There is so much unspecified yearning in this book, even outside of the romance, that it left me feeling deeply wistful. This is no accident. According to this thoughtful Goodreads review , it is an absolutely perfect snapshot of a particular kind of disaspora experience, about feeling like you are torn between two places, and have only a tenuous connection with a past and present. The book came out in February of this year, and the best way I can describe it is that it feels like a very February kind of book.
A little sad, a bit of winter glitter, and a whole beating heart on display. He could have offered to stay. Proposed marriage, right there in front of everyone.
Ram excelled at down-three-at-halftime kind of pressure. He was game-winning goals record holder. He could pull a fucking grand gesture if he needed to. But he also trusted Cal, more in that moment than his own hockey warrior self, and if she said he was about to be goaded into regret, he believed her. This is like my own personal The Force Awakens and it is Gothic and glamorous and pulpy as all get out and I am ridiculously, absurdly happy about it.
A lovely trapeze artist pushes a would-be killer to his death in the first scene; in the second, a humanoid robot murders his creator in the middle of a public demonstration, as the same trapeze artist looks on in horror. We have gunrunners and mob men with hearts of gold, spunky heroines whose wits are as sharp as their tongues, a cursed hotel where a Hollywood psychic flung herself from the roof, several untrustworthy liars, and a missing encryption machine to find before the villain gets their hands on it.
We do get a good, slow burn at the start while the mystery twists the screws. Amanda Quick has been writing books just like this for decades, and I hope she never stops. Perfect fluff with a moody glaze. There is nothing that lifts my spirits so much as a smart, funny, queer-friendly romance in a fantasy setting. Kingfisher is a pen name for Hugo and Nebula winner Ursula Vernon among many other awards , and so you know going in that the fantasy is going to be top-notch. But this story of a widow heiress beset by nefarious family members and a warrior trapped in a magical sword still took all my expectations and blasted them into happy smithereens.
This is a world of multiple gods with different approaches to power and people, a past racked by cataclysm, plenty of ground-level small-village social mores, and artifacts with centuries-old magical curses turning up as family heirlooms. Notes of Pratchett and Diana Wynne Jones, but all the detail about agriculture and livestock is expert, up-close texture.
Sarkis had been expecting Halla to sob, cry, or perhaps be as sick as Zale. Her remarkable calm in the face of two dead bodies was simultaneously heartening and a trifle alarming. She raised an eyebrow at him. This Saturday night, the Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery is hosting an opening night exhibition of Augie Pagan's art. Pagan makes beautiful and unsettling pop-culture mashups that make you feel slightly uncomfortable but very entertained. Take a look. The shitty comics hate group known as Comicsgate is trying to ban their detractors as transphobic.
Fuck Comicsgate. Actually, one more thing about those guys: a big Comicsgate talking point is that liberals have taken over the comics industry in a wide-ranging conspiracy to drag down comics sales and destroy the industry while promoting their progressive agenda all the while. There are many problems with this "theory," but perhaps the most glaring flaw is that if liberals are trying to destroy the comics industry, they're failing pretty badly :.
Anca L. The Polyglot Lovers stares the male gaze in the eye. On the final pages, who blinks? Read this review now. Today is GiveBIG , the overwhelming annual nonprofit fundraising day, when basically every nonprofit in town is vying for your attention and your donations. On the About page for this year's GiveBIG, the presenters say that unlike past years, participating nonprofits will have to pay "a registration fee. For your consideration, here's a list of the literary nonprofits taking part in GiveBIG this year, as told in their own words. If you can, please give a little to support the organizations that are doing work in the fields that mean the most to you.
A c 3 nonprofit organization, ARCADE 's mission is to reinforce the principle that thoughtful design at every scale of human endeavor improves our quality of life. Book-It Repertory Theatre 's mission is to transform great literature into great theatre through simple and sensitive production and to inspire our audiences to read.
Bushwick Northwest delivers literature, music, and songwriting to the Seattle community while building the next generation of musicians and readers. Clarion West is a nonprofit literary organization based in Seattle, Washington, dedicated to providing high quality educational opportunities for writers of speculative fiction at the start of their careers and making speculative fiction available to the public with readings and other events that bring writers and readers together. At Crosscut , we believe that an informed public is essential to solving to the challenges of our time. As the Pacific Northwest's independent, reader-supported, nonprofit news site, Crosscut strives to provide readers with the facts and analysis they need to intelligently participate in civic discourse, and to create a more just, equitable and sustainable society.
Densho 's mission is to preserve the testimonies of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II before their memories are extinguished. We offer these irreplaceable firsthand accounts, coupled with historical images and teacher resources, to explore principles of democracy and promote equal justice for all.
Folio is a gathering place for books and the people who love them. Folio offers circulating collections of fine books, vibrant conversations, innovative public programs, and quiet reading rooms, work spaces and meeting rooms. It serves the region's creative community by being an incubator for new ideas. The Friends of Georgetown History is a non profit organization dedicated to celebrating the neighborhood of Georgetown's many contributions to the legend of Seattle's early years. We use the power of history to bring communities together by engaging the public in creative history research, presentation and performance.
Friends of the Library of Kirkland :To encourage closer relations between the Kirkland Library and local citizens. To publicize the functions, resources, services and needs of the library. To help the library serve the public by funding special library purchases as well as sponsoring programs for children, teens and adults. Friends of Third Place Commons : As a safe, welcoming space open to everyone, Third Place Commons fosters real community in real space.
GeekGirlCon celebrates and honors the legacies of under-represented groups in science, technology, comics, arts, literature, game play, and game design. We do this by connecting geeks worldwide and creating an intersectional community that fosters the continued growth of women in geek culture. GeekGirlCon provides a safe space to spark conversations around social justice while encouraging unabashed geekiness. Your generous gift to Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come.
With local roots and a global reach, your support of Hedgebrook is a gift with a ripple effect. I encourage you to donate early April 23 - May 7th. Hugo House opens the literary world to everyone who loves books or has a drive to write, providing people with a place to read words, hear words, and make their own words better. Humanities Washington creates spaces for people to explore different perspectives in order to provide context and help bridge divides across communities.
Jack Straw Cultural Center is a multidisciplinary audio arts center that exists to foster the communication of arts, ideas, and information to diverse audiences through audio media. We provide creation and production opportunities including radio, theater, film, video, music, and literature. We serve over 10, individuals a year through direct services in our facility and over , individuals through radio broadcasts and podcasts of our artist, youth, and community productions. The King County Library System Foundation provides support beyond public funding for programs and services at all 50 King County Library System locations so that they can better serve the needs of our community.
Established in , The Raven Chronicles is a Seattle-based literary organization that publishes and promotes artistic work that embodies the cultural diversity and multitude of viewpoints of writers and artists living in the Pacific Northwest and other regions. Seattle City of Literature manages public and private partnerships, both within our city and abroad, to grow and promote a robust creative economy. Seattle Folklore Society To preserve and foster awareness and appreciation of traditional and folk arts through education, outreach, publication and performance. The Seattle Globalist : Our mission is to elevate diverse voices through media.
Tasveer : Our mission is to inspire social change through thought-provoking films, art, and storytelling. A vibrant gathering place in the heart of Seattle, Town Hall fosters an engaged community through civic, arts, and educational programs that reflect and inspire our region's best impulses: creativity, empathy, and the belief that we all deserve a voice.
Whit Press is a nonprofit publishing organization dedicated to the transformational power of the written word. Our mission is to promote literary work in support of environmental and social justice issues and to give a voice to women writers, writers from ethnic, social, and economic minorities, and first-time authors. Jane has demonstrated an indomitable spirit throughout this whole situation, but the fact remains that she shouldn't have to be indomitable at all. If you're a man who works in media, you should have enough wherewithal to understand that you have power over young reporters who come to you for advice and guidance.
This kind of behavior is unacceptable. Full stop. Speaking of power and the media: over the weekend at the Crosscut Festival, former Stranger reporter and, full disclosure, my former coworker Sydney Brownstone told the full story of what happened when she tried to write a story accusing Seattle restaurant mogul Dave Meinert of sexual misconduct. Brownstone didn't feel as though she could publish the report at The Stranger :. Brownstone eventually published the Meinert piece and a followup report with more accusations after finding a new job at KUOW.
The moral of this story: We need more and better media in Seattle, and we need fewer men in power at those organizations. His future in DC politics was bright, but instead Liu moved to Seattle, where he devoted his life to promoting the idea of citizenship and what it means to be a civic-minded human being. In recent years, Liu founded Citizen University to explore the idea of civic responsibility, and he travels the nation with his Civic Saturday program of events — a kind of secular church that invites people to come together to share ideas and reconsider the idea of citizenship.
Tonight, Liu is celebrating the launch of his latest book, a collection of sermons from Civic Saturdays titled Become America , at Washington Hall. The event is free. Liu and I talked on the phone yesterday about citizenship, Seattle, and why serving on the Seattle Public Library Board was more satisfying than working in the White House. This interview has been lightly edited. Full disclosure: Liu is friends with, and co-author of two books with, my day-job employer, Nick Hanauer.
The first question is probably something you hear all the time, but I want to get it out of the way early. It's actually something I heard when my first response to Trump's election was to start a book club : Isn't worrying about emphasizing citizenship and civic responsibility during the Trump Administration kind of like putting a Band Aid on cancer? I think it is absolutely vital during a time of democratic crisis to tend to culture, norms, values, and shared narrative.
I think culture is upstream of policy, I think spirit is upstream of law, and I think that the norms and attitudes and mindsets that people have about one another and about what we're doing together here are all upstream of elections and the policy consequences of elections. That's my first point. The second point — to your book club, actually — I further think that as much as Donald Trump the man poses a menace to democratic norms, one of the lessons of the last few years is just how resilient a system democracy is in the United States. And not just among those who've chosen to resist him, but in communities all around the country right now, people are rebuilding the bonds of trust, relationship and responsibility that make any notion of self-government possible.
I include in that category every kind of club you can imagine. This is a time when I think our highest task as citizens is to start or join a club, to start rebuilding that muscle of association and reckoning with what's going on around you, trying to figure out how you fit into a larger story, trying to figure out what your responsibility is for changing that story.
