Monday, 13 February 2012

Muriel Spark Reading Week (23-29 April)

I was so thrilled with all your responses when I suggested Muriel Spark Reading Week the other day - although I was pretty sure I was onto a winner when the idea struck me, since Spark seems so perfect for this sort of blog readlong.  Two comments especially delighted me - Harriet's offer to be co-host, and Thomas's offer to make us a badge to accompany the Reading Week, which I proudly unveil below.  Didn't he do a fantastic job?  Thanks very much, Thomas!
 As you can see from the badge, we've decided upon dates: 23rd-29th April.  That should give you plenty of time to dig out a Spark novel or two...

As for the week itself, we don't really have any rules and regulations.  Just read one or more books by Muriel Spark (they're very short!), let us know when you have, and at the end of the week we'll post a round-up of everyone's reviews.  Or, of course, be inventive!  Posts about film adaptations, poetry, Spark's life or critical responses to Spark are all very welcome.

During the week, Harriet and I will be posting on alternate days - our own reviews, but also places where discussion about Spark can take place (perhaps especially for those who want to join in but don't write blogs themselves.)  

What I'd really love is if we all, between us, managed to write about all 22 of Spark's novels.  That might be something of a pipe-dream... and of course you can read whatever you want, but I'd personally love it if you sought out something a little more unusual.  Two dozen reviews of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie would be fun, but it would be even more fun if we left no Spark unturned...

Over to you!  Harriet and I would love you to spread the word - please do use Thomas' wonderful badge, and encourage other readers to join in Muriel Spark Reading Week (and pop a link to you post in the comments, if you like).  Let me know if you have any idea yet which Spark book you'll be reading... I'm already very excited about it all - I hope you are too!

69 comments:

  1. I'd love to join so do count me in!

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  2. I completely missed the initial post suggesting this but I love the idea and I'd love to participate (and I'll certainly look forward to getting to use that lovely badge Thomas created). I've only read four or five of Spark's novels so I'm excited to try something new for the Reading Week!

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    1. Brilliant! (Which four or five have you read, out of interest?)

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  3. Good to see all the interest in this one. I'm at the mercy of my public library and they seem to have only a very few that I've never heard of, and the ubiquitous Prime. Aiding and Abetting or Symposium will probably have to be my choice(s) for the reading. I like the sound of Momento Mori so I may splurge and purchase a copy. I'm completely new to Spark by the way. But I'm ready to go and will put up the button and tweet or retweet the reading when I can. Looking forward to it. Thank you.

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    1. I haven't read Aiding and Abetting or Symposium (although I think I have both of them) so they would definitely be interesting to hear more about. Memento Mori was surreally great - a very strange book, with a very Spark-ian idea at the centre. Thanks for joining in!

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  4. Lovely idea, Simon. I've posted about it & linked to you & Harriet. Thomas's badge is gorgeous. I'll be reading her book on Emily Bronte - just to be different. First published in 1960 but my copy is the 1980s reprint. I haven't read it since then so I look forward to seeing what I think now.

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    1. Thanks Lyn! And how lovely that you can join in with a book so much in your area of interest.

      Isn't Thomas's badge brilliant? We're very lucky to have his help.

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  5. I'm excited too -- and I've just ordered a copy of her collected poems so that will be one of my contributions during the week. Just to be different, like Lyn!

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    1. Perfect! I, as you can imagine, won't be reading her poetry... but I would like to read her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae.

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  6. I have copies of Robinson and The Go Away Bird sitting on my shelves and will try to read and review both. A couple of Muriel Spark novels should be a good mix with Proust, which I am currently reading.
    It might be an idea to put up a list of all her books - and then everyone could see the ones that were not yet being reviewed?
    I reviewed The Hothouse by the East River last year if anyone wants a sense of it - http://theknockingshop.blogspot.com/2011/08/hothouse-by-east-river.html

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    1. Great idea, Séamus, I'll post a list when I start the week, and maybe update it (depending on how many reviews appear, and how much work it turns out to be to run!)

      The Go Away Bird is short stories, is it not? I've not read any of her short stories, but I can imagine they'd be a really interesting format for her.

      I will go and see your review of Hothouse - one of the few Spark novels I don't yet own.

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  7. My library only has 3 of her books, Prime..., Aiding and Abetting, and The Finishing School. Having never read her, I'm not sure where to start? Should I go with one of these, or try the used bookstore? Love the button! Thomas always does such a good job on those things.

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    1. Well, the only one of those I've read is Prime, so selfishly I'd love you to read one of the other two and tell us about it! In terms of the ones I've read, I think you might actually enjoy Prime most... but if you want to be a bit braver, with more surreal Spark, then Memento Mori could be a good one to try.

