Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A Princess of Mars - Edgar Rice Burroughs

If you're thinking of reading the Penguin Classics version of this book then please, peruse John Seelye's introduction after you've read the story. It's probably just me but some of it - his lengthy, disjointed, often pointless, ramblings - annoyed the bejeebers out of me. Though, to be fair, some of the information about ERB's pre-writing days was interesting.

The book: Confederate officer Captain John Carter, a gentleman of Virginia, fresh from the civil war, finds himself naked and, luckily for the title, on Mars.

He has some heroic adventures where he falls in love with a beautiful princess, slays some nasty Martian monsters, brokers peace between warring nations and finds he has the jumping ability of an Earthly flea.

Although it was written around 1912, the language - apart from reintroducing me to the word 'unloosened' bringing back student memories of arguing the word should actually mean 'tighten' - was not a problem. Mr Burroughs writing simply stays out of the way. He tells a tale, paints pictures and transported this reader beautifully. The writing was sweet, flowing, easy ... a great way to chill and let Earthly machinations dissolve away for a few hours. I barely remember reading Tarzan all those years ago but I do understand now why he, Edgar that is, became such a popular writer. In a word: accessible. Some modern writers could learn a thing or two.

If you like a good yarn and don't want anything too 'heavy' to wile away a couple of hours then this comes highly recommended. And, if you care to share your thoughts with me, I'd love to hear them.

I've just started The Butt by Will Self. The reviews on Amazon are a little shy of generous but so far - I'm two chapters in - so good.

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