Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Do you want to know what Dale Ahlquist read in 2006?

Besides Chesterton, I mean.
I made the wonderful discovery of Alice Thomas Ellis this year. She is an English writer who died just a couple years ago. A Catholic convert, mother of seven, and a great cook, she wrote on food, family, and faith, with an incredible caustic wit that is a sort of combination of Jane Austen with a stiletto and Attila the Hun without the soft parts. I read her novels, The Inn at the Edge of the World, The Sin-Eater, Birds of Desire, The Summer House, and The 27th Kingdom, and two books of her Catholic essays, A Cat Among Pigeons and God Has Not Changed, which were no-holds-barred attacks on modernism. Savage delights.--Dale Ahlquist


  1. Gee, I wonder how he made this wonderful discovery?

    One minor quibble. It's not "Birds of Desire," it's "The Birds of the Air."

  2. Gee, I wonder how he made this wonderful discovery?

    Gee, Chanster, why don't you enlighten us all? ;-)

    Last week I ordered FIVE Ellis books from Alibris -- four novels and A Welsh Childhood, about growing up in Wales. Three arrived yesterday and I eagerly await the other two. I have wanted more Ellis to read ever since reading The Inn at the Edge of the World and Fairy Tale last summer.

    I will have to put off reading these new ones because I started re-reading The Lord of the Rings last week while in the hospital with our son Andrew. I do not say "unfortunately," because there is nothing unfortunate about putting off reading something in order to read LOTR.

    I have not read LOTR all the way through in about five years, which is shameful for me as I used to read it about three times per year.

    Incidentally, Ellis' books are very inexpensive because her American publisher went out of business some years ago. Just be sure that whatever website you order them from gets them from American used booksellers, in order to avoid exhorbitant shipping fees from England (and thanks for the tip on that, Chanster). Ellis now before the coming revival gets underway! :-D

  3. I managed to find 6 at our state university library (where I have an alumni card). I began with Fairy Tale, which is a very odd book indeed, but very, very compelling. Her style reminds me somehow of Flannery O'Connor in this one. Now, I'd love to read more biographical stuff on her.

    I think the revival may well be under way. These books were all purchased by the library within the past 10 years and given that she's not the popular sort of modern author, someone in the know must have a reason for suddenly buying a bunch of her books.


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