Cecily's book reviews

In general I've written reviews of every book I've read since I joined GoodReads (RIP) in May 08, along with one or two I read prior to that. More recent reviews tend to be longer (sometimes a tad too long?). I always carry a book, though I don't get as much time as I'd like to get engrossed - life is busy, but in a good way. Too many of my favourite authors died without writing enough! Apart from reading, and writing about reading, I enjoy Scrabble, good restaurants, woodland, and attending the theatre.

Won over to nonsense 4/5*

A Book of Nonsense: The Centenary Edition - Mervyn Peake, Maeve Gilmore, Sebastian Peake, Benjamin Zephaniah

Nonsense isn't a genre of which I'm especially fond, but combined with Peake's drawings, this is a delightful collection. 

There is considerable variety: some are very short, while others are longer, narrative poems. Many are illustrated in Peake's inimitable style, and his way with words is given full rein, with a smattering of invented ones, and odd rhymes, such as "horrible" and "deplorable".

There are a few links to other works, most notably, "It Worries me to Know", whose final line is ["Across the roofs of Gormenghast". (hide spoiler)]

Pirates have a mention, of course. The poem "Of Pygmies, Palms and Pirates" lists lots of apparently random things and ends that of these things, "I have no more to say", which perhaps makes it some sort of post-modern meta non-something.

Generally, I prefer fantastical creatures and paradoxes to outright nonsense, and these are present, e.g. "I saw all of a sudden No sign of any ship."

My favourite poem in this collection is "I cannot give the Reasons", for its imagery; here are the third and fifth/final verses:
"In gorgery and gushness
and all that's squishified
My voice has all the lushness
of what I can't abide.
Among the antlered mountains
I make my viscous way
and watch the sepia fountains
throw up their lime-green spray."

Others that stood out for me were "The Trouble with Geraniums", which is fairly traditional nonsense, and the formulaic (but funny) "Aunts and Uncles" ("When Uncle/Aunty X became a Y...").

The most surprising piece is a draft of a narrative poem, "The Adventures of Footfruit". It is about non-conformity in a totalitarian state (echoes of Gormenghast - or am I looking too hard?),subliminal advertising to stoke consumer demand, and where "Priests are the salesmen to whom one confesses not owning".

This edition has a recent forewords (2011) by his son, Sebastian, and ranting poet, Benjamin Zephaniah, as well as the original introduction by his wife, Maeve. Maeve mentions Peake's love of The Diary of a Nobody, saying it "overjoyed his permanent sense of the ridiculous, but he was not immune to the perfections of Jane Austen, the world she presented being equally ridiculous, only more proper". I'm not sure what Janeites would say to that!

Currently reading

The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy
Sebastian Peake, China MiƩville, Mervyn Peake
Mervyn Peake