And so to me, whether it's a book club, whether it's things like Civic Saturdays, whether it's a club on something that's not even avowedly about politics like a gardening club, I think that forming and joining clubs right now is one of the most important things we can do as citizens. And particularly where those gatherings are about the deeper moral and ethical choices of our times, I think it becomes especially important. Could you talk a little bit about your evolution as a civic-minded person?
This past weekend, I was taking part in the Crosscut Festival and I was reflecting about not only the role of organs of local journalism, like Crosscut and Cascade Public Media, but more generally on my education in democracy in Seattle. And that's actually not really true. I think my deepest education in democracy has been as a member of the community in Seattle and as a citizen of Washington state. And probably the most signal example of that was the decade that I spent on the Seattle Public Library Board, where I'd still be serving if I weren't term-limited. I happened to serve on the library board during a time where the system was building out new branches and the downtown Central Library to deliver on this bond measure called Libraries for All that had passed in the late 90s, before I joined the board.
And so for the whole time that I was there, we were in 26, 27 neighborhoods around the city and trying to invite people in for what we called in a somewhat hokey title, Hopes and Dreams meetings. Actually, you and I might've met at one of these Hopes and Dreams meetings-. Yeah, way back.
And sure, it's hokey. And sure, it's inherently a limited format. But the fact is that when you extend that invitation and people start showing up sharing their hopes and dreams for how many materials in other languages your branch should have, or the idea that you need more meeting space because there's no free meeting space in Capitol Hill, or whatever it might be — when you start hearing these things, you realize you've created an expectation that we will not only listen, but try to deliver.
And we will do that to the best of our ability. But then where we can't, we have to explain tradeoffs and we have to be accountable to the people who showed up to these meetings as well as others. And frankly, that is just an order of magnitude more concrete a practice of democracy than most of what happens in DC. So much of politics in DC is just this Kabuki theater of posturing — it's virtue signaling or it's just rallying my base or attacking my enemies.
I do this even if I know what I'm introducing is never going to go anywhere. It's for positioning and posturing. And so my education on the library board was just so much more meaningful and rich. And then, as you know, working with Nick and others, getting things like the Alliance for Gun Responsibility off the ground after Sandy Hook was hugely formative for me.
And it was of course gratifying, just as a citizen, to have helped found an organization that has not only changed the laws in our state, but as you know, has changed the frame of the narrative around the very idea of gun responsibility nationally. So again, I worked on guns when I was at the White House and exactly nothing happened. But to be here in a city, in a state, where you can indeed move ideas and change narrative has been a big part of my evolution.
I was at the fundraiser for the Alliance last week, and they talked about all the legislative achievements they've made in the past year. Ten years ago, you couldn't get an elected official to pass a gun safety law anywhere in this country. The Alliance helped the people win at the ballot box so many times that the legislature couldn't ignore the people's voice. It's exciting that we've finally have come around to the point where these gun responsibility laws are passing within the legislature again.
But you kind of had to go outside the system and force the issue. So it was a long way around, but it finally happened from the inside rather than the outside. But it's exactly the long way around that makes democracy a resilient, complex, adaptive system if it's not rigged. We were able to bypass an initially recalcitrant legislature because we had direct democracy as an option here and could go around a rigged legislature that was either cowed or owned by the gun lobby.
And then having revealed to legislators that in fact the will of the people is strongly with gun responsibility and if you would like to retain your job, you might want to move in this direction, is exactly how the system is supposed to respond. Of course it doesn't respond that way in DC, in Congress, and that's true under, frankly, both parties and any administrations of both parties.
But that capacity for self-correction is still higher, I think, at the local and state level. Do you think Seattle was particularly suited for for your message of civic responsibility? Some other places I've lived seem like they might not be as receptive to what you're doing. I do think Citizen University is a very natural outgrowth of the civic ecosystem of our region.
And again, having worked in the other Washington, I know very clearly that an organization like Citizen University, the approaches that we've taken to civic awakening and civic power-building, which are not inside the box of conventional wisdom or policy fights as they usually unfold within DC think-tanks was made possible by being here.
That's number one. And I think, going back to when I moved here in , that there is a civically entrepreneurial spirit here that's as strong as our business, entrepreneurial spirit. This is a town that is not yet finished. You can arrive and raise your hand and start getting involved and pushing things or making change happen or creating new ventures. And I think specifically with Civic Saturdays, these gatherings that are civic analog to a faith gathering, Civic Saturdays are a great instance of a larger approach we've had, which is that Seattle is one of the great places to incubate new civic ideas and then try and spread and adapt them to other places around the country.
For all the reasons I just said and you were alluding to, because there's more openness here, because there's less hierarchy here, because there has always been a higher willingness to hybridize here and try new combinations of things, we could incubate Civic Saturdays here in Seattle. And when we realized that this approach to civic gathering and this approach to awakening civic spirit and purpose could really stick, then we started being able to take it on the road.
And that's been true of other programs of ours as well, where Seattle is an apt and fertile place to test new ideas. So what can people expect from your book launch party tonight at Washington Hall? We're going to talk about some of the content of the book, which as you know, is a collection sermons that I had written and delivered at Civic Saturday gatherings here in Seattle and around the country, But what you can really expect is a broader conversation just like the one we're having right now, about the deeper drivers of what's sick in the body politic, about what you can actually do from wherever you sit and stand, even if you don't feel powerful or you don't feel connected, how you can in fact web up with others and start making meaning and start taking action together.
And so the format will be, I think, pretty conversational in a way that I'm excited about. Because Civic Saturdays are have you been to a Civic Saturday? And I'll be in Oklahoma City after that for another one. But when you come to these, they have the arc of a faith gathering and we always build in a great amount of time at Civic Saturdays for people to turn to each other and talk about questions and prompts. But I think at this event tomorrow we'll have even more of that — more opportunity for people to ask me questions and be in dialogue with me as well as with each other.
Sounds like it's a good way, for people who are curious and haven't taken part, to sort of dip a toe in the proverbial water. And it's also just a chance for people who, if you feel like you want to be connected to something bigger, if you feel isolated and frustrated with the state of our politics, come be in the company of others and come explore some of these questions in a way that is open-hearted, open-minded and will move you to connect with people in new ways.
And then yes, dip a toe into some of what we do at Civic Saturdays as well. He can take you any place he wants They cannot defend Fancy clubs and restaurants Must be in the end Pressed up against the window pane. Sponsor Ahoy Comics is back to promote another amazing title in their non-stop onslaught of top-quality comic madness: Hashtag: Danger! We've got a four page preview, and some stellar early reviews, of this just-released title on our sponsor's page. Check them out, and be sure to pick up this first issue, so you're buckled into your front-row seat from the beginning of the ride!
When you sponsor us, you put your book, event, or residency in front of our readership of book lovers and industry professionals. And you're helping keep Seattle's amazing community of writers, reviewers, and readers vibrant. Want to join us? Check out rates and dates at www. See our Event of the Week column for more details. Seattle author Eric Liu has made it his life's mission to revive the American civic spirit. His Civic Saturdays series of church-like meetings invite secular-minded people to come together and celebrate art, democracy, justice, and community.
Liu's latest book, Become America , collects some of his best secular sermons into an inspiring book about what it means to be an American. Andrea Lawlor's novel is about a shapeshifter — or a changeling, if you prefer— in the s LGBTQ activist scene in the s. This was a time when Bill Clinton pushed against same-sex marriage and gay panic was a regular punchline at multiplexes, so changing shape would probably come in handy.
Lawlor will be in conversation with Seattle author Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. Brad Holden's latest book describes what Prohibition was like in Seattle. If you think a port city known for its raucous history got completely dry without a fight, you're in for a few surprises. Two Seattle-area poets who are friends of the Seattle Review of Books will read work with a visiting poet from San Francisco. If you do need an introduction: Agodon is the co-founder of small but mighty poetry publisher Two Sylvias Press, and Rich is the author, most recently, of Cloud Pharmacy.
They're welcoming Mary Peelen, author of Quantum Heresies , to town. Open Books, N. Okay, this listing is a top-to-bottom conflict of interest. The first book is the collected edition of The Wrong Earth , which is the story of a light-hearted superhero who changes places with a gritty, dark version of himself. I have five short stories in that one. And the other book is Planet of the Nerds , which is my first full-length comic. I'll be in conversation with brilliant Seattle arts writer Brangien Davis, and there will be drinks and snacks and fun.
Please join me. And here's a graphic for the event made by great graphic designer Mary Traverse:. Red-state America over the last year has hosted the largest strikes in recent American history. Teachers in West Virginia and Oklahoma and Arizona basically shut down the government with popular support from the general population. Is this the beginning of something big? This is a moderated discussion about the amazing things that are happening in plain sight. Retired UW professor Charles Johnson is the closest thing to a Seattle legend that our fiction scene has.
Johnson has been retired from the teaching business for a decade now, and he's taken that time to publish a ton of books — a writing guide, a book about his Buddhist practice, and his latest collection of short fiction, Night Hawks. When I spoke to Johnson a couple years ago , he was in an expansive mood, explaining that the title story in Night Hawks was "about my year friendship here in Seattle with [celebrated playwright] August Wilson.
We had really great eight-to-ten-hour dinner conversations at the old Broadway Bar and Grill, which is gone now, on Capitol Hill. Johnson is perhaps best known for incorporating his Buddhist experiences into his fiction. Retirement has been a great boon to Johnson's literary career. He's been busier and more adventurous in his literary life than he was in his many years as a UW professor. It's the freedom of someone who knows who he is, and what he's capable of, and who finally feels free to do it. Go soak in his freedom for a while. Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee or tea, if that's your pleasure.
Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives. After discovering that the independent bookstore where she worked was shorting its staff on weekend page, Sarah Malley asks about who's really bearing the cost of running a small local business. If you have a visceral cringe response to Justin Charity's analysis of "wrongthink," you're not alone. Nobody's a saint in the current political playing field, but can't we at least be grownups? Silly question, I guess. Not an inherently funny article, and yet there's something endlessly amusing about reading so many very serious paragraphs built around the humble raisin.
