Why I Really Like This Book
These are podcasts about forgotten fiction, for curious readers, and for anyone who likes old books. Sometimes they're stories, sometimes they're not. Most of the authors write in English; and sometimes they don't. But all the books I talk about, I really really like. I hope you will too.
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My name is Kate Macdonald: I'm an English lecturer, and a lifelong browser in second-hand bookshops. I post weekly ten-minute podcasts on a Friday, on the books I really like which I think deserve new readers. You can find out lots more at the Facebook page here, and get these podcasts weekly by subscribing on the iTunes link above.

The music for the podcast intro is by The Tribe Band. Lucy Marsh did the drawing and Matthias Opsomer lettered it. Patrick Belk and Martin Fowler hold my tech safety net.

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Questions? Send me a message by mailing me at kate [dot] brussels [at] yahoo [dot] com.

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Gene Wolfe's The Shadow of the Torturer is about Severian, an apprentice torturer who is banished by his masters. His crime: to allow a client to die sooner than the law had intended. His mission: to not shame the guild. His real mission: to return the alien jewel to its owners. Science fiction par excellence, and linguistic invention to boggle your vocabulary.

Direct download: Gene_Wolfe_and_The_Shadow_of_the_Torturer_-_Really_Randoms_3.mp3
Category:fantastical -- posted at: 11:30 PM
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It's not at all what you think it is, although a lot of Rosy Barnes's novel Sadomasochism for Accountants takes place in a fetish club. Half of the characters are sweeties, the other half are vile: watch their comeuppance and enjoy the freeing of lonely, fettered souls. Great fun for all the family.

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The Dark is Rising was a set of excellent novels for decades before it was a film. Susan Cooper's 1970s series is timeless, a real world quest fantasy steeped in Arthurian magic, where Merlin is a butler and a professor.

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The story of Merlin, and how King Uther got to the Duchess of Cornwall's bedroom, Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave fills in the gaps before Arthur's birth with the brilliant and believable story of Merlin. All the magic by mathematics and psychology you ever wanted.

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A late period Rosemary Sutcliff novel, The Lantern-Bearers is set when the Roman Empire has pulled out of Britain, and there is no-one to hold back the Saxon hordes except the Roman-trained Aurelius Ambrosianus, and his nephew Arthur. A novel about what might have been Arthur's boyhood, and the beginnings of the Round Table.

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Not one novel about Arthur, but five: The Sword in the Stone, The Queen of Air and Darkness, The Ill-Made Knight, The Candle in the Wind, and The Book of Merlyn. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Arthurian legend, in brilliant postmodern style. T H White was a genius: these books are marvellous.

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Here's a fine satire about ignorance and primitive living at Camelot, where the benign reign of King Arthur needs improving. Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee takes over the kingdom and brings the 19th century into the 6th century: a great novel about the impossibility of messing around with time. For those suspicious about the practicalities of armour.

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Brace yourself for deep truths about newspapers and reporting, in a world where the characters have names with a strange resemblance to typefaces, and where no magic is used to make the news, only identifying the story. Brilliant satire from Terry Pratchett in The Truth: what more do you need?

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It;s the 1950s and Monica Dickens is a very junior reporter on a very local paper. It's always her turn to make the tea. She bicycles everywhere. She lodges with the landlady from hell. Her stories about post-war life for ordinary people are heart-breaking and appalling. This is proper reportage.

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It's the late 1930s, and the newspaper industry is not so much a trade as a profession for gentlemen. Lord Cropper knows so little about how his empire works that he sends the wrong man to a war zone. In Waugh's Scoop, a fine satire on newspaper mayhem, an unknown nobody learns how to be a journalist in north Africa while waiting for the Russians to invade, but he would far rather be writing nature essays. For old hacks with time to kill.

Direct download: Evelyn_Waugh_and_Scoop_-_Five_Fictions_about_Newspapers.mp3
Category:people-watching -- posted at: 12:30 AM
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