Take one box of 50 mini modern classics published to celebrate 5o years of Penguin Modern Classics …..
Count how many authors in that set are still undiscovered (35!) and so begins a new reading project, perfectly designed to facilitate mini-reads between the many chunksters sitting in the TBR. A project which got off to a flying start this week with the arrival of a dual sample from the publisher.
For a crime fiction reader, I find it quite incredible that I have never got around to reading the stories of Father Brown. An oversight that has now been rectified …. and, I’m a little incredulous about this, I don’t see myself reading more than the two stories in this volume. I have nothing against cozy crime – these are very cozy. What I’m not so fond of is a detective who is a know-all and doesn’t need to do any detecting. This is probably something to do with the era in which the stories were written. The contemporaneous Sherlock Holmes has uncanny powers of detection and I dislike those stories for the same reason as well as taking a strong aversion to Holmes himself. Fortunately Father Brown is much more genial and I was wryly amused by the conceit in the first story with which he outwits a master criminal through bizarre behaviour and the worldly knowledge he has gained in the confessional. In The Strange Crime of John Boulnois an act of the utmost mundanity could easily lead to the gallows. However, neither story really grabbed me in the way I expect of crime fiction. I guess the genre has come a long way since the days of Father Brown.
I’ve always been wary of Angela Carter or rather of her magical realism. However, I’m feeling much more adventurous after reading these 7 retellings of the fairy tales of Charles Perrault: Bluebeard, Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and less famously Ricky with the Tuft and Foolish Wishes. All told in crisp, clear, vivid prose and from a quick comparison with the original tales, all faithfully rendered in modern English … apart from the moral lessons at the end which have a touch of subversion about them. Can you guess which story this is from?
Curiosity is the most fleeting of pleasures; the moment it is satisfied, it ceases to exist and it always proves very expensive.
Something to bear in mind the next time I enter a bookshop!