The raisin industry! It's cutthroat, backstabbing, borderline illegal. Harry Overly wanted to change all that. Every week we ask an interesting figure what they're digging into. Have ideas who we should reach out to? Let it fly: info seattlereviewofbooks. Want to read more? Check out the archives. Arthur Wyatt is a British-born, Seattle-based, writer and computer developer. He's written extensively for AD , home to Judge Dredd.
He wrote about his experiences growing up reading, and then writing, for Dredd, a few years ago for us. In print: Tiamats Wrath , the latest Expanse books. The Founder - a different kind of tech capitalism, this time the story of the guy who went from making drive encryption software to being a tech worker to running online pharmacies to bring an international crimelord who eventually got caught setting up multiple assassinations.
Of the longest line on the course. And just For a very long time. My tiny distant sisters and father, so far away on that platform, so delighted at my not-arrival there. The inching along moments make you really aware of your body as bulk. My family reminded me of this fact gleefully after witnessing my impressive feat of backward motion. All told, I think it was quite generous of me to selflessly bestow such joyful memories upon my loved ones. Thanks to the kind, patient help of my dad. In the long run, time has proven I was doing neither of these things.
View this post on Instagram 5. View this post on Instagram Cienna is attending a book burning convention, and so is taking the week off. This column is a re-run from March of Maybe you covered this before, but, if not, I need help. I mean, we disagree over movies all the time and manage to keep it light.
But my goodness, he hated it. How can I get over myself? My apologies. You see, I also harbor an irrational hatred of The Poisonwood Bible. I think I suffered a rage blackout for the entirety of Prodigal Summer. I have brought Mrs. Kingsolver as my guest to quite a few book burnings over the years. He can dislike a book for good reasons or no reason at all, but inventing nonsense reasons just makes him look like a turd.
Also, how many popular books, television shows, movies, etc. Too many to count. But to your question: How do I get over myself? Your emotional response to the book is what all writers hope for from their readers. You get to treasure that feeling. So now he needs to do the polite and loving thing, which is fuck right off and not ruin your afterglow. The Seattle Review of Books is currently accepting pitches for reviews. Wondering what and how? Did you know that Seattle has miles of uninterrupted, paved trails stretching as far north as Everett and as far south as Auburn?
We have a few weeks open over the next few months for a savvy sponsor to snap up. Our sponsorships can be used for so many things — but the biggest part is that you get your book, event, or message in front of the most passionate readers in the world. There's more details on our sponsor page , but we'd love to see some new blood trying this effective and comprehensive advertising strategy, all while helping to pay for the columnists and reviewers you see here.
Pssst, existing sponsors: you're not out. We'll give it to you, too, so don't hesitate to book. Find out why we have so many repeat sponsors by seeing what happens when you put your work in front of so many book lovers. You should visit a favorite local comic shop or two, pick up some free books, and maybe buy a few comics, too. Here are some notes on local cartoonists and comic shops for your FCBD:. If you're not sure where to go on Saturday, the indispensable Sarah Anne Lloyd at Curbed has created a handy map of 21 comics shops in the greater Seattle area.
Even I, a full-bore comics nerd, have not been to some of the shops on this map. Hell, I haven't even heard of some of the comic shops on this map. The show is a companion piece to Hanselmann's next book, which is coming out in July. Hope to see you there! As one of our members pointed out, it's a text we'll be returning to time and time again in our future discussions — like The Righteous Mind and Janesville and several others. Bunk is a historical account of a very particular kind of American con — the loud and boisterous and unapologetic lie, perfected by P.
Barnum and perpetuated through the years by plagiarists and confidence men and fabulists. What's more, Young ties that lineage of liars and cheats in with America's long history of racism. Our American exceptionalism at hoaxes, it turns out, is a byproduct of America's original sin. One of the best observations at last night's book club was the recognition that a simple lie isn't enough to make something a hoax. It's not enough to spread falsehoods to make a true hoax: you have to generate a mistrust in the truth, too. By creating an atmosphere in which everything could be false, the most confident liar gets to dictate the reality.
It worked for Barnum, and it has worked thus far for Donald Trump. Young is a great writer — one of the best we've read at Reading Through It. He's funny, his observations are always sharp, and the research he has done for Bunk is truly impressive. It probably helps that Young is a brilliant poet, too; there's an art to Bunk that no 'mere' historian could summon.
But to employ another cliche, you can't unring the bell of a hoax: once it's out there, it's unstoppable. The best way to stop a hoax is to kill it before it becomes a hoax, to smother it in truth when it's still just an over-ambitious lie. The fact is, we desperately need to improve our systems of truth-telling and lie-smashing so that they can catch up to the speed of the internet. As Trump has proven, a lie can fly from Twitter to global headlines in a matter of minutes. It's on all of us to be better consumers of media, to learn how to defuse a lie before it explodes in a flurry of shrapnel.
In the internet, we have created an unparalleled system of global communication. Now, some thirty years later, we mustprove ourselves worthy of it. Book-It Theatre has announced their season of book-to-play adaptations. In chronological order starting with fall of this year, the theater company will be staging:. Romney explains that prizes for book collections have been given in the United States since at least the s, but that those prizes have more often than not been by and for collections "associated with a university or some other institution. Younger collectors, Romney says, often feel "intimidated" by the antiquarian book trade; they believe that their own collections lack the value of those put together by older or more experienced collectors.
And some book collectors, she says, don't even realize that they are book collectors. A bunch of things you like, Romney points out, is a collection. There's a kind of ugly machismo in certain book collecting circles — a prickly obsessiveness, a gatekeeping aggression — that turns off younger collectors, and collectors who may not share the same interests as the alpha males in the field. But Romney quickly found that there's a robust and diverse collecting community in this country. They told us to expect six to 12 applications of varying degrees of quality.
But that first year, Romney says, "I think we got something like 49 [applications] — way, way more than we expected, from over 20 states. Those submissions each told a story: "this is my library and I'm really proud of it. But that collection had a lot to say. Romney says the owner approached the books by "looking at their place in history: what does it say about the career woman narrative in the s? Or what is it saying about women's suffrage, or Prohibition?
But not every one is tied to the distant past. It doesn't have to be expensive, and you might be creating something of real historical value. Those overlooked things — that's exactly what universities want in order to get that documentation for scholars to study. Romney urges any book-loving young woman who is eligible for the prize to consider their books in a new light.
There's a pleasure in learning that you're a collector. It's just a question of seeing it so that you can take conscious satisfaction in something you clearly already loved doing. Comics editor and publisher Michael Davis has been the target of harassment for decades now. Someone broke into Davis's Facebook page , impersonated Davis's family, and announced that Davis had committed suicide. Davis eventually had to go to the press to prove that he was still alive. A comfortable journalist went undercover as a Walmart employee for three months. If you ever worked retail, what he discovers will not shock you.
You contain clean veils of milk, a snow or talc as whistle as scissor. Even a faded parachute, lunar and classic, shivers a scintillating shock of chance. Turnip goose, a beekeeper ghosts your sail, hemming your alpine lace in rays of ridges while a lucid thermometer fireworks in error. After, whispers of gesso fog until you railroad your thaw oracle.
Neither port nor pang, yet respiratory in your tentative blizzard of telephone and revolver, you disappear, a faceless keyhole for night-blooming shuttle suds. Make something of yourself. Make an effort. Amaranth Borsuk is our Poet in Residence for April. Books To Prisoners has been around since — that's a heck of a track record that was almost derailed by the Washington State Department of Corrections.
California in the s was the origin of the famous masked crusader and camper, sexier and more ironic American-style Robin Hood. Mailer was just 26 when his debut novel was published, three years after the end of the second world war. His tale of a platoon of young American soldiers making their way through treacherous jungle on the Japanese-held island of Anopopei was without respite. Its focus on the ordinary American in all his bullying pettiness and fear, its detailed depictions of armed combat and insight into the psychology of men in pursuit of power caught the mood of an American public searching for the reality of war; it made this a bestseller and Mailer a superstar.
Shanghai This is a brilliant portrait of a particular marriage and of the world at war. Dramatic, comic and entirely absorbing, it was televised, equally brilliantly, by the BBC in Carmen Callil Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. The jungle town of Macondo is a place where it is as possible to ascend heavenwards while hanging the laundry as to be machine-gunned by agents of the local banana company. This novel remains the beacon of magical realism and the standard bearer for Latin American literature; in Spanish, only Don Quixote has been more successful.
His wife dies shortly thereafter, leaving their four children orphans. The story follows their growing to adulthood and — with the Restoration — the rebuilding of Arnwood and the Beverley family fortunes. The novel was immensely popular with Victorian children and became the pattern for innumerable juvenile tales over the next century.
We all know the story: man seeks unattainable object of deranged desire and causes general devastation in the process. A Very Big Theme, necessarily expressed in dense, wildly idiosyncratic prose as ambitious as Ahab himself. But also: the best book ever written about whaling, which means the most richly detailed novel of the sea, work, friendship and ecology. The timeless, repetitive waiting. Ida, a widowed schoolteacher, is living in s Rome with her two sons: Nino, a reckless and angry teenager, and baby Giuseppe, conceived when Ida is raped by a German soldier. She like Morante herself is half-Jewish, and lives in a permanent state of fear that her forbidden faith will be discovered.
Her handwritten manuscript was salvaged by her two young daughters who, orphaned and traumatised, did not release it for publication until 64 years later. Few heroes emerge in this take on French manners exposed in the most extreme circumstances. Emily Mann Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Orczy had huge success with her foppish, inane, kind-hearted, cold, proud, passionate and indefatigable Pimpernel and his wonderful wife Marguerite. Belief may need to be suspended as Orczy allows him to escape yet another tricky situation, but when the thrills are this swashbuckling, it is churlish to care.
Flory, a timber merchant disillusioned with the Imperial racket, falls for a pretty girl sent out east to stay with her relatives. Steeped in essence of Maugham and crammed with impressionistic descriptions of the Burmese landscape, it also harbours many an early signpost from the road that led to Nineteen Eighty-Four. DJ Taylor Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Its staggering intellectual weight is what really leaves a dent, however, using the development of the V2 rocket in Nazi Germany as a starting point for a novel that is as densely packed as grey matter and equally mysterious.
