Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Qualified disclaimer

I'm the sort of person who regards it as mandatory to sit through a film's end credits. Key Grip, Gaffer, Best Boy, Focus Puller, the lot; how much simpler when it simply said 'The End' or with French movies the definitive brevity of 'Fin'. So it might not entirely surprise you that I give close attention to the copyright page whenever I start reading a book. The usual 'The author asserts his right....' down to the who and where of the printer credits. About the only thing I tend to gloss over is the ISBN number, although even that sometimes has its fascination.

I've just taken Stephen Clarke's Dial M for Merde out of the library. So it's Stephen Clarke who has asserted his rights this time around, but it was the subsequent paragraph that caught my eye:

This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Except in the case of historical fact? Presumably that means 'unless it's true'; it certainly covers a multitude of sins, authorial or otherwise.

Anyway it's typeset in 11/14 point Jansen Falcon Oast Graphic Art Ltd and printed by CPI Mackays of Chatham, Kent, in case you were wondering.

The next page has a brief quotation from Goethe's Faust, but one page further on and Stephen Clarke offers another disclaimer:

For legal reasons, I am obliged to stress that this novel in no way implies that the current President of France receives sexual favours from his female staff. That would be an outrageous - and totally unbelievable - allegation.

One of those book quizzes

I found this menu of questions about books at normblog. Norm found it at Harriet's place and she found it....

What was the last book you bought?
Home by Marilynne Robinson. A signed first printing at that.

Name a book you have read more than once
I’m rather inclined to the view that if a book’s worth reading it’s worth reading more than once, so a good number of my books are well used. Sometimes I find an old favourite makes a good 'comfort' read not least because I know I'm going to enjoy it. But often I find repeated readings bring out things that I missed first time around. The last book I re-read was The Rings of Saturn by WG Sebald.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
Lawrence, his entire oeuvre.

How do you choose a book? e.g., by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews
All of the above at one time or another. Often these days by browsing at the local library. Online reviews. A familiar author definitely helps.

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
I’ve a marginal preference for non-fiction, particularly critical writing.

What's more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
I can pass on both those. A well-crafted book needs neither.

Most loved/memorable character
Rupert Bear!

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
Nightstand? What's a nightstand? I have a copy of A Broad Canvas: Art in East Anglia by Ian Collins in my bathroom at the moment.

What was the last book you've read, and when was it?
I’ve almost finished Home. Before that Deaf Sentence by David Lodge

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?
All too often. If I’m finding it heavy going I check the ending and decide if the journey there is likely to justify persisting. Some books never really seem to engage at all; when they've sat unread too long I know that they're not not likely to enthuse. My last abandoned read was Made in Heaven by Adèle Geras - far too girlie for me I'm afraid.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Our planet...

Some stunning photographs (via Norm)

Unfortunately, since posting this link the majority of the photos (but by no means all) have been taken down. Yann Arthus-Bertrand's own website is worth a visit, although it's not the easiest to navigate.