Slightly Foxed 11: A Private, Circumspect People

By oldenglishrose - Last updated: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - Save & Share - 8 Comments

As the vast majority of my reading takes place on public transport of one form or another, I am mostly unperturbed by the prospect of tackling weighty books while surrounded by the inevitable distractions that ensue when there are Other People around.  Nonetheless, when the mode of transportation in question is an aeroplane, it’s nice to have a magazine to read as it provides small, easily digested chunks of reading, perfectly sized for reading in between tannoy announcements apologising that the aforementioned aeroplane is going to be late (curse you, Scottish fog!).  Thus I was pleased to have Slightly Foxed 11: A Quiet Circumspect People in my bag when the Old English Thorn and I were treated to an unexpected leisurely wait at the airport, followed by an even more unexpected scenic coach tour of the motorway between Glasgow and Edinburgh when our plane was unable to land.

Slightly Foxed is a wonderful quarterly literary magazine, and really isn’t something that you should read if, like me, youre trying to reduce your pile of books to read.  The essays in Slightly Foxed look at books old and new with an appreciative, affectionate eye rather than a critical one; reading through it is a bit like chatting to a selection of people about what their favourite books, all of them keen to persuade you to read and love them too.  And, you know me and books, I need very little persuading.  Because there’s no bias towards newly published books, many of these essays are about books and authors I’ve never heard of before, which makes a refreshing change.

As this would be almost impossible to review, I’m instead going to share some of the things I want to read thanks to this issue of Slightly Foxed, so I can add to your wishlists as well as my own.

Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village by Ronald Blythe – Maggie Ferguson talks about discovering this book while working at the Royal Society of Literature and it sounds just my sort of thing, presenting a simple, heartfelt view of a vanishing rural life that is at once nostalgic and realistic.

Leo the African by Amin Maalouf – I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by a Lebanese author, but the snippets of this novel provided by Justin Marozzi are so beautiful that I definitely want to investigate it for myself.

The Modesty Blaise books by Peter O’Donnell – I am a big fan of ridiculous books as long as they don’t take themselves seriously, and Amanda Theunissen makes this thriller series with its feisty heroine sound great fun.

Anything by Anna Kavan – I’m not sure that Anna Kavan’s fiction iis going to be entirely for me, concerned as it is with drugs and madness, but Virginia Ironside makes the life of this woman sound so interesting in this essay that I’m going to give it a try anyway.

The Leopard by Guiseppe di Lampedusa – John de Falbe is so enthusiastic about this book and its author, whose life and family seem completely bizarre, that I’m intrigued.

The Papers of A. J. Wentworth BA by H. F. Ellis – Jeremy Lewis recommends these fictional memoirs of a beleaguered school master.  H. F. Ellis was one of the contributers of Punch, which is yet another reason to read this book and see if it is as entertaining as it sounds.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman – This book, recommended by Julia Keay, is an account of the clash of cultures when a Hmong family who speak very little English emigrate to America, bringing with them their epileptic daughter.  It sounds like a fascinating idea, so onto the wishlist goes this book.

I think I’ll leave myself a good break before I open another copy of Slightly Foxed as I can’t keep acquiring book recommendations at quite the rate it provides them.  Book lovers beware!

Posted in Book Review • Tags: , Top Of Page

8 Responses to “Slightly Foxed 11: A Private, Circumspect People”

Comment from Laura
Time January 13, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I have a friend who subscribes to this and I have tried hard to just plug my ears when she talks about it. Reading your post I can see why she loves it so. Tempting, very tempting …

Comment from Annie
Time January 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm

‘Slightly Foxed’ has been responsible for more serious discussions between me and my bank manager than just about anything else. It should definitely come with a public health warning. And. I am so envious of you being able to read on journeys. As a life-long sufferer from travel sickness it’s just never been possible for me. Audio books have made a tremendous difference, however.

Comment from PolishOutlander
Time January 14, 2011 at 9:36 pm

This sounds like my type of literary magazine! I will definitely be checking out some of these selections. I love learning about books I never heard of. The Leopard has actually been on my shelf for a few years and I haven’t touched it yet.

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time January 16, 2011 at 11:38 am

It is so very tempting indeed. Definitely worth having a look at if you happen to stumble across a copy.

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time January 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

I’m almost grateful that ‘Slightly Foxed’ is too expensive for me to justify subscribing to at the moment and so I only get it when I spot a second hand bargain. I can imagine it would lead to serious financial problems if I actually read it regularly! I am very fortunate that I can read while travelling, or my working day would be rather horrific. As it is, I don’t really mind having to spend so much time on the train.

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time January 16, 2011 at 11:44 am

It’s a great magazine, and I love that it’s so different to anything else I’ve come across. I hope that at least one of these new authors works for you!

Comment from PolishOutlander
Time January 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Inspired by your post, I picked up a magazine at Barnes and Noble last Friday that is sort of in the same vein as Slightly Foxed. The magazine is called Bookmarks: For Everyone Who Hasn’t Read Everything. I quickly skimmed it but will be reading it more closely this weekend. Because this is just what I need: more books :)

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time January 24, 2011 at 11:05 am

That sounds a great magazine! It doesn’t look like it’s available over here, so I can breathe a sigh of relief, secure in the knowledge that I am safe from it. I look forward to seeing what comes out of it for you though.

Write a comment