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Posts Tagged ‘shirley jackson’

Books and books and books and….

Posted by Sara on August 6, 2009

I’ve not been writing too much this past week but that’s because I have been reading loads – as the Gods of all Gifts Secondhand have been smiling down on me with some remarkable finds in my local charity shops.

spiralFirst up was Spiral off Western road, one of my favourite places for a Saturday morning browse. Spread out over three adjoining rooms trailing down Bedford Place and a veritable Santa’s Grotto for knick knacks and furniture, Spiral has an eclectic range of books and magazines – including a vast collection of National Geographics I am slowly making my way through – all stacked in big bookcases along the walls, one of them hiding a beautiful scenic mosaic behind it which is worth a visit to the shop alone.

sjacksonDuring my last Saturday Spiral excursion I stumbled apon The Masterpieces of Shirley Jackson, published by Raven Books. With an introduction by Donna Tartt, this edition contains The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Shirley Jackson and Donna Tartt are two of my favourite authors so the introduction alone was worth the £1 the book cost me. There are some writers you just never ever find in charity shops and Shirley Jackson is one of them. I have just finished We have Always Lived in The Castle and it has affected me deeply – what an amazing story, so funny and sad, bizarre and so true all at the same time.

Then on to Oxfam, Western Road for not one, not two but three Ray Bradbury paperbacks, all at a bargain 99p each.

RayBradburyRay Bradbury writes beautifully and I love his prose. Something Wicked This Way Comes is one of my favourite books that I can read and reread time and time again. I’ve not read any of the stuff above but have just started on the short stories  compiled in Golden Apples of the Sun – two that stand out for me so far are The Great Wide World Over There and The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl.

If that wasn’t enough bargain busting for one day I wander down to the Lanes where I spy this hardback in the window of Sandpiper books:

lordofavisibleworldOk so this isn’t secondhand but at £6.99 is a bargain none the less. Sandpiper specialise in remainder and bargain books with loads of those big coffee table type tomes, so fun to flick through on rainy afternoons, choc full of photos of anything and everything from arty sailors to modern architecture and antique charm bracelets to Andalusian equines. They also stock a wide range of books in specialist subjects and are always worth a browse. I’ve not seen this one much cheaper than £20 secondhand so to find it new for £6.99 is a treat indeed. They still have copies in stock last time I looked so get there quick if you want one.

Though HP Lovecraft is another one of my favourite authors and was a prolific letter writer, I’ve avoided reading much of his personal correspondence as the less you know about your heroes the better I think. But since being given his biography for Christmas my curiousity has been piqued; a lot of people who know much better than I do rate his life as having been a pretty tragic one whereas it didn’t sound too bad at all to me. Seems he enjoyed a sheltered, secluded life living off the missus and a small family inheritence, fuelled by strong cheese and coffee, free from the vicissitudes of regular employment – an introverts dream no less! Maybe learning more about his life in his own words will add insight so I am looking forward to tackling this selection of his letters and essays, some of which have never been published before.

Just a couple of doors away from Sandpiper is another Oxfam, this one selling nothing but books and records and guaranteed Werewolfofparisto have something worth buying, though their prices can be a little steep – but what the hey, it’s all for charidee. I spotted this – The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore and, though I didn’t know anything about this book or the writer, I have a thing for pictures of teeth so I had to buy it just for the cover – even though it was kind of pricey at £1.99.

One thing I love about secondhand books is the pieces of paper you find in them and there is a library type slip glued into the inside cover of this one from a place called Reads + Beads, Sant Bartomeu, Sitges. It appears to be some kind of book rental  co-operative and coincidently the last date stamped for this book to be due back is my birthday!

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Well if that wasn’t enough for a fun filled afternoon shopping what did I spy when made my way to pay at the counter? Holy Guacamole Batman can this be true? For £1.50?!

I guess this makes up for the time I spotted Teattro Grottesco in the very same shop tucked away in the foreign language section but decided not to buy it as I had a copy borrowed from the library and hadn’t made up my mind whether I wanted one to keep all to myself or not. So I left it there, foolishly thinking it would be safe for a week or two but alas by the time I realised how fine the stories were it had gone….

Ho Hum – too many books, too little time – I feel a poem coming on.

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Journeys end in lovers meeting

Posted by Sara on May 10, 2009

ra2Having spent a fair amount of my childhood growing up in crumbly old houses, hotels and hospitals, I like to think I’m a bit of a connoisseur of creepy buildings. Very few books and films ever manage to capture the essence of what makes some buildings  ‘hold darkness within’ but The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is a genuinely chilling tale that perfectly encapsulates just the right blend of psychological suspense and supernatural menace found in all great ghost stories and hauntings.

BLT

Last night I went to see an adaptation of this book at the Brighton Little Theatre and it was fab. I won’t say too much, as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone going to see it, but the set and the cast were brilliant and did a fantastic job of bringing  Hill House to life and staying faithful to the eerie, sinister atmosphere of the book. It’s on every night from Saturday 9th to Saturday 16th May. Tickets only £8.50. Some still available from their box office.

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And talking of Gothic Victorian Mansions, please look look out for updates on the fate of the old Royal Alex Hospital. Situated on Dyke road this beautiful local building (photographs above and the subject of most of my ‘spooky house’ photos) is still under threat of demolition from developers Taylor Wimpey. A hearing to decide the fate of this unique and important historical  landmark starts at Brighton Town Hall on 12th May at 10am. The more people who attend to show their support for the Royal Alex the better. Please don’t let them destroy this beautiful building.

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