Re: [mythsoc] Books by John Wain
- Thanks for the list, Wendell. I'm relieved that those are all books that I already have. (I don't care about whether they're signed.) So let me tell you what you have:
_Sprightly Running_ is the one book by Wain that's about the Inklings. Most of the quotes from Wain that you'll find in books about the Inklings come from Chapter 5 of this book. (Chapter 3 also starts out discussing his relationship with Lewis, but gets sidetracked into his apprenticeship with E.H.W. Meyerstein, a fascinatingly colorful character; then he gets back to the Inklings and other literary material, including his thoughts about F.R. Leavis, in chapter 5.)
_The Living World of Shakespeare_ and _Essays on Literature and Ideas_ are also both nonfiction. The most interesting essay in the latter is "Answer To A Letter From Joe", a brief explanation of why Wain really hated being labeled as one of the Angry Young Men.
_Born in Captivity_ (also called _Hurry on Down_) was Wain's first novel, and his best known; it's a comic picaresque whose hero is trying out various unlikely jobs to see what suits him. He stays with a friend who's an avant-garde novelist, so there's a silly parody of 50s avant-garde writing. _A Winter in the Hills_ is, I think, Wain's best novel: the hero is a linguist who's spending the offseason in the North Wales resort country to learn Welsh, and gets caught up in a small guerrilla war over control of the local bus lines. Unlike _Born in Captivity_ it's written in a serious, earnest style, so it only slowly dawns on you how funny a book it is.
_Nuncle_ and _The Life Guard_ are both short story collections. The title story of _Nuncle_ is a romp about two authors who are impersonating each other - well, it's complicated; you'll have to read it. The most memorable stories are "Master Richard" in _Nuncle_ and "I Love You, Ricky" in _The Life Guard_, one about children and the other about teenagers, both in different ways absolutely harrowing.
And _Wildtrack_ is a long poem in a sub-T.S. Eliot style.
>Sent: Aug 31, 2008 12:54 PM
>Subject: [mythsoc] Books by John Wain
>In discussions with Wayne Hammond and David Bratman at Mythcon, I discovered
>that we'd all been to the sale of Rolland Comstock's books at Second Story
>Books in Rockville, Maryland. Rolland Comstock was a book collector who died
>a year ago whose estate included about 50,000 books, a large proportion of
>which were first editions and/or signed by the authors.
>Another collector bought some of the best of his books and then Second Story
>Books bought the rest. They've been selling them off over the past three
>months or so, dropping the prices slowly. There wasn't a lot of
>Inklings-related books, but I bought eight books by John Wain (a minor Inkling whose stuff
>is hard to find), some of which are signed. The books I found are Sprightly
>Running, The Living World of Shakespeare: A Playgoer’s Guide, Nuncle and
>Other Stories, Essays on Literature and Ideas, Born in Captivity, The Life
>Guard, A Winter in the Hills, and Wild Track. I also found three biographies
>of Dorothy L. Sayers.
>Wayne told me David had wondered why he could only find one book by Wain in
>the Comstock collection. I told him that I'm the reason, since I got there
>first. David asked me to post this to the list.