Archive for the hippopotamus

Reading and Writing

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2009 by stanleyriiks

I finished reading Stephen Fry’s The Hippopotamus last week, and thought I’d raid my bookshelves for something different and came up with Shaun Hutson’s Deadhead. You can’t get more of a contrast, and I’ve been a fan of Huston since the beginning, so I read that one this week too. (Review coming soon!) For those of you who don’t know, The Hippopotamus is a middle-class comedy set in Norfolk, and Deadhead is a brutally realistic urban horror novel

Now I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing, another old hardback from my ancient collection that’s been gathering dust for years. King says he reads between 60-70 books a year. Like King, I’m a fairly slow reader, and I doubt I’ve ever managed 60-70! At the moment I’m on a pretty good run and I’ve read about four books in three weeks and should finish On Writing tomorrow or Monday, which puts it at four days, which I think is pretty good. Of course, King is counting audio books. I’ve never read an audio book, haven’t listened to one either. Fry would be excellent, he does the Harry Potter books, but I’ve read all of those.

A quick check on ebay and I’ve bought a collection of Clive Barker books, unabridged as King suggests, an Edgar Rice Burroughs collection and H. G .Wells, and some classics. When they arrive I’ll download them to my ipod and listen to them instead of 30 Seconds to Mars.

On Writing is good. King doesn’t like adverbs or the passive voice, so I’m trying not to use those. He also doesn’t plot. Which does explain some of his novels. I am a fan of Stephen King, when he’s on form he’s one of the best, Different Seasons is amazing. But the last book of his I read was Rose Madder, one he says he did plot. That was utter pants. On Writing is much better, and it helps to read books about writing every now and then, it’s like driving, after we pass the test we learn lots of bad habits. It’s the same with writing but without the test. I will try to put his advice to the test and hopefully will wind up with his success.

Wrote the Hutson review (needs to be edited), an article on Scream Queens which was really hard work, and a flash zombie story which was fun. Nose to the grindstone!

Stephen Fry…. Genius? Bastard?

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2009 by stanleyriiks

I’ve just finished reading Fry’s The Hippopotamus. Yes, I know I shouldn’t be reviewing a booking that was first published fifteen years ago, and don’t worry, I’m not going to. It’s a little difficult to think of Stephen Fry, and much of his work, in a critical light.

I was never a fan of Fry and Laurie, or Jeeves and Wooster. Neither particularly floated my boat.

My fascination, my love, of Stephen Fry and his work started when I read his first novel, The Liar. A deeply personal and semi-autobiographical coming of age novel. A kind of English, middle-class Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a comparison I’m sure he’d hate. But it’s a personal equivalent, both of them touched me and helped me to identify who I am in a way I still find difficult to put into words. Without experiencing either The Liar or Ferris Bueller I would be a very different person, in the same way that if I had never read that first Conan novel when I was fourteen, I wouldn’t have discovered fantasy, horror and science fiction and very probably wouldn’t even be writing this now.

Stephen Fry is one of those people with an incredible memory, with such written skill and humour that it makes you hate his talent. He’s one of those people you would love to meet and have a conversation with, but when faced with him, you probably wouldn’t be able to mutter a single word.

I know Stephen Fry only from his work – including his Blackadder appearances – I’ve never met the man, so I can say all this in complete ignorance. I set my Virgin + box to diligently record QI, Stephen’s current dispensary of knowledge, a quiz show for those less intelligent than the great man. Which is all of us.

Fry’s novels make me weep, not only because he draws you into the lives of his characters in a way few people can, not even because his books are sometimes so funny that tears drip from the corners of your eyes, but because it sickens me that I don’t have half the talent he does. That’s why I have to hate him, envy.

If you’ve never read a Stephen Fry book then you’ve deprived yourself, and you should remedy this immediately.

The Hippopotamus is a funny, irreverent, and highly enjoyable read.  To review it would be to do it a disservice.  Fry’s poet and critic Edward Wallace is my hero, as is his creator.  Enough said.