East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Manly advice

Cover of "The Art of Manliness: Classic S...

A few years back, when my brother went to live on his own, I bought him two books as house-warming presents – a book about vintage-style bachelor-pad lifestyle (lots of tikis and cocktails and lounge music), and a copy of a book called The Art of Manliness.

For the uninitiated, The Art of Manliness is a “a blog dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man”, founded by Brett McKay in 2008.
I used to read it occasionally – I love their posts about campfire cuisine – and while some of the topics are baffling to my old European mind, I find the blog generally entertaining and often informative.

The book compiled by the blog’s contributors looked like a nice tongue-in-cheek gift – and being the curious sort myself, I got me a copy, too*. Continue reading

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Where the hell was Biggles?

“So, where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?”

Cover of "Biggles of 266"

Cover of “Biggles of 266” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Biggles was mentioned, last Saturday, on a discussion group devoted to pulp adventure, among other things.
While American classic pulp heroes are getting some attention right now, there’s this feeling their British counterparts are somewhat neglected.
Sure, there are fine reprints (and new stories) about Sexton Blake, but what of Biggles and Bulldog Drummond?

As luck would have it, I’ve a Biggles novel right here on my desk – a twenty-odd years old paperback edition of The Camels are Coming I bought second-hand for 1 eurocent.
So, why not write a small post about Biggles*?

Written by a veteran of the First World War, W.E. Johns, the Biggles novels follow the adventures of James “Biggles” Bigglesworth – an ace pilot that, starting as a fighter pilot in WWI, basically goes through most of the conflicts of the first half of the 20th century… flying most of the available planes in the catalog. Continue reading