Thoughts for the Weekend #14

ITEM: The other day I bumped into an old friend, somebody I hadn’t seen in years. He has a good job, money in the bank, a girlfriend and big house, but I still have all my own hair.

Yay! Follicles for the win!

ITEM: Years back, the writer Gore Vidal suggested that, in the light of a Supreme Court ruling on obscenity, the names of the Supreme Court judges be substituted for the most commonly used swear words.

In a similar spirit, I have started to call my computer cameron, as in ‘you steaming heap of cameron’ and ‘why the %&£! can’t you just do what I want you to you &%£!^$ing cameron’.

Yep, technology and I are out of sorts once again. (The Tory party and I, are always out of sorts.)

ITEM: Many years ago, for reasons I’m not entirely clear on at this remove, though probably something to do with research for a writing project, I read a book called Masturbation: The History of a Great Terror by Jean Stengers and Anne van Neck.

Apparently there was a time in the 19th Century when masturbating was regarded as symptomatic of a serious medical condition and something that needed to be nipped in the bud immediately. It was interesting to read of the various methods employed to curtail the habit by the upper classes throughout Europe.

In England, if a boy was caught masturbating it was a sign that he was ready to be married off to the nearest available heiress. In enlightened France, it was taken as an indication that father needed to escort his son to the local brothel and introduce him to the ‘delights’ of the demi-monde. And in Germany, the child would be tied down at night to prevent any more of this touching yourself business.

I think you see the origins of two World Wars and several economic recessions right there.

And if anyone is thinking this ITEM came somewhat out of the blue, there was another ITEM that naturally segued into it but which, after due consideration, I deleted on the grounds that we really don’t need to share everything. No need to thank me.

ITEM: Over at the highly recommended Theaker’s Quarterly blog, the redoubtable Mr Theaker has posted several lists, including those of the male and female writers he has read the most books by. As a fellow anorak and lover of lists, I thought this was a splendid idea and immediately set about compiling my own, though without his technological savvy and resources I had to fall back on the old standby of flicking through notebooks and writing down names and numbers (also playing into my traffic warden fetish). Here are the results, which I have to admit finding a rather peculiar assortment (and, in parenthesis, though I still enjoy almost all of these, with the possible exceptions of Ballard and Carter, I don’t think any of them would make my Top Ten Favourite Writers list – the moral seems to be that good writers write less, and somewhere out there is an unpublished author who, if we but only knew, could knock just about everyone else into the proverbial cocked hat):-

Top Males:
1. Michael Moorcock 60
2. Stephen King 48
3. Robert Silverberg 40
4. Richard Laymon 36
5. Philip Jose Farmer 33
6. Brian W. Aldiss 31
7. Philip K. Dick 29
= Gore Vidal 29
9. Wilbur Smith 28
10. Orson Scott Card 27
= J. G. Ballard 27
= P. G. Wodehouse 27

Top Females:
1. Ursula K Le Guin 20
2. Anne Perry 15
3. Angela Carter 12
= Patricia Cornwall 12
5. Lindsey Davis 10
6. Mary Renault 9
7. Erica Jong 8
= Marion Zimmer Bradley 8
= Anne McCaffrey 8
10. Rita Mae Brown 7
= Mary Ann Mitchell 7

So who have the rest of you read an inordinate amount of books by?

NB: I originally posted this as a comment over on Theaker’s Quarterly, and was told it would remain invisible until approved, so it will probably show up over there eventually.

ITEM: And finally, the number 13 has a reputation for being unlucky. Of course this is superstitious nonsense, and yet when I checked to see which numbers were drawn most frequently in the National Lottery, it turned out that of all forty nine possibles, 13 was the one that had been out the least number of times. I find that highly suggestive.

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3 Responses to Thoughts for the Weekend #14

  1. DC5 says:

    I’ve read an inordinate number of books by King, Koontz, PKD, and Richard Laymon. On the female side I’ve read several from Angela Carter and Ursula “The Countess” LeGuin.
    Strangely enough (or perhaps not so strange, considering my penchant for a good essay), I’ve enjoyed each author’s nonfiction works more than I’ve enjoyed any of their fiction. Angela Carter’s essays are wonders to behold. And then there’s Stephen King, whose book “On Writing” is simply nonpareil.

    As for masturbation, hey, if you don’t love yourself first, who can you love later on?

    • petertennant says:

      I seem to be in a minority of two (the other being Germaine Greer on some review programme I watched years back when the book came out), but I wasn’t blown away by “On Writing” – everything in it, as I recall, was pretty basic material. On the other hand I really, really liked “Danse Macabre” – wonderful overview of the horror genre.

      ‘Hey, don’t knock masturbation! It’s sex with someone I love.’ – Woody Allen – “Annie Hall”

  2. That’s twice I’ve been called redoubtable this month. I’d better look it up..!

    Have you interviewed Mark Morris yet for Black Static? If you do, be sure to ask him about this stuff – he mentioned in a Prism column a similar love of cataloguing the books he reads.

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