Victoria Segal Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Raspe himself lived a shadily picaresque life but could only have been an amateur compared with the baron, whose stories leap from the sublime to the ridiculous — then keep on jumping.
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The soldiers reserve their hatred not for the enemy but the armchair warriors on the home front. A literal hatchet job. Riobaldo, an old farmer living in the arid hinterlands of Brazil, tells the story of how he became the leader of a gang of bandits, revealing on the way that he may have sold his soul to the devil. After a duel with a wicked marquis leaves his friend dead, the young man stirs up discontent against the upper classes and is forced to become a fugitive, joining a wandering theatre troupe as disguise.
Those staples of historical adventures — honour, vengeance and dark family secrets — provide the kerosene; the political intrigue strikes the match. Dr Peter Syn is an Irish surgeon, peacefully plying his healing trade in the west country. The sentence is commuted to transportation to the Barbadoes. Pirates of the Caribbean adventures ensue, before a happy-ever-after in Devon. Buckles never swashed more dashingly. Others have been deeply irritated by this story of a young American Jew who visits Ukraine in search of the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis.
What do they hate so much? After a series of bestselling Scottish novels, the Wizard of the North still anonymous to his contemporary readers turned to English history. The story is set in the 12th century, at the time of the crusades. King Richard has been captured on his return from the Holy Land. Now less read than it deserves to be. The most famous animal story of the 19th century. The novelty of the work is that it is narrated by a horse apparently sexless , which is miraculously able to talk like a well-brought-up Victorian servant.
Maus exploded not merely any preconceptions about appropriate subject matter for a comic strip, but also suggested that the unspeakable might best be rethought through unexpected means. Adam Newey Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. A much loved, popular novel that almost transcended the cult label. He meets and mocks both his fellow English travellers on their Grand Tours and the French philosophes whom he visits in their Paris salons Sterne, as the celebrated author of Tristram Shandy, had recently cut a swathe through fashionable Parisian society.
Oddly enough, these are usually attractive young women who are happy to have their pulses felt by a sympathetic gentleman.
David Balfour, an orphan, comes to live with his villainous uncle, Ebenezer of Shaws. Having failed to murder his ward himself, Ebenezer has his nephew kidnapped, as a white slave, on the brig Covenant. The vessel runs down a rowing boat containing a Jacobite rebel, Alan Breck. He and David conspire to escape their captors and, on land, the brutal English soldiery who are still ravaging Scotland. Alan takes refuge in France. Also on board their vessel, the Hispaniola, is the villainous, one-legged sea-cook, Long John Silver, who takes over the vessel.
Without it, we would never have had Pirates of the Caribbean. Then on his last voyage he meets the Houyhnhnms, virtuous and perfectly rational talking horses, and his pride collapses into misanthropy and self-loathing. He and we are just Yahoos, the malevolent, cunning, libidinous beasts with whom the Houyhnhnms are fated to share their land.
Its dispassionate eye follows peasants, emperors, soldiers, and priests through decades, taking in life and death in all its forms. This is no heroic tale of good versus evil, of strategies and battle formations, but a vivid depiction of the banality, tedium and senselessness of war. Its everyman hero, Pierre played unforgettably on TV by Anthony Hopkins , blunders along, struggling to find meaning in his life, and each of the dozen or so central characters battle their own demons, searching for truth and peace.
Their struggles are timeless, as is the unforgettable love story at its heart. Imogen Tilden Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Huck escapes, and drifts by raft down the Mississippi, with a runaway slave, Jim. After various adventures and reunion with Tom all comes well. At the end, the two young heroes intend to light out to the Indian territory — a sequel Twain never wrote. Master of the voyage imaginaire , Verne also revealed himself adept at mingling high adventure with Thomas Cook-style tourism.
Fogg, having read of a new railway link in the Indian subcontinent, wagers his fellow Reform Club members that he can circumnavigate the world in 80 days. The itinerary is meticulously chronicled. Fogg arrives back to foggy London, as he thinks, a day late — but he has forgotten that he has crossed the date line. He makes it to the club with seconds to spare.
A williwaw is a snow-laden hurricane, and 50 years before The Perfect Storm was a bestseller, Vidal showed us how it should be done. Our fresh-faced hero embarks on his picaresque journey across Europe and Latin America, which sees Enlightenment optimism sorely tested by — among other delights — rape, murder, syphilis, cannibalism, the wanton destructiveness of natural forces and the human cost of the western addiction to sugar.
He is, perhaps, mad. Or, as he believes, he has been given the power of clairvoyance and time travel by extraterrestrial Tralfamadorians, whose prisoner he is. The Tralfamadorians have destroyed the universe by their bombing error but can enjoy the good moments of their previous existences. The narrative recoils from graphic description of wartime atrocity to fanciful space opera.
As Konnegut records, it was an immensely painful novel to write and, for all its incidental comedy and literary skill, remains painful to read. But necessary, none the less. Basil Seal, posh and feckless, has been a leader writer on the Daily Beast, a champagne salesman, a tour guide, a secret policeman in Bolivia, and an adviser on modernisation to the emperor of Azania — all way relationship between a young southern writer, a Polish Auschwitz survivor and a Jewish New Yorker interweaves a host of complex themes survivor guilt, ancestral guilt, madness and betrayal.
The movie was Oscar-nominated; the book was banned in libraries across the States. But this is not just about provocative comparisons. Guy Crouchback is the last of an ancient English Catholic family — miserable, childless, divorced and forbidden by his religion to remarry. Under his Darwinian scalpel, animals are raised to quasi-humanity. Moreau is killed by a puma he is tormenting and rebellion breaks out. The animals revert to their natural animalism. After their school takes a hit during an air-raid, McGill and his friends make use of the free time to wage their own war against the enemy.
The Machine Gunners, which was adapted into a BBC television serial in , brilliantly evokes Tyneside in the second world war and the disruption to ordinary family life, while capturing the complicated relationships that exist between children and adults. James Smart Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Voss, a German explorer, sets out in to cross the uncharted Australian desert. Before leaving, he meets Laura Trevelyan, a young Englishwoman newly arrived in the colony, and they fall in love.
This book has all the freshness of a literary pioneer. Jean Macquart, earthy and pragmatic, wins the respect of the intellectual and mercurial Maurice Levasseur. Andrew Pulver Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Set aboard a vast generation starship millennia after blast-off, the novel follows Roy Complain on a voyage of discovery from ignorance of his surroundings to some understanding of his small place in the universe. Complain is spiteful and small-minded but grows in humanity as his trek through the ship brings him into contact with giant humans, mutated rats and, ultimately, a wondrous view of space beyond the ship.
Eric Brown Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Hari Seldon invents the science of psychohistory with which to combat the fall into barbarianism of the Human Empire, and sets up the Foundation to foster art, science and technology. Wish-fulfilment of the highest order, the novels are a landmark in the history of science fiction. EB Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. On planet Zycron, tyrannical Snilfards subjugate poor Ygnirods, providing intercoital entertainment for a radical socialist and his lover.
We assume she is Laura Chase, daughter of an Ontario industrialist, who records their sex and sci-fi stories in a novel, The Blind Assassin. Iris is 83 in the cantankerous present-day narrative, and ready to set the story straight about the suspicious deaths of her sister, husband and daughter. In this Booker prize-winning novel about novels, Atwood bends genre and traps time, toying brilliantly with the roles of writing and reading. Natalie Cate Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Anna Blume, 19, arrives in a city to look for her brother. She finds a ruin, where buildings collapse on scavenging citizens.
All production has stopped. Nobody can leave, except as a corpse collected for fuel. Suicide clubs flourish. Anna buys a trolley and wanders the city, salvaging objects and information. She records horrific scenes, but also a deep capacity for love. This small hope flickers in a world where no apocalyptic event is specified. NC Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Consider Phlebas introduced the first of many misguided or untrustworthy heroes — Horza, who can change his body just by thinking about it — and a typically Banksian collision involving two giant trains in an subterranean station.
PD Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. A magic carpet is the last refuge of a people known as the Seerkind, who for centuries have been hunted by both humans and the Scourge, a mysterious being that seems determined to live up to its name. Nicola Barker has been accused of obscurity, but this Booker-shortlisted comic epic has a new lightness of touch and an almost soapy compulsiveness.
A jumble of voices and typefaces, mortal fear and sarky laughter, the novel is as true as it is truly odd, and beautifully written to boot. He sends him back to the far future in an attempt to save the Eloi woman Weena, only to find himself in a future timeline diverging from the one he left. Bear combines intelligence, humour and the wonder of scientific discovery in a techno-thriller about a threat to the future of humanity. A retro-viral plague sweeps the world, infecting women via their sexual partners and aborting their embryos. Somehow surviving, he swiftly gets down to it.
Those who stumble across it are inevitably surprised to find it was written half a century ago. Along the way he joins up with a group of vampires, finds his true family and discovers what he really values, amid much blood, sex, drugs and drink. Keith Brooke Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop.
Al Barker is a thrillseeking adventurer recruited to investigate an alien labyrinth on the moon. Barker is the first person to survive the trauma of witnessing their own death, returning again and again to explore. Rogue Moon works as both thriller and character study, a classic novel mapping out a new and sophisticated SF, just as Barker maps the alien maze. KB Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. When the Devil comes to s Moscow, his victims are pillars of the Soviet establishment: a famous editor has his head cut off; another bureaucrat is made invisible.
This is just a curtain-raiser for the main event, however: a magnificent ball for the damned and the diabolical. For his hostess, his satanic majesty chooses Margarita, a courageous young Russian whose lover is in a psychiatric hospital, traumatised by the banning of his novel. No prizes for guessing whom Bulgakov identified with; although Stalin admired his early work, by the s he was personally banning it.
In this pioneering work of British science fiction, the hero is a bumptious American mining engineer who stumbles on a subterranean civilisation. Also present are ray guns, aerial travel and ESP. Ironically, the hero finds utopia too boring. He is rescued from death by the Princess Zee, who flies him to safety. One of a flurry of novels written by Burgess when he was under the mistaken belief that he had only a short time to live. Set in a dystopian socialist welfare state of the future, the novel fantasises a world without religion.
