In the interests of producing interesting, conversation-provoking content for this blog, to turn our customers on to books they’d never considered reading before or were long curious about, and inspired by novelist Steve Erickson’s terrifc uncontemporary movie reviews in Los Angeles Magazine – and to tickle the Google and Facebook monsters’ bellies – I’ve decided to do capsule reviews of books we have in stock, pulled out of the air.

So I’ll start from ground zero, the base metal of the nineteenth century English novel; a kid’s book, really, but one that has so fully entered the subconscious of the culture that flotsam from it floats to the surface of advertising, branding, and public speech somewhere on a daily basis. It is this penetration of our contemporary culture that makes everything in Stevenson’s novel fully transparent to today’s reader. I can’t think of a single book that is easier to read. A perfect palate-cleanser for a break between Balzac and Brecht, or just ┬árough patch when you’re too distracted to concentrate.

Some aspects of this foundational novel:

Long John Silver does have a parrot on his shoulder, but nowhere in the book does any of the pirates say, ‘Oooh-arrr’. It comes clear, perhaps for the first time (it was for this reader) that the now generally accepted “pirate accent” is in this case a Cornish or West Country English accent – the novel’s action begins in Cornwall. Real pirates must have had all kinds of accents, but it is certainly true that the Cornish Diaspora sent a lot of people from that part of the world to sea.

‘Shiver me timbers’ is only said once, in an offhand way by a minor character, and is not by any means a pirate catchphrase.

The ship’s cook is named Barbecue!

The book, published in 1883, takes place in “17__” , a period fantastic-historical novel set approximately a hundred years before its publication.

In popular illustrations drawing on the myth and characters of the novel, usually one sees bright sand and a palm tree or two. But the unidentified island isn’t tropical, and its vague description could place it anywhere from the Azores to Tierra del Fuego.

This is an excellent book for English-learners, easy to follow, with simple vocabulary.

Hardcover, 80 pesos.

 

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