Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Slightly Foxed

Over a year ago, Cornflower did a posting on Slightly Foxed. I was thrilled, and when Tom's mother gave me money for my birthday in February, I decided to get something I really wanted, and subscribed. My first issue was No. 17 Spring 2008. From now onward, the subscription will be a part of my annual budget. I love this collection of essays about books and authors. The subtitle is The Real Reader's Quarterly. This isn't a publication about the new best-sellers. Within its pages, you'll find articles on lesser-known books, writing, writers from the past, and authors, new and old you may never have heard of. They are now going into the business of publishing books that "have been allowed to slip out of print." The first one is Blue Remembered Hills, a memoir by Rosemary Sutcliff; the second My Grandmothers and I by Diana Holman-Hunt. I plan to buy them both.

We'll be applying the same criteria to Slightly Foxed Editions that we apply to the quarterly itself: good writing, serious not solemn, and with a high premium on humor.

I puzzled over the title until I finally found out that "foxed" means:

(of the paper of old books or prints) discolored with brown spots.

This Spring edition has an article on Agatha Christie, written by, joy of joys, a young woman; who as a teenager, actually tried to start an AC Club. She was the Chairman and there were two other members. It delights me beyond words when young people discover writers from the past. Some of my happiest library times have been roaming the stacks and coming upon an author, whose name I have vaguely heard but whose work I have never read. When I was in my early thirties, with little children in my life, I found Miss Read, and absolutely devoured every book I could find. Older writers can teach the reader so much about the times a book is written in. Even the small details and descriptions say, "hey wait a minute, this isn't now."

In the Slightly Foxed essay, entitled Murder Most Civilized, Emma Hogan writes:

Reading Agatha Christie is a welcome relief from both political correctness and the convolutions of the modern world. She wrote books you can take into hospital with you - indeed, they were what my mother read when she was awaiting the birth of the Agatha Christie Chairman - or curl up with when you feel like being simultaneously scared and sentimental about an age you didn't even experience.

I so understand that. I long for times and places I have never lived in or seen, where I may go live for a while when I read books from the past. I think this publication will introduce me to some of these books.


  1. What a nice magazine! It sounds like something I'd love, too! I'm so glad to hear that they are going to republish Blue Remembered Hills. My mother and I both loved it when we read it a few years ago.

  2. Hi Nan! This mag sounds great! Can one get it at Borders or do you have to order it online? I guess I could go look that up, but I would rather ask you.

    Your banners have been gorgeous!


  3. Robin and Laura, I think you would both love it. As far as I know, you have to order it online. Pricey but worth it.
    Robin, I so love to think of you and your mom reading this, and Laura, thank you for the compliment on the borders. It means so much to me.

  4. I've come across that magazine before and now you've convinced me I should be getting it.

    I found the Miss Read books in the library when my son was young too and devoured them all - I loved them.

  5. I read all of the Miss Read books years back now and still have a soft spot for them and for the time she so fondly remembered.

    That magazine sounds just my cup of tea as I am a bookaholic, and just don't "do" the modern "popular" writers. I guess I've always lived in the past.

    I really identified with your last paragraph. I am reading Mary Webb's "Gone to Earth" right now. I don't know if you have ever read Mary Webb, but if you can ever get your hands on her classic, "Precious Bane" you will love it. A real masterpiece and she was absolutely meticulous in her research of the vernacular language and customs.

  6. Sounds like a magazine I'd like so I went straight over there and ordered a trial issue this morning!

  7. This sounds like an excellent magazine. I will look for it. I wonder if my library has it.
    I agree with you about searching for older authors- certainly there are magical new ones to be found but we shouldn't forget the great writers that went before. We can learn a lot from them as you said, about the times and world they lived in and in some cases things are said that wouldn't dare to be said now.

  8. This sounds like a wonderful resource, Nan. I can't wait to check out the Miss Read books you spoke of - my library list grows & grows every time I read your blog! :) I've been meaning to tell tell you too how much I like your "books on deck" list - great idea.

  9. I've been tempted by this so often, but haven't bought... mostly because I can't cope with so many more reading suggestions! One day I'll probably cave, and buy the whole backlist...

    I love books from the past, and part of the reason I love them is BECAUSE they're from the past. Never felt the same about place, though.



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