JS Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. In one of the first split-screen narratives, Burgess juxtaposes three key 20th-century themes: communism, psychoanalysis and the millennial fear of Armageddon. JJ Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. John Carter, a Confederate veteran turned gold prospector, is hiding from Indians in an Arizona cave when he is mysteriously transported to Mars, known to the locals as Barsoom.
Butler single-handedly brought to the SF genre the concerns of gender politics, racial conflict and slavery. Several of her novels are groundbreaking, but none is more compelling or shocking than Kindred. The hero Higgs finds himself in New Zealand as, for a while, did the chronic misfit Butler. Does it sound familiar? Higgs escapes by balloon, with the sweetheart he has found there.
It is a boy quarrels with his aristocratic parents and climbs a tree, swearing not to touch the earth again. He ends up keeping his promise, witnessing the French revolution and its Napoleonic aftermath from the perspective of the Italian treetops. In this novel, the domineering old spinster Queenie dies — a relief to those around her.
Her niece Alison inherits the house, but soon starts to suspect that the old woman is taking over her eight-year-old daughter Rowan. A paranoid, disturbing masterpiece. Alice, while reading in a meadow, sees a white rabbit rush by, feverishly consulting a watch. She follows him down a hole Freudian analysis, as elsewhere in the story, is all too easy , where she grows and shrinks in size and encounters creatures mythological, extinct and invented.
Morbid jokes and gleeful subversion abound. More donnish in tone, this fantasy follows Alice into a mirror world in which everything is reversed. Her journey is based on chess moves, during the course of which she meets such figures as Humpty Dumpty and the riddling twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee. More challenging intellectually than the first instalment, it explores loneliness, language and the logic of dreams.
The year is — and other times. Fevvers, aerialiste, circus performer and a virgin, claims she was not born, but hatched out of an egg. She has two large and wonderful wings. In fact, she is large and wonderful in every way, from her false eyelashes to her ebullient and astonishing adventures. The journalist Jack Walser comes to interview her and stays to love and wonder, as will every reader of this entirely original extravaganza, which deftly and wittily questions every assumption we make about the lives of men and women on this planet.
The golden age of the American comic book coincided with the outbreak of the second world war and was spearheaded by first- and second-generation Jewish immigrants who installed square-jawed supermen as bulwarks against the forces of evil. It celebrates the transformative power of pop culture, and reveals the harsh truths behind the hyperreal fantasies. XB Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. One of the first major works to present alien arrival as beneficent, it describes the slow process of social transformation when the Overlords come to Earth and guide us to the light.
At the centre of all is the terrifying Sunday, a superhuman force of mischief and pandemonium. Two rival magicians flex their new powers, pursuing military glory and power at court, striking a dangerous alliance with the Faerie King, and falling into passionate enmity over the use and meaning of the supernatural. This classic by an unjustly neglected writer tells the story of Drove and Pallahaxi-Browneyes on a far-flung alien world which undergoes long periods of summer and gruelling winters lasting some 40 years.
This is just the kind of jargon-free, humane, character-driven novel to convert sceptical readers to science fiction. This is a story about the end of the world, and the general falling-off that precedes it, as year-old Karen loses first her virginity, then consciousness. When she reawakens more than a decade later, the young people she knew and loved have died, become junkies or or simply lost that new-teenager smell. Wondering what the future holds? A curly tail, trotters and a snout are not far off. Joanna Biggs Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop.
The setting is a post-apocalyptic future, long past the age of humans. The novel follows Lobey, who as Orpheus embarks on a quest to bring his lover back from the dead. With lush, poetic imagery and the innovative use of mythic archetypes, Delaney brilliantly delineates the human condition. Here California is under-populated and most animals are extinct; citizens keep electric pets instead. In order to afford a real sheep and so affirm his empathy as a human being, Deckard hunts rogue androids, who lack empathy. As ever with Dick, pathos abounds and with it the inquiry into what is human and what is fake.
The Axis has won the second world war. Imperial Japan occupies the west coast of America; more tyrannically, Nazi Germany under Martin Bormann, Hitler having died of syphilis takes over the east coast. The Californian lifestyle adapts well to its oriental master. Germany, although on the brink of space travel and the possessor of vast tracts of Russia, is teetering on collapse. The novel is multi-plotted, its random progression determined, Dick tells us, by consultation with the Chinese I Ching. And in the character of Isserley — her curiosity, resignation, wonderment and pain — he paints an immensely affecting portrait of how it feels to be irreparably damaged and immeasurably far from home.
Determined to extricate himself from an increasingly serious relationship, graduate Nicholas Urfe takes a job as an English teacher on a small Greek island. Walking alone one day, he runs into a wealthy eccentric, Maurice Conchis, who draws him into a succession of elaborate psychological games that involve two beautiful young sisters in reenactments of Greek myths and the Nazi occupation.
Appearing after The Collector, this was actually the first novel that Fowles wrote, and although it quickly became required reading for a generation, he continued to rework it for a decade after publication. Before long, he is embroiled in a battle between ancient and modern deities: Odin, Anansi, Anubis and the Norns on one side, TV, the movies and technology on the other. The three narrative strands — young lovers in the s, the chaos of thebetweenalcoholics, English civil war and soldiers going native in a Vietnam-tinged Roman Britain — circle around Mow Cop in Cheshire and an ancient axehead found there.
Dipping in and out of time, in blunt, raw dialogue, Garner creates a moving and singular novel. A fast-paced thriller starring a washed-up hacker, a cybernetically enhanced mercenary and an almost omnipotent artificial intelligence, it inspired and informed a slew of films and novels, not least the Matrix trilogy. When the adults finally arrive, childish tears on the beach hint less at relief than fear for the future. When Haldeman returned from Vietnam, with a Purple Heart for the wounds he had suffered, he wrote a story about a pointless conflict that seems as if it will never end.
Known for his intricate short stories and critically acclaimed mountaineering novel Climbers, Harrison cut his teeth on SF. In typical fashion, he writes space opera better than many who write only in the genre. For all its star travel and alien artefacts, scuzzy 25th-century spaceports and drop-out space pilots, Light is actually about twisting three plotlines as near as possible to snapping point. This is as close as SF gets to literary fiction, and literary fiction gets to SF.
Jon Courtenay Grimwood Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Amateur stonemason, waterbed designer, reformed socialist, nudist, militarist and McCarthyite, Heinlein is one of the most interesting and irritating figures in American science fiction. This swinging 60s bestseller working title: The Heretic is typically provocative, with a central character, Mike Smith, who is raised by Martians after the death of his parents and questions every human assumption — about sex, politics, society and spirituality — on his arrival on Earth.
Set on the desert world of Arrakis, this complex novel combines politics, religion, ecology and evolution in the rise to power of Paul Atreides, who becomes a revolutionary leader and a prophet with the ability to foresee and shape the future. Epic in scope, Dune is primarily an adventure story, though Herbert was one of the first genre writers convincingly to tackle the subject of planetary ecology in his depiction of a drought-stricken world. After the Bomb — long, long after — humanity is still huddled in medieval-style stockades, cold, ignorant, superstitious and speaking in degraded English, the patois in which this book is written.
Yet his story is still poignant. This is what happens to Robert Wringhim, who is brought up in the Calvinist belief in predestination. When he encounters a devilish figure known as Gil-Martin, Wringhim is easily tempted into undertaking a campaign to purge the world of the Reprobate — those not selected for salvation.
After a series of rapes and murders, and seemingly pursued by demons, Wringhim yields to the ultimate temptation of suicide. Sexist, racist, snob, Islamophobe … Houellebecq has been called many things, with varying degrees of accuracy. The charge of misanthropy is hard to deny, given his repeated portrayal of humankind as something that has lost its way, perhaps even its right to exist.
Atomised — set in the world we know but introduced by a member of the superior species that will supplant us — provides two more examples of our inadequacy in half-brothers Michel and Bruno, an introverted biologist and a sex-addict teacher. Conflict has been eradicated with the aid of sexual hedonism and the drug Soma; babies are factory-bred in bottles to produce a strict class hierarchy, from alpha to epsilon.
It is the year AF After Ford Eventually he recalls that he is an eminent concert pianist, scheduled to perform. The man is shepherded through an expanding and contracting world, his own memories and moods changing like the weather. Yet the dream-logic is rooted in real, poignant, human dilemmas. One for readers who have grown out of Philip K Dick. CO Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Hill House is haunted, but by what? The ghosts of the past or the people of the present?
Here is a delicious, quietly unnerving essay in horror, an examination of what makes us jump. Jackson sets up an old dark house in the country, garnishes it with some creepy servants, and then adds a quartet of intrepid visitors. But her lead character — fragile, lonely Eleanor — is at once victim and villainess. By the end, the person she is scaring most is herself.
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Are the ghosts that a new governess in a country house believes to be steadily corrupting her young charges apparitions, hallucinations or projections of her own dark urges? The book divides SF critics and puzzles fans of her crime novels, but remains one of the great British dystopias and a trenchant satire on our times and values. JCG Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. In the centre of England, a vast crystalline lake has formed.
A strong candidate for the most beautiful of all Victorian novels. Owing debts to Jimi Hendrix and offering a decidedly 60s summer festival vibe, Bold as Love is the first in a series of novels that mix politics with myth, counterculture and dark age sensibilities. It deservedly won Jones the Arthur C Clarke award.
On the morning of his 30th birthday, Josef K is arrested by two sinister men in dapper suits. What for? PO Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. The story has two central characters. Algernon is a mouse, whose intelligence is surgically enhanced to the level of rodent genius. The same technique is applied to Charlie Gordon, a mentally subnormal fast-food kitchen hand. The narrative, told by Charlie as his IQ soars, traces the discontents of genius. Alas, the effects of the surgery are shortlived, and the end of the story finds Charlie back in the kitchen — mentally challenged but, in his way, happy.
