Wednesday, January 02, 2008

From the bat-sdrmg hWphor of Mnorkan rods

One of my favourite authors, George MacDonald Fraser, is dead (and I've replaced the not very good Independent Obit with the now up online Telegraph Obituary). It's not really surprising -- the last book of his that I read, The Light's On At Signpost, takes its title from his knowledge that he'll soon be dead (it's an odd book -- half memoirs of writing films, half grumbles about the state of the world, some of them brilliantly spot on, some, at least to my mind, repulsive or silly or both). He was a marvellous writer -- clear, sharp and, when he wanted to be, really funny. His most famous books are the Flashman series, of which I like the first half dozen very much, and like the later books less (not because they're less well-written or researched, but I think because Flashman softens, and I liked him best when he was at his most appalling), but I love the McAuslan stories and The Pyrates every bit as much in very different ways. He wrote some excellently crafted film scripts. I borrowed a historical story he told of murder and desire for Endless Nights.

I just did a search of this website, and found back in August 2001 I wrote,

And I am currently reading -- again, doling out a story a night before sleep -- McAuslan Entire. You can find the publisher's blurb on it here.
It's by George MacDonald Fraser, and is a delightful, sensible, world-affirming,
beautifully crafted bunch of stories. (And it's the sort of thing you need to
read after working your way through another chunk of the two volume Collected
Strange Stories
of Robert Aickman.)

As a young man I preferred Fraser's Flashman stories to his McAuslan/Dand MacNeill stories; now I'm not so sure. (Possibly because I'm still out of sorts with a story in the last Flashman collection. Dammit, Flashman can't meet Sherlock Holmes. There was a compact with the reader about Flashman, and that breaks it -- it says, unequivocably, that Flashman is a fictional character, not a historical one, whereas up until that point the only fictional characters were from Tom Brown's Schooldays. In Royal Flash Flashman doesn't meet Rupert of Hentzau, he meets the inspiration for Rupert of Hentzau, and so on.) Sorry, I'm wittering.

I changed the link to a dead publisher's website to the Amazon link for the (out of print) book.

Incidentally, I think Amazon are using more Optical Character Recognition these days. At least, according to this description I just cut and pasted from their description of Sandman: The Doll's House, where I learned,

Excerpt - Back Cover: "... . ~~- ~. ~ . _ .. " N Neil Gaiman is the New Yak Times bat-sdrmg hWphor of Mnorkan rods ..."

And, of course, I am.

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