average book length increased by 25% between 2000 and 2015.

As for what format people are reading, in America at least print continues to be dominant. This Pew Research Center survey claims that 65% of Americans read a print book in 2015 whilst 28% read an e-book.

The most popular genres of all time according to this source (does not include non-fiction) is Children’s Fiction. As for the best-selling children’s books of all time, it is The Harry Potter Series (>450m).

I have written at length on this blog about the plethora of new book genres. Here is a link to some more of the stranger ones out there, including Cli-Fi, a spin-off of eco-fiction that consists of writing addressing climate change. And Cashier Memoir —true-life tales from behind the cash register.

Happy Easter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global Reading Habits

Have you ever found yourself wondering about global literacy rates & reading habits. If so you might find this week’s post interesting. Click on the links to discover more.

The most literate nation in the World is: Finland —  according to British newspaper, The Guardian.

But when it comes to reading assessment results Singapore comes out as number one.

The World’s least literate nation is South Sudan (literacy rate: 27%) — Grinding poverty and fleeing Janjaweed militias is evidently not conducive to reading.

Who are the World’s most prolific readers?

India — 10 hours, 42 minutes
Thailand — 9:24
China — 8:00
Philippines — 7:36

The USA comes in at number 22 (5:42) one place above my own nation the UK (5:18). Click here to view the survey.

As for the types of books being purchased globally:

Paperbacks: 45%
Hardbound: 27%
Ebooks: 22%
Audio: 2%

(Above figures were taken from this adweek survey)

According to the same survey 43% of books globally were purchased at E-commerce retailers.

We hear a lot about America’s eating habits, but what about their reading habits:

In 2015 77% of American women read a book, compared with 67% of American males.

The top grossing genre in the United States is Romance ($1.44 billion approx.)

As for the United Kingdom’s Reading Habits:

According to this YouGov survey, the average number of books read for pleasure by adults in the UK is approximately 10 per year. The median is 4.

Proportionately no country has more writers than Iceland — 1 in 10 Icelanders will publish a book during their lifetime according to this BBC report.

And the country with the most libraries:

China has 51311 libraries — great news for Chinese library goers unless they are looking for books about Tibet or the Dalai Lama.

As for the most bookstores:

In first place is Hong Kong with 21 bookstores per 100,000 people. Second place goes to Taipei with 17.6.

The World’s fastest readers are according to this survey the Germans (as of 2014). Yes, the Germans are even efficient at reading.

Did you know that the top 6 book markets are the USA, China, Germany, Japan, France & the UK. They account for over 60% of global spending on books.

 

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