Being smart is not everything. The hotel is haunted by unexorcised demons from brutal murders committed there years ago. Torrance is possessed and turns, homicidally, on his wife and child. Jack is beyond salvation. The film was brilliantly filmed by Stanley Kubrick in A young married woman, Melanie, scours antiques shops to furnish her new home and comes back with an old chaise-longue, which is perfect apart from an unsightly reddish-brown stain. She falls asleep on it and wakes up in an unfamiliar house, an unfamiliar time — and an unfamiliar body.
At first she assumes she must be dreaming. But gradually she starts to piece together the story of Milly, the young Victorian woman in the last stages of consumption whom she has apparently become, and the nature of the disgrace she has brought on the household run by her fearsomely stern elder sister.
Why does the sight of the doctor make her pulse beat faster? And can she find a way back to her own life? AN Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. This is frequently judged the best ghost story of the Victorian period. On the sudden death of her father, Maud, an heiress, is left to the care of her Uncle Silas, until she comes of age. Sinister in appearance and villainous by nature, Silas first plans to marry Maud to his oafish son, Dudley who is, it emerges, already married.
When this fails, father and son, together with the French governess Madame de la Rougierre, conspire to murder their ward with a spiked hammer. Told by the ingenuous and largely unsuspecting Maud, the narrative builds an impending sense of doom. Set in a near-future in a disintegrating city, where lawlessness prevails and citizens scratch a living from the debris, this dystopia is the journal of an unnamed middle-class narrator who fosters street-kid Emily and observes the decaying world from her window.
Despite the pessimistic premise and the description of civilisation on the brink of collapse, with horror lurking at every turn, the novel is an insightful and humane meditation on the survivability of the species. The world has entered the Second Enlightenment after the Faith Wars. In the Republic of Scotland, Detective Inspector Adam Ferguson investigates the murders of religious leaders, suspecting atheists but uncovering a plot involving artificial intelligence. Before his current incarnation as a thriller writer specialising in conspiracy theories and psychopathic gore, Marshall Smith wrote forward-thinking sci-fi which combined high-octane angst with humour both noir and surreal.
His debut features a bizarre compartmentalised city with different postcodes for the insane, the overachievers, the debauched or simply those with unusual taste in interior design; as well as adventures in the realm of dreams, a deep love of cats and a killer twist. Robert Neville is the last man standing, the lone survivor in a world overrun by night-crawling vampires. But if history is written by the winners, what does that make Neville: the hero or the monster?
Clearly this was too much for the recent Will Smith movie adaptation, which ran scared of the very element that makes the book unique. Francie Brady is a rambunctious kid in s Ireland. McCabe leads us on a freewheeling tour of a scattered, shattered consciousness, as Francie grows from wayward child to dangerous adult — nursing his grievances and plotting his revenge.
Chances are that old Mrs Nugent has a surprise in store. These two figures are pushing south towards the sea, but the sea is poisoned and provides no comfort. In the end, all they have and, by implication, all the rest of us have is each other. During the Korean war and then the space programme, Yeremin closes down his emotions even as his horizons expand, from the Arctic skies to the moon itself.
The second of his sprawling steampunk fantasies detailing the alternate universe of Bas-Lag follows Armada, a floating pirate city, in its search for a rip in reality. Miller breathes new life into the Gothic antihero with his beautifully written Impac-winning first novel. Technology emerges. In an epilogue, a spaceship leaves Earth with a cargo of monks, children and the Leibowitzian relics.
The Wandering Jew makes recurrent and enigmatic appearances. Then it hops all the way back down again, resolving each story in turn. These include a camp Ealing-style misadventure, an American thriller and an interview with a clone, all connected by a mysterious comet-shaped tattoo. Moorcock spills out such varied books that he often feels impossible to nail down, which is probably the point. Mother London, his most literary — it was shortlisted for the Whitbread — shows him at the height of his powers. Having gone to sleep on the London underground, the narrator awakes to find himself in 20th-century Hammersmith.
He bathes in the now crystalline Thames and spends a day in what used to be the British Museum, airily discussing life and politics. He then travels up the river to Runnymede, where Magna Carta was signed, going on from there to some idyllic haymaking in Oxford. Once they are under your spell, take a step bach and they will start to come after you. Hint that you are growing bored. Seem interested in someone else.
Soon they will want to possess you physically, and restraint will go out the window. Create the illusion that the seducer is being seduced. Put their minds gently to rest, and waken their dormant senses, by combining a nondefensive attitude with a charged sexual presence. While your cool, nonchalant air is lowering their inhibitions, your glances, voice, and bearing—oozing sex and desire—are getting under their skin and raising their temperature. Never force the physical; instead infect your targets with heat, lure them into lust. Morality, judgment, and concern for the future will all melt away.
This is the time to throw aside chivalry, kindness, and coquetry and to overwhelm with a bold move. Don't give the victim time to consider the consequences. Showing hesitation or awkwardness means you are thinking of yourself as opposed to being overwhelmed by the victim's charms. One person must go on the offensive, and it is you.
After emotions have reached a pitch, they often swing in the opposite direction—toward lassitude, distrust, disappointment. If you are to part, make the sacrifice swift and sudden. If you are to stay in a relationship, beware a flagging of energy, a creeping familiarity that will spoil the fantasy. A second seduction is required. Never let the other person take you for granted—use absence, create pain and conflict, to keep the seduced on tenterhooks.
Preface Thousands of years ago, power was mostly gained through physical violence and maintained with brute strength. There was little need for subtlety—a king or emperor had to be merciless. Only a select few had power, but no one suffered under this scheme of things more than women. They had no way to compete, no weapon at their disposal that could make a man do what they wanted—politically, socially, or even in the home. Of course men had one weakness: their insatiable desire for sex. A woman could always toy with this desire, but once she gave in to sex the man was back in control; and if she withheld sex, he could simply look elsewhere—or exert force.
What good was a power that was so temporary and frail? Yet women had no choice but to submit to this condition. There were some, though, whose hunger for power was too great, and who, over the years, through much cleverness and creativity, invented a way of turning the dynamic around, creating a more lasting and effective form of power. First they would draw a man in with an alluring appearance, designing their makeup and adornment to fashion the image of a goddess come to life.
By showing only glimpses of flesh, they would tease a man's imagination, stimulating the desire not just for sex but for something greater: the chance to possess a fantasy figure. Once they had their victims' interest, these women would lure them away from the masculine world of war and politics and get them to spend time in the feminine world—a world of luxury, spectacle, and pleasure. They might also lead them astray literally, taking them on a journey, as Cleopatra lured Julius Caesar on a trip down the Nile.
Men would grow hooked on these refined, sensual pleasures—they would fall in love. But then, invariably, the women would turn cold and indifferent, confusing their victims. Just when the men wanted more, they found their pleasures withdrawn. They would be forced into pursuit, trying anything to win back the favors they once had tasted and growing weak and emotional in the process.
In the face of violence and brutality, these women made seduction a. Oppression and scorn, thus, were and must have been generally the share of women in emerging societies; this state lasted in all its force until centuries of experience taught them to substitute skill for force. Women at last sensed that, since they were weaker, their only resource was to seduce; they understood that if they were dependent on men through force, men could become dependent on them through pleasure. More unhappy than men, they must have thought and reflected earlier than did men; they were the first to know that pleasure was always beneath the idea that one formed of it, and that the imagination went farther than nature.
Once these basic truths were known, they learned first to veil their charms in order to awaken curiosity; they practiced the difficult art of refusing even as they wished to consent; from that moment on, they knew how to set men's imagination afire, they knew how to arouse and direct desires as they pleased: thus did beauty and love come into being; now the lot of women. And all those who know her suffer. They learned to work on the mind first, stimulating fantasies, keeping a man wanting more, creating patterns of hope and despair—the essence of seduction.
Their power was not physical but psychological, not forceful but indirect and cunning. These first great seductresses were like military generals planning the destruction of an enemy, and indeed early accounts of seduction often compare it to battle, the feminine version of warfare. For Cleopatra, it was a means of consolidating an empire. In seduction, the woman was no longer a passive sex object; she had become an active agent, a figure of power. With a few exceptions—the Latin poet Ovid, the medieval troubadours—men did not much concern themselves with such a frivolous art as seduction.
Then, in the seventeenth century came a great change: men grew interested in seduction as a way to overcome a young woman's resistance to sex. History's first great male seducers—the Duke de Lauzun, the different Spaniards who inspired the Don Juan legend—began to adopt the methods traditionally employed by women. They learned to dazzle with their appearance often androgynous in nature , to stimulate the imagination, to play the coquette. They also added a new, masculine element to the game: seductive language, for they had discovered a woman's weakness for soft words.
These two forms of seduction—the feminine use of appearances and the masculine use of language—would often cross gender lines: Casanova would dazzle a woman with his clothes; Ninon de l'Enclos would charm a man with her words. At the same time that men were developing their version of seduction, others began to adapt the art for social purposes. As Europe's feudal system of government faded into the past, courtiers needed to get their way in court without the use of force.
They learned the power to be gained by seducing their superiors and competitors through psychological games, soft words, a little coquetry. As culture became democratized, actors, dandies, and artists came to use the tactics of seduction as a way to charm and win over their audience and social milieu.
In the nineteenth century another great change occurred: politicians like Napoleon consciously saw themselves as seducers, on a grand scale. These men depended on the art of seductive oratory, but they also mastered what had once been feminine strategies: staging vast spectacles, using theatrical devices, creating a charged physical presence. All this, they learned, was the essence of charisma—and remains so today. By seducing the masses they could accumulate immense power without the use of force.
Today we have reached the ultimate point in the evolution of seduction. Now more than ever, force or brutality of any kind is discouraged. All areas of social life require the ability to persuade people in a way that does not offend or impose itself. Forms of seduction can be found everywhere, blending male and female strategies. Advertisements insinuate, the soft sell dominates.
If we are to change people's opinions—and affecting opinion is basic to seduction—we must act in subtle, subliminal ways. Today no politi-. Since the era of John F. Kennedy, political figures are required to have a degree of charisma, a fascinating presence to keep their audience's attention, which is half the battle.