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    2. All of those are good. Of course Prime is the masterpiece. Aiding and Abetting is quirky like so many Spark novels. And The Finishing School probably feels the most current (and might even be one of her last) and was quite enjoyable.

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    3. I feel such a fraud, running this week when I know so little about Spark! But I make up for in enthusiasm what I lack in knowledge...

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  8. My library has a copy of A Far Cry from Kensington which sounds super appealing to me but I also have Spark's short story collection at home. Either way, it's going to be a fun-filled week and what a gorgeous button...well done, Thomas!

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    1. A Far Cry is one of the ones I have my eye on.. and I think it's one of the ones Harriet is intending to read too. Thrilled to have you on board, Darlene, and thanks for putting the badge up on your blog!

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  9. Excellent stuff! Looking forward to it. I have adored every Spark I've read so far.

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    1. Hurrah! Looking through your blog, I see you've read one of the ones I'm determined to read this time - Ballad of Peckham Rye. And you loved it, so I'm excited!

      It's just struck me... I think you can see a link between Spark and Magnus Mills... thoughts?

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  10. I am a partner at a publishing house called The Equilateral Beast, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina (www.labestiaequilatera.com).
    Our idea is to publish and take abroad the Argentinean literature we are proud of, as well as to translate into Spanish foreign authors we love to read.

    We have published some books by Muriel Spark, "Memento Mori", Aiding and Abetting, Loitering with intent, and in the near future, "Far from Kensington" Muriel is our principal author, our identity as a publishing house.
    "Muriel Spark week" is a lovely idea that we support.
    Sincerily,
    Diego D'Onofrio
    www.labestiaequialtera.com

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    1. Hi Diego - thank you so much for commenting, how wonderful that you've provided Spanish readers with Spark's novels - including my favourite, Loitering With Intent. Thanks for your support for Muriel Spark Reading Week :)

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  11. Count me in, too, Simon. I've read several Muriel Spark novels in the past and have a few more in the queue, so it would be a good incentive to dust them off... but I do fear that one of them is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie!

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    1. Haha, that's fine, Kim! After all, I read Hotel du Lac for Brookner week. I'd just love if we managed to read all 22 novels between us...
      Great to have you playing along!

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  12. I shall join in on this one Simon, I think I have two of her out of print novels which I 'borrowed' off my mother, I shall see if I can find them in the carnage of my new accomodation, a week and I have as yet to unpack. Oops.

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    1. Great! You are partly responsible for my coming back to Spark, so I'm delighted that you'll be joining in. Good luck finding them in the unpacking(!)

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  13. I own about 13 of Spark's books, but the only ones I haven't read are Reality and Dreams, one of her last novels, and The Comforters, her first. (In addition, the university library has quite a large number of her books, but I think I've read them all.) Both of those are a little more obscure, I think. I plan on reading The Comforters for sure - we'll see if time permits me to read both. And perhaps to watch The Driver's Seat film with Ms. Taylor. ;)

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    1. Reality and Dream is one of the ones I'm keen to read during MSRW - indeed, it's been by my bedside for several months already.

      And the film, of course of course!

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  14. I'll see what I can find to join in with, Simon - I've been meaning to read more Spark for years!

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    1. I'd so love to read your thoughts on Spark's novels, Rachel - hope you manage to join in! :)

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  15. Here's my post about the challenge. I haven't decided what to read yet, but it looks like fun!

    http://agirlwalksintoabookstore.blogspot.com/2012/02/muriel-spark-reading-week-april-23-29.html

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    1. Thanks so much for spreading the word!

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  16. Sounds like a great idea. I saw the post at Katherine's.

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  17. That's a really lovely badge by Thomas! I've already put it up, and really looking forward to that week. Still undecided on reading which of her works to 'spark' off the event. Probably a couple of short stories and a novel proper. Highly inclined towards Loitering With Intent. :)

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    1. Isn't it lovely?
      And hurrah for Loitering With Intent ;) I do hope you enjoy it!

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  18. Yay! I think I might do a re-read in addition to reading one I haven't read before.

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    1. Sounds like a plan! I've not re-read any yet - probably won't this time around, as there are so many on my shelves - but I would love to re-read the ones I didn't originally like very much.

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  19. I'm eyeing Territorial Rights on Amazon right now and wondering if anyone has read it?

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    1. That's one of the few ones I don't actually even have!

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  20. It's a wonderful idea - I'm looking forward to it hugely.

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  21. I've just acquired A Far Cry From Kensington, so will have that for my S author in my alpha authors challenge.
    Kate

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    1. Brilliant! Isn't it nice when a book can correspond to two different challenges at once?

