#bookreview Slightly Foxed, Winter issue 2020, no.68 @FoxedQuarterly

Image from http://www.foxedquarterly.com: Cover illustration by Coralie Bickford-Smith ‘Winter’s Dance’


Winter 2020 has come and we are still in the clutches of coronavirus. I hope with all my heart that it is teaching us all something. Life cannot snap back, we can only keep moving forwards.

For those of us who enjoy books, we have discovered or re-discovered bookish podcasts of which Slightly Foxed sits at the top.

A pot of tea at my side, and a log fire crackling and glowing for good company, my loving dog Dawsey curled up ready for me to read, I pause life, and run as fast as I can towards the winter issue.

Having the illness that Richard Platt describes in his A Merry Malady on The Anatomy of Bibliomania by Holbrook Jackson, I thoroughly enjoyed his opening quiz! Filled with confessions of his own, this article colourfully outlines such things as we all know to be true as “…for in a bookshop … There is only Destiny.” Pratt claims that Jackson’s Bibliomania is modelled on Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy with a “deliciously pedantic early-seventeenth turn of phrase.” Finally the stand out review is captured when he says it is a “treasure-trove of whimsy, revelry, vituperative eloquence and the disconcertingly weird.”

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Sam Leith on the short stories of Ray Bradbury describes the darkness and sinister themes that Bradbury returns to over and again to bring the reader, some say science fiction, some say, horror stories. Whatever perspective you take, Bradbury wrote around 400 of them. “He transports and unsettles … the sinister carnival blowing into town … the vampiric visitor; the dinosaur; the monster; the lonely beauty of Mars.” Leith goes to town on these themes and claims that Bradbury has ‘the soul of a poet.’

These Old Bones Bones by Dan Richards on writer’s totems, is a beautifully picturesque piece to round out the winter issue. Richards begins the article with his memories of a totem brought back from Svalbard by his father – a polar bear bone. The list of favourites by writers is warm and inspiring – “Max Porter’s writing touchstone is a piece of church pew … Alexander Dumus wrote all his fiction on blue paper … Dr Deuss kept ‘an immense collection of 300 hats” are just some of the quirks and ‘bones’ of writers known and unknown.


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