I spent this early May Bank Holiday weekend on a campsite, on the South coast of the Isle of Wight. I took a couple of books with me. One was A Clockwork Orange, and this is from the back cover:
“Fifteen-year-old Alex and his three friends start an evening’s mayhem by hitting an old man, tearing up his books and stripping him of money and clothes.
“Or rather Alex and his three droogs tolchock an old Veck, razrez his books, pull off his outer platties and take a malenky bit of cutter”
“For Alex’s confessions are written in ‘nadsat’ - the teenage argot of a not too distant future
"Horror Farce? Social prophecy? Penetrating study of human choice between good and evil? A Clockwork Orange is all three”
A Clockwork Orange was first published in 1962, but this is a 1973 copy. I’ve read it before and read it again over the weekend; I recommend it.
My other book was John Buchan’s The Power-house. It’s an adventure set in London from 105 years ago; rather a different sort of tale from the unpleasant activities of Alex and his contemporaries, and that's why I chose these books as a pair.
The Powerhouse is an anarchist’s organisation, and yes, that is a contradiction in terms, but it's a criticism of anarchists, not of this book.
Published first in serial form in Blackwood’s Magazine in December 1913, it was written before Buchan’s much more well known The Thirty-Nine Steps, but was first published as a book nearly a year later in 1916.
In the end I didn’t read it, choosing Castle For Rent by John DeChancie instead. This was a much better counterpoint to Burgess’s book. Castle Perilous is a gigantic castle where magic works, and there are portals to thousands of other realities and worlds. It’s a scifi/swords and sorcery novel.This is the first edition, 1989.
It’s okay, but light fantasy isn’t my thing and I think his science fiction Skyway trilogy is rather better.
Piece of Cake is Australian Geoff Taylor’s own story of being a pilot with Bomber Command. He is shot down over Germany, wanders alone across the country, is captured, attempts to escape, and eventually gets released at the end of the war. First published 1955, this is a 1957 edition.
Dare to be Free is by a New Zealander, W.B. “Sandy” Thomas. During the airborne invasion of Crete, he is seriously injured and captured. He makes several unsuccessful escape attempts until he gets away and hides amongst the monks of Mount Athos, a peninsula in Greece. First published in 1951, this edition is from 1955.
There’s a picture of a hand waving the Greek flag, pasted opposite the title page. I believe this was put in by a previous owner.
I’m back home now, tired but refreshed.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, The Powerhouse by John Buchan, Castle for Rent by John DeChancie, Piece of Cake by Geoff Taylor, Dare to be Free by W.B. Thomas.