Happy Readings #27: Middlemarch

1.   Welcome everyone to our newsletter for January. Welcome, especially, to readers in Coventry, the Midlands city whose essence is in the air right now thanks to the Middlemarch theme of the new Happy Reader. George Eliot went to school in Coventry, published her first articles (including the brilliantly titled ‘Hints on Snubbing’) in

Happy Readings #26: A Christmas Story

1.   Truman Capote died 37 years ago but in terms of sheer media coverage, which often spills out of the books sections into ‘style’ or even ‘news’, still seems pretty much like a living celebrity. Could Gore Vidal have been right when he described the author’s death as a ‘good career move’? Two of

Happy Readings #25: In Youth is Pleasure

1. One of the most repeated thus influential maxims about reading is by the Baltimorean filmmaker, John Waters. ‘If you go home with somebody,’ it goes, ‘and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em’. This is a much-adopted rule, granting the reading tastes of the man who coined it a certain elevated status. So, when

Happy Readings #24: Second-Class Citizen

1. Next Wednesday, a group of delegates from Cambridge, England will meet with a group of delegates from Benin City, Nigeria and hand over a bronze cockerel. The cockerel, known as the Okukor, was taken – in the ‘looted’ sense – from the Kingdom of Benin at around the turn of the twentieth century. It

Happy Readings #23: Ice

1. This September issue of The Happy Reader’s newsletter is mostly about Ice, Anna Kavan’s mysterious classic from 1967, described by a reader at the time as a ‘mixture of Kafka and the Avengers’. It also includes news about Emily Dickinson’s hair, new issues of Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman, and other findings from literature’s

Happy Readings #22: Species of Spaces

1. ‘A bedroom is a room in which there is a bed.’ Species of Spaces and Other Pieces by Georges Perec contains quite a few statements so obvious it seems possible that no one else in the history of the world has ever actually said them out loud. ‘We use our eyes for seeing’. ‘Fashion

Happy Readings #21: Pereira Maintains

1. This issue is mostly about Pereira Maintains, the short, gripping novel by Antonio Tabucchi, originally published in Italian, as Sostiene Pereira, in 1994.   2. The year in the book, however, is 1939. The setting is Lisbon. Pereira, first name unknown, is the culture editor for a second-rate evening newspaper. The Portugal of the

Happy Readings #20

1. On the cover and throughout the new issue of The Happy Reader is a radiant shade of yellow, as befits the magazine’s return to its usual schedule. Most biannual magazines publish according to a spring/autumn rhythm, which makes perfect sense when partly concerned with the world of fashion. But a bookish magazine like The