Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Guest Post - The Books of Summer by Brian Paul Bach - #Blogival


Or, At Least, A Few Such Notions

Brian Paul Bach

I guess I’m kind of an oddball reader. That is, not your typical (capable) consumer of reads for enjoyment, first and foremost. Nothing against such pursuits, it’s just that I’m more of a grab-bag kind of explorer, book-wise. Also, I’m maddeningly slow in plowing through pretty much everything. True, I have an astigmatism that ensures my progression will be clunky and start-stop-start, but it’s really because I’d rather be writing than reading. You know, distractions arise – such as, non-related ideas crowding in, a relentless parade of superfluous sensations, and most significantly, my two-year-old hound Hudson sitting before me, smiling, snuffling, and grunting  all of which suggest ‘git off yer ass and let’s go goof off’, and I enthusiastically obey without any equivocation whatsoever.

Thus, my own Dog of Summer eclipses any Books of Summer that may vie for prominence. And that’s taking in the upcoming Total Eclipse of the Sun, due in August, which he’ll probably sleep through...

Nevertheless, citing a few ‘summer-ian’ (though not Sumerian) book-looks is a cinch, because I can wax fondly over any read that evokes sweet reminiscences of moods to be treasured.

I tend to gravitate to fiction that conveys cinematic vividness and nonfiction that supports such characteristics (including books about the movies themselves). I guess that’s why I threw everything I knew about the film world into my four-part epic-noir-satire saga, FORWARD TO GLORY. And I did so with a general feeling of everything being right with the world, such as one might encounter in an afternoon of deepest summer, and the enjoyments therein.

So, with the Fahrenheit/Celsius rising, time to settle back on a ramshackle chaise, with both book and matching beverage of the moment. Here are five, randomly selected, in no special order.

Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases and of Kindred Terms Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive by Yule, Burnell and Crooke 1902. India is one of my specialties, and yes, it is noted for its varying aspects of heat. Yet, I’ve never been more chill than when I got up before dawn to visit the Taj Mahal at Agra. That’s where I got this particular book, a totally fascinating compendium that you can dip into on any page and discover how shampoo, bungalow, juggernaut and thousands more terms evolved. And yes, ‘Hobson-Jobson’ is fully explained. Hands down, one of my all-time favorite desert island books. Perfect gin+tonic reading.

A Tennessee Williams omnibus: Suddenly Last Summer, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, The Night of the Iguana 1950s-60s. Just because ‘summer’ is in the title of a book, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything seasonal, but most of this master dramatist’s works are evocative of some kind of hot spell, either literally or emotionally. Plays can be pretty fast to read, especially if you know the story. And because these three classics are three classic films, going through them is even more enjoyable. It’s also interesting to note the differences between stage and screen versions. Refreshment? Ice tea (preferably spiked), but no mint julips – clichés do not apply to Tennessee Williams.

At The Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft 1973. I acquired this book as a youth while visiting Oxford one summer, and I was pulled in because of the wonderfully bizarre cover. I’d never read Lovecraft before, but the contents didn’t disappoint. On beyond Poe, it takes place in Antarctica, where an expedition makes some ghastly discoveries, all of which are shiver-worthy. The only possible antidote: a hot toddy.

Baedeker’s Southern Italy and Sicily 1903. I’ve been to Naples, Pompeii and Sorrento, but not yet further south. I love old guidebooks and of course, Baedeker’s are top of the line. This is the grand tour approach, meticulously detailed, with delightful period touches, yet completely current with the substance that matters. The tactile quality of these little red books is sensuous, the maps are pure amazement, and it’s worth every lira to splurge on a select Italian white.

Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg, illustrated by the Petershams 1922.
Not necessarily a summer-oriented collection, except that it reminds me of rose-tinted and carefree summers of childhood, when joys were so simple, especially when discovering such a parade of splendid originality as these ingenious inventions. It’s a pretty big book for kids, and I’m powerful thirsty. Lemonade...? Well, now that I’m all growed-up, I think I shall send out for cold beer.

PS: Not that I get snockered while reading, but on such an afternoon, I do not question the summery magic that results from indulging in such pleasures.

Thank you so much Brian for sharing your books of summer with us. 

Forward to Glory: Tempering

Butterbugs is a nobody, a nothing. But that’s not why he’s compelled to drive to Hollywood and hurl himself upon the mercy of the cinematic capital. His only dream is to act. Without any plans, resources or friends, he throws caution to the wind and embarks on a journey to the City of Angels. The trials that result pose only one question: will Butterbugs remain a non-entity, or will his big dream come true?

Facing the movie monolith’s prospects alone, Butterbugs attempts to perform dramatic scenes in front of the homeless and amongst the inebriated. Living in his car, and with dwindling reserves, he searches for opportunities, takes on a hazardous scaffolding job, and makes desperate pleas to bankers for clemency. Isolation leads to alienation, from fringe existence to bare survival, all in a city which cradles high achievement and bottomless failure. Despite his rough start, Butterbugs is strangely attractive to other outcasts turned possible allies: Heatherette – a mysterious force for good whom he weirdly rejects, and who in turn, rejects him; Starling – the thief who tries to love him; ProwlerCat – who might indeed save him, though it is far too early to know for sure. At one of his bleakest moments, Butterbugs receives his first sign of hope that his dreams remain alive: a screen test and the chance to be an extra in a major production. But now, with his first opportunity in hand, nothing seems as it should, except his going forward.

Abundant with movie lore and invention, Forward to Glory I: Tempering by Brian Paul Bach is an ode to the cinema and the bewitching power of entertainment. 

Purchase from Amazon UK

About the author

Brian Paul Bach is a writer, artist, filmmaker and photographer; he has worked across the entertainment business, in theatre, music and as an academic. He now lives in central Washington State with his wife, Sandra. His previous works include The Grand Trunk Road From the Front Seat, Calcutta’s Edifice: The Buildings of a Great City, and Busted Boom: The Bummer of Being a Boomer.

Goodreads author page:
Goodreads FORWARD TO GLORY page:
Facebook author page:
Twitter: @ftgquartet

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