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Documenting the quest to track down everything written by (and written about) the poet, translator, critic, and radio dramatist, Henry Reed.

An obsessive, armchair attempt to assemble a comprehensive bibliography, not just for the work of a poet, but for his entire life.

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Henry Reed, ca. 1960


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I Capture the Castle: A girl and her family struggle to make ends meet in an old English castle.
Dusty Answer: Young, privileged, earnest Judith falls in love with the family next door.
The Heat of the Day: In wartime London, a woman finds herself caught between two men.


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«  Finicky Reader  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

11.12.2017


Finicky Reader

I like to read with a rubber band and a pencil.

The rubber band is chiefly used as a bookmark, keeping me from having to re-read paragraphs or pages to figure out where I left off when I set it down. Starting a new novel, everything to the rear of my placeis rubber-banded, the bulk of the book, but once the center pages are crossed, the rubber band jumps to the front.

But the rubber band also serves to keep a pencil secured inside the book, at least with paperbacks. I'll write notes in a paperback, but hardcovers are either to expensive to mar in that way, or just too cumbersome. In a paperback I'll underline and write notes in the margins, but I also write brief character outlines in the blank pages between the title page and first chapter, or on the inside-back cover. This is mainly because I have a lot of trouble with names — especially if they're foreign. French and Russian novels are the worst. The rubber band also helps me find my front- or end-notes in a hurry, when I forget who someone is (or what they did).

This week, my mother had surgery to repair a herniated disc. The bad news is they managed to puncture her dura, the membrane around the spinal cord, and she lost a lot of spinal fluid. The good news is, with her extra recovery time, I managed to finish the Balzac. (And mom's okay, too.)

After malingering in the first fifty or sixty pages of Père Goriot for weeks, I read the whole thing in a day and a half at the hospital. Next day, I slipped off to the local "boutique" bookstore, and got lollipopped into a $12 copy of Hammet's The Maltese Falcon. Really fantastic. All the best parts of the film came straight from Hammet's dialogue. I finished it in less than a day, and had venture out again into the blistering heat and humidity for more reading material, this time to the el-cheapo used bookstore. I picked up a slightly bent copy of Ethan Frome and, having heard only the most terrible things about the book, found myself a relatively sharp pencil, and prepared for the worst. (The previous owner had already penciled "Starkfield" in cursive across the top of page 15 for me, so I didn't have to.)

There's a scene in Grosse Pointe Blank, where John Cusack runs into one of his former English teachers outside his old high school and asks if she's "still inflicting all that horrible Ethan Frome damage?" "Terrible book," he says, or somesuch. That was as much about Ethan Frome as I knew. Not a ringing endorsement, but not exactly the Times Literary Supplement, either.

I had an epiphany this morning, pre-shower and still laying abed: Ethan Frome isn't so much a love story or morality tale, as it is a good horror story. Ethan Frome is Psycho, Blair Witch, and Deliverence. Ethan Frome is Fatal Attraction, in turn-of-the-century New England.


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What is Henry Reed's first name?

1513. Hodge, Alan. "Thunder on the Right." Tribune (London), 14 June 1946, 15.
Hodge finds 'dry charm as well as quiet wit' in "Judging Distances," but overall feels Reed is 'diffuse and not sufficiently accomplished.'



1st lesson:

Reed, Henry (1914-1986). Born: Birmingham, England, 22 February 1914; died: London, 8 December 1986.

Education: MA, University of Birmingham, 1936. Served: RAOC, 1941-42; Foreign Office, Bletchley Park, 1942-1945. Freelance writer: BBC Features Department, 1945-1980.

Author of: A Map of Verona: Poems (1946)
The Novel Since 1939 (1946)
Moby Dick: A Play for Radio from Herman Melville's Novel (1947)
Lessons of the War (1970)
Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio (1971)
The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (1971)
Collected Poems (1991, 2007)
The Auction Sale (2006)


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