The film world and media create a galaxy of seductive stars and images. We are saturated in the seductive. But even if much has changed in degree and scope, the essence of seduction is constant: never be forceful or direct; instead, use pleasure as bait, playing on people's emotions, stirring desire and confusion, inducing psychological surrender.
In seduction as it is practiced today, the methods of Cleopatra still hold. People are constantly trying to influence us, to tell us what to do, and just as often we tune them out, resisting their attempts at persuasion. There is a moment in our lives, however, when we all act differently—when we are in love. We fall under a kind of spell.
Our minds are usually preoccupied with our own concerns; now they become filled with thoughts of the loved one. We grow emotional, lose the ability to think straight, act in foolish ways that we would never do otherwise.
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If this goes on long enough something inside us gives way: we surrender to the will of the loved one, and to our desire to possess them. Seducers are people who understand the tremendous power contained in such moments of surrender. They analyze what happens when people are in love, study the psychological components of the process—what spurs the imagination, what casts a spell.
By instinct and through practice they master the art of making people fall in love. As the first seductresses knew, it is much more effective to create love than lust. A person in love is emotional, pliable, and easily misled. The origin of the word "seduction" is the Latin for "to lead astray" A person in lust is harder to control and, once satisfied, may easily leave you. Seducers take their time, create enchantment and the bonds of love, so that when sex ensues it only further enslaves the victim. Creating love and enchantment becomes the model for all seductions—sexual, social, political.
Table of contents
A person in love will surrender. It is pointless to try to argue against such power, to imagine that you are not interested in it, or that it is evil and ugly. The harder you try to resist the lure of seduction—as an idea, as a form of power—the more you will find yourself fascinated. The reason is simple: most of us have known the power of having someone fall in love with us. Our actions, gestures, the things we say, all have positive effects on this person; we may not completely understand what we have done right, but this feeling of power is intoxicating. It gives us confidence, which makes us more seductive.
We may also experience this in a social or work setting—one day we are in an elevated mood and people seem more responsive, more charmed by us. These moments of power are fleeting, but they resonate in the memory with great intensity. We want them back. Nobody likes to feel awkward or timid or unable to reach people. The siren call of seduction is irresistible because power is irresistible, and nothing will bring you more power in the modern world than the ability to seduce.
Repressing the desire to seduce is a kind of. No man hath it in his power to over-rule the deceitfulness of a woman. This important side-track, by which woman succeeded in evading man's strength and establishing herself in power, has not been given due consideration by historians. From the moment when the woman detached herself from the crowd, an individual finished product, offering delights which could not be obtained by force, but only by flattery. It was a development of far-reaching importance in the history of civilization.
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Only by the circuitous route of the art of love could woman again assert authority, and this she did by asserting herself at the very point at which she would normally be a slave at the man's mercy. She had discovered the might of lust, the secret of the art of love, the daemonic power of a passion artificially aroused and never satiated.
The force tints unchained was thenceforth to count among the most tremendous of the world's forces and at moments to have power even over life and death. The combination of these two elements, enchantment and surrender, is, then, essential to the love which we are discussing. What exists in love is surrender due to enchantment. What is good? Some day they will come to the surface.
To have such power does not require a total transformation in your character or any kind of physical improvement in your looks. Seduction is a game of psychology, not beauty, and it is within the grasp of any person to become a master at the game. All that is required is that you look at the world differently, through the eyes of a seducer. A seducer does not turn the power off and on—every social and personal interaction is seen as a potential seduction. There is never a moment to waste.
This is so for several reasons. The power seducers have over a man or woman works in social environments because they have learned how to tone down the sexual element without getting rid of it. We may think we see through them, but they are so pleasant to be around anyway that it does not matter.
Trying to divide your life into moments in which you seduce and others in which you hold back will only confuse and constrain you. Erotic desire and love lurk beneath the surface of almost every human encounter; better to give free rein to your skills than to try to use them only in the bedroom. In fact, the seducer sees the world as his or her bedroom.
This attitude creates great seductive momentum, and with each seduction you gain experience and practice. One social or sexual seduction makes the next one easier, your confidence growing and making you more alluring. People are drawn to you in greater numbers as the seducer's aura descends upon you. Seducers have a warrior's outlook on life. They see each person as a kind of walled castle to which they are laying siege. Seduction is a process of penetration: initially penetrating the target's mind, their first point of defense. Once seducers have penetrated the mind, making the target fantasize about them, it is easy to lower resistance and create physical surrender.
Seducers do not improvise; they do not leave this process to chance. Like any good general, they plan and strategize, aiming at the target's particular weaknesses. The main obstacle to becoming a seducer is this foolish prejudice we have of seeing love and romance as some kind of sacred, magical realm where things just fall into place, if they are meant to. This might seem romantic and quaint, but it is really just a cover for our laziness. What will seduce a person is the effort we expend on their behalf, showing how much we care, how much they are worth. Leaving things to chance is a recipe for disaster, and reveals that we do not take love and romance very seriously.
It was the effort Casanova expended, the artfulness he applied to each affair that made him so devilishly seductive. Falling in love is a matter not of magic but of psychology. Once you understand your target's psychology, and strategize to suit it, you will be better able to cast a "magical" spell. A seducer sees love not as sacred but as warfare, where all is fair. Seducers are never self-absorbed. Their gaze is directed outward, not inward. When they meet someone their first move is to get inside that per-.
The reasons for this are several. First, self-absorption is a sign of insecurity; it is anti-seductive. Everyone has insecurities, but seducers manage to ignore them, finding therapy for moments of self-doubt by being absorbed in the world. This gives them a buoyant spirit—we want to be around them. Second, getting into someone's skin, imagining what it is like to be them, helps the seducer gather valuable information, learn what makes that person tick, what will make them lose their ability to think straight and fall into a trap.
Armed with such information, they can provide focused and individualized attention—a rare commodity in a world in which most people see us only from behind the screen of their own prejudices. Getting into the targets' skin is the first important tactical move in the war of penetration.
Seducers see themselves as providers of pleasure, like bees that gather pollen from some flowers and deliver it to others. As children we mostly devoted our lives to play and pleasure. Adults often have feelings of being cut off from this paradise, of being weighed down by responsibilities. The seducer knows that people are waiting for pleasure—they never get enough of it from friends and lovers, and they cannot get it by themselves. A person who enters their lives offering adventure and romance cannot be resisted.
Pleasure is a feeling of being taken past our limits, of being overwhelmed— by another person, by an experience. People are dying to be overwhelmed, to let go of their usual stubbornness. Sometimes their resistance to us is a way of saying, Please seduce me. Seducers know that the possibility of pleasure will make a person follow them, and the experience of it will make someone open up, weak to the touch.
They also train themselves to be sensitive to pleasure, knowing that feeling pleasure themselves will make it that much easier for them to infect the people around them. A seducer sees all of life as theater, everyone an actor. Most people feel they have constricted roles in life, which makes them unhappy. Seducers, on the other hand, can be anyone and can assume many roles. The archetype here is the god Zeus, insatiable seducer of young maidens, whose main weapon was the ability to assume the form of whatever person or animal would most appeal to his victim.
Seducers take pleasure in performing and are not weighed down by their identity, or by some need to be themselves, or to be natural. This freedom of theirs, this fluidity in body and spirit, is what makes them attractive. What people lack in life is not more reality but illusion, fantasy, play. The clothes that seducers wear, the places they take you to, their words and actions, are slightly heightened—not overly theatrical but with a delightful edge of unreality, as if the two of you were living out a piece of fiction or were characters in a film.
Seduction is a kind of theater in real life, the meeting of illusion and reality. Finally, seducers are completely amoral in their approach to life. It is all a game, an arena for play. Knowing that the moralists, the crabbed repressed types who croak about the evils of the seducer, secretly envy their power, they do not concern themselves with other people's opinions. They do not deal in moral judgments—nothing could be less seductive. Everything is. The disaffection, neurosis, anguish and frustration encountered by psychoanalysis comes no doubt from being unable to love or to be loved, from being unable to give or take pleasure, but the radical disenchantment comes from seduction and its failure.
Only those who lie completely outside seduction are ill, even if they remain fully capable of loving and making love. Psychoanalysis believes it treats the disorder of sex and desire, but in reality it is dealing with the disorders of seduction. The most serious deficiencies always concern charm and not pleasure, enchantment and not some vital or sexual satisfaction.
Whatever is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil. Seduction is a form of deception, but people want to be led astray, they yearn to be seduced. If they didn't, seducers would not find so many willing victims. Get rid of any moralizing tendencies, adopt the seducer's playful philosophy, and you will find the rest of the process easy and natural.
The Art of Seduction is designed to arm you with weapons of persuasion and charm, so that those around you will slowly lose their ability to resist without knowing how or why it has happened. It is an art of war for delicate times. Every seduction has two elements that you must analyze and understand: first, yourself and what is seductive about you; and second, your target and the actions that will penetrate their defenses and create surrender. The two sides are equally important.
If you strategize without paying attention to the parts of your character that draw people to you, you will be seen as a mechanical seducer, slimy and manipulative. If you rely on your seductive personality without paying attention to the other person, you will make terrible mistakes and limit your potential. Consequently, The Art of Seduction is divided into two parts. The first half, "The Seductive Character," describes the nine types of seducer, plus the Anti-Seducer.
Studying these types will make you aware of what is inherently seductive in your character, the basic building block of any seduction. The second half, "The Seductive Process," includes the twentyfour maneuvers and strategies that will instruct you on how to create a spell, break down people's resistance, give movement and force to your seduction, and induce surrender in your target.
As a kind of bridge between the two parts, there is a chapter on the eighteen types of victims of a seduction—each of them missing something from their lives, each cradling an emptiness you can fill. Knowing what type you are dealing with will help you put into practice the ideas in both sections. Ignore any part of this book and you will be an incomplete seducer. The ideas and strategies in The Art of Seduction are based on the writings and historical accounts of the most successful seducers in history. The heroes and heroines of these literary works are generally modeled on real-life seducers.
