Monday 11 July 2011: Styx and Stones
I'm not very good at 'favourites'. Ask me my favourite movie and my decision will change by the minute, culminating in asking if I can instead provide a top 50. Music is the same. And art. Television programmes.
Two things, however, remain constant. My favourite colour is orange. And this is my favourite book. I could happily, and easily, rattle off a top ten. But this remains at the top. And has done since I was about 16.
Written by John Kendrick Bangs in the 1890s, Houseboat on the Styx is a glorious satire, introduced to me by my then-Latin-teacher. The story, and the name, stuck with me, and a few years back I bought a copy online (the wonders of the internet, antiquarian bookstores never turned up a copy). It's a 22nd edition, printed in 1912, so a mere 99 years old.
The tale centres around a houseboat on the River Styx (the title may have been a hint) populated by the shades of various dead, important men (including some fictional characters), the boat functioning as a gentlemen's club. It's really a series of short stories, but with a chronological timeline, which ends with the women demanding entry to the boat and, if memory serves, stealing it. Shakespeare finds himself constantly taunted about not having written his plays; Boswell documents things and generally stirs; Munchausen and Livingstone discuss African etiquette. And I've dug it out of the bookcase again for a reason.
You see a month or so back I saw a book in a bookshop (always a good place to start looking for books) which had a similar premise to the book I was writing (the second coming of Christ). Similar, but different. But it was enough to put me off my stride, and decide to put the idea on the back-burner for a bit. But I just can't sit still. I was, later, looking at programmes for various theatre things when the thought jumped out at me. The Styx came to mind. An updated satire, for the stage. In come newly dead folk like Elvis and JFK and Martin Luther King (I've still not decided on Michael Jackson...). An acquaintance (the marvellous Sooz, who I met through the medium of bike saddles, I kid you not) is a stage manager, and with her encouragement as to the merits of the idea (and the promise of some contacts when it's written) I'm embarking into the world of luvvies.
The book is back out. I'm re-reading, taking notes, marking particularly good bits of dialogue. And I've promised myself a first edition of the book from the Advanced Book Exchange when I finish the first draft.
In other news, best spam email ever... I love the 'random' but also 'intensive' google search to find me.
Greeting From Edith
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