Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fiction upcoming...

On our recent travels, friends living near Indianapolis took us to a nearby town called Noblesville (pop. 28,500). Unfortunately it's claim to fame was a high KKK membership at one point, and a number of lynchings held in front of their courthouse, a lovely looking building now historic for this sad reason. Despite this, its two antique shops had a number of interesting books. One I had never heard of:

Anatole France's Penguin Island. My edition of it is an English translation published by Blue Ribbon Books in 1909. It's on lovely yellowed hand-cut pages with a lot of cotton content. Each chapter begins with an ornate dropped capital letter, decorated with a design that looks like a wood cut. The story is about a monk who comes upon a society of penguins who have, as the book jacket says
become endowed with the immortal souls of men and forthwith begin the establishment of a new code of manners and customs. Under the guise of penguins, Anatole Frances satirizes the institutions of men...
It seems writers in the early 20th century had to disguise stories that were highly critical of their readers by setting them on another planet or making them about another times period or another species. Good thing we don't have to do that now.

The other book is one I had vaguely heard of, World So Wide, by the prolific Sinclair Lewis, the author of 22 novels and 3 plays in his lifetime. This novel was his last and is set in Florence. It looks like a September romance and is billed as "slashing satire." My hard back copy is in lovely condition. Not exactly antique, it is from 1951.

Two tangible treasures from our travels give me some more fiction to look forward to this summer.

2 comments:

Cam said...

Sadly, Noblesville wasn't the center of the most Klan activity in Indiana. One of its biggest "bragging" points in the 70's was that the town had the largest percentage of votes for Nixon anywhere in the country. Until fairly recently Outsiders - which could have been defined not only by race or ethnicity, but also as simply being from the "big city" of Indpls - were definitely looked upon w suspicion It definitely is a place that had a dubious reputation,but is changing as the city expands north, and it becomes more suburban.

Not being an antique hunter, I wasn't aware of the stores there, but your book finds look wonderful.

Ted said...

Hmmm, interesting place we ended up on our brief visit to your neck of the woods. I'm glad we got to meet there!