Ed

Autumn Reads from H. E. Bates and Jaime Clarke

There’s a chill in the air, leaves are falling from the trees and rustling against our windows, and we at Bloomsbury Reader are ready to get cosy and curl up with a good book.

wsfAs the days grow shorter, bring some sunshine into your life with a tale of Hollywood teens obsessed with celebrity. With a new introduction by Charles Bock, We’re So Famous by Jaime Clarke is out in gorgeous paperback. Daisy, Paque and Stella want to be famous. Inspired by their idols, Bananarama, they form a pop group of their own. But Stella heads to LA to become an actress and Paque and Daisy, without Stella, are just about ready to call it quits. When two friends are mysteriously murdered, they, the last people to see the victims alive, become the prime suspects. Cashing in on this sudden notoriety, Masterful Johnson record their first hit, but the adventure is only just beginning.

Also included in this edition is Typical of the Times: Growing up in the Culture of Spectacle, an afterword that grew into a train-of-thought memoir, showing us the deep roots of We’re So Famous.

‘The starry-eyed girls at the center of this rock-and-roll fairy tale are the predecessors of today’s selfie-snappers’ Mona Awad

As part of our ongoing project to republish all of H. E. Bates’s short stories and novellas, The Yellow Meads of Asphodel is our autumn pick – a collection of short stories published posthumously in 1976, with some familiar characters and scenarios, as well as an uncharacteristic vignette portraying urban hooligans.the-yellow-meads-of-asphodel-bigger4

The title story, ‘The Yellow Meads of Asphodel’, looks at the apparently stagnant lives of a brother and sister, both in their forties, who live together in the country house left to them by their parents. Their lives are uprooted, however, when one of them falls in love.

Two loved characters are revisited. Uncle Silas in ‘Loss of Pride’, where Silas recounts how he and his friends dealt with an obnoxious braggart and womanizer; and in ‘The Proposal’, published shortly after Bates’s death, the story continues Bates’s entertaining tales of Miss Shuttleworth.

The collection also features two bonus stories. First published in 1934, ‘The Mad Woman’ is a comic sketch about two boys, frustrated in the constraints of youth where everything is ‘boring’, who decide to spy on the local mad woman. The tale relates their wild speculations, their suspense and fear, and the stories they concoct after their adventure.

‘From This Time Forward’, first published in 1943, is narrated by a pilot, visiting the family of a recently deceased colleague, who learns a different side to his old friend’s character. He discusses, with the aristocratic mother and sister of the dead pilot, their conflicting memories in a wrought and tender exploration of the fallacy of knowing.

‘Anyone interested in the English language must read Mr. Bates, one of its outstanding masters’ Times Literary Supplement

 

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