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  22. I just left a coment on your first post. I will join you as well.I saw it on Danielle's blog and will post on it this weekend, linking to this post as this has the dates.

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    1. Delighted to have you on board, and thanks for posting!

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  23. I have never read any Muriel Spark, which I am ashamed to say - especially after living in Scotland for a year, where it seemed everyone and there mother had read her - so I'm looking forward to this challenge to be my inspiration!

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    1. I'm always a little annoyed to see her shelved under Scottish authors in Scottish bookshops, just because there doesn't seem to be anything distinctly Scottish about her writing (I don't remember - apart from Miss Jean B, of course - Scottish characters and settings.) Still, if it makes the good people of Scotland more keen to read her, than more power to them!

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    2. Well, she was born in Edinburgh. I do find it fascinating how authors are catagorized - Beckett being a great example, being claimed by both the French and the Irish.

      Unfortunately, what I found was that my Scottish friends often associated her with stigma of bad high school English classes, most of them having been forced to read The Prime of Ms. Jean Brodie by some loathed teacher.

      Here in the US that's usually the role that J.D. Salinger plays (among others), so I understand. But at the same time the fact that one person or class can ruin a person's experience with an author always makes me feel a little sad.

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  24. I'd like to join in as well and have just read Not to Disturb. This novella is set in Switzerland with the entire action taking place over the course of one night extending into the next morning. I'll take a look at what else is in the catalog in the New York City public library, though sadly my local branch had nothing by Ms. Spark!

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    1. Such a strange novel, isn't it! And shame on your local branch... tut tut.

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  25. Hi Simon, I just finished reading M Spark's first novel, The Comforters and will be putting a review of it up on my blog TravellinPenguin.blogspot.com very soon. If you want any thoughts from it feel free to help yourself. Should be interesting to read about her other books during that week. Have finished it early as have company coming from overseas the week you are running the MS week. Cheers from Tasmania

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    1. Thanks for participating, Pam! That's one of the ones I'd love to read soon.

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  26. Count me in. In the Driving Seat one of my all time favourite novels. *shudders*
    @wearyhousewife

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    1. Oh, Spark can definitely give a shudder at times, can't she! Thanks for taking part :)

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  27. Love Muriel, will definitely join in, will go and check out her list on Wiki.
    thanks for sharing, and for the badge, it's excellent
    martine

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    1. Brilliant, Martine! And isn't the badge great? Thomas @ My Porch made it for us.

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  28. Sure, I'm down. I happened to recently pick up a bunch of some old penguin editions of various titles by her and can't wait to read 'em.

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    1. fantastic! I do love those old Penguin covers.

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  29. Just discovered your lovely blog via the Virago Reading Group on Library Thing, Simon, and as I just picked up a gorgeous old Penguin copy of Memento Mori in a local charity bookshop I shall save this for the Muriel weeek!

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    1. Perfect! That's a great introduction to Muriel Spark. (And welcome!)

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  30. This sounds great - I've been meaning to try Muriel Spark for ages so this will spur me on. I've got The Public Image, The Driver's Seat and Loitering with Intent ready for the week, with Prime and Far Cry from Kensington on standby just in case I read them really quickly! I'm looking forward to it. Here's my post:

    http://www.pageplucker.com/2012/04/muriel-spark-reading-week.html

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    1. Great! I was especially hoping that people new to Spark would participate, so you'd put a big smile on my face - especially with such a fab selection to read.

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  31. I'd like to join in the fun too! I'd never read any of her books until I saw this post, figured if there was going to be a week for her they must be something I should check out. I just finished Loitering with Intent and really enjoyed it! I'm going to try and read at least one more and post them all during the week. I've got volume two of her novels, The girls of slender means, the abbess of crewe and the bachelors are all in here and no one has mentioned reading them that I've seen. I'd love to help you get closer to the goal of all 22 of them read so if there is one I should aim for next of those let me know!

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    1. Hurrah! I'd love to know about The Bachelors, so I've got my fingers crossed that you'll pick that one...

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  32. Here I am with *Loitering with Intent* firmly in my brain and blood. I loved it and will be back for more! To this point I had read only Spark's biography of Mary Shelley - also wonderful. Thank you for making this happen with me now!

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    1. I'm so pleased! It's still my favourite - I'm sure you'll find lots more ideas across the blogosphere of Sparks to read next...!

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  33. I just finished *Loitering with Intent* too and am very happy to have it in my story bank. The only other Spark I had read was her biography of Mary Shelley - wonderful, but not the same thing at all. Thank you for this week that pushed me firmly into the Muriel Spark Readers!

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  34. I just posted a 5***** review (http://www.librarything.com/work/46607/reviews/85034512) to Memento Mori on Library Thing.

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