The strategies they employ reveal the intimate connection between fiction and seduction, creating illusion and leading a person along. In putting the book's lessons into practice, you will be following in the path of the greatest masters of the art. Finally, the spirit that will make you a consummate seducer is the spirit in which you should read this book. The French writer Denis Diderot once wrote, "I give my mind the liberty to follow the first wise or foolish. My thoughts are my strumpets. Once you enter these pages, do as Diderot advised: let yourself be lured by the stories and ideas, your mind open and your thoughts fluid.
Slowly you will find yourself absorbing the poison through the skin and you will begin to see everything as a seduction, including the way you think and how you look at the world. Far from all of us, though, are aware of this inner potential, and we imagine attractiveness instead as a near-mystical trait that a select few are born with and the rest will never command. Yet all we need to do to realize our potential is understand what it is in a person's character that naturally excites people and develop these latent qualities within us.
Successful seductions rarely begin with an obvious maneuver or strategic device. That is certain to arouse suspicion. Successful seductions begin with your character, your ability to radiate some quality that attracts people and stirs their emotions in a way that is beyond their control. Hypnotized by your seductive character, your victims will not notice your subsequent manipulations. It will then be child's play to mislead and seduce them. There are nine seducer types in the world.
Each type has a particular character trait that comes from deep within and creates a seductive pull. Sirens have an abundance of sexual energy and know how to use it. Rakes insatiably adore the opposite sex, and their desire is infectious. Ideal Lovers have an aesthetic sensibility that they apply to romance. Dandies like to play with their image, creating a striking and androgynous allure. Naturals are spontaneous and open. Coquettes are self-sufficient, with a fascinating cool at their core.
Charmers want and know how to please—they are social creatures. Charismatics have an unusual confidence in themselves. Stars are ethereal and envelop themselves in mystery. The chapters in this section will take you inside each of the nine types. At least one of the chapters should strike a chord—you will recognize part of yourself. That chapter will be the key to developing your own powers of attraction. Let us say you have coquettish tendencies.
The Coquette chapter will show you how to build upon your own self-sufficiency, alternating heat and coldness to ensnare your victims. It will show you how to take your natural qualities further, becoming a grand Coquette, the type we fight over. There is no point in being timid with a seductive quality. We are charmed by an unabashed Rake and excuse his excesses, but a halfhearted Rake gets no respect. Once you have cultivated your dominant character trait, adding some art to what nature has given you, you can then develop a second or third trait, adding depth and mystery to your persona.
Finally the section's tenth chapter, on the Anti-Seducer, will make you aware of the op-. At all cost you must root out any anti-seductive tendencies you may have. Think of the nine types as shadows, silhouettes. Only by stepping into one of them and letting it grow inside you can you begin to develop the seductive character that will bring you limitless power. In her presence, which is always heightened and sexually. She is dangerous, and in pursuing her energetically the man can lose control over himself something he yearns to do. The Siren is a mirage; she lures men by cultivating a particular appearance and manner.
In a world where women are often too timid to project such an image, learn to take control of the male libido by embodying his. The Spectacular Siren n the year 48 B. He secured the country's borders against her return and began to rule on his own. Later that year, Julius Caesar came to Alexandria to ensure that despite the local power struggles, Egypt would remain loyal to Rome.
One night Caesar was meeting with his generals in the Egyptian palace, discussing strategy, when a guard entered to report that a Greek merchant was at the door bearing a large and valuable gift for the Roman leader. Caesar, in the mood for a little fun, gave the merchant permission to enter. The man came in, carrying on his shoulders a large rolled-up carpet. He undid the rope around the bundle and with a snap of his wrists unfurled it—revealing the young Cleopatra, who had been hidden inside, and who rose up half clothed before Caesar and his guests, like Venus emerging from the waves.
Everyone was dazzled at the sight of the beautiful young queen only twenty-one at the time appearing before them suddenly as if in a dream. They were astounded at her daring and theatricality—smuggled into the harbor at night with only one man to protect her, risking everything on a bold move. No one was more enchanted than Caesar. According to the Roman writer Dio Cassius, "Cleopatra was in the prime of life. She had a delightful voice which could not fail to cast a spell over all who heard it.
Such was the charm of her person and her speech that they drew the coldest and most determined misogynist into her toils. Caesar was spellbound as soon as he set eyes on her and she opened her mouth to speak. Caesar had had numerous mistresses before, to divert him from the rigors of his campaigns.
But he had always disposed of them quickly to return to what really thrilled him—political intrigue, the challenges of warfare, the Roman theater. Caesar had seen women try anything to keep him under their spell. Yet nothing prepared him for Cleopatra. One night she would tell him how together they could revive the glory of Alexander the Great, and rule the world like gods. The next she would entertain him dressed as the goddess Isis, surrounded by the opulence of her court. Cleopatra initiated Caesar in the most decadent revelries, presenting herself as the incarnation of the Egyptian exotic.
His life with her was a constant game, as challenging as warfare, for the moment he felt secure with her she. In the mean time our good ship, with that perfect wind to drive her, fast approached the Sirens' Isle. But now the breeze dropped, some power lulled the waves, and a breathless calm set in. Rising from their seats my men drew in the sail and threw it into the hold, then sat down at the oars and churned the water white with their blades of polished pine.
Meanwhile I took a large round of wax, cut it up small with my sword, and kneaded the pieces with all the strength of my fingers. The wax soon yielded to my vigorous treatment and grew warm, for I had the rays of my Lord the Sun to help me. I took each of my men in turn and plugged their ears with it. They then made me a prisoner on my ship by binding me hand and foot, standing me up by the step of the mast and tying the rope's ends to the mast itself. This done, they sat down once more and struck the grey water with their oars.
No seaman ever sailed his black ship past this spot without listening to the sweet tones that flow from our lips. The charm of [Cleopatra's] presence was irresistible, and there was an attraction in her person and talk, together with a peculiar force of character, which pervaded her every word and action, and laid all who associated with her under its spell. It was a delight merely to hear the sound of her voice, with which, like an instrument of many strings, she could pass from one language to another. The immediate attraction of a song, a voice, or scent. The attraction of the panther with his perfumed scent.
According to the ancients, the panther is the only animal who emits a perfumed odor. It uses this scent to draw and capture its victims. But what is it that seduces in a scent? What is it in the song of the Sirens that seduces us, or in the beauty of a face, in the depths. The weeks went by. Caesar got rid of all Cleopatra's rivals and found excuses to stay in Egypt. At one point she led him on a lavish historical expedition down the Nile. In a boat of unimaginable splendor—towering fifty-four feet out of the water, including several terraced levels and a pillared temple to the god Dionysus—Caesar became one of the few Romans to gaze on the pyramids.
And while he stayed long in Egypt, away from his throne in Rome, all kinds of turmoil erupted throughout the Roman Empire. When Caesar was murdered, in 44 B. A few years later, while Antony was in Syria, Cleopatra invited him to come meet her in the Egyptian town of Tarsus. There—once she had made him wait for her—her appearance was as startling in its way as her first before Caesar. A magnificent gold barge with purple sails appeared on the river Cydnus. The oarsmen rowed to the accompaniment of ethereal music; all around the boat were beautiful young girls dressed as nymphs and mythological figures.
Cleopatra sat on deck, surrounded and fanned by cupids and posed as the goddess Aphrodite, whose name the crowd chanted enthusiastically. Like all of Cleopatra's victims, Antony felt mixed emotions. The exotic pleasures she offered were hard to resist. But he also wanted to tame her—to defeat this proud and illustrious woman would prove his greatness. And so he stayed, and, like Caesar, fell slowly under her spell.
She indulged him in all of his weaknesses—gambling, raucous parties, elaborate rituals, lavish spectacles. To get him to come back to Rome, Octavius, another member of the Roman triumvirate, offered him a wife: Octavius's own sister, Octavia, one of the most beautiful women in Rome. Known for her virtue and goodness, she could surely keep Antony away from the "Egyptian whore. This time it was for good: he had in essence become Cleopatra's slave, granting her immense powers, adopting Egyptian dress and customs, and renouncing the ways of Rome.
Only one image of Cleopatra survives—a barely visible profile on a coin— but we have numerous written descriptions. She had a long thin face and a somewhat pointed nose; her dominant features were her wonderfully large eyes. Her seductive power, however, did not lie in her looks—indeed many among the women of Alexandria were considered more beautiful than she. What she did have above all other women was the ability to distract a man. In reality, Cleopatra was physically unexceptional and had no political power, yet both Caesar and Antony, brave and clever men, saw none of this.
What they saw was a woman who constantly transformed herself before their eyes, a one-woman spectacle. Her dress and makeup changed from day to day, but always gave her a heightened, goddesslike appearance. Her voice, which all writers talk of, was lilting and intoxicating. Her words could be banal enough, but were spoken so sweetly that listeners would find themselves remembering not what she said but how she said it. Cleopatra provided constant variety—tributes, mock battles, expeditions, costumed orgies. Everything had a touch of drama and was accomplished with great energy.
By the time your head lay on the pillow beside her, your mind was spinning with images and dreams. And just when you thought you had this fluid, larger-than-life woman, she would turn distant or angry, making it clear that everything was on her terms. You never possessed Cleopatra, you worshiped her. In this way a woman who had been exiled and destined for an early death managed to turn it all around and rule Egypt for close to twenty years. From Cleopatra we learn that it is not beauty that makes a Siren but rather a theatrical streak that allows a woman to embody a man's fantasies.
A man grows bored with a woman, no matter how beautiful; he yearns for different pleasures, and for adventure. All a woman needs to turn this around is to create the illusion that she offers such variety and adventure. A man is easily deceived by appearances; he has a weakness for the visual. Create the physical presence of a Siren heightened sexual allure mixed with a regal and theatrical manner and he is trapped. He cannot grow bored with you yet he cannot discard you. Keep up the distractions, and never let him see who you really are. He will follow you until he drowns.
Her days were filled with chores and no play. At school, she kept to herself, smiled rarely, and dreamed a lot. One day when she was thirteen, as she was dressing for school, she noticed that the white blouse the orphanage provided for her was torn, so she had to borrow a sweater from a younger girl in the house. The sweater was several sizes too small. That day, suddenly, boys seemed to gather around her wherever she went she was extremely well-developed for her age.