Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Guardian is running an invitation to nominate books that have the 'cheer you up' factor. Rather than boost their Comments page, here are some that spring to mind:

- any of the Wooster & Jeeves stories by P.G. Wodehouse (often what I read when I'll in bed with flu etc.)
- a number of children's books where the rush of nostalgia acts as a physick - eg. Paddington, Professor Branestawm, Danny Fox, Winnie the Pooh (literary equivalent of nursery food)
- Frank O'Hara - let's say Lunch Poems for the sake of argument. That sheer optimism & joie de vivre. & Ted Berrigan - key poems but also his lectures on poetry (On The Level Everyday for certain)
- James Schuyler - those poems where he is looking ... especially ones featuring snow. Lisa Jarnot when I want that joy of the urban ordinary made new.
- Samuel Beckett - Murphy, Watt, Mercier & Camier. About as funny as it gets. It exasperates me how Beckett is taught with the humour drained away.
- Nature writing - perhaps Richard Mabey or Roger Deakin (especially on cold, rainy nights)
- cookery books (Nigel Slater ... Rick Stein ... Elizabeth David ... food porn, basically)
- gardening books (Monty Don ... Carol Klein ...) precisely because I am incapable.
- Joseph Cornell's diaries edited by Mary Ann Caws - inexhaustible.
- the Iain Pattison (spelling?) volume collecting together the lead-ins for Humph on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. A gem.
- Nietzsche & Gilles Deleuze. Hope this doesn't sound pretentious - I really mean it. A paragraph or two is enough - like mainlining some potent drug. Obstacles suddenly become trivial.
- Rilke - not so much the poems as the prose (certain letters for sure)
- Thoreau & Emerson - for a Transcendentalist rush
- Sherlock Holmes - to wallow in the fin-de-si├Ęcle glow & cleverness (& the pleasure in knowing them all but having forgotten them once again.)

No doubt there are others ...

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It seems my crystal ball was not so grubby ... ... resisting the temptation to say "told you so".