Thank you...

... for taking the time to stop by. I hope some of these ponderings will resonate with you.

Leave a comment if you want to - your contributions are more than welcome.

(Unless stated otherwise, all text & pictures are © Lee Labuschagne, all rights reserved.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

1+1+1 for 365, day 38: The Mysts of Fantasy


"The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” - Albert Einstein

Myst - The Book of Artrus and Myst - The Book of T'iana by Rand & Robyn Miller with David Wingrove

I did it yesterday, so I am cheating again by slipping in another two-for-the-price-of-discussing-one-book.   This is because once you've read the first of these, you more or less feel obliged to read the next. Like the three original books of The Lord of the Rings or the five volumes of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy (no mistake, Adams fans will know that!) and indeed of most fantasy novel series and sagas, they form parts of one big story.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

1+1+1 for 365 day 37: A brilliant answer to all those self-help books about becoming successful

"To Quin-Xiang-Yi who in 1846 was given the title 'distinguished failure' in recognition of his 20 years spent failing the Chinese Civil Service entrance exams.  Buoyed up by this honour he went on to failed several times more." - Dedication of "The Return of Heroic Failures" by Stephen Pile.

The Book of Heroic Failures - (subtitled The Official Handbook of the Not Terribly Good Club of Great Britain) and The Return of Heroic Failures by Stephen Pile

So I'm breaking a rule (an appropriate failure) and talking about more than one book. But these two really go together and very sadly are both out of print, although available as second-hand copies from various sellers.  Thus sadly I don't expect a rush of people to book stores to try and acquire a copy.

But if ever a duo books caused belly-aching, tears-inducing, raucous laughter then these are the ones.   When Stephen Pile first published The Book of Heroic Failures in 1979, it became a runaway bestseller (thus failing at failing!) for good reason.   It was followed by The Return of Heroic Failures in 1988 and promptly  became yet another one of those books that you borrowed from a friend and found hard to return.

To illustrate that last statement, my copy of  The Book of Heroic Failures disappeared into that black hole created by trusted friends who 'will definitely return stuff', whereas the copy of The Return of Heroic on my bookshelf does not actually belong to me, but to a friend, as her name written on the inside cover clearly attests. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

1+1+1 for 365, day 36: a guide for digital photographers

“Some photographers take reality...and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation.”  - Ansel Adams (American photographer, 1902-1984)

Digital Photographer's Handbook by Tom Ang

There are very many good books about photography on the market, and good ones do not come cheap - so for one of them to sell more than half a million copies, there must be something about it that makes it worthwhile. 

Tom Ang's books get rave reviews because he really manages to demystify the subject. He is a professional photographer, has presented TV programmes on photography and as senior lecturer in photographic practice at London's University of Westminster, also has that academic background working for him in this book.  It is virtually a short course in digital photography and excellent for beginners, but it does not stop there.  It is beautifully presented, and is also logical, has a useful glossary  useful and covers everything from choosing equipment to image editing on computer.

Monday, October 4, 2010

1+1+1 for 365, day 35: Pure cat-opera delight

“Parsifal - the kind of opera that starts at six o'clock and after it has been going three hours, you look at your watch and it says 6:20” - David Randolph

Opera Cats by Susan Herbert

I love cats - everybody who's known me for longer than a chance meeting, knows that.  The result is a large collection of cat figurines and illustrations of cats on objects - but also dozens of books about cats around my house.

Some of these deal with cat breeds or the care of your cat, but many of them are small books with sayings, stories and quotes - many of them gifts friends and family.  I enjoy them greatly.  This one by well-known artist Susan Herbert and which I received as a Christmas gift from my sister some years ago, deserves special mention - because most people who know me, also know I love music and opera (not all opera though - like David Randolph I don't much like Wagner's over-long operas and only really enjoy The Flying Dutchman).  

Sunday, October 3, 2010

1+1+1 for 365 day 34: Seville, priests and mysteries

Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends. - Virginia Woolf

The Seville Communion by Arturo Pérez Reverte

I thought this note on this book by Spanish TV-journalist turned novelist Pérez-Reverte would be a good choice for a Sunday, since its story concerns issues of Roman Catholic Church tradition and personal battles of  faith and conscience.

I enjoyed this book, for which Pérez-Reverte won the Jean Monnet Prize for European Literature. He  is a good story teller and creates some very well-drawn characters:  from priests who have lost their faith, Spanish aristocrats, ambitious businessmen, a mysterious computer hacker, a seductive Andalusian beauty, an old priest with an interest in astronomy and cynical members of the upper echelons of the church in Rome to smaller characters such as a once famous flamenco dancer and a bullfighter-turned-boxer-turned-small-time crook and a greasy tabloid reporter.  There are suspicious deaths, much inner conflict endured by many of the main characters - and tales of tragic romances.   All the ingredients therefore, for a good read: an interesting story that also makes you think written in the unpretentious style of a seasoned journalist.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

1+1+1 for 365, day 33: The magic that Walt made

"I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained." - Walt Disney


The Art of Walt Disney by Christopher Finch

The first thing you notice about this book is that it is really big and heavy. In fact, at roughly A3 size and 450 pages, of which many are actually double pages that fold out, it is one of the largest books in my library and only rivalled by a really big atlas and some other coffee table books on art. The reason I mention this, is that I bought it during a trip to the US many years ago. It was only when I got to the teller carrying it and some other books, all of them fairly large, that I realised this was going to play havoc with my weight allotment for luggage on the plane back to Switzerland where I lived at the time.  But there was no ways I was putting back such a treasure. 

Because if it is very big, it is also very beautiful and contains a wealth of information about a remarkable man and his art.  (Although Walt Disney himself did not refer to his work as art - he maintained "I never called my work an 'art' It's part of show business, the business of building entertainment." ). So I paid for the book, left it at the store while I collected some more books I had bought earlier from my hotel, and let them mail it to my home address.

Friday, October 1, 2010

1+1+1 for 365, day 32: The artist as a poet - and the poet as an artist

Do what you will, this world's a fiction and is made up of contradiction. - William Blake

Songs of innocence and of experience - William Blake

Was there ever another poet whose exquisite illustrations for his own poetry can equal that of William Blake? Similar to the stories of many other artists and authors, he did not become well known during his lifetime, but his work became very popular posthumously. He is remembered equally as poet, visionary artist, engraver, printmaker and as mystic and intellectual rebel of his times.

My copy of the illustrated Songs of Innocence and Experience was acquired a long time ago in London and contains lovely reproductions of this illustrated poems in the original size. I picked it up on a whim at a sale and have never been sorry that I bought it.