• Keith Dersley

Chats in the Time of Covid, #2

Put my seven favourite books on Facebook, the covers anyway, sans comment or review, in seven days as requested by Pauline Diamond. The book which I’m rereading on the Kindle now, a goodie, is the #RodMcKuen biography I reviewed on this blog. I didn’t include that amongst the seven. Those were all actual books which have stuck by me through the years and are over there in the bookcase.

As I say, one is Gods, Graves, and Scholars by C.W. Ceram. I found out some years back that Ceram was actually a German by the name of Marec. He reversed the letters of his name because he had a Nazi past. He had worked as a creator of propaganda for the Third Reich. Well, after that he wrote a good book.

Advertisements for Myself is great. A self-analysis by #Mailer through the medium of extracts from novels (and a poetry book), essays, and interviews, all linked with a persuasive commentary by the man himself. I don’t think there’s anything like it (except the later version, Cannibals and Christians). This was in the years of the early ’60s when the world was expecting a new novel from him, but he didn’t know at the time how he could go about it so he just splurged about himself and his world. It’s entertaining and revelatory.

Talking about bookshelves, moving is such a drag, and that’s why I have got rid of a lot of books, a thousand or more. But everyone is entitled to a book case or two, no?

I can’t part with, for example, my shelf of all 22 of the Rider Haggard titles published in the MacDonald’s Illustrated Edition. Allan Quatermain, Umslopogaas, Horace Holly, and the rest furnish forth a life.

In the toils of the lockdown I’ve watched a lot of boxing, plus bare knuckle fights of

Russians and gypsies, and Irish. Also a bullfight or two. What can you say about the latter? It has some grandeur, it has some cruelty. The matador takes his chance—but the odds are in his favour. When an afternoon’s faena routinely racks up roughly the same number of dead bulls as dead matadors, when the guy adjusts his fancy suit and goes into the ring knowing his opponent is as likely to kill him as he is to kill it, then we will watch an equal contest.