AUTHOR GUY PORTMAN'S BLOG

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

1
20 More Quotes about Books, Reading and Writing
2
7 Books for 7 Moods (Part 2)
3
7 Bizarre Author Deaths
4
7 Books for 7 Moods
5
7 Works of Dark Fiction
6
Bizarre Books III
7
14 Random Book Facts
8
9 Twitter Types
9
Absurd Literary-Related Trivia
10
15 Curious Literary Terms

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.

 

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.

Typewriter2

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 Homer 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.

